Covid-19 Updates

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for August 25, 2021:

Mandatory Masks:

  • The Provincial Health Officer has issued new province-wide mandatory mask requirements for all indoor public areas effective August 25, 2021 including shopping centres, coffee shops, retail and grocery stores, pubs, and public transportation.
  • To support the full return to in-person education, research and on-campus services for B.C.’s post-secondary institutions, the new mask order will apply to all indoor public areas on post-secondary campuses including classrooms, labs, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and elevators.
  • Further details will be available in the Provincial Health Officer Order currently under development, including mask exemption provisions.

 

Proof of Vaccination:

  • Starting September 13, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required in B.C. to access a broad range of social, recreational, and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province including:
    • Indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres and gyms, indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor theatre events, and indoor organized events like conferences and weddings; and,
    • Students living in on-campus student housing at B.C. post-secondary institutions.  Partial vaccination will be required by September 7, 2021 to align with the start of the fall academic term.
  • Local health authorities are working closely with post-secondary institutions to provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all students, faculty and staff.
  • Discretionary non-educational activities and businesses on post-secondary campuses captured by the new proof of vaccination requirements include restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, gyms, and indoor ticketed events.
  • The specifics of the proof of vaccination requirements will be outlined in a new Provincial Health Officer Order currently under development.
  • Post-secondary institutions may implement their own proof of vaccination requirements as a part of their communicable disease prevention plans.  Institutions seeking to introduce their own proof of vaccination policies are responsible for doing their own due diligence and consulting with public health. Public health has advised that while institutions may consider a vaccination policy for employees, they are not supportive of proof of vaccination requirements for students participating in educational activities (e.g., classrooms, labs, field schools, tutorials etc.).

 

Region-Specific Public Health Measures for Interior Health:

  • New public health measures were introduced on August 20, 2021 in the Interior Health region to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases including clusters and outbreaks. 
  • The measures are a region-specific and time-limited approach to lowering the number of COVID-19 cases, and provide an example of how local health authorities will support post-secondary institutions in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • NOTE:  The Interior Health COVID-19 Gatherings and Events Order continues to provide an exemption to the 50-person limit for gatherings for post-secondary institutions engaged in educational activities.  However, please note that indoor and outdoor gatherings and events not directly related to educational activities (e.g. BBQs, social orientation events, etc.) will be limited to 50 people.

 

Additional Fall 2021 Public Health Guidance:

  • B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer has advised that the full return to in-person learning is not dependent on the province transitioning to Step 4 of the BC Restart Plan.
  • Classrooms, lecture theatres and educational orientation events are not considered gatherings and can operate with no capacity limits.
  • Students participating in health science programs must be fully immunized as required by the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventative Measures Order dated August 20, 2021 in order to participate in student practicums and clinical placements.
  • Experts from the post-secondary sector and public health are meeting on a weekly basis to support the fall return to campus, including facilitating coordinated sector-wide approaches to emerging issues and the implementation of the proof of vaccination requirements.
  • The Return-to-Campus Guidelines are being updated to reflect the evolving public health guidance.

 

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.  Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

COVID-19 Resources:

·       COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines are hosted on government’s public website.

·       Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

·       If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer.

·        WorksafeBC guidance is available on communicable disease prevention plans

 

Please note the following COVID-19 update for June 30, 2021:

Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan Commencement Date and Additional Province-wide Updates – updated as of June 29, 2021

·        The Province has confirmed that Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan will commence on July 1, 2021.

·        The provincial state of emergency for COVID-19 pandemic response will be lifted and orders will begin to be rescinded after July 1.

    • Wearing a mask in an indoor public space will be recommended, but not mandatory, for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.
    • For gatherings:
      • Return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings.
      • Indoor organized gatherings of 50 people or 50% capacity of venue capacity, whichever is greater.
      • Outdoor organized gatherings of 5,000 people or 50% capacity of venue capacity, whichever is greater.
      • No capacity limits or restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services.
    • For sports and exercise:
      • All indoor fitness classes allowed, normal capacity.
      • Gyms and recreation facilities, normal capacity.
      • Indoor spectators of 50 people or 50% capacity of venue capacity, whichever is greater.
      • Outdoor spectators of 5,000 people or 50% capacity of venue capacity, whichever is greater.
    • Employers must follow WorkSafeBC’s communicable disease prevention guidance.
    • There will be no group limits for indoor and outdoor dining however, no socializing between tables will be allowed.

 

Note: The Ministry expects the Return-to-Campus Guidelines will be available for PSIs during the week of July 5th to 9th.

