Coronavirus update: February 11, 2021 - 10:10 a.m.

February 11, 2021

Well, January and the first part of February seems to have gone by in a flash! I hope the new semester is bringing some renewed energy following the holiday break as well as some optimism as we look towards the coming months, the vaccine rollout and our hope for a return to a greater semblance of normalcy!

In today’s update:

  • The Summer and Fall semesters
  • Daily health check reminder
  • A research update

The Summer and Fall semesters

Summer 2021

Once again, following recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer and other public health organizations and government ministries, our summer sessions will be conducted similar to the Winter semester; that is, largely via alternate modes of delivery, including online. We appreciate our students’ continued commitment to learning in this new environment, and are equally appreciative of our faculty’s efforts in making transformative change in how they deliver materials to our students.

Fall 2021

As for the fall semester, we remain in a holding pattern. We are closely watching the vaccine rollout and planning, we are consulting with other post-secondary institutions across the province, and we are having ongoing conversations with our colleagues in government. It is our hope that we can increase the delivery of more face-to-face classes by this time.

We have asked our faculty to complete a schedule as though we will be face-to-face. I’ve asked for this type of planning as it is far easier to transition from in-person to online delivery should the pandemic continue to present challenges – it is next to impossible to move from online to in-person delivery briskly. While it seems unlikely we will be in person by September, it is far too early to make that final decision, given the rapidly changing situation in areas far outside our influence. 

I understand that students have a great many decisions to make, such as accommodation, employment opportunities, travel arrangements and more. I can only imagine the stress and uncertainty you are dealing with. We will endeavour to provide as much lead notice as possible regarding the fall, and appreciate your patience.

Daily Health Check Requirement

I’ll offer a friendly reminder that if you are visiting a UNBC campus, site or location, please ensure you are healthy and it is safe for you to do so.

For employees:

Employees are defined as all faculty, staff, student employees, and contractors.

Employees attending any of our campuses, sites or locations must directly confirm with UNBC that you have completed a self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving on campus each day. Please use the B.C. self-assessment tool and follow the guidance there. Once complete, please fill in and submit this form on the UNBC website.  Supervisors and Chairs are encouraged to check in with employees to ensure the daily assessment is completed.

For students:

Students taking part in face-to-face instructions (classes, labs etc.) are already checking in with their instructors.  For students who are attending any of our campuses, sites or locations for study or other reasons, I encourage you to also submit the online self-assessment declaration form as the confidential information contained could assist Public Health contact tracing purposes.

Remember – if you can work or learn remotely, please do so. And if in doubt, or if you find yourself asking whether you need to complete an assessment, do so to be safe.

A research update

A tremendous amount of uncertainty is associated with the pandemic, and it is likely that research activities will continually have to be modified as public health orders change in response to infection levels. 

I’ll present a few general guidelines for our researchers to keep in mind as they plan their research activities.

  • Researchers should regularly review information provided for research-related updates in response to COVID-19.
  • Supervisors and researchers should review safety protocols, monitor their own health, and adhere to guidelines from the PHO.
  • For research involving human participants, the UNBC Research Ethics Board (REB) have modified documentation and resources in response to the pandemic.  
  • Community and field- based research now require additional COVID-19 addendums to the Project Risk Assessment Plans.
  • Before you begin work in UNBC laboratories or facilities, you need to complete the Exposure Control Plan Checklist which is to be sent to the safety office for review by the JOHS for occupancy levels.

A more fulsome update is available on the Office of Research website.

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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