SASKATOON -- In response to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Saskatchewan is suspending all classes on its Saskatoon campus Monday through Wednesday next week.

Beginning on Thursday March 19, the school will move to remote delivery of classes for the remainder of the winter term.

The move comes after the Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer on Friday discouraged gatherings of more than 250 people in a single room to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Although many of our classes are below 250 students, students congregate in much larger numbers in our buildings in getting to and from classes. For this reason, and also because we do have some classes that exceed 250 students, we are taking this measure," President Peter Stoicheff said in an update on the school’s website.

"We understand that there is uncertainty and concern at this time, but be assured that our preparations and planning processes are in place to protect the health and safety of our campus community. That is our top priority."

The U of S is reviewing options for conducting final exams.

Campus facilities such as the libraries, residences, food services and health services will remain and research operations will continue.

The university is also mandating the cancellation or postponement of all non-essential events hosted on campus that are not core to education or governance.