STATEMENT REGARDING COVID-19 – May 20th, 2020
At Canadian Campus Communities (CCC) and Parkside Student Residence our hearts go out to all of our residents and their families who will experience hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is truly an unprecedented event. During this time, we will continue to advocate for our residents to make sure they are supported during these tumultuous times. We are temporarily putting a stop to financial-related eviction proceedings at this time and will work with residents and families who endure financial hardship on a case-by-case basis.
As Canada's premier provider of student housing services to colleges and universities, CCC offers private sector assistance in managing on and off-campus student housing. Our extensive student housing experience enables us to develop innovative student communities that meet the needs of university partners and clients, while providing the most cost-effective, luxurious student living and learning communities for student residents. CCC’s corporate office is located in Austin, Texas with its parent company, American Campus Communities.
Parkside Student Residence is classified as an off-campus apartment-style community, where in the open market, we as the Landlord directly lease to students as tenants under traditional residential lease agreements governed by local and provincial laws. Unlike traditional on-campus residence halls, these private, off-campus communities contain apartments that, in some cases, have kitchens and all of which have a standard 2:1 bathroom ratio. Because our off-campus properties are typically leased on an 8- or 12-month time frame, our lease terms span across numerous academic terms. Most of our current leases extend beyond this Spring term, through the summer and into the month of August.
With this in mind, we have been and continue to track the rapidly evolving policy decisions that each of our local colleges and universities are making with regard to how they are delivering their educational curriculum for the summer and fall semester, and any specific policies, procedures and protocols they are establishing for students with regard to COVID-19. If and when we become aware that the virus directly impacts any of our student residents, we will attempt to inform them of the resources and assistance that each university offers in conjunction with the local health department.
Clean - At Parkside Student Residence, we take standards for hygiene and cleanliness very seriously and are taking additional steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff. We have adopted relevant guidelines issued by the Ontario Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization and communicated all guidelines to our residents. Additionally, we are following the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines for daily cleaning and disinfecting, which includes measures designed to address a broad spectrum of viruses, including COVID-19, hand-washing hygiene and cleaning product specifications to open-area cleaning procedures.
Health & Wellbeing
Peace of Mind – To support the health and wellbeing of our staff and residents, we have temporarily closed most common areas at Parkside Student Residence – such as our gyms, social gathering spaces and recreational amenities. We have also put policies and procedures in place to limit face-to-face interaction with our on-site staff while enabling them to continue to deliver essential services to our residents. We have at times also reduced the number of personnel on site at any given time to meet the social distancing guidelines issued by the Ontario Ministry of Health. We are also making hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes available in our lobbies and open areas as long as such products are available to us.
Academically Oriented Environment
Succeed – At Parkside Student Residence, it is our goal to ensure our residents can continue to receive academic instruction, complete their coursework, and continue to be housed in an environment conducive to their academic success.
Achieving a desired level of social distancing and sanitization while staying connected and focused on their academic and personal success, regardless if instruction is provided in person or online, is our top priority.
Unlimited High Speed WiFi Internet
Connect – Parkside Student Residence is designed to deliver unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi Internet as part of our all-inclusive utility package. During this time when the entire country’s use of broadband is testing the limits of our national infrastructure, ensuring adequate broadband service for our residents to continue to receive academic instruction and to complete their coursework has become the top priority of our IT department. Our goal is for you to stay connected to coursework, friends and family and your favourite binge-worthy streaming shows.
Bon Appetite – Food safety remains top priority, as does our mission to make it easier for residents to live well, eat deliciously and sustain a healthier lifestyle. In following the social distancing guidelines provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health, Parkside Student Residence has closed its dining area(s). We have temporarily moved to a take-away model so residents have continued access to meals that have been packaged with enhanced sanitation guidelines.
Collaborate – Tap into the benefits of being part of a local university community where others can relate and school traditions are close to home.
