Residences are emptying as students made an effort to vacate this week. VICTORIA MCCUTCHEON/THE VARSITY

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most U of T residences have required students to vacate by this past weekend, unless they are undergoing exceptional circumstances: namely, if they have nowhere else to go.

Victoria College required that students leave by March 19, while New College, Innis College, Trinity College, University College, Woodsworth College, St. Michael’s College, UTSC, and UTM required students to leave by March 21. The Graduate House is requiring students leave by March 25.

Student Family Housing and Knox College have opted to keep its residences open.

Second-year New College student Lucy Zuo told The Varsity that the environment in residence was “bittersweet.” “There [were] friends supporting friends, friends helping friends move out, but that also means there are friends saying goodbye to friends, saying goodbye to memories that they thought they still had time to make,” Zuo said.

Common spaces have been closed off at a number of residences. At Trinity, Victoria, and St. Michael’s Colleges, the dining halls have been shut down, and students are required to take food out to their rooms.

Many residences have promised refunds to students who move out by the required date, but have yet to release details on the reimbursement. At Woodsworth College, students who move out by March 21 will receive a refund of $1,100.65.

Though Student Family Housing will remain open, it is putting extra precautionary measures in place. The residence is undertaking an enhanced disinfecting schedule. Common spaces, including the daycare, will be closed, and maintenance staff will be performing emergency repairs only.

A U of T spokesperson explained to The Varsity that requiring students to leave residence is in line with the university’s social distancing measures, so as to avoid putting too much of a burden on the health care system.

However, students with nowhere else to go will not be forced to leave. “We know how important our residences are to those students who call them home. U of T wants those students who need to stay here to be with us during this challenging time,” the spokesperson said.

The shutting down of residences is one of many measures the university has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. U of T has also moved all classes to an online format. Most labs and libraries have been closed, and student groups have been asked to refrain from holding events at this time.

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