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Upcoming Academic Terms: Info and Plans

WHL Housing Hub

Seven teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba will begin a 24-game season starting March 12, with games being held at the Brandt Centre in Regina. The hub centre – or “bubble” model, in conjunction with the implementation of a vigorous list of prevention measures the teams must follow, is considered the best approach to safely resume hockey at this elite level, while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The University of Regina, in conjunction with Luther College, is working with the WHL to provide the teams with accommodations during their hockey season. Five teams will stay in University of Regina residences and two teams will be housed at the Luther College residence. Food services will also be provided by Luther and URSU (The Owl) for the approximately 250 players and team/league staff for the duration of the season, from the end of February to the end of April.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about how the WHL housing hub will be hosted safely:

Why does the University deem it important to provide this service to the WHL?

We are pleased to be able to support our communities by working with our partners at the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to provide safe accommodations to players and coaches within a carefully-controlled “bubble” which will allow the WHL East Division to resume league play this season.

The University of Regina is connected to its communities and is committed to support its community partners wherever and whenever it makes sense to do so.

Will it be safe for those faculty, staff, and students who still need to be on campus?

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remain our top priority and we will ensure appropriate measures and monitoring are in place to manage this increase in activity on campus.

Together with Luther College, the University has the capacity to house more than 1700 people and currently there are approximately 250 students living in residence. Therefore we are able to accommodate these teams while maintaining appropriate physical distancing, cleanliness, and other pandemic requirements.

We are confident that the comprehensive safety measures currently being established by the WHL and SHA, as well as the University’s own pandemic protocols, will safeguard the players, coaches and other staff, as well as members of our University community.

The University is already a dedicated international student reception centre and as such, we have safely housed more than 250 people from international locations over the past several months without incident. 

How many players/coaches/staff will be staying on-campus?

Between players, coaches, team and league staff, approximately 250 people will be housed at the University of Regina and Luther College dorms.

What’s being done to keep students, faculty and staff safe?

We are confident that the comprehensive safety measures currently being established by the WHL and SHA, as well as the University’s own pandemic protocols, will properly safeguard our faculty, staff, and students, as well as our WHL guests. Among those safeguards:

  • All WHL personnel are isolating for seven days prior to their arrival at the University of Regina housing hub. Upon arrival, they will be tested and then will isolate for four more days at which time they will be tested again;
  • The five teams staying at the U of R residences will each have their own floor and gathering places to reduce any risk of exposure;
  • Players will only be in common areas of the campus when a) they walk to eat or b) come and go from the hockey venue;
  • Players will NOT be allowed to roam freely on campus; and,
  • When they do have legitimate reason to move about campus, they must abide by all COVID-19 protocols, including wearing face coverings, physical distancing from those outside their bubble, and practicing proper hygiene and sanitizing.

The Western Hockey League has developed a comprehensive Return to Play Protocol which outlines multiple layers of health and safety protocols. They are fully invested in ensuring the health and safety of their own personnel as well as those supporting them.

With the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country, what makes the University think this can be done safely?

The hub centre model, in conjunction with the implementation of vigorous prevention measures the teams must follow, is considered the best approach to safely resuming hockey at this elite level during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University has plenty of space to make this happen safely. Due to the pandemic the University’s residences are nearly empty and thus is able to accommodate the players and staff.

The University has the capacity to house more than 1700 people and currently there are approximately 250 students living in residence so we are confident that we are able to accommodate these teams while maintaining appropriate social distancing requirements.

We are confident that the comprehensive safety measures currently being established by the WHL and SHA, as well as the University’s own pandemic protocols, will properly safeguard our faculty, staff, and students, as well as our WHL guests. Among those safeguards:

  • All WHL personnel are isolating for seven days prior to their arrival at the University of Regina housing hub. Upon arrival, they will be tested and then will isolate for four more days at which time they will be tested again;
  • The five teams staying at the U of R residences will each have their own floor and gathering places to reduce any risk of exposure;
  • Players will only be in common areas of the campus when a) they walk to eat or b) come and go from the hockey venue;
  • Players will NOT be allowed to roam freely on campus; and,
  • When they do have legitimate reason to move about campus, they must abide by all COVID-19 protocols, including wearing face coverings, physical distancing from those outside their bubble, and practicing proper hygiene and sanitizing.

If we can have hockey players staying on campus, why can’t we have (more) students on campus?

Resuming in-person classes or campus events/activities on a large scale could never be managed in a “bubble” or “hub” model. The ability to have WHL teams housed in a contained, monitored, safe manner is very different from reopening our campus to increased traffic. A bubble is something that could obviously not be replicated with our student population or our employees.

How will this impact the students who are currently living and/or accessing food services on campus?

We were able to move some of our residents to other accommodations in order to allow teams to have their own floors. Serving the needs of those residents will continue to be a priority. We are currently working on scheduling arrangements with the WHL in order to enable our student residents to access services – including food services – as they always have.

WHL personnel will be provided scheduled access to residence laundry facilities for their personal items (no hockey equipment). Laundry times will be scheduled in order to keep the athletes and students separated and facilities will be disinfected between uses.

What happens if one of the players or coaches test positive for COVID-19?

Beyond the increased monitoring and testing measures being implemented by the WHL and the on-site medical support, the same protocols would be in place for any confirmed on-campus case. That includes having isolation rooms set aside for quarantine and recovery as well as appropriate medical supports. The University has established connections with the WHL medical teams and the SHA to manage any situation that may arise.

Will the University be using the money it makes from this to lower student fees or tuition?

Revenue generated from housing the WHL bubble will go towards partially off-setting the University’s $13.5 million shortfall expected for this fiscal year due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.