SAULT STE. MARIE -- Post-secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie are being forced to running a big deficit this year to ensure student safety in their residences.

Algoma University and Sault College officials both say their residence spaces will be at less than 50 per cent capacity when students move in next week, in order to ensure their safety.

"For us this year, you're right, it is a cost to us, but it's about supporting the students," said Dave Trudelle of Algoma University. "We don't know what the fall is going to look like from a COVID-19 perspective, so we're really preaching that from our leaders, student leaders, staff and faculty, that we have to be adaptable."

Trudelle said dorm units will be limited to one per person, while townhomes can have up to two people at maximum.

"That's because we don't want anyone sharing washrooms, so those townhomes, some have two washrooms within them," he said.

Extended move-in this year

Sault College only expects to get 35 new students in its 160-capacity residence building next week.

Also new this year is students will gradually move in throughout the course of the entire week, starting on Sept. 2.

"We are scheduling students to go in at certain times, to ensure they're socially distanced during move in day," said vice-president Janice Beatty.

Beatty said the college is also doing what it can to make sure students aren't sharing washrooms this year. That means many rooms have been renovated, or may not be able to be used.

"We took it down so that every student has their own washroom and we've also done some additional renovations so that there are more kitchen facilities," she said.

Orientation programs at the schools are also online only this year.

In Sudbury, Laurentian University says it's also operating under 50 per cent capacity, while Cambrian College says its numbers are on par with previous years.