As Ontario college and university students head to campus during a fourth wave of COVID-19, their schools, public health units, cities and law enforcement are grappling with how to keep mass parties at bay.

Face-to-face classes will resume this year on campuses across the province, and videos and photos posted on social media show large and raucous street parties.

Ordinance officers in Kingston were at various parties throughout the long Labor Day weekend with crowds estimated at 3,500 to 5,000 people. In addition to the usual charges and fines for public intoxication, open liquor, and noise, 11 people were issued subpoenas for violating Ontario’s collection restrictions.

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Kingston Police Chief Calls University District Labor Day Parties ‘Outrageous’

In Step 3 of the provinces reopening plan, gatherings of up to 100 people outside and 25 people inside are allowed.

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The Kingston Police Chief said there is a worrying trend of high-risk and illegal gatherings.

“Such disrespect for the rights of others is unthinkable,” said Chief Antje McNeely. “In addition to putting everyone in our community at risk with the COVID virus which remains a major concern, the invasion of our streets and parks by irresponsible revelers shows a disappointing lack of maturity.”

The head of Queen’s University and the president of the Alma Mater Society issued a joint warning to students about the large gatherings that have taken place on campus.

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Street parties continue in Kingston’s university district, creating safety concerns

“This is a blatant disregard for public health and for the law of our province,” they wrote, saying such meetings could jeopardize the academic year.

“We’ve come so far and it would be a sham if we couldn’t get back to what we’ve all been waiting for so long. Universities are for learning ”.

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Western University also warns its students that large gatherings could jeopardize the entire year.

“We want to be clear: if this activity continues, the academic year we have so carefully planned will not happen,” the university president and student council director wrote in a joint statement.

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“You will miss out on in-person learning with other students, interaction with teachers, extracurricular activities, athletics, and all the things that make your student’s experience great.”

Click to Play Video: 'University District Street Parties See Thousands of Attendees'

The street parties of the university district have thousands of attendees

The street parties of the university district have thousands of attendees

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said it is working with local operators and facilities “frequented by post-secondary students” to ensure compliance with capacity limits.

London Police have launched Project LEARN, which stands for Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement and Noise Abatement, which they have done since 2007 in response to community concerns that arise when students return in droves to the city. This year, they say it is also important to strike a balance between having a good time and following public health guidelines during the fourth wave of COVID-19.

Wilfrid Laurier University President also appealed to students who participated in meetings that were “a flagrant violation of Ontario’s public health measures.”

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Click to Play Video: 'Kingston University District Back to Party in a Big Way Last Weekend'

Kingston University District is back in the festivities in a big way this past weekend

Kingston University District is back in the festivities in a big way this past weekend: August 30, 2021
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Laurier police and special police service are reviewing video footage and anyone identified could face suspension or expulsion from the university, as well as fines under the Ontario Reopening Act and criminal charges related to some form of vandalism, he said. Deborah MacLatchy.

“We are still in the middle of a global health crisis,” he wrote.

“Reckless behavior will not be tolerated as it puts the most vulnerable in our community at risk and tarnishes the reputation of students and our university.”

Ontario reported 554 new COVID-19 cases and 16 more deaths Wednesday, although five of those deaths occurred more than two months ago.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said of those new cases, 418 are in people who are not fully vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown.

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Western University, USC warn that large gatherings jeopardize the school year

There are 194 people in intensive care units due to COVID-related critical illness, and eight are fully vaccinated, seven are partially vaccinated, 113 are unvaccinated, and the remainder have unknown vaccine status.

There are 115 people on ventilators in the province due to a critical illness related to COVID.

Elliott said that nearly 84 percent of Ontarians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 77.4 percent have both doses.

More than 38,000 doses were administered the day before.

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