Supporting our community in January 2022

December 22, 2021 - 10:45am

As we head into the holiday break, we wanted to connect with our community about the continually evolving pandemic situation and VIU’s commitment to supporting our community’s mental and physical health and well-being.

From the pandemic’s start, VIU has collaborated closely with public health officials and followed the Public Health Orders and provincial return to campus guidelines. The priority is to support VIU students and employees.

From BC’s Public Health Office (PHO) and our experience this semester, we know there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in structured environments such as classrooms and workspaces when proper safety measures are in place. In instances where an employee or student has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the exposure is typically associated with a social setting. The high level of responsible behaviour at VIU, including high vaccination rates and complying with masking protocols, has helped prevent transmission.

Currently, public health experts in BC strongly recommend continuing on-campus instruction for post-secondary institutions in January. VIU remains committed to and will continue to offer in-person classes and student support services in January 2022. This is in line with the current return to campus guidelines and other post-secondaries in the province.

VIU will closely monitor the situation over the break and work with BC’s other post-secondary institutions, Island Health, and the PHO to determine any impact on campus activities. We are prepared to shift our approach if needed. For example, as soon as the health orders were announced on December 16 related to athletics, VIU cancelled all exhibition games along with a basketball tournament planned for the end of December. As directed by new public health orders effective today, December 22, our gym will be closing, and other organized events in January, including New Student Orientation for January, are being reviewed.  Updates on these events will be shared as plans are finalized.

As we prepare to return to campus in the new year, ensuring that students continue to have access to in-person instruction in a structured environment, we ask that you do your part to support our community and follow the current health orders.

Vaccinations and proper mask-wearing protocols remain the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on campus. Everyone eligible is strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As the PHO releases details on the booster shot program and the rapid testing program, VIU will determine our next steps and advise the community of our role in facilitating these additional measures.

If additional health orders are introduced that impact our community, we will share communication with you through email, updates on our COVID-19 update page, and through our social media channels. On our COVID-19 update page, we have also shared a letter from Dr. Bonnie Henry that went to BC post-secondary institutions, which provides further rationale for continuing to offer in-person classes and support services.

 

Federal Travel Recommendations

The federal government introduced new international travel guidelinesrecommending the avoidance of non-essential international travel over the holiday break. We are encouraging our community to follow this recommendation. Please remember that if you choose to travel, you may face restrictions when you return to Canada. If this occurs, students will need to check with their instructors and employees with their supervisors regarding the implications of absence or a late return.

 

Reminder: Keeping up to date on VIU’s health and safety protocols

As noted, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely. If any further health orders are introduced that affect our community, we will let you know as quickly as possible through email, updates on our COVID-19 update pageand through our social media channels.

 

Support for our employees and students

We recognize that this developing situation may provoke anxiety within our community. We hope you can look after yourselves over the break and engage in activities that support your self-care. If you need further support, please remember that different options are available for both employees and students.

Finally, thank you to everyone for your continued support of each other and our broader community. We appreciate the kindness and patience we have witnessed among our community members as we all continue to face this ongoing situation together.

We wish you all the best for a restful break.


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