MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- Western University in London, Ont. is halting many non-academic activities on campus after 28 of the school’s students have now been confirmed to have COVID-19.

University officials say most of those affected are off campus, but one is in residence and is in isolation.

“These numbers are very concerning,” said Western President Alan Shepard in a statement.

He added that the university is working closely with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) to isolate and prevent further spread of the virus.

“Creating community is one of Western’s strengths, and we know our students desperately want to have some on-campus experiences. But, unfortunately, this development means we will be limiting those experiences.”

Effective immediately, the university is moving back to Western Phase Three, which includes suspending athletics, recreation, in-person student club meetings and events, which will go back to virtual mode for now.

Access to libraries and several other buildings will also be restricted, though residences remain open.

On-campus classes will continue, though only 25 per cent of courses have an in-person element right now.

The university says significant planning was done to prepare for students’ return during the pandemic, but they must still do their part.

“We are counting on all our students to share the responsibility for keeping the Western community – and the city of London – safe and healthy. A big part of that is avoiding large gatherings, particularly house parties, and practicing proper physical distancing.”

London Mayor Ed Holder added that, for the most part, students are being responsible.

"Despite the actions of a few, the vast majority of Western students are doing the right things. These young people aren’t only leaders of tomorrow, they are leading today. We’ve received tips on our COVID response line from students about those who aren’t following the rules. Most Western students are wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and physically distancing."

As for consequences, Shepard says conduct would have to be egregious and affect the health and safety of someone else before the university could respond.

Speaking during a briefing on Thursday, Shepard added, “We do expect our students to comply with the rules of public health…and we do have a Code of Conduct we can implement if people continue to break the rules.”

Students are being asked to stay home, skip parties and to comply with all public health rules.

All students believed to have been in close contact with those who have tested positive have been notified, university officials say, and the MLHU is continuing with contact tracing.