Update on Macdonald-Stewart re-opening timeline

Published: 28 February 2023

Message from Fabrice Labeau, Co-Acting Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) and planning chief for the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on behalf of the EOC

Dear members of the Macdonald Campus community,

I am writing to provide an update on the timeline for the safe re-opening of the Macdonald-Stewart building, which may help to inform your post-Reading Week plans.

As I noted in my presentation of February 17, the re-opening of Macdonald-Stewart is being undertaken in two phases, following thorough cleaning and post-cleaning air testing in accordance with asbestos safety protocols.

The first areas to reopen, in Phase 1, will be all public spaces, including those that tested positive for asbestos, and all closed rooms that tested negative. The message from February 17 mentioned that the most optimistic timeline for the re-opening was in the week of March 6th, depending on the availability of specialty cleaning firms. We have confirmed with the firm we are using that the earliest date for completion of cleaning in these areas is Friday, March 10. Air testing will follow the cleaning. This means all areas of Macdonald-Stewart will remain closed until at least the week of March 13th.

Some students have asked if they need to return to campus the week of March 6th, following the Reading Week break. If your classes are entirely online and if you don’t have mid-term exams during that week, you will not need to be physically present at McGill until the week of March 13th – feel free to spend a bit of extra time with loved ones, if that is an option, while you study. Before making a decision, though, please check Minerva for potential location changes, as we try to bring some of the online courses back to in-person by March 6. By mid-March, however, you will need to be here, ready for in-person courses.

Approximately 25 rooms that tested positive for asbestos in Macdonald-Stewart will require cleaning under asbestos safety protocols, which is a more complex process in laboratories and offices than in areas such as stairwells or corridors. These closed spaces will therefore remain temporarily closed and sealed off from the rest of the building for some time after the first phase of re-opening. The University has communicated directly with community members who are affected by these closures and will continue to keep them updated as we know more.

I know it is discouraging not to be back and still to have a lot of uncertainty. We are working through all the steps we need to do to welcome you back safely. To this end, we are not only ensuring that all regulatory standards for building safety are met, but we are also committed to doing everything we can for you to feel safe in returning.

Once a date for the first phase of re-opening is set, you will receive an invitation to a Town Hall, where we will share further information about ongoing measures to ensure the wellbeing of everyone on campus and to help prevent disruptions like this in the future.

We will continue to provide more information as soon as it is known, including with respect to re-opening timelines for the Barton and Raymond buildings. In the meantime, please continue to send your questions or comments to macbldg.closures [at] and refer to the FAQ for information previously shared.

We thank you for your continued patience and look forward to sharing a more definitive re-opening schedule in the coming days.


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