UPDATE: COVID-19, MAY 13

May 13, 2020 - 5:45pm

As you know, VIU, along with many other universities, announced on Monday that our fall semester will be a hybrid program model of education delivery, with most courses being offered in an online format. This decision was not made lightly and was taken in order to support the safety and well-being of our community and ensure VIU is following the guidelines of the BC Public Health Office. You can read more about this in our Student Update below in NEW ITEMS. 

There was some good news from the federal government today - effective May 15, 2020, students can apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Similar to how the CERB application process was rolled out, students are being asked to submit their applications for the new benefit program over four days, depending on the month of their birth. Under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, eligible applicants will receive $1,250 a month from May to August. Applicants who have a disability, or are taking care of someone else, will receive $2,000 a month.

We also wanted to take a moment to reiterate our gratitude for all of our employees who have gone above and beyond, been adaptable, and found innovative and creative ways to support our students and each other. Please take a moment to watch this brief video from Dan VanderSluis, the Associate-Vice President of Human Resources as he shares a message of thanks and encourages everyone to take some time to rest and relax this long weekend.

 

NEW ITEMS FOR TODAY:

Student and employee updates: 

1: Move into May with Athletics and Recreation: For the month of May, VIU’s Mariners Athletics and Recreation is encouraging all students, staff, faculty and their families to engage with them through a number of virtual activities aimed at building community. Follow their social media channels to find engaging pre-recorded workouts; wellness challenges; the “Meals with Mike” cooking series; tips, tricks and vlogs with cool people; re-lived moments from recent National Championships and even an old-fashioned game of HORSE (the basketball game). Keep an eye out for our Mariner athletes as they share their at-home training tips and health regimes.

Next up:

2: New resources from BCcampus: During the COVID-19 pandemic, people may experience feelings of heightened anxiety, stress, isolation, and more. To help students, staff and faculty in the BC public post-secondary sector, BCcampus has created a website with mental health supports. All resources developed by BCcampus are openly licensed and published with accessibility in mind. In partnership with experts across the province, BCcampus will host webinars on topics like effective online learning, mental health, and resilience. All events will be recorded and stored on the website for those unable to attend. Please visit Adapting to COVID-19 to learn more.

3: Introducing the Active at Home Challenge: The Youth Edition: campVIU is encouraging families to stay active at home with weekly active and healthy living challenges for kids. Join campVIU program lead Isabella Kortbeek every Tuesday and Thursday on the VIU Mariners FacebookInstagram and Twitter channels for a different challenge. These kid-friendly activities will get you moving, creating and having fun! Follow along with instructions or do your own twist on ideas. Make sure to share your version by tagging @viumariners and #activeathome.

4: The BC Centre for Disease Control has launched a survey that asks you about your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes about 10 minutes. The survey will be open until May 31, 2020.

 

Student-specific updates: 

1: Fall semester hybrid model: As we shared above and on Monday, VIU will be moving to a hybrid program model of education delivery for our fall semester. Although this is a new approach, VIU has always taken a student-centred approach and we will continue to do so even in this new model. As well, all of our supports and services will continue to be offered. You will hear from your professors no later than June 8 with specific details about your courses, but in the meantime, you can expect that most courses that would normally be delivered as an in-class lecture or seminar will be delivered using online tools. Courses that include an experiential component (labs, practica, etc.) are being re-examined and may continue to include an on-campus experience that meets rigorous health guidelines. You can also expect some creative simulations and home-based experiential learning. We are still working out all the details about this approach and will be updating our fall semester FAQ website as regularly as we can to try and answer your questions. You can also email us at universityrelations@viu.ca.

2: 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. Upcoming events include:  

  • Thursday, May 14: Call for contributions for a self-care at home film festival - watch the Fun@VIU Facebook tomorrow for more details! 
  • Thursday, May 14: 4:30 - 5:30 pm: Yin Yoga 
  • Thursday, May 21: 4:30 – 5:30 pm: Flow Yoga

 

Employee specific updates:

1: Share your favourite ‘Keep your spirits up’ strategy: For the next issue of the Working Remotely Chronicles in VIU Voices, please share with us your favourite playlist, coffee/tea/beverage mug, ‘way to take a break during the work day’, and any other favourite thing that helps you keep your spirits up while working remotely. We love it when you illustrate your idea with a photo. Please send submissions to alyson.winks@viu.ca

2: Just in case you missed it above - please check out this message from Dan VanderSluis, Associate Vice-President of Human Resources where he shares a message of thanks and encourages everyone to take some time to rest and relax this long weekend. We also wanted to take a moment to reiterate our gratitude for all of our employees who have gone above and beyond, been adaptable, and found innovative and creative ways to support our students and each other through this time. 

3: Global Engagement Program Development Grants: To help faculty and staff pivot to online/ alternative program delivery that embraces new forms of global engagement in the COVID-19 context, the Faculty of International Education is pleased to offer an early intake for Global Engagement Program Development Grants (up to $10,000). Applications are now being accepted up to June 1, 2020, (from the regular fall intake of September 30). This will allow recipients more time to implement new online/alternative global engagement initiatives in time for the start of the fall term. More information about eligible activities can be found here. Contact: Darrell.Harvey@viu.ca.