 

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.  Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

Please note the following COVID-19 update for May 26, 2021:

Launch of BC’s Restart Plan

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share these updates broadly within your respective institutions. 

COVID-19 Resources:

·         The COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Primer is hosted on government’s public website.

·         Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

·         If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer.

 

Please note the following COVID-19 update for April 26, 2021:

PHO Workplace and Post-Secondary Institution Safety Order updated as of April 21, 2021

Changes were made to the PHO Workplace and Post-secondary Institution Safety Order to respond to an increase in community transmission and COVID-19 cases, and to support the WorkSafeBC requirement for COVID-19 Safety Plans to ensure consistent mask wearing in indoor common areas. This order does not have an expiration date.

Changes include:

      • A student must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in an indoor common area or a classroom in a post-secondary institution, subject to the exceptions noted in section 9.
      • Employers must require workers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in indoor common areas.
      • Employers must strongly encourage workers to work from their private residences, if possible, given the nature of the work involved.
      • Visitors to indoor common areas continue to be covered by the face covering requirements in the Emergency Program Act Ministerial Order No. M012

 

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

COVID-19 Resources:

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Greetings.  Please note the following COVID-19 update for April 12, 2021:

Effective Monday, April 12, BC’s Provincial Health Officer has put in place a new Expedited Workplace Closure process to break the transmission of COVID-19.

·       Public health officials may order workplace closures, assisted by WorkSafeBC prevention officers, for a period of 10 days or longer when transmission of COVID-19 occurs at the worksite.

·       Post-secondary institutions are not exempt.  However, closures may be restricted at the discretion of the local Medical Health Officer to one particular location where transmission has occurred.

  • For example, a closure order may be issued for:

o   A specific service or retail provider on campus (e.g., restaurant, pub, store).

o   A specific building on campus, fitness/recreation facility, or a teaching cohort.

·       If a closure is ordered, WorkSafeBC will serve the closure notice and will then support the workplace to review and enhance safety plans, as needed.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

The BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) introduced new province-wide restrictions to address rising COVID-19 case counts.  These restrictions are in effect until midnight April 19, 2021. Below is a summary.

Athletic Activities

·        All indoor adult group fitness activities are cancelled until April 19 at midnight.

·        Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed.

Religious Gatherings and Worship Services

  • The variance allowing indoor religious gatherings and worship services between March 28 and May 13 is suspended.
  • Outdoor worship services under the current variance may continue.

Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Food Courts

·        Restaurants, pubs, bars and food courts are closed for indoor dining until April 19 at midnight.

·        Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery is allowed with continued use of COVID-19 layers of protection and physical distancing.

·        NOTE:   Dining facilities for student housing and cafeterias serving students, faculty and staff at educational institutions are exempt from the closure order.

Social Gatherings Restrictions

  • No indoor social gatherings of any size at private residences is permitted other than between those who reside in the household.

·        A person who lives alone may have up to two other people visit if they are people with whom the person regularly interacts.

·        Up to 10 people can gather outdoors with continued use of COVID-19 layers of protection such as maintaining physical distancing and mask wearing.

In addition, the PHO strongly recommends:

  • Working from home through to April 19, where possible, unless it is essential to be in the workplace.
  • Avoiding all non-essential travel. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

 

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

 

COVID-19 Resources:

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Please note the following COVID-19 update for February 19, 2021:

The Government of Canada has expanded restrictions for international travel, effective Feb. 22, including:

  • Travellers entering Canada by air will be required to take a COVID-19 test before leaving the airport to spend 3 nights in quarantine at a federal government-authorized hotel, which the traveller must pre-book and pay for, while awaiting test results.

With a clear test result, travellers will proceed to the quarantine site identified in their quarantine plan.

  • Travellers entering Canada by land will be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival at the border before proceeding to the quarantine site identified in their quarantine plan.
  • All travellers will also be required to take a COVID-19 test toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.
  • International students on study permits continue to be allowed into Canada to attend designated learning institutions assessed to have appropriate measures in place with respect to the mandatory quarantine.

Details on these requirements are available on line: Government of Canada expands restrictions to international travel by land and air - Canada.ca

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

 

COVID-19 Resources:

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for February 19, 2021: 

International students on study permits continue be allowed into Canada for institutions assessed to have appropriate measures in place to ensure that the students who attend the institution can meet applicable obligations with respect to the mandatory quarantine.   The list of designated learning institutions with a COVID-19 readiness plan is located here.   

