COVID-19 FAQ

What is coronavirus/COVID-19?
How does COVID-19 spread?
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
What is the current status of COVID-19 in Canada and PEI?
What are the risks of COVID-19 if I live in Canada or PEI?
What precautions should I take?
What action is the University taking to address COVID-19?
Has UPEI implemented any travel restrictions?
Should students, faculty, and staff with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?
Can UPEI prohibit employees or students who exhibit signs of influenza from attending work or classes?
Who should I contact if I have travel-related or health-related concerns?
How are students in health care settings being protected?
Will the University be cancelling classes or exams?
Will the University close if a pandemic is declared?
Will the University be cancelling events, such as Convocation?
Does the University have a pandemic response plan?
How can I make sure I’m getting the latest information from UPEI?
I want to register for a course in the First Summer Session—will it be going ahead?


1. What is coronavirus/COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

2. How does COVID-19 spread?

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat, and lungs. They are most commonly spread by an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets that are spread when they cough or sneeze
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes (before handwashing)

3. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Those with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms or may not know they have it because symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu. Symptoms have included:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia in both lungs

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

For the most recent information on COVID-19, including numbers of cases in Canada, please refer to the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency website. Your best source of information about COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island is through the PEI Chief Public Health Office

4. What is the current status of COVID-19 in Canada and PEI?

For the most recent information on COVID-19, including numbers of cases in Canada, please refer to the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency website.

For the number of cases and risk assessment of COVID-19 on PEI, please refer to the PEI Chief Public Health Office.

5. What are the risks of COVID-19 if I live in Canada or PEI?

Refer to the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency and the PEI Chief Public Health Office websites as both organizations continue to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

6. What precautions should I take?

Please refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada (under “Risk to Canadians”) and the PEI Chief Public Health Office for the latest information.

We encourage you take the same general health precautions for COVID-19 as you would for influenza. The best defence against any type of flu is following routine prevention measures:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water and use hand sanitizer when needed,
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands,
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue,
  • if you have a severe cold or the flu, stay home if possible, and
  • avoid contact with people who are sick.

Anyone who feels unwell and/or develops a fever and cough should call 8-1-1, contact their primary health-care provider, or make an appointment at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre

7. What action is the University taking to address COVID-19?

UPEI continues to monitor developments of the COVID-19 outbreak. When it comes to publicly transmitted diseases, the University works closely with the PEI Chief Public Health Office (PEI CPHO), which works with the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency, to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach should there be a need to respond in any way. 

We look to the expertise of the PEI CPHO for guidance in dealing with communicable diseases and we take our lead from them on any protocols. We have continued to share information with our students, faculty and staff with information from the PEI CPHO through our website and campus messages.

Refer to our COVID-19 web pages for information about about classes, labs, and exams as well as campus operations.

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UPEI has enhanced cleaning procedures and increased the frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas.

We recognize how stressful this situation has become for local, national, and global community. UPEI has a number of supports for students through UPEI Student Affairs, including personal counselling (902-566-0488, studentserv@upei.ca) and the International Student Office (902-566-0576, irostu@upei.ca). UPEI faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765. We encourage those with concerns to reach out.

8. Has UPEI implemented any travel restrictions?

As of March 13, 2020, the University has suspended all out-of-province travel, either as part of a UPEI program or for University business, until further notice. 

In keeping with federal and provincial health authorities’ recommendations, anyone who travels outside of Canada (including the United States) must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to PEI.

Because of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, the University is strongly advising to monitor Government of Canada travel health notices before embarking on personal travel.

On March 13, 2020, the PEI Chief Public Health Office expanded its directives on travel in a Travel Notice.

Students who are currently abroad as part of an academic or exchange program and have questions, or feel uncomfortable and wish to return to Canada, are advised to contact their Program Coordinator, or Study Abroad and International Collaboration at sdacorn@upei.ca or 902-894-2837. Students with questions about travel medical emergency insurance coverage with the UPEI Student Union should contact admin@upeisu.ca. New students arriving to UPEI from countries other than Canada or current international students may direct inquiries to the International Student Office at irostu@upei.ca or 902-566-0576.  

Faculty and staff with questions about emergency medical travel insurance should contact Human Resources at employeeservices@upei.ca or 902-566-6014. 

Students, faculty and staff may also download UPEI SAFE, the University’s safety app and visit upei.ca for important notifications.

9. Should students, faculty, and staff with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?

Students, faculty, and staff who have influenza and/or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms should stay at home or in their residence room. Anyone who feels unwell and/or develops a fever and cough should call 8-1-1, contact their primary health-care provider, or make an appointment at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre.  See the question, “Who should I contact if I have concerns”, below for resource information.

10. Can UPEI prohibit employees or students who exhibit signs of influenza from attending work or classes?

Students, faculty, and staff who have influenza and/or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms should stay at home or in their residence room. See the question, “Who should I contact if I have concerns”, below for resource information.

If an employee or student does attend work or class exhibiting signs of influenza, feels unwell, and/or develops a fever and cough, it should be recommended that they call 8-1-1, contact their primary health-care provider, or make an appointment at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre. Depending on the circumstances, they may be asked to return home. 

Faculty and staff are entitled to sick leave in accordance with their respective collective agreements. If an employee takes sick leave for longer than three days, they may be required to obtain a medical certificate. If employees have concerns about their sick leave entitlement, they may contact Human Resources at employeeservices@upei.ca or 902-566-6014. Human Resources has provided a COVID-19 FAQ for UPEI employees on my.upei.ca

11. Who should I contact if I have travel-related or health-related concerns?

Travel-related Inquiries

Students with questions about international travel should contact their Program Coordinator or Study Abroad and International Collaboration at sdacorn@upei.ca or 902-894-2837. Students with questions about travel medical emergency insurance coverage with the UPEI Student Union should contact admin@upeisu.ca. New students arriving to UPEI from countries other than Canada may direct inquiries to the International Student Office at irostu@upei.ca or 902-566-0576.  

