DAILY UPDATE: COVID-19, MARCH 17, 6:40 PM

March 17, 2020 - 6:45pm

We have said this a number of times, but we wanted to once again thank everyone in our community for their continued support and patience. It means a lot to see people coming together and recognizing that there are many people across our campuses and facilities working hard to respond to this unprecedented situation.

As announced on Sunday, our faculty are continuing to work hard to implement alternate course delivery and assessment and students will hear from their instructors by March 19, 2020.

We also wanted to let employees know that Departments and Faculties across campuses have been asked to come up with area-specific plans to support the Federal and Provincial governments’ advice regarding social distancing. This includes implementing work from home options, and where that isn’t possible, introducing strategies to reduce face-to-face interactions. More details will be shared with specific areas on Wednesday, March 18.

As a reminder, the most up-to-date information can be found on VIU’s COVID website where you will also find all previous Daily Updates as well as FAQs.

However, if you have questions not answered by the content on the website or in this latest update, please email universityrelations@viu.ca, or contact specific emails noted below.

 

GENERAL UPDATES:

NEW ITEMS:

1. BC’s government has declared a Public Health Emergency to allow the “province to respond more quickly and nimbly” to address this challenging situation. BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, also shared the following advice, which we thought worthy of sharing again: “This is our time to be kind, be calm and be safe.”

2. Library: To support the social distancing advice from the province:

    • Group study room bookings are cancelled until further notice
    • Access is limited to the third floor but the library will remain open until 10 pm this evening
    •  Effective March 18, 2020, all students, staff and faculty will require their VIU ID card to access the Library Commons, and B305.
    • There are now only 50 seats in the Library Commons, with 1-2 metre spacing in place
    • Everyone should hold on to their library materials for now; we are taking steps to stop bills from accruing and will waive existing bills.

3. International students:

VIU held a Facebook Live session on Tuesday March 17. We hope most questions to date were addressed. However, if you have any other questions related to COVID-19 and your time at VIU, please email: support.international@viu.ca.

4.VIU’s Student Pub will close at 7 pm, March 17, 2020, until further notice; VIUSU Students’ Union Office is now closed until further notice.

 

REMINDERS:

  1. All of us have a responsibility to support each other and mitigate the risk of transmission. The best way we can do this is to ensure we are observing the guidelines around social distancing and carefully washing our hands.
  2. We have decided to cancel all internal and external events at VIU’s campuses and facilities until May 1. This does not include meetings that are essential for the normal operations of VIU, such as Board and Senate meetings. This decision will be reviewed on April 15 and an update shared. This is based on the Provincial Government’s recommendations to cancel all events with 50 or more people and to ensure we are putting actions in place to support the advice on social distancing.
  3. VIU’s Starbucks on the Nanaimo campus is moving to a grab and go model – there will be no seating in the location and reduced hours are also in place; the location will be open Monday to Friday, 7 am - 3 pm.
  4. VIU’s Writing Centre is no longer open for face-to-face meetings; all of the appointments will be through e-tutoring. If you have any questions please contact john.hill@vi.ca.
  5. VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Bowser, Milner Gardens & Woodland in Qualicum Beach, and the gym on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus are closed to the public until further notice. This is to support the Provincial Government requirements of having no more than 50 people gathered together at once and to ensure we are putting actions in place to support the advice on social distancing.
  6. Cafeterias at both Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses are open to ensure employees and students can continue to be supported with food services. Staff are taking precautions to minimize risk of transmission such as having food items served by Food Services team members (limiting guest contact with food); increased table and surface cleaning; and removal of individual cutlery which has been replaced with sealed cutlery packages.

 

IMPORTANT UPDATES TO TRAVEL GUIDELINES:

  1. The Federal Government announced that Canada is closing its border to foreign travellers effective March 18, 2020; exceptions are being made for immediate family members, air crews, diplomats and US Citizens.
    1. If you are a citizen or permanent resident and are returning to Canada you must self-isolate for 14 days.
      1. If you left the country prior to March 13 and are returning, please review the Employee Leave Protocol on how VIU will support employees; VIU Students returning from VIU-sanctioned activities (exchange programs, practicums and internships) should connect with eduabroad@viu.ca; all other returning VIU students should contact their faculty or program chair.  
      2. If you left the country on March 13 or after, students and employees are required to self-quarantine at their own cost:
        1. Employees can choose to take leave without pay, use vacation time and may be able to work from home with their supervisor’s approval. 
        2. Students who reside in VIU Residences will need to check if they are able to self-isolate there. If they are unable to, they will have to find their own accommodation for the self-isolation period, which would be at their own cost. 
        3. Employees: For more information, check the Employee Leave Protocol.
        4. For students, if your circumstances are unique to those outlined here, please contact safety@viu.ca.

REMINDER: STUDENT-SPECIFIC UPDATES:

 Educational support: 

    • VIU Library’s electronic collections (journals, ebooks, databases and more), in support of research and assignments are available every day
    • Email, voice and video research help for students is available by appointment on weekdays – please visit the library website
    • Askaway chat research help is available weekdays https://askaway.org/chat 

 Leave Support: 

    • If students are experiencing any symptoms of illness, they should review these guidelines to find out what to do.
    • If students are feeling ill, then they need to reach out to their professor or faculty to develop a plan for completing the semester.

EMPLOYEE SPECIFIC UPDATES:

  1. To minimize the risk of transmission between employees and counsellors, VIU’s Employee and Family Assistance Provider, Homewood Health, has moved from face-to-face counselling and will be implementing telephone counselling services.   

 

SUPPORTS FOR OUR COMMUNITY:

We know that many people are feeling anxiety and concern around this quickly changing situation. We encourage anyone feeling impacted by this situation to access supports.

 

Students: 

Employees

  •  To minimize the risk of transmission between employees and counsellors, VIU’s Employee and Family Assistance Provider, Homewood Health, has moved from face-to-face counselling and will be implementing telephone counselling services. The telephone number is 1-800-663-1142.

  

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

If you have any questions or need further information please let us know at universityrelations@viu.ca. We want to support our community as best we can and appreciate your feedback. 

Thank you for your patience as we work to provide the most reliable information during this rapidly developing situation.


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