UPDATE: COVID-19, April 15

April 15, 2020 - 5:30pm

There are so many different ways our community is supporting each other – thank you! We loved this idea that came from VIU’s Student Wellness Promoters. They wanted to support students living in residence and in homestay placements throughout Nanaimo who are away from their families and may have limited connections to them right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To show these students they are not alone during this period of physical distancing, the Student Wellness Promoters, in partnership with various departments on campus, put together care packages that will help people stay well, stay busy, engage in mindfulness, and practice self-care. Read this news story to learn more. 

Do you have any stories like this that we could share? Let us know at universityrelations@viu.ca

Our next update will be Tuesday, April 21 as we are now going to move to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. You can always reach us at universityrelations@viu.ca.



Students and employees:

1: Got a virtual event you want to promote? Don’t forget to add it to the VIU Events calendar! To add your event, go to campusevents.viu.ca, click on the Menu on the right-hand side, and scroll down the list of options to click on “Submit Event.”

2: Chemistry Department produces sanitizer solutions for essential service personnel: Chemistry technicians Shelley Gellein and Peter Diamente are reworking their daily routines to include preparation of sanitizer solutions for their colleagues who remain on campus to provide essential services. The preparation is based on the World Health Organization formulations. Thanks to Shelley and Peter for keeping their colleagues safe! 

3: Help a senior: You can help seniors stay connected and healthy by volunteering for the new province-wide initiative Safe Seniors, Strong Communities. The program is a partnership between United Way’s Better at Home program, bc211 and the BC Ministry of Health. It connects seniors 65 and older with a volunteer who can help them with grocery shopping, meal preparation, prescription pick-up or a friendly check-in call. People can volunteer at www.bc211.ca. If you need help you can dial 2-1-1 to access the organization’s help line, which provides free information and referral to a range of community, social and government services. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

4: VIU’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning is organizing virtual social strengthening activities for students. Check out the full schedule and access the individual events in VIU’s online events calendar. The next couple of events:  

5: Introducing Culture Kitchen: A weekly Instagram Live cooking show hosted by VIU Intercultural Program Coordinator Simón Schachner on Tuesdays starting at 5 pm. Each week features a different student or recent alumnus demonstrating how to cook one of their favourite dishes. Follow VIU Cultural Connections on Instagram to join in on the fun. Live comments and greetings encouraged.

6: Housing and Tenancy during COVID-19 Webinar: The office of Homestay and Off-Campus Housing is offering a free webinar for all VIU students, staff and faculty on Thursday, April 16 from 3 - 4:30 pm. The webinar will be facilitated by the Public Legal Education Coordinator at Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC), focusing on the recent developments in Housing and Tenancies in British Columbia, as they relate to the COVID19 pandemic. TRAC is a non -profit organization that aims to promote the legal protection of residential tenants across British Columbia by providing information, education, support and research on residential tenancy matters. More details here


Student-specific updates: 

1: VIU Cares: Introducing a new daily Zoom chat for current students. Need to chat or connect? Have questions? Join our daily Zoom sessions for a Live Chat with VIU staff members. These sessions start April 14 and run daily M-F from 3-4 pm. 

2: IMPORTANT COUNSELLING UPDATE: Distance counselling for VIU students is available through VIU Counselling Services from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4 pm. To book an appointment:

For domestic students:

  • Call 250.740.6416, leave a voice message with your name, student number and email, and you will be contacted by Counselling Services to set up an appointment. 

For international students:

  • Email Counselling.International@viu.ca (this email is monitored Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 4 pm). Indicate your name and student number only (the auto-reply from the email will indicate next steps). You will be contacted by International Counselling Services to set up an appointment.

For Cowichan students:

  • Please email advising.cowichan@viu.ca if you would like an Educational Advisor/Counsellor to contact you by email, phone or Zoom meeting. Please provide your full name, phone number, student number (if applicable), best times to reach you during our regularly scheduled work week and your preferred way for us to contact you. Educational Advisor/Counsellors will be available Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm.

Please ensure your phone number and email match your student record. If this information does not match, please update your student record. 

Additional suggestions for supporting yourself through this time can be found on the Supports for Students and Employees page.

3: The Medical Clinic on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus remains open on an appointment basis only. Patients can continue to leave a message at 250-740-6620 to book telephone appointments.


Employee specific updates:

1: VIU Voices: Stay tuned to your email tomorrow for the first edition of VIU Voices during this new reality. The VIU Remote Work Chronicles feature many of our colleagues from across the institution.

2: Updated link forStronger Minds by BEACON: A free digital program available to support all Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Stronger Minds participants have access to day-to-day guidance from the extensive BEACON team of clinical psychologists. You are provided with resources that will help you learn how to protect your mental well-being during these turbulent times using videos, quick reads and resilience-building activities. As this resource is free to all Canadians, feel free to share with your friends and family outside VIU. 

