COVID-19 FAQ

Last updated March 16, 2021

1. What is coronavirus/COVID-19?
2. How does COVID-19 spread?
3. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
4. What is the current status of COVID-19 in Canada and PEI?
5. What are the risks of COVID-19 if I live in Canada or PEI?
6. What precautions should I take?
7. I feel unwell, and think I may have COVID-19, what should I do?
8. Has UPEI implemented any travel restrictions?
9. Is it possible for UPEI employees to travel and have their travel reimbursed?
10. Can UPEI prohibit employees or students who exhibit signs of influenza from attending work or classes?
11. Who should I contact if I have travel-related or health-related concerns?
12. How are students in health care settings being protected?
13. Will the University close if there is an outbreak on PEI?
14. Does the University have a pandemic response plan?
15. How can I make sure I’m getting the latest information from UPEI?
16. What are the University's plans for the 2021 Summer Semester and Fall semesters? Can I still apply?
17. When did the University's operations fully resume on campus?
18. When did employees return to campus?
19. What are considered essential services?
20. I work in an area that provides essential services, what does this mean for me?
21. How can I enter and exit campus buildings?
22. I have mobility issues, how do I enter/exit campus buildings?
23. Where do I dispose of my office waste and recyclable materials?
24. How will I know how many people can be in a lab/meeting room/classroom/common area?
25. How many people can gather in a group on campus?
26. I'm an employee on campus and require assistance from IT Systems and Services, can they come to my office?
27. Is there anything I should know about the wireless capabilities on campus?
28. If a wave or outbreak of COVID-19 happens on PEI, how will that affect UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan and academic semesters?
29. I’m a student, how do I find more information about upcoming academic semesters?
30. I’m a student from outside of Charlottetown or out of province and looking for a place to live. How can I find out more information?
31. Is the Robertson Library open for in-person services?
32. Are food services open on campus?
33. Is the UPEI Bookstore open?
34. Is the UPEI fitness centre open?
35. Are Panther Academy camps operating?
36. When will UPEI events be allowed to take place?
37. Am I able to book a room or outdoor facility at UPEI?
38. Are we supposed to wear masks while on campus?
39. Our department/area has questions about how to safely set-up common/public areas in keeping with public health guidance, who should we contact?
40. What measures does UPEI have in place to mitigate COVID-19?
41. Do we need to limit the number of people in a building or on a floor at any one time?


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 hand washing)

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:

  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • runny nose, sneezing, congestion
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • unusual fatigue
  • acute loss of sense of smell or taste

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,
  • avoid contact with people who are sick, and
  • wear a non-medical mask.

Anyone who feels unwell, thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or has developed COVID-19 symptoms should call 8-1-1.

7. I feel unwell and think I may have COVID-19, what should I do?

Anyone who feels unwell, thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or has developed COVID-19 symptoms should call 8-1-1.  See the question, “Who should I contact if I have concerns”, below for resource information.

Employees/students who are on campus and develop symptoms of COVID-19 must immediately perform hand hygiene, report to their supervisor, avoid contact with others, and leave as soon as it is safe to do so.

Students, faculty, and staff who have influenza and/or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms should stay at home or in their residence room. 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. 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. Human Resources has provided a COVID-19 FAQ for UPEI employees on my.upei.ca

8. Has UPEI implemented any travel restrictions?

All University-related travel outside the province is suspended for UPEI students, faculty, and staff until further notice.

Because of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, the University is strongly advising student, faculty, and staff to monitor Government of Canada travel health notices before undertaking any personal travel. In keeping with federal and provincial health authorities’ recommendations, anyone who travels outside of PEI and/or Canada (including the United States) must self-isolate at their own expense for 14 days upon return.

Effective January 7, 2021, the Government of Canada will require that all air passengers five years of age or older test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. Please refer to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website for more information. 

You must have a pre-travel plan approved by the PEI Chief Public Health Office in advance of returning to PEI, or risk being denied entry to the province. The PEI Chief Public Health Office’s current directives on travel can be found here.

