As many students are faced with COVID-19 travel restrictions and may not be able to return home for winter break, some students who need to remain in residence over the entire break this year will be moved to CampusOne, a U of T-affiliated student housing building. 

Typically, some residences shut down for the duration of the winter break, requiring students to move out when the university closes in December. 

This year, students in residences that are closing over the winter break will have the option to stay at CampusOne following concerns that students have to find accommodations elsewhere if they could not return home due to travel or quarantine restrictions. Some students also expressed concerns that finding external accommodations brings an additional safety consideration during COVID-19.

Students staying at CampusOne are required to stay from December 22 to January 3. The rooms provided at CampusOne are suite style, with multiple bedrooms and washrooms. U of T has also negotiated a lower nightly rate at the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto for students who only need to stay for part of the winter break.

Students must submit an application by December 4 at 12:00 pm, though they are not guaranteed a space. Confirmation will be sent on December 7, and students can cancel their stay by December 18 at 4:00 pm with no charge.

Students staying at CampusOne for the winter break will pay $300 for the duration. They may also choose to pay for a meal plan for an additional $300. The meal plan will include three meals a day. Limited kitchen facilities will be available to students staying at CampusOne, so students are encouraged to buy a meal plan.

First-year Victoria College student Isobel Bird is planning to stay at CampusOne over the winter break due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. “People have said that [CampusOne] is a nice place, [so] I feel better,” she said in an interview with The Varsity. She feels that the $300 fee for the room is reasonable, but she does not plan to purchase a meal plan due to the cost. 

Despite being told there will be limited access to kitchen facilities, “They didn’t really elaborate,” said Bird. “So we’ll see how that goes.”

Bird said that she thought moving students to CampusOne isn’t ideal and that they should have informed students earlier about the change. However, “It’s the best option they could have come up with,” she noted. Bird also took issue with rooms not being guaranteed upon application, which she felt left “room for people to worry.”

In an interview with The Varsity, second-year Victoria College student Kalliopé Anvar McCall said that although she will not be staying in residences over the break, she still felt “relieved” that her friends who could not return home have a safe place to stay for the break. 

McCall added that she believes winter break housing should be offered in other years as well, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. “Throwing them out into the city if you can’t go home, even without [COVID-19], I think is a little bit unfair. So I think it should be not just an exceptional thing that Victoria College does, but a thing that they do every year.”

Editor’s note (December 3): This article has been updated to correct that: not all residences will be closing this winter break; not all residences usually close; the CampusOne option will run until January 3, not January 10; and meals will not be delivered to residence rooms. The Varsity regrets these errors.