UPDATE: COVID-19, APRIL 9

April 9, 2020 - 3:15pm

The long weekend is upon us. For some, it’s a time to celebrate important faith-based holidays such as Easter and Passover and for others, it’s a special time to get together with family and friends. This year, the long weekend will look very different for many of us as these activities will happen virtually rather than in-person. VIU President Dr. Deb Saucier wishes everyone a healthy and happy holiday in her new video, and reminds us to take some time to rest and do something to raise our spirits. 

We also want to take a moment to celebrate our incredible students. For those of you whose classes follow the traditional Fall and Spring semesters - today marks the end of classes for your academic year. Each and every single person at VIU is so proud of you for making it this far. We know the challenges COVID-19 has created cannot be overstated and your resilience and efforts in getting through the semester are truly inspiring. Congratulations - we are so proud of you. Very best of luck in wrapping up your exams and assessments. 

Today’s update is fairly newsy! Our next update will be Wednesday, April 15 - if you have any questions please email us at universityrelations@viu.ca.

 

NEW ITEMS FOR TODAY:

Students and employees:

1: VIU employees and students are busy organizing virtual events for everybody to enjoy next week. Check the Campus Events calendar for full details. Some highlights: 

  • VIU’s Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity Office is hosting two Zoom Lunch and Learns:
    • On Tuesday, April 14, Nursing Professor Shannon Dames discusses the core factors that enable humans to flourish in “Roots to Thrive: Activating Our Innate, Individual & Collective Human Capacity for Resilience.”
    • On Wednesday, April 15, Dr. Christian Lange, a Virologist at Metabiota, presents on “The Origins of Coronaviruses and Why COVID-19 is Not the End of the Story.”
  • VIU’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning is organizing eight weeks of virtual social strengthening activities for students. Next week’s highlights include: 

2: Today, the BC Provincial Government announced funding for new mental health supports for all of us as we navigate this period of staying at home. 

3: “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. 

4:  To provide additional support during these challenging times, Manulife, together with Green Shield Canada, are now sponsoring Stronger 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.

 

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 from 3-4 pm. 

2: 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.

3: 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. 

4: An Important Update from VIU’s Financial Aid department: VIU is working quickly to respond to an overwhelming student demand for emergency financial need bursaries. Over the past 10 days, more than 720 student bursaries have been provided for a total of more than $180,000. VIU is receiving hundreds of student requests each day, resulting in a current $250 bursary cap per student. 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. 

Student enquiries in relation to the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund are advised to email their request to sas@viu.ca by April 20, 2020. As funding is limited, all enquiries received by April 20 will be reviewed and students contacted by the following week. Students must be currently enrolled at VIU. Please include your full name and student number in email.

5: 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. 

 

Employee specific updates:

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: Last Chance: Send your images of your remote work space, your furry coworkers and your small coworkers to alyson.winks@viu.ca so they can be included and shared in the next issue of VIU Voices. Deadline is Tuesday, April 14, 2020. 

 

REMINDERS:

Student and Employee reminders:

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

2: 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. 

3: Accessible content for eligible VIU Community members: Any eligible* member of the VIU community can gain access to the accessible and downloadable content available through the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). Titles are available in audiobook, DAISY, PDF, EPUB, e-text, electronic Braille, and other accessible formats. While many NNELS titles are available to all, including the BC Open Textbook Collection, most titles are protected by Copyright, and will require a user login. The full collection can be found here. Please contact the library (library@viu.ca or 250.740.6330) to enable your access via a self-declaration form. Disability Access Services can also assist. For more information, please visit NNELS or contact VIU Library.

*Eligible users are those with perceptual disabilities (commonly known as print disabilities) or their caregiver.

 

Student-specific reminders:

1: 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.  

2: Important message about Intersession/Summer Session Courses: For students taking courses in May, June, July and August: These courses will go ahead as scheduled in alternate course delivery and assessment format, with no face-to-face instruction. Students will receive detailed information from course instructors outlining what this will entail at least one week before their course is scheduled to begin. Students in Academic and Career Preparation courses will hear from their instructors no later than April 9, 2020. We would like to thank students for their patience as we move these programs into a different mode of delivery. 

3: The Medical Clinic on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus remains open with some changes. Starting April 8, the clinic’s hours will be 8:30 am to 12 pm Monday to Thursday (changed from 11 am to 3 pm), as the need for medical professionals to aid in the COVID-19 efforts increases elsewhere in the community. Our nurse practitioners will continue to focus resources on providing service to existing patients, students in VIU Residence and Homestay students. Patients can continue to leave a message at 250-740-6620 to book telephone appointments.

4: Flexible Grading: As noted in the email that went out on Friday, March 27 to all students, VIU has introduced a flexible grading process for students for the Spring 2020 semester. Students have the option of being graded on a “Pass/Fail” basis. To make this decision as easy as possible, you will be graded in the normal fashion with a letter grade and a corresponding grade point value. If, after receiving your final grade, you prefer to receive a grade of “CR”, please notify your instructor or the Records department (Records@viu.ca). A “CR” grade can replace any assigned passing grade. You will have up until the end of August 2020 to make this request. Please send any questions to registration@viu.ca.  

5. 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). 

6: International Students: 

  • Students currently insured under the guard.me plan have free 24/7/365 access to the mobileDOCTOR program. mobileDOCTOR by guard.me allows you to connect with Canadian doctors on Maple, a telemedicine company, as a part of your health benefits. Maple provides access to doctors, Canada-wide, on your phone, tablet or computer anytime, anywhere. Seeing a doctor on Maple is safe and reliable, and can help prevent the need to go to a walk-in clinic or emergency room. For more information about mobileDOCTOR and other guard.me services please consult the VIU International guard.me website.
  • International Education has created a specific page for information for international students related to COVID-19
  • Further questions can be directed to support.international@viu.ca. We will continue to update the FAQ resource as new questions come in.

 

Employee-specific reminders:

1: 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.

  

MORE INFORMATION:  

  • 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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