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

Students with questions about

  1. travelling to PEI from from other Canadian provinces and from out of the country should refer to the Current Students page for Pre-Travel Requirements for Students Arriving/Returning to PEI.
     
  2. international travel as part of their academic program should contact their Program Coordinator or Study Abroad and International Collaboration at sdacorn@upei.ca.
     
  3. travel medical emergency insurance coverage with the UPEI Student Union should contact admin@upeisu.ca.
     
  4. returning home to countries other than Canada or arriving to UPEI from countries other than Canada may direct inquiries to the International Student Office at irostu@upei.ca.

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

9. Is it possible for UPEI employees to travel and have their travel reimbursed?

UPEI will continue to restrict travel, unless it is for essential purposes and pre-approved by both the Vice-President Academic and Research and the Vice-President Administration and Finance

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. 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. 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. Students with questions about travel medical emergency insurance coverage with the UPEI Student Union should contact admin@upeisu.ca. New/returning students arriving to UPEI from countries other than Canada may direct inquiries to the International Student Office at irostu@upei.ca. If students from other parts of Canada have travel questions, they are encouraged to contact Student Affairs at studentserv@upei.ca.

Faculty and staff with questions about emergency medical travel insurance should contact Human Resources at employeeservices@upei.ca. Human Resources has posted FAQ specific to UPEI employees on my.upei.ca.

Health-related Inquiries

Anyone who feels unwell, thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or has developed COVID-19 symptoms should call 8-1-1. 

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 (studentserv@upei.ca) and the International Student Office (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 close if there is an outbreak on PEI?

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. 

After COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, and after outbreaks occurred in December 2020 and March 2021, the University announced that only essential services would be delivered on the UPEI campus, in an effort to reduce the number of people working on campus. However, the University did not close and many other services continued to be provided by employees who were working remotely from home.

Please refer to UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan for information on how the University gradually returned to working, teaching, and learning on campus after restrictions were lifted in May 2020.

14. 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.

15. 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. 

16. What are the University's plans for the 2021 Summer and Fall semesters? Can I still apply?

Delivery of UPEI’s Summer sessions will continue to be primarily online, providing flexibility for many students who work and study throughout the summer months. Registration for the two Summer sessions is now open and can be accessed at https://www.upei.ca/registrar/register-for-courses

UPEI’s 2021 Fall Academic Semester will see a return to a more normal academic experience with as much in-person, on-campus learning as possible. We are excited for our campus to be an active learning environment once more, and are working to make this possible with guidance from the PEI Chief Public Health Office. We encourage new and returning students to consult UPEI’s Course Catalogue and Timetable to explore courses and program offerings for the coming semesters.

Read the full message

While UPEI continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation, our Recruitment, First-Year Advisement, and Admissions teams continue to accept applications. If you have questions about applying or have been accepted already and would like to register, please contact apply@upei.ca for more information, or visit upei.ca/apply. UPEI held Virtual Open Houses in April 2020, November 2020, and February 2021.  If you couldn't catch it live, view the Facebook Video here.

17. When did the University's operations fully resume on campus?

UPEI announced an essential services delivery model in March 2020 in an effort to reduce the number of people working on campus. The University developed UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan for a gradual return to working, teaching, learning, and conducting research on campus. Stage One of UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan, began on May 25, 2020, Stage Two began on June 15, 2020, while Stage Three began on August 3, 2020. 

Throughout all stages, we followed public health guidance, including limiting gathering size and employing physical distancing (2m/6ft). During outbreaks in December 2020 and February 2021, UPEI introduced new measures in keeping with public health guidance.

18. When did employees return to campus?

Although some essential employees continued to work on campus throughout the pandemic, most senior management returned to campus during Stage One and Two of UPEI’s Operational Ease-Back Plan. All employees returned to campus for Stage Three, which began on August 3, 2020. Individuals who share a workspace must ensure that physical distancing (2m/6ft) is maintained at all times. If this is not possible, arrangements such as repositioning furniture or providing another workspace must be considered.

