Like any other fall, emotional scenes are playing out on university and college campuses across Ottawa as parents drop off their kids to begin their post-secondary careers.
For many, it's their first time away from home, with all the nervous anticipation that can bring. This year, there's an added worry — the global pandemic.
But on Monday, families saying goodbye at the University of Ottawa expressed confidence in the precautions laid out by the school.
Only five of the university's 11 residence buildings will be open this year, and there will be fewer students to call them home. Most will have their own dorm rooms, and their social circles will be capped at 10, leaving no leeway for big on-campus parties.
No visitors will be allowed inside residence buildings, including parents and other family members. Dining halls are open with strict physical distancing rules in place, but other common rooms are off limits.
Any international students arriving in Ottawa must quarantine for 14 days before moving into residence.
Students kept up to date
Despite all the new rules, most students arriving Monday applauded the measures.
"They're doing a really good job with COVID and everything. They sent us a lot of emails keeping us up to date on everything," said Abby Conquer, who arrived from Toronto to embark on a degree in history and political science.
Her mother, Isabelle Conquer, was equally impressed with the precautions, but said that doesn't make it easier to say goodbye.
"A lot of mixed emotions with me right now, but I think she'll do well," Conquer said. "She's aware of what needs to be done and how to be safe. I don't have too many concerns."
Others parents were having a tougher time.
"It's a big change for our family, and yes it's scary that ... parents are not there to say, 'Make sure you wash your hands, make sure you sanitize your hands, make sure you stay safe,'" said Jackie Ruck.
Not only will dorm life be very different this year, but so will their studies — with all classes online for the fall semester, it could be months before these students see the inside of a lecture hall.
But for Carter Craggs, a first-year chemical engineering and computer technology student, that didn't deter him from wanting to live on campus.
"I'm going to be spending the next four, five maybe even seven years here, I need to be able to understand ... the area, maybe meet some new people ... just get more comfortable in Ottawa," Craggs said.
"I don't think I would work as well in my own house because I wouldn't be concentrating, I'd just be running around my house doing other things….so I wanted to force myself to work," said Claire Malleax, a first-year chemical engineering student.