COMMUNITY STANDARDS & RESIDENCE LIFE
CCC’s Residence Life Model takes a back-to-basics approach using the core components of what is tried and true about residence life and student development. Parkside Student Residence staff engage residents frequently and through a variety of platforms and support programs, such as Residence Council and in-person and online educational programming events with numerous opportunities to learn about academic success and personal growth.
Our model focuses on FIVE key areas:
- Academic Support Programs, which help students make progress toward their academic goals and help residents connect to the academic resources available on campus and through various online portals
- Health & Wellness Programs teach residents skills that will help them maintain personal wellness, including physical wellness, mental health and personal safety. Bell Let’s Talk Day, the Hi, How Are You? Project in partnership with American Campus Communities, Thrive (Mental Health Week), Holiday & Wellness Kits and Bi-Weekly Door to Door Checks are just some of the mental-health focused resources and initiatives we provide for residents in our communities
- Employability Programs connect residents both virtually and in-person with university Career Services staff and assist residents in learning skills to attain gainful employment after graduation
- Financial Literacy Programs teach residents positive financial habits for their future, and include basic budgeting, building good credit and identity theft protection
- Community Engagement Programs encourage residents to get involved in their community. These programs help create a sense of civic responsibility, enable residents to explore issues of diversity and multiculturalism, and demonstrate ways to make a difference through volunteering
Whether virtually or in-person, our organizational systems and procedures enable us to effectively use these core components to meet the following mission of our Residence Life Model:
- Create inclusive communities where students feel connected, are involved in the university community and are academically successful
- Develop and nurture partnerships with our affiliated universities that support the residents’ academic and personal goals
- Support the success of the property by creating a vibrant and desirable student community
More importantly, these programs support the success of our community and contribute to a living-learning environment intended to enable students to thrive academically and socially.
At Parkside Student Residence, we have the contractual lease obligation to house students for the entire term of the lease, while students always have the freedom to physically occupy their apartments as they choose. For example, it is not uncommon for residents to go home for the extended winter break from mid-December to mid-January, for spring break, and in many cases for the entire summer term, all while still leasing and paying rent for their college apartments. In the case of this evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed and are contractually obligated to provide housing for our residents, and student residents continue to have the option as to when they choose to physically occupy their apartments between now and the end of the current lease terms in August. We have heard from many students that they desire to stay in residence instead of going home and running the risk of potentially infecting their parents and grandparents who may be in a higher risk category.
It is for all of the reasons stated above, we are not offering lease terminations and refunds. As previously stated, we are temporarily stopping financial-related eviction proceedings and we will work with residents and families who endure financial hardship on a case-by-case basis.
At Parkside Student Residence, we will grant a lease start deferral for Fall 2020 residents until the first (1st) day of the month in which any of the courses in which they are enrolled at an applicable institution are not exclusively offered online. For clarity, a lease start deferral will not be granted or continued for a student enrolled in any course or courses at an applicable institution, which are offered in any way on campus and not exclusively online.
We will continue to incur all of the expenses and overhead associated with the continued operations of our facilities, with real estate taxes and utilities being our largest expenses, followed by payroll related to our on-site staffs who continue to provide essential services to our residents.
These are unprecedented times, and we are all facing challenges and circumstances that we have never faced before and for which we do not always have an immediate answer or solution. On a daily basis, we pledge to put the health and wellbeing of our residents and team members first. We are grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to support each other more than ever before.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
What measures are you taking in relation to COVID-19?
As part of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our residents, employees and university communities, we are closely monitoring the Ontario Ministry of Health and World Health Organization guidance regarding COVID-19 and are communicating the Ontario Ministry of Health hygiene and prevention guidelines to our residents and employees at all of our locations. In addition, we are practicing social distancing, implementing the following actions for residents and our team members:
- We are closing common area amenities including social lounges and fitness centers. Academic Success Centers will remain open for residents to use for online coursework, along with laundry facilities.
- Staff work hours are being limited to comply with social distancing recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Health, which may result in delayed response time for work orders.
- Preferred communication between residents and staff are phone calls and emails in an effort to limit person-to-person exposure. Virtual property tours are now available for interested students.
- Daily cleaning and disinfecting occur in accordance with current Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, which include everything from handwashing hygiene and cleaning product specifications to common area cleaning procedures. In addition, we are making hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes available in our lobbies and open areas when possible.
Are residents able to stay at your communities during this time?
Our local colleges and universities are enacting a wide array of measures in response to COVID-19, and we are closely monitoring their actions and policy changes and will work with them accordingly to meet the housing needs of our residents while also abiding by the health and safety guidelines outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
We remain committed and are contractually obligated to provide housing for our residents, and student residents continue to have the option as to when they choose to physically occupy their apartments between now and the end of the current lease terms. We have not closed any of these communities but are implementing reduced staff hours and amenity access and are following recommendations made by local governing authorities. While we have adjusted staffing hours and policies to accommodate social distancing best practices, we continue to operate and support our residential communities as students fulfill their academic mission. We want residents to be assured that they will still have a place to live within our communities.
Will you be issuing refunds if student residents are not occupying their units for extended periods of time?
At Parkide Student Residence we offer 12-month leases that span the full academic term from September to April and the Spring/Summer months of May to August. We intend to honor these contracts in their entirety.
Regarding concerns students have about making rent payments, this is an unprecedented situation and we are monitoring government action. We are hopeful that the upcoming Canadian government programs will provide rental assistance, including for our student residents. We will continue to advocate on their behalf through our involvement in apartment industry associations. We will also be temporarily stopping financial-related eviction proceedings at this time and will work with residents and families who endure financial hardship on a case-by-case basis.
What should residents do if they think they have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
If residents think they have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop flu-like symptoms, we are advising that they immediately contact their healthcare provider and follow their instructions. Additionally, we recommend that students contact their college or university and refer to guidelines provided by university and local health officials. Please refer to www.health.gov.on.ca for further information.
What if my roommate gets sick? What if they are quarantined?
If you believe your roommate to be sick, have them contact their healthcare provider immediately, and continue following Ontario Ministry of Health -recommended cleanliness and social distancing guidelines. If your roommate has not contacted their healthcare provider, please let us know and we will contact local health officials to determine the appropriate protocol. The healthcare provider will work with local health departments to provide additional instructions and manage the response to any suspected cases of COVID-19.
Procedures will vary from city to city, and our staff will coordinate with local or university health officials as needed and follow their directions regarding mitigation measures or quarantine protocols. For more information on local quarantine protocols, you may contact your local or university health officials directly.
Are you reducing on-site staff and/or allowing office staff to work from home?
Yes, the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our top priority. Our communities are implementing reduced work hours with some remote work options to ensure the best possible residential experience during this time. Our Community Assistants as well as part-time student team members are working staggered hours based on their availability and work schedule. We are not planning to lay off any staff members. Additionally, there may be communities that need temporary employees during this time, and we will work with our local teams to fill those positions. Those looking for employment can visit our Careers website for any full- or part-time openings.
Will you have sufficient high-speed Internet to accommodate students taking online classes?
Nearly all of the universities and institutions we serve are moving to some form of online education to deliver their academic curriculum. In all circumstances, it is our goal to ensure that our residents can continue to receive academic instruction, complete their coursework, and continue to be housed in an environment conducive to their academic success. To facilitate this, all our communities are designed to deliver unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi Internet as part of our all-inclsuive utility package. During this time when the entire country’s use of broadband is testing the limits of our infrastructure, ensuring adequate broadband service for our residents to continue to receive academic instruction and to complete their coursework has become the top priority of our IT department.
For the communities that offer food service, will you continue to do so?
Following the social distancing guidelines provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health, Parkside Student Residence has closed its dining area(s) and has moved to a take-away model so residents can have continued access to meals.
Do you anticipate any negative financial impact to your business as a result of this pandemic?
This pandemic will impact all businesses, and we will continue to monitor and navigate the situation. Currently, our primary focus is on serving the needs and protecting the health and wellbeing of our student residents, partner universities, employees, and student staff. It is our goal to ensure that our residents continue to have housing in an environment conducive to academic and personal success regardless of the curriculum delivery method.