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Quarantine law for Canadian students crossing U.S. border


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Hi everyone,

I am a medical student studying in the U.S. but living in Canada (the medical school campus is very close to the Canadian border). My medical school is having 2 classes that are mandatory in-person (i.e. you can only receive credit by coming to these classes). 

I'm not sure if many of you are aware, but there was a recent addition to the Canadian quarantine act (see link below) which requires, that upon re-entry back into Canada, you must initiate a new 14-day quarantine cycle - which essentially puts you in a perpetual state of quarantine forever (or at least until the law is lifted). Essentially, I would have to stay completely at home indefinitely. 

I know of other students in my position and we all (or at least most) have family and research obligations during these trying times that will not be able to be accomplished if we are under indefinite quarantine. We are only free to cross the border to attend class, but everything else is off limits once we come back home. 

Living in the U.S. is a very difficult option at this point, considering the financial constraints brought on by COVID and the weak Canadian dollar. Not to mention the higher incidence/risk of COVID in the U.S.

After talking with the school, it seems the only option is a leave of absence. I tried advocating for remote options or coming in less often to fulfill these requirements, but this is not possible. 

This is a very difficult situation and I was hoping to gain some insight on what others think of this. Let me know your thoughts and/or suggestions.

Thank you!

Link: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/covid-19-crossing-border-school-united-states.html

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I'm sorry to hear that! 

Have you tried reaching out to your MP and the federal Minister responsible for this (the Health minister)? Try to leave a phone call, provide your return contact info, and ask to be contacted by phone if possible (written responses may need to be drafted by bureaucrats, which takes awhile). Make sure they understand your request is genuinely time sensitive, not just "I feel important" time sensitive. Send an email to the Health Minister as well (Contact the Minister of Health by email at hcminister.ministresc@canada.ca) and stress the same points/need for an urgent response. If by chance you know anyone who has closer connections to the federal health ministry try reaching out to them as well. Even Ministers feel accountable to the "old buddy"/"got me my seat" crowd, so if you know someone who can get the Minister or Minister's assistant's ear, you have better odds of success. 

Maybe point out that someone can go to a bar in Calgary, fly to Toronto, and go to a restaurant there, with no restrictions while you, going from your house to school and back home, have to spend 14 days self-isolating. As inflexible as the law can be, pointing out exceptions like this can make ministers push for change. Maybe try rounding up other students (I know someone who was going to go to some Michigan dentistry school and live in Windsor, so you're not the only one) and have them all, politely, pressure their MPs/the minister? If enough people can make intelligent, polite, requests for a little clemency to allow them to attend the schools you may be able to go places. Good luck! 

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Thank you for your thoughtful response!

I will indeed try contacting the Minister, but it might not be enough force to push for a change. Especially considering that Michigan has almost double the number of COVID cases as all of Canada combined.

In any case, I will give this a shot! Thank you again.

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11 minutes ago, roundtree said:

Thank you for your thoughtful response!

I will indeed try contacting the Minister, but it might not be enough force to push for a change. Especially considering that Michigan has almost double the number of COVID cases as all of Canada combined.

In any case, I will give this a shot! Thank you again.

I think you will have to simply stay in the US, as short term pain, for long-term gain.  Sucks, but you would have otherwise been there for school anyways if it wasn't for COVID - so functionally the situation shouldn't be much different(unless you were already commuting everyday from canada and living at home on canadian side? Which case, then yes, that double sucks.) 

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1 minute ago, JohnGrisham said:

I think you will have to simply stay in the US, as short term pain, for long-term gain.  Sucks, but you would have otherwise been there for school anyways if it wasn't for COVID - so functionally the situation shouldn't be much different(unless you were already commuting everyday from canada and living at home on canadian side? Which case, then yes, that double sucks.) 

Yeah, that was the case regardless of COVID or not... Being in the States right now is not ideal, but wouldn't necessarily be too bad if I was free to come home whenever I wished without having to self-isolate. It's really a nasty situation to be in.

Thanks for your reply!

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That is really frustrating, and I empathize. It does sound like staying in the US short-term is your only realistic option though. While it would be convenient if you could get a exemption and continue, as you say given the much higher numbers in Michigan it poses risks - and you don’t want to be the Med student on the news revealed as having been given special permission to cross the border only to come home and infect a bunch of people.

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