3: Teaching & Learning in a Digital World: Instructors in VIU’s Trades and Applied Technology are blogging about their adventures in the switch from face-to-face to alternative delivery teaching and assessment. Follow along to learn about what tools, technologies and Zoom backgrounds are working for them. 



Student and Employee reminders:

1: “The world is changing, but we don’t need to just focus on what is driving that change. We can choose to practice optimism, gratitude and make a deliberate effort to focus on some of the positive places that change might take us.” VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deb Saucier’s April blog post is up and it includes her reflections on the current situation, her yeast-making adventures, as well as what she’s reading and listening to right now. 

2: Facilities Updates: Reminder: Visit our closed/open website for up-to-date information on all VIU’s facilities. 

3: Emotional Supports: We have created a list of both VIU and community supports that are available for everyone – please reach out if you need to and encourage others to do so as well. 

4. VIU Library: We are here to help, with several academic supports and work/study-break resources, too! The 24/7 Library Commons remains open via card access and is now well stocked with VIU-made hand sanitizer, thanks to our amazing Chemistry colleagues.



1: Student Affairs needs YOUR input: What online events or workshops would you like to see more of to support you during this time? Please send your suggestions and comments to ­­studentaffairsadmin@viu.ca.

2: Elder Support for the week of April 14 - 17: VIU’s Elders-in-Residence will be available next week for phone calls with students who want some support or words of encouragement. Email Sylvia.Scow@viu.ca to access the Elders-in-Residence. 

3: E-Counselling: Virtual counselling by Zoom is available to all VIU students effective April 15. To book an appointment please call 250-740-6416 and leave a voice message with your name, student number, and email. Please ensure your phone number and email match your student record. If this information does not match your student record, we ask that you update your student record. These supports replace counselling services formerly offered by Homewood Health.  

4: May the Fourth be with All of Us Student Contest: With the hopes of finding curiosity and inspiration in the middle of all this upheaval, the Office of Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity challenges you to get your creative juices flowing this spring! From essays to haikus to pics – there is something for everyone. Win some VIU swag and contribute to VIU’s historical documentation of Spring 2020, Our Time Like No Other. Check out this link for more details. 

5: VIU’s Financial Aid team is working quickly to respond to an overwhelming student demand for emergency financial need bursaries. Over the past three weeks, more than 946 bursaries have been provided totaling more than $236,500. The provincial government announced $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance for post-secondary students; VIU’s share of this money is $140,000. We realize many students are struggling right now and VIU is working hard to raise more funds for our internal emergency bursary fund to further support the extra demand.  

While VIU is currently not able to offer more than $250 per student due to high student demand for support, we are trying to help in other ways. For example, we have developed a resource page for students impacted by COVID-19 that lists other benefits and aids that students can apply for during this difficult time, and we anticipate further supports from the federal government to be announced soon. We also highly recommend researching external resource links including those posted on our External Awards page.

Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund: This funding is reserved for Indigenous students experiencing financial hardship. Funding is limited and reserved for Indigenous students who are currently enrolled at VIU. Include your full name and student number in email and send to sas@viu.ca by April 20, 2020.

Financial Assistance Resources for Students: Are you facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? VIU’s Financial Aid team has created a resource page that lists a variety of supports and relief measures to help you get through this challenging time. It includes VIU supports, government relief measures and other supports.  

6: E-tutoring available: International Academic Support (IAS) and VIU’s Writing Centre have moved to e-tutoring models. If you have any questions, email sylvia.arnold@viu.ca (IAS) or John.Hill@viu.ca (Writing Centre). 

7:  International Students: 


Employee-specific reminders:

1: Coffee with the President: VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deb Saucier is working from her home office right now, but she’s eager to maintain connections with employees. Interested in a Zoom coffee break with the president? This is a chance to check in and chat about how life is going – what your home workstation looks like, what cool books you’re reading or podcasts you’re listening to, and the music that keeps you going. Email rsvp@viu.ca to get your name on the list for the next Zoom Coffee with the President. 

2: Join Keeping Connected VIU - a new Facebook group for VIU employees that aims to give colleagues a place to share posts, and help each other smile during this time of social distancing. We’re used to seeing each other in the cafeteria, in the classroom, in the hallways and around campus, but without that physical space to interact, we thought this group would be a great place to spread some positivity. Share a video of you playing your favourite song on the guitar, a picture of your workspace at home, pictures of your furry “co-workers,” fun videos that are helping you keep a smile on your face, memes to make us laugh and messages of positivity for our community. Whatever you think would help brighten everyone's day. Join by searching Keeping Connected VIU on Facebook.



  • 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

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