COVID-19 Update

March 11, 2020 - 9:30am

Since the last university-wide communication, numerous departments and faculties have been hard at work responding to and preparing for impacts of COVID-19. While the risk for Canada is low and we are not aware of any cases in our communities or on our campuses, the safety of the VIU community is our primary focus. The following information is being shared to keep employees and students well-informed. You can find regular updates and university resources on VIU’s Coronavirus Updates and Information website.

University Planning and Actions:

Since January, the Coronavirus Advisory Committee (CAC) has been meeting at least weekly and providing regular updates and recommendations to the Senior Management Group (SMG). The VIU Pandemic Plan was revised and is being followed and VIU is in regular contact with our medical health officer at Island Health. The following actions have also been taken:

  • A Travel Advisory Committee was created:
    • This committee is actively reviewing and assessing the risk of all outbound VIU-sanctioned international travel to COVID-19 affected areas.
    • The committee continues to work with VIU’s insurance companies to stay up-to-date on the most recent changes to coverage.
  • Emergency operations, preparations and planning have been enhanced and VIU is convening our Emergency Operations Centre and Policy Group for a planning session.
  • Cleaning frequency has increased in high-traffic areas across campus and VIU is working to add additional hand sanitizer stations.
  • We are continuing to promote “handwashing/cover your cough” public awareness messaging (you can find awareness materials on the website).
  • Coordinated internal planning across key departments has been occurring regularly to prepare for local impacts of a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

New initiatives under development:

  • The creation of a travel registry for all outgoing domestic and international travel: 
    • This registry will ensure that the institutional travel advisory committee can assess the risk of all VIU-sanctioned travel. Frequent updates to government travel advisories and insurance coverage require ongoing monitoring of travel.
    • This registry is also a mechanism for VIU to respond appropriately and provide support to individuals while travelling who may be impacted by COVID-19.
  • The development of an Academic Continuity Committee to review our instructional continuity capabilities and to coordinate support to impacted students.

 

For Employees and Students Considering Personal Travel:

Due to the rapidly evolving situation, we recommend all members of our community reconsider international travel plans over spring break, Easter break and in the coming weeks, especially to or through areas with elevated government of Canada travel advisories.

The global situation remains volatile and travel advisories in countries may escalate quickly. Travellers should understand that as global efforts to contain COVID-19 continue, the availability of health-care services in some areas may be limited and travel restrictions may be put in place suddenly.

If travelling abroad, we strongly suggest that Canadian citizens register their travel through the Government of Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad program. This is a free service that allows the Government of Canada to notify you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. The service also enables you to receive important information before or during a natural disaster or civil unrest. You can also stay connected to Canada through the Smart Travel Tools.

Practice Good Hygiene:
We should all continue to follow preventive practices recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The PHAC recommends the following actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19:

  • Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, which is then disposed of, or the crook of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with others who are unwell.

We recognize the impact that these travel restrictions have on our community and encourage anyone impacted to reach out to available resources for support linked on the website.  As the situation is constantly evolving, the university will continue to monitor and will continue to communicate updates. You can find regular updates, answers to frequently asked questions and other resources related to COVID-19 on the website.


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