June 18, 2020 - 4:15pm

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we have moved from an emergency situation to a place where changes related to the pandemic are evolving a bit more slowly. We find ourselves reacting less and spending more time planning for a variety of possibilities in the future. Due to this shift and feedback we have received, we are in the process of transitioning these updates into two separate more focused communications - one for students and one for employees. They will overlap when required, and we will return to this update format if the situation warrants in the future. In the meantime, check out the latest highlights below. 

Below, you’ll find information for both students and employees; information specifically for students; and information specifically for employees.


Student and employee updates: 

1: COVID Research Highlights:

  • We are proud of the work being done by VIU Nursing professor Dr. Shannon Dames, who is leading a multi-disciplinary team of academics and health professionals that has been awarded a $50,000 CIHR grant to aid in the development of an innovative medicine-assisted therapy program for the treatment of mental health issues experienced by first responders. The CIHR grant is part of the federal government’s rapid research response to COVID-19 and is aimed at addressing and improving mental health outcomes during the pandemic response and beyond. Read about the program here.
  • COVID-related student research project: Sabrina Mudryk is a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student with a Psychology major and Creative Writing minor attending VIU. For her honour's project she is doing a study on individuals well-being during the COVID-19 quarantine. The Well-being during a quarantine survey takes about 30 - 40 minutes to complete. 

2: Shuttered buildings on the Nanaimo campus: To reduce energy consumption and custodial services while remote working continues, the following buildings will be shuttered on the VIU Nanaimo campus:

  • 115 (Electrical Technologies) from June 30 to August 22
  • 165 (extra classrooms) from June 30 to August 22
  • 350 (The High School) from June 29 to August 31
  • 355 (Arts and Sciences) from June 22 to July 31
  • 140 (Storage) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 164 (Hairdressing) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 170 (Shq’apthut) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 179 (Offices) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 310 (Theatre/University Relations) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 320 (Music) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 340 (Faculty of Arts and Humanities Offices) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 345 (Faculty of Arts and Humanities) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date
  • 365 (Log Cabin) beginning the week of June 15 to an undetermined date

Individuals who access these buildings are encouraged to remove necessary items prior to shuttering. Access to these buildings once shuttered will require special arrangements through Facilities Services by emailing facility@viu.ca.

3: Want to check out a virtual activity this summer? Visit our campusevents.viu.ca page to see what’s happening, from coffee chats to yoga to cultural events! 

Student-specific updates: 

1: Are you struggling financially as a result of COVID-19? The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides financial support to post-secondary students and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19. More financial assistance can be found on the COVID-19 Financial Assistance Resources for Students page.

2: VIU students are taking the annual Vancouver Island Student Leadership Conference online this year. Called "Resilient Minds, Brilliant Leaders", the event runs June 1-25 features keynote speakers, virtual events and a Moment of Gratitude virtual flash mob. This activity is part of the Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning’s #socialstrengthening activities that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about the conference in this VIU News article

Employee specific updates:

1: New employee enewsletter coming in July! As mentioned in our last update, we are moving away from a COVID-19 update and toward a new enewsletter. The reason for this change is that we have a lot of news to share that is not COVID-19 related. As well, the urgency of the pandemic has shifted, which requires our communications to shift. We will share “news you can use” through this publication, with quick updates and small items with links, similar to the VIU Digest. Our colleagues are doing so many wonderful things and launching important initiatives to keep VIU a place of education excellence and we want to share these with you. This enewsletter is in addition to VIU Voices and will be published bi-weekly through the summer and weekly starting the fall. If you have an item for this publication, send it to alyson.winks@viu.ca.     

2: IT Ask Me Anything: Have you ever wanted to get the entire IT department into a room and ask them anything you like? Are you willing to settle for 4-6 members of the IT department? We have the room for you! Or rather, a virtual room. In true Ask Me Anything style, we have no planned theme, just a planned panel willing to listen and answer your questions. However, if we can’t answer a question right then and there we will follow up with you and get you an answer. Sound good? See you there! Visit the Ask Me Anything page to register. 

3: Reminder to employees to fill out the working remotely survey: Last week, all VIU employees received an invitation to participate in a short survey on working remotely. We are seeking your participation in this survey to enable the institution to better understand and support employee needs while working remotely. The survey provides an opportunity to assess how the recent dramatic shift in working environments has affected you as an employee. Also, it will inform how departments such as Human Resources, IT, Health and Safety and Risk Management develop an institutional flexible work program for the future.

4: Announcing the third annual THRIVE experience: While THRIVE is typically a week-long series of events that take place across VIU’s campuses, physical distancing requirements have the Student Affairs team planning a different look and feel this year. This year, in recognition of the ongoing mental health impacts of COVID-19, Student Affairs will host THRIVE online events throughout the entire semester, rather than in-person events during a single week. They will be finalizing the details of this modified THRIVE over the summer and will provide an update to the VIU community in August. In the meantime, teams and departments across the university are invited to think about how you would like to get involved with THRIVE 2020. Some examples:

  • Be a Special Event Partner: Plan and promote a special online THRIVE event for the community.
  • Be a THRIVE Partner: Promote your regularly scheduled event or activity as a “THRIVE” event or host an event for a specific audience such as your club or department.
  • Be a Promotional Partner: Help promote THRIVE by emailing your groups or networks, sharing on social media and generally encouraging attendance at events.

Please contact Thrive@viu.ca with any thoughts or questions.


  • 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




Tags: Teaching and Learning

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email