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Concordia launches social distancing circles for safer outdoor meetings

Get some vitamin D while reconnecting on campus with faculty, staff and students
August 19, 2020
By James Roach

An open outdoor area with large circles made of thin plastic tubing placed on the grass, and university buildings in the background. “Choosing to meet outdoors can be a safer alternative when appropriate measures are taken.” | Photo: Paul Blouin

A new Concordia pilot project allows staff, faculty and students to reconnect for academic and administrative events, taking advantage of the university’s outdoor green spaces.

It draws inspiration from similar projects in Brooklyn's Domino Park and other public spaces in response to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Starting on August 28, Concordia’s social distancing circles (SDCs) will provide outdoor meeting spaces for in-person gatherings of four to 17 people.

Space booking opens on August 21.

“With some Concordians returning to campus for requisite activities, choosing to meet outdoors can be a safer alternative when appropriate measures are taken,” says Anne Whitelaw, interim provost and vice-president, academic.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many of us have been faced with the need to reconsider how we learn, teach, work and interact,” Whitelaw adds.

“Having spent an unprecedented amount of time indoors over the past five months, social distancing circles provide a creative solution to maximizing use of our university green spaces while going about the business of teaching and working at Concordia and enjoying the last days of summer.”

6 designated areas across both campuses

Should the pilot project receive positive reviews and see high demand from users, additional locations may be added.

The six current locations include:

  • Sir George Williams Campus:  Grey Nuns Garden area a (17 circles), area b (nine circles)
  • Loyola Campus: Quadrangle, also called The Quad area a (9 circles), area b (17 circles); The Grove (7 circles); Communication Studies and Journalism Building (CJ Building) stairs (11 circles).

A configuration of seven, nine, 11 or 17 circles provides seating for a maximum of seven, nine, 11 or 17 meeting participants, as one person is allowed per circle.

"The pandemic has increased our collective awareness of the value of urban green spaces for maintaining our health and wellbeing — including facilitating safer in-person interactions,” says Carly Ziter, assistant professor of biology in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have access to so much outdoor space on our Concordia campuses, and I’m encouraged to see these spaces used as a resource for the Concordia community."

And, should a meeting participant require a bathroom break, they will have indoor access to designated washrooms at each location.

Book now for your next meeting

Staff, faculty and booking officers from registered student groups may reserve SDCs for academic or administrative purposes to which they may invite students. Students who are not booking officers from registered student groups cannot at this stage reserve the spaces themselves, but they may attend the activities to which they are invited by faculty, staff or student groups.

SDCs will be available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., until November 1.

Bookings must be made a minimum of 5 business days in advance of the scheduled event and opens on August 21.

To make a reservation, at least four participants are required. This will reserve all circles in the seven, nine, 11 or 17-person seating configuration for that activity.

Security event analysts and Hospitality Concordia staff will have access to the booking information submitted using MyEvents to help ensure safe on-campus gatherings and validate bookings.

Visit MyEvents online booking system to make a reservation where you will also find booking terms and conditions.

“Social distancing circles provide us with the opportunity to safely reconnect with students and colleagues, many of whom we haven’t seen in-person for quite some time. All the while, we’ll be getting a much-needed breath of fresh air and some vitamin D thrown in for good measure,” Whitelaw says.

Respecting health and safety protocols while meeting outdoors

Concordia security agents will be available onsite on both campuses to help ensure social distancing protocols and resolve potential scheduling conflicts.

Meeting participants are requested to arrive with their Concordia IDs and all personal items they require, ranging from face masks, hand sanitizer, meals, sunscreen, refreshments, pens and paper. And, for those who want to get comfortable, feel free to bring a blanket, yoga mat or folding chair.

Wearing a mask is not mandatory once a meeting participant is within the boundaries of their SDC.

To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, all SDC sites and designated washrooms will be cleaned six times per day, seven days a week.

In the event of adverse weather conditions, the meeting may be postponed or moved online.

For booking concerns or questions, email

Make a social distancing circle reservation
at Concordia today.



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