As we approach the Easter long weekend and the last few weeