Fleming College has launched an anonymous tip line as part of its independent investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at the nearby Severn Court Student Residence that claimed the life of one resident and resulted in dozens of cases.
The outbreak was declared on Feb. 20 at the privately owned off-campus student residence in the city’s west end. Large social gatherings or parties were to blame for the spread of the virus, health officials said.
The outbreak — consisting mainly of variant cases — saw 59 Fleming students and nine Trent University students fall ill. An outbreak at Trent University’s Champlain College student residence was linked to the Severn Court outbreak, Peterborough Public Health noted.
A Fleming accounting student — Zachary Root, 31 — died of COVID-19 on March 25. He did not attend any of the gatherings, health officials reported.
The outbreak forced Fleming College to shift to online learning for two weeks and postponed on-site student learning placements.
The health unit last week stated it could not acquire adequate evidence to prove indoor capacity limits exceeded 10 at the time under provincial guidelines. Peterborough police were treating the case as a Provincial Offences investigation but said it was challenging as medical information was confidential.
On Monday, Fleming College said it has established a tip line through its Fleming Safe App, encouraging students with information about the social gatherings to submit them. Sandra Dupret, vice-president of student experience, says throughout the college’s own investigation, students have been “very co-operative.”
The college has stated that students could face penalties, including possible suspension or expulsion, pending the results of the investigation.
“While we know the last few weeks have been particularly challenging, I want to acknowledge the great efforts that our students have put into their studies, and their resilience during this very challenging time. I know it has not been easy,” she said.
Students can open the app, select a campus location and select “Report a Tip.” Fleming says all tips are confidential and students are not required to leave a name or contact information.
“We thank those students that have already come forward with information through the tip line,” said Dupret.
“We are proud of how the Fleming community has come together to support our students. As vaccines roll out and we see the light at the end of a long tunnel, we reaffirm our pledge to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for our college community.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.