19. What are considered essential services?

Essential services in UPEI's COVID-19 context means services that, if not provided, could endanger human and animal health, impact personal safety, or severely interrupt the business continuity of the University. At UPEI, examples of essential services include, but are not limited to Security Services, Residence Services, UPEI Health and Wellness Centre, AVC Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Facilities Management, and IT Systems and Services.

20. I work in an area that provides essential services, what does this mean for me?

Employees providing essential services will continue to work according to the schedule assigned by their supervisor.

21. How can I enter and exit campus buildings?

Security Services and Health, Safety, and Environment have posted signs on the exterior doors of buildings indicating whether they are entrances or exits, in order to help with traffic flow while physically distancing (2m/6ft).

22. I have mobility issues, how do I enter/exit campus buildings?

Individuals with mobility issues can use accessible entrances/exits as required.

23. Where do I dispose of my office waste and recyclable materials?

Please ensure that office waste/recycling is sorted and placed in the proper receptacles located in common areas. If you have a garbage can in your individual office space, please place it outside your office door by 10 am each Thursday for collection. Facilities Management staff will not be entering individual offices for the foreseeable future.

24. How will I know how many people can be in a lab/meeting room/classroom/common area?

Maximum occupancy signs have been placed on the entrances of labs, meeting rooms, classrooms, and common areas. If a lab or room's capacity has been reached, and another individual wishes to enter, they will be unable to do so until a person leaves. 

25. How many people can gather in a group on campus?

UPEI follows the PEI public health guidance for personal gatherings for meetings; therefore, the allowable meeting size at UPEI as of March 15, 2021 is 10 plus the host. Groups must also adhere to UPEI room occupancy guidelines and physical distancing rules (2m/6ft). A gathering refers to a group of individuals congregating or meeting in one space. This definition does not apply to classes, UPEI-organized events, or to the number of people on a floor or building at one time who are working in their offices or labs.

26. I'm an employee on campus and require assistance from IT Systems and Services, can they come to my office?

Anyone requiring ITSS support is asked to contact the UPEI Helpdesk by email or phone. They will assess your request and assist you remotely if possible.

27. Is there anything I should know about the wireless capabilities on campus?

Everyone on campus is asked to use the hard-wired connections when possible to prevent high volumes of traffic on the wireless network.

28.  If a wave or outbreak of COVID-19 happens on PEI, how will that affect UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan and academic semesters?

The University is committed to the health and safety of our community. Guidance and directives relating to COVID-19 have been changing daily, and how we resume campus operations and deliver our programs this fall will ultimately be determined by the public health guidance in place at the time. Read more about the 2021 Winter Academic Semester in the Message from the President of September 25, 2020 .

29. I’m a student, how do I find more information about upcoming academic semesters?

The Deans have been working with their faculty and staff on determining how programs in their respective faculties will be delivered during upcoming semesters. Find more information here.

30. I’m a student from outside of Charlottetown or out of province and looking for a place to live. How can I find out more information?

For questions about living in residence, contact residence@upei.ca.

For questions about off-campus housing, contact offcampushousing@upei.ca.

For questions about our Homestay program, contact homestay@upei.ca.

More information about international and interprovincial travel for post-secondary students is expected in Stage Three link ? .

31. Is the Robertson Library open for in-person services?

Please visit the Robertson Library website https://library.upei.ca/ for up-to-date information.

32. Are food services open on campus?

The Wanda Wyatt Dining Hall, AVC Cafeteria, and the Tim Horton’s outlet are open for business.

*hours of operation subject to change

33. Is the UPEI Bookstore open?

The UPEI Bookstore re-opened to the public on Monday, June 15 at 9 am, in keeping with public health guidance. The hours of operation will be Monday to Friday, 9 am–12pm, and 1–3 pm*. For additional information, visit the UPEI Bookstore on Instagram (UPEI Bookstore), Twitter (@UPEIBookstore), or Facebook. To speak with a staff member at the store email bookstore@upei.ca or phone 902-566-0625.

*hours of operation subject to change

34. Is the UPEI fitness centre open?

UPEI Athletics and Recreation re-opened facilities and programs in compliance with public health guidance and during Stage Two of UPEI’s Operational Ease-Back Plan

The process to book fitness centre/walking track times can be found here

35. Are Panther Academy camps operating?

The UPEI Panther Academy is operating in compliance with public health guidance and UPEI’s Operational Ease-Back Plan. For more information, or to register, visit upei.ca/ar/panther-academy

36. When will UPEI events be allowed to take place?

During Stage Three, UPEI-organized events will now be allowed for up to 50 people, upon approval by the Vice-President Administration and Finance. At this time, UPEI is not renting space or booking events that are organized by external groups or organizations (with the exception of some indoor and outdoor sport events). For more information, visit the Event Approval page on upei.ca.

37. Am I able to book a room or outdoor facility at UPEI?

UPEI faculty and staff may book meeting rooms for internal use via the 25Live booking system as long as gathering size limits and physical distancing guidelines (2m/6ft) are followed. Conference, meeting, and outdoor spaces are not available for rental by external groups at this time.

UPEI Athletics and Recreation facilities are available to book, in compliance with public health guidance and UPEI's Operational Ease-Back PlanReview the booking process and guidelines

38. Are we supposed to wear masks while on campus?

Effective November 20, 2020, non-medical masks or face coverings became mandatory in all indoor public spaces in Prince Edward Island. 

Exceptions to this rule include when eating; or when alone in an office or laboratory. Consideration will also be given to individuals who are unable to wear a mask due to certain health conditions. Prior to attending classes, students may obtain an exemption from wearing a mask by making an appointment with Accessibility Services (902-566-0488) at UPEI Student Affairs. Employees may reach out to the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre (902-566-0616 or healthcentre@upei.ca) for an appointment to obtain an exemption.    

UPEI Student Affairs will maintain a supply of disposable non-medical masks at the kiosk on the second level of the Student Experience Hub at Dalton Hall for any students who have forgotten or do not have access to masks. Also, a “back-up” supply of masks will be available in teaching laboratories and classrooms. Read more

39. Our department/area has questions about how to safely set-up common/public areas in keeping with public health guidance, who should we contact?

If you have any questions around traffic flow in your area and/or building, contact Health, Safety, and Environment at HSE@upei.ca.

40. What measures does UPEI have in place to mitigate COVID-19?

UPEI continues to monitor developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 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 (studentserv@upei.ca), Accessibility Services (studentserv@upei.ca), and the International Student Office (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.

While UPEI began using an essential services delivery model in March, the University began a gradual expansion of working, teaching and learning, and conducting research on campus on May 25, 2020, the beginning of Stage One of UPEI's Operational Ease-Back Plan. More restrictions were lifted for Stage Two, which began on June 15, 2020, and for Stage Three, which began on August 3, 2020. 

The UPEI Operational Ease-Back Plan provides a detailed plan to help keep members of the UPEI campus community safe by outlining measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Measures include enhanced cleaning procedures and increased frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas; physical distancing (2m/6ft); use of personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves; education around hygiene practices including the provision of hand sanitizer; and further health and safety guidance.

41. Do we need to limit the number of people in a building or on a floor at any one time?

No, the total number of people on a floor, in a building, and on campus at any one time is not restricted.

What is restricted is a meeting or gathering size, which, in keeping with PEI-CPHO guidance, is 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors while observing physical distancing of 2m/6ft. Meetings and gatherings refer to a congregation of people, with the exception of classrooms where occupancy limits are set based on PEI-CPHO guidance. Different guidelines also apply to events which can feature up to 50 people provided physical distancing (2m/6ft) is maintained. 

Travel for research purposes is allowed providing that the supervisor approves the travel in advance.