MONTREAL -- Hundreds of student officers studying at the two military colleges in Quebec and Ontario will finally return home, after being confined to their campuses for more than a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commanders at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean, in Montérégie, and of the College of Kingston, Ontario, ordered the suspension of the courses Tuesday. The officer cadets must now return home, where they will complete their last three weeks of study online and take their final exams.

This unprecedented decision follows a contrary order issued on Mar, 14 by the Chief of the Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance, who ordered the officer cadets to stay on their campuses and receive no outside visits due to COVID-19.

Students who have no other primary residence will remain on campus and complete their studies online like other cadets. All classes will resume online on Mar. 31 and end around Apr. 30.

“Their responsibility at this time will be to remain safe and in good health, (...) to complete their school year with alternative methods, and to remain ready for any tasks to follow which could include participation in their training or support for Canadian Armed Forces operations,” said College Saint-Jean.

The two military colleges also canceled their convocation ceremonies and their end-of-year parade. Graduate students will be officially received as officers when they join their respective units.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 24, 2020.