4: Important Update on Employee Parking: WestPark and VIU understand the tremendous stress that COVID-19 has placed on everyone. In response to this, WestPark stopped payments effective March 30, 2020, for VIU employees on a monthly payment plan. For those with pre-paid passes, we will be extending the expiry date of your employee pre-paid parking pass to account for the period of time that you have thus far been unable to use it. For example, if your pass was going to expire on May 31, 2020, when you go to renew your pass, you will have two months’ credit on your account. Employees may be eligible for a refund if their parking permits expired after March 30, 2020, and they will not be returning to work at VIU. Please contact the Facilities Services and Campus Development office for consideration at facility@viu.ca. Please provide your name and employee number. If you have any questions, please contact WestPark Guest Services Department at guestservices@westpark.com or call 1-778-746-7588 if you have any questions or concerns.

 

REMINDERS:

Student and Employee reminders:

1: New Playlist from VIU President: Dr. Deborah Saucier has a new set of tunes to keep you moving for the month of May, called the May.be Playlist. Check it out on Spotify for more insight into the name.  

2: VIU Campus Store: While our physical bookstores are currently closed, our online store is open for business with new items added to the website each week. The Campus Store is offering free shipping within Canada for course material web orders and a store pick-up option for web orders from Monday to Friday, 11 am to 1 pm. For more information regarding the Campus Store visit https://campus-store.viu.ca/default.asp.

3:Virtual Gallery Show: Graduating Visual Art students have taken their final exhibition online in place of their traditional show at The View Gallery, which remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemonium is a celebration of the hard-earned achievements of the 2020 grad class. Students hope it will serve as a reminder that although the world has changed, our creativity and tenacity will help us navigate our way to a joyful future. 

4: Vision2020 is Live: This year’s VIU Graphic Design Grad Show has transformed into an online experience. So stay safe, stay indoors and check out the show from the comfort of your couch as we celebrate our graduates. 

5: 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.” 

6: VIU’s Faculty of International Education hosts Culture Kitchen: A weekly Facebook 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 Facebook to join in on the fun. Live comments and greetings encouraged.

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

8: 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. 

9. The following VIU Library services are available:

  • The Library Commons is open 24/7 via card access and with social distancing measures in place
  • Our extensive electronic collections (journals, ebooks, databases, streaming video and more) are available online.
  • Research help for is available by email or phone on weekdays – visit https://library.viu.ca or email research.help@viu.ca to make an appointment.
  • Askaway chat research help is available during posted service hours.
  • Photo ID, equipment loans and other services are also available, on weekdays.
  • Staff are standing by to assist the VIU community, 9 am - 4 pm, Monday to Friday:

 

Student-specific reminders:

1: E-tutoring available all semester! VIU’s Writing Centre and International Academic Support (IAS) are running a joint schedule from May 4 - August 7 on our usual booking system:  https://vancouver.mywconline.com. If you have any questions, email sylvia.arnold@viu.ca (IAS) or John.Hill@viu.ca (Writing Centre).

2: Volunteer Tutor Service Still Available: Free tutoring is offered to students enrolled in Adult Basic Education (ABE) and first-year University courses through VIU’s Volunteer Tutor Program. Tutors are dedicated and motivated community members who have experience working with students in an academic environment or who are skilled in subject matter related to the ACP programs. To access a tutor please complete a Tutor Request Form here for Nanaimo students or here for Cowichan students. For further information, please contact Kathy.Smith@viu.ca in Nanaimo or Dan.Vaillancourt@viu.ca in Cowichan.

3: Getting your student ID: If you need a new student ID, visit this page and scroll down to the section titled How to Get a Student ID Card During the COVID-19 Pandemic and follow the instructions. 

4: Virtual Success Coaching: Work with a Success Coach to develop mindsets and habits for well-being and success. A Success Coach can help you:    

  • learn how to maintain inner calm and confidence when faced with challenging circumstances;
  • develop lifelong strategies for self-compassion and acceptance; and
  • improve your ability to adapt to change, uncertainty, and ambiguity.

Coaching is available via Zoom and you can self-book your appointments. When your appointment time rolls around, please go to the website and click on the “join Zoom room” button and VIU Success Coach Sharon Kelly will admit you to the room.

5: 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.

6: 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.  

7: International Students: 

 

Employee-specific reminders:

1: Supports for those working alone: VIU’s Health and Safety Services department has created a webpage with resources for both supervisors and employees on best practices for working alone whether that is at home or in another location. The ‘Tools for Working at Home or in Isolation’ (found near the bottom of the page) has a comprehensive list of things to consider when working alone.

2: Struggling with the pivot to alternate delivery and assessment? VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL) has released some podcasts capturing the stories of faculty members reflecting on the challenges they are facing and, more importantly, how they are overcoming them.

3: Curious about the new security features recently introduced by Zoom? Check out this new blog post from the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL) outlining the new options. 

4: New Employee Supports Page: Human Resources has created a new page that lists all COVID-19 related resources available to employees. It has three categories - general, mental and physical health with a variety of options to choose from. Take a look and see what fantastic supports you can access. 

5: Join Keeping Connected VIU - a 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. 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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