Faculty and staff with questions about emergency medical travel insurance should contact Human Resources at employeeservices@upei.ca or 902-566-6014. Human Resources will be posting FAQ specific to UPEI employees on my.upei.ca on March 16, 2020.

Health-related Inquiries

Any students, faculty, staff who feels unwell and/or develops a fever and cough should call 8-1-1, contact their primary health-care provider, or make an appointment at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre.

We recognize how stressful this situation is for our local, national, and global community. UPEI has a number of supports for students through UPEI Student Affairs, including personal counselling (902-566-0488, studentserv@upei.ca) and the International Student Office (902-566-0576, irostu@upei.ca). UPEI faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765. We encourage those with concerns to reach out.

12. How are students in health care settings being protected?

For students undertaking learning in health care settings, the leaders/supervisors/coordinators in our Nursing, Science, and Veterinary Medicine faculties are aware of the steps needed to protect our students, should it become necessary. Students, faculty, and staff in health settings should follow the directions of the administration of the facility.

13. Will the University be cancelling classes or exams?

The Government of Canada, Public Health Agency has assessed the public health risk from COVID-19 as low at this time. We look to the expertise of the PEI Chief Public Health Office for guidance in dealing with communicable diseases and we take our lead from them on any protocols and procedures. 

As indicated in the Message to Students on March 13, 2020, because the situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly, the University of Prince Edward Island advised that it may need to suspend in-person classes prior to the previously announced date of March 20, 2020. 

With the PEI Chief Public Health Office announcing on Saturday, March 14, 2020 that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the province, the University of Prince Edward Island decided to suspend in-person classes and in-person labs effective Monday, March 16, 2020.

To be absolutely clear, in-person classes, in-person labs, and in-person exams will not resume this semester. 

This decision to suspend in-person classes, labs, and exams represents a measure to reduce large gatherings of people in line with social distancing advice from the PEI Chief Public Health Office. Any course delivery will occur through alternative means—in most cases, this will mean email communication and/or online delivery through tools such as Moodle, Google Meet, Collaborate, etc.

Instruction will be paused from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 2020 to allow instructors time to focus on transitioning to alternative course delivery and develop their plan for teaching through to the end of the semester.

UPEI communicated this information in a message to students, faculty, and staff by email and via UPEI SAFE on March 15, 2020.

14. Will the University close if a pandemic is declared?

We look to the expertise of the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency and the PEI Chief Public Health Office for guidance in dealing with communicable diseases and we take our lead on procedures and protocols from their current risk assessment. 

Effective March 17, 2020, only essential services will be delivered on the UPEI campus, in an effort to reduce the number of people working on campus.

The UPEI Health and Wellness Centre; Accessibility Services and Counselling Services at UPEI Student Affairs; the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Diagnostic Services, Animal Resources, and Central Services at the Atlantic Veterinary College; UPEI Security Services; UPEI Chaplaincy Centre; and the UPEI Residences will remain open.

The W.A. Murphy Student Centre will remain open for students, where they can continue to access and utilize the UPEI Student Union Food Bank.

Many other services will continue to be provided by employees who are working remotely. Please note that some services and hours of operation may vary in order to accommodate changing circumstances.

The Robertson Library is closed, effective March 17, 2020 at 4:30 pm. However, students and instructors will still have access to the Library’s extensive online services that are available. 

The UPEI Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre is closed effective March 15, 2020 at 6 pm. All Sports Centre programming, including the Panther Academy March Break camps, and offerings such as the walking track, are cancelled.

In line with social distancing guidelines from the PEI Chief Public Health Office, we advise that people should avoid social gatherings where a 2-metre distance is not possible. To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UPEI has enhanced cleaning procedures and increased the frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas.

Please refer to question 13 regarding classes and exams.

15. Will the University be cancelling events, such as Convocation?

To date, the PEI Chief Public Health Office has not recommended cancelling events or gatherings; instead they refer to guidelines on social distancing. However, the University in its message of March 15, 2020 announced that all university events are cancelled or postponed. At this point, this is in effect until April 30, 2020 at a minimum. Do not book university events until further notice as we continue to monitor the situation.

UPEI Convocation 2020 ceremonies that were scheduled for May 7 and 8 have been cancelled. Students will still be awarded their degree(s)/credentials at the May meeting of the UPEI Senate. More information will be shared with prospective graduates in the near future. Read the Message from the President

16. Does the University have a pandemic response plan?

Yes, UPEI has processes and plans in place for dealing with emergency and crisis situations, like COVID-19. 

We are continuing to monitor developments of the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the Government of Canada, Public Health Agency has assessed the public health risk as low in Canada. We are also working closely with the PEI Chief Public Health Office to ensure we are responding in comprehensive and integrated ways. We continue to work with both students abroad and on campus, in addition to staff, faculty, and other community members to ensure that support and advice is available whenever needed.

17. How can I make sure I’m getting the latest information from UPEI?

UPEI is sharing information on its website upei.ca and is sending important updates by email to @upei.ca email addresses and via UPEI SAFE, UPEI’s safety app. 

18. I want to register for a course in the First Summer Session—will it be going ahead?

The First Summer Session (May 18–June 18, 2020) will go ahead but all courses will be moved to online delivery with the exception of clinical rotations in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and clinical courses in the Faculty of Nursing.