Coronavirus update: July 30, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

July 30, 2020

The summer continues and we get closer to the Fall semester! We continue to develop our response and action plans regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all while heeding direction from the Provincial Health Officer, public health agencies and various ministries. As always, your health and safety is our first priority.

In today’s update:

  • Return-to-Campus Timelines
  • Preparing our Physical Space for September
  • The Winter Semester

Return-to-Campus Timelines

As I mentioned in my last update, while our campuses remain open and some students, faculty, staff and researchers are on site, it is not “business as usual.” Recently I’ve been asked “Geoff, when are we coming back to campus?” and “What’s the timeframe for returning to campus?” The short answer is an honest, “I don’t know,” but know we are actively working on options and models to support our campus community. ?The pandemic continues to create an environment of uncertainty, and the potential for rules and regulations from the Provincial Health Office to change still exists. We strongly encourage people to continue working remotely and we must continue to adhere to physical distancing principles when on campus. If units plan to bring people back, they must liaise with our safety office and develop a safe working plan prior to implementing. I do want to highlight some sense of normality: Degrees Coffee is open on a reduced schedule in the Teaching and Learning Building, so those on campus can enjoy a coffee and support our students.

There is no timeline regarding a “return to campus” scenario that resembles our pre-pandemic operations. We’ll continue to develop plans that prioritize health and safety while fostering exceptional learning and research environments for our students, faculty and staff; it’s just going to look different for the foreseeable future.

Preparing our physical spaces for September?

While the majority of us will keep working remotely this September, for those who do return to campus, you will notice some new signage, floor decals etc. meant to provide visual cues regarding physical distancing. We have conducted a thorough audit of our spaces, developed new room occupancy limits, and suggested seating arrangements denoted by large stickers on tables and the floor to make maximum use of our available spaces. We’ve posted signs at each entrance providing basic instructions as well. I want to thank Sarah Elliott and her team for all their efforts in supporting the safety of all those on campus. If you visit, please pay attention to these visual cues to help ensure the continued safety of our community members.

The Winter Semester

There continues to be significant engagement with the various provincial government ministries as well as our colleagues across the post-secondary sector in British Columbia regarding the winter semester. I know everyone is waiting for the decision to be made and we are working towards an announcement soon. Given the continued discussion around in-person gatherings in the province, we must wait just a bit longer. I know this isn’t ideal, but the pandemic has forced us all to reimagine how we plan, act and make decisions, this particular issue is no different. Stay tuned!

Please do take the time to recharge and enjoy the summer weather but continue to maintain physical distancing. Also, please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website for the latest information and send your questions to unbccommand@unbc.ca . If you feel information is missing from this site, please let us know and we’ll add it where appropriate.?

Stay safe, and thank you!?

Geoff Payne,
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor