Critical update for students on COVID-19 from President Alan Shepard

September 17, 2020 12:15 PM

Dear Western Students,

As you will have seen from communications earlier today, Western has been informed by the local health unit that 28 of our students have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last week.

As President, there is nothing more important to me than your health and safety – as well as the safety of the community at Western and the community that hosts us.

I’ve heard from many of you that you appreciate the hybrid model Western planned for this unprecedented year – but that model is in jeopardy if cases continue to rise.   

If we’ve learned anything over the last many months it’s that COVID-19 is a sneaky virus.

Transmission is hard to stop.

More importantly, some of the most significant and impactful health outcomes remain unknown.

As I’ve visited Western’s COVID-19 testing trailer, two of our key student health leaders – Dr. Sidney Siu and Dr. Sonya Malone – have told me how this virus can have significant medical consequences, even for young, healthy adults. 

Permanent lung injury, neurological damage such as long-term cognitive impairment or stroke, and cardiac disease such as heart failure. These can happen to young people as a result of COVID-19.

I’m writing to you with a few simple requests:

  • Avoid large gatherings
  • Don’t attend or host house parties
  • Limit social activity to your roommate and significant others
  • Practice proper physical distancing
  • Wear a mask indoors – and even outdoors when you’re close to each other
  • Stay home if you’re sick

Now is not the time to take risks with your health and the health of others around you who may be more vulnerable to this illness than you.

Our students have a history of rallying on important issues when it matters most.

Please follow the rules so that we can continue the school year together.

Stay safe,


Alan Shepard

President & Vice-Chancellor