Coronavirus update: April 28, 2021 - 2:10 p.m.

April 28, 2021

As the last week of final exams wraps up for the Winter semester and the May semester draws closer, I commend our students, faculty and staff for enduring another challenging semester. It is because of the dedication of our entire UNBC community that we got to where we are today.

While the light seems to get brighter at the end of the tunnel as the provincial vaccination roll-out continues, we have to continue to be diligent in following COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing mandatory face masks in public indoor settings, physical distancing and limiting the size of indoor gatherings to our own households. They are all absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of the disease any further. Non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. 

Since my last update in late March, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recently extended the “circuit breaker” she put in place at the time until May 25 to slow the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, that prohibit dine-in service at restaurants, bars and pubs with the exception for outdoor patios.

Additional restrictions around travel between regions in the province were also put in place. Restrictions on indoor adult group fitness classes that affect the Northern Sport Centre also remain in effect.

We have to stay the course of following all local, provincial, federal and international health and safety guidelines to ensure a safe return to campus in September.

In today’s update:

  • Masks required inside classrooms
  • Travel restrictions
  • Study permits for international students

Masks in indoor settings and classrooms

On April 21, the provincial government updated the PHO Workplace Post-Secondary Institution Safety Order in response to an increase in community transmission and COVID-19 cases.

The changes now state that “a student must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in an indoor common area or a classroom in a post-secondary institution.”

At UNBC we have required the wearing of masks in common areas/public space on campus but this change now means that students must also wear a mask or face covering when in the classroom, even when 2-metre physical distancing can be maintained. Many of you are participating in end of semester exams and most of those exams already have a requirement for a mask to be worn. It is important to understand that there are exceptions to the wearing of masks or face coverings so again please continue to be kind and compassionate to one another.

Travel restrictions

Dr. Henry is encouraging us all to work from home, where possible and to limit our travel for work or medical reasons.

On April 23, travel restrictions between regions in the province were put in place and remain in effect until midnight on May 25.

Non-essential travel between certain regions for vacations, weekend getaways and tourism activities is prohibited. As is visiting friends and family for social reasons, and recreation activities.

The province has combined the Northern Health and Interior Health Authorities into one region.

Travel in and out of the regions for non-essential purposes is not allowed and prohibited.

Travel for the purpose of post-secondary education and training which includes practical learning and research activities such as fieldwork, practicums and clinical placements, is considered essential and therefore part of the broad exemptions listed for the current PHO province-wide restrictions. Should any faculty, staff or students require a letter authorizing their travel between regions for the purpose of UNBC please contact

Study permits for international students

The federal Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department has told Canadian universities, including UNBC, that it will process study permits for international students in time to attend fall 2021 semester.

If international students submit a complete study permit application to the IRCC by May 15, they will get a decision by August 6.

More information can be found on the Study in Canada as an International Student page.

We regularly update our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website with the latest information and resources. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for there, or if you have questions, let us know at

Stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)

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