Most Albertan students are staying home today, and it's not just because of the snow. On Friday, March 13, 2020, three top Alberta universities announced that they are suspending all on-campus classes amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The universities will be using this time to hold consultations with public health officials. 

The post-secondary institutions who've made this decision as of now include the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge. 

Earlier this week, a number of Calgary universities sent out COVID-19 alerts to their students and staff, stating that they would not be shutting down their campuses until further notice.

They reasoned that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for Albertans has been rated as low, as continually maintained by Alberta Health. 

On Thursday, March 13, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer, announced that all mass gatherings over 250 people must be cancelled.

This rule will not apply to shopping centres, religious gatherings, airports, or grocery stores, but will impact the community and sporting events, and conferences. 

The University of Alberta announced on their official Instagram that they will be "temporarily suspending on-campus classes effective immediately" as they "assess the recommendations of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health related to Covid-19." 

UofA's classes are cancelled for the day, but the campus will still remain open, as the university will be consulting with public health experts, government officials, and other post-secondary institutions.

The university will provide an update on Sunday, March 15 at the latest. Classes are expected to resume on Monday. 

Similarly, the University of Calgary also took to their website to let their students and staff know about the cancelled classes.

They also announced that their campus remains open, with "all services available and all staff at work." 

They confirmed that the classes will resume on Monday, March 16, following the consultations and will be providing an update later today. 

Finally, the University of Lethbridge echoed the same decision on its official website. They too will be providing an update later today as to how classes may resume starting from Monday, March 16. 

Narcity has reached out to the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response. 

Over the past week, hundreds of Alberta students have signed petitions, asking their respective universities to switch to online classes to prevent further spread of the virus. 

The province has recorded 23 cases of the COVID-19 virus so far, including the first child to have contracted the virus in all of Canada, as per Alberta Health's latest press conference

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