 

Under new requirements for air travel that take effect February 22, 2021, when a student arrives in Canada, they must take a COVID-19 test before leaving the airport and spend 3 days in quarantine at a federal government-authorized hotel. With a clear test result, the student can proceed to the quarantine site identified in their quarantine plan.  Ten-days into their quarantine, the student will use a take-home test provided at their arrival in Canada. A further clear result is required before leaving quarantine at 14 days. 

 

The list of government-authorized hotels will be available to students on February 18, 2020. 

 

Institutions should inform students regarding these changes and review their Quarantine Plans to ensure that all information, including quarantine requirements and additional costs, for international students arriving in Canada to attend your institution are up-to-date.    

 

Details on these requirements, and the requirements for travellers arriving at land border crossings, are available on line: Government of Canada expands restrictions to international travel by land and air - Canada.ca

 

Action by institutions with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan:

  • Please review your institution’s plan for quarantine management and your student communications to ensure the new federal travel and quarantine-plan requirements are incorporated into your plans and student information.
  • Ensure your plans are updated on your website, and all student communication reflects the new requirements.
  • Ensure your students know to have a fully compliant Quarantine Plan, including bookings at the federal facility, before they begin their travel.
  • Continue to remain in contact with and provide support to your incoming students through their full quarantine period.
  • Continue reporting weekly the required data to EQA@gov.bc.ca

More information is available from the Government of Canada:

 

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for January 7, 2021:

Extension of province-wide restrictions

On January 7, 2021 BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered an extension to existing province-wide restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Specifically, the sections of the gatherings and events order concerning visitors in private residences and allowable/prohibited events (sections A, B and C) that were to expire on January 8th have been extended to February 5, 2021 at midnight.

  • All events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions.
  • All non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

PHO updates re: varsity sport and retail occupancy limits

Varsity sport

On December 24, 2020 BC’s Public Health Officer (PHO) amended the Gatherings and Events Order to expand and clarify restrictions on sports and fitness activities. These changes include permitting varsity sports subject to conditions, such as allowing participants to train or practice only with their home institution, ensuring participants maintain three-metre physical distancing, and prohibiting spectators.

For the sake of clarity, “varsity sport” includes only formally recognized sports rather than intramural or other informal fitness activities. It is defined as follows:

  • “Varsity sport” means a sport for which the eligibility requirements for participation are established by a national association for the regulation of intercollegiate athletics, or which is designated as a varsity sport program by a post-secondary institution, and includes fitness training, sport training, practice and competition.

Retail occupancy limits

Previous guidance on retail occupancy limits has been incorporated into the Gatherings and Events Order to emphasize the need for stores and malls to prevent overcrowding and congestion. This includes requiring operators to calculate maximum occupancy based on five square metres/person in publicly-accessible areas.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions. 

COVID-19 Resources:

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On December 7th, 2020 the Provincial Health Officer extended province-wide restrictions as noted below:

Extension of PHO province-wide restrictions

On December 7, 2020 BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered an extension to existing province-wide restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

  • The PHO Gatherings and Events Order, which has been in effect since November 19, 2020, has been extended to January 8, 2021 at midnight.
  • All events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions.
  • All non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share these updates broadly within your respective institutions. 

COVID-19 Resources:

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Please note the following COVID-19 updates for November 25, 2020:

Non-medical mask requirements in all indoor public settings and workplaces

November 24th an Order in Council (OIC) and Ministerial Order were issued as the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced alignment of the Province’s measures under the Emergency Program Act  with the Provincial Health Officer’s (PHO) guidance, mandating that masks must be worn in indoor public places.

  • Masks are required in all indoor public spaces, including in all post-secondary institutions where people circulate freely, such as hallways, stairwells, elevators, etc. but they are not mandatory in non-public areas such areas as classrooms and enclosed office spaces where individuals can maintain physical distancing.
  • Post-secondary institutions may implement more stringent mask requirements based on their individual situations.
  • The mask requirement does not apply to people unable to wear a mask or put on or remove a mask on their own.

Clarification on daily COVID-19 health screening – WorkSafe BC Requirement

All employers, including post-secondary Institutions, have an accountability to ensure that every worker performs a daily COVID-19 health check before entering the workplace.

  • Health checks are mandatory self-assessments conducted by workers (not by the employer).  Workers are to confirm with their employer, in written or verbal format, that they have reviewed the complete list of entry requirements (included on this COVID-19 entry check poster) and that none of the prohibited criteria apply to them for that day.
  • It will be up to individual institutions on how best to implement.  However, the WorkSafeBC website provides a number of examples for consideration.

Evolving PHO guidance

COVID-19 Resources:

  • If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer

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