COVID-19 UPDATE: VIU transitioning to alternate course delivery and assessment

March 15, 2020 - 5:15pm

Vancouver Island University is working hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been monitoring this situation and updating our response every day. I’d like to thank our employees and students who have come together to support each other as we work through this challenging and quickly changing situation.

While we are not aware of any cases of COVID-19 related to any of our campuses, and the risk of contracting the virus remains low in BC, we know there is increasing anxiety among our community members. As well, we want to ensure we are supporting the recommendations of BC’s Public Health Officer to the best of our ability, particularly around social distancing. 

That is why, after a recommendation from VIU’s Academic Continuity Committee, we are taking the step of transitioning from face-to-face instruction to alternate course delivery and assessment (including exams) for the remainder of the term. To facilitate this transition, we are pausing all face-to-face classes for the week of March 16-20. 

VIU has more than 120 programs, three different campuses, and a variety of facilities; therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to this transition is not appropriate. There are also practicums and internships to support,  and a variety of options for delivery of courses and assessments. 

This is why we are taking the extra step of adjourning classes from March 16-20 (except for online classes). This will allow us to ensure we are supporting our students as best as possible as we make this transition.

Faculty can expect to hear from Deans and Program Chairs to support ongoing planning for their area.

Students can expect to hear from their instructors no later than Thursday, March 19, 2020 about how their specific programs and/or courses will be delivered. We’d like to ask all students to please check their emails regularly for updates. 

We want to reassure our students that they will be supported to complete their semester (please see specific details below for Trades programs). We have been working on options to support faculty and students for some time now, enhancing training through our Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning and supporting courses to have online profiles that will be activated by faculty members.

Each instructor will choose the appropriate delivery model for the remainder of their course content and will communicate their plans for completing courses and assessments directly to their students, as noted, no later than March 19, 2020. 

Please Note: We are not closing our campuses; all other facilities and operations, including the library and cafeteria, will remain accessible and open, although VIU is ensuring we are supporting our community to minimize the risk of transmission. We will continue to assess our approach to this based on the advice of the Provincial Health Officer and working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. 

We know these decisions will require some adjustments for everyone, and we thank all members of the university community for their patience, flexibility and co-operation as we make this transition. 


Specific information for Trades students only: 

  • VIU is working closely with accrediting bodies to assess alternate delivery for our Trades programs. During the adjourning of classes next week, we will assess the need to delay, cancel or have an alternative delivery method for Trades programs. Trades students will receive an email from their instructor on next steps no later than Thursday, March 19.


Students whose homes are outside the VIU region, including international, out-of-province and exchange students:

  •  If you decide to return home before the next announcement on Thursday, please be assured that VIU faculty will do their best to enable you to complete your courses from your home location using alternate approaches.



  • As noted above, university operations will continue, and employees will come to work. However, we are also aware that this is an extraordinary situation and we would like to remind employees to review the Employee Leave Protocol which provides options to support our employees as we work through this challenging situation. 


Finally, I know that this situation is causing a lot of stress for both employees and students, which is why it’s important we continue to support each other. If you are struggling please reach out to counselling supports at the university; if you see someone else struggling, please share these details with them: 



Counselling and other services for students are provided by VIU’s Student Affairs (Building 200, third floor) as well as by International Student Services in the Faculty of International Education (Building 255). You can also access other resources in the community such as the 24-Hour Crisis Line that has text, chat and phone support. Counselling services are also available at VIU’s Cowichan and Powell River campuses. 



Counselling services are available to anyone who feels they may need support through VIU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) through Homewood Health. The telephone number is 1-800-663-1142.


We will continue to send our Daily Update emails to employees and students. As well you can find more information and updates on COVID-19 at these places: 

  • VIU’s COVID-19 website (go here first)
  • Employee and student emails (email will be used for broad community updates and any major changes; the website will contain all the updates)
  • VIU’s Safety App
  • VIU Twitter feeds: @viunews@viuniversity

Thank you. I’m honoured to be a part of this caring, inclusive community. 


Dr. Deb Saucier

VIU President and Vice-Chancellor

Tags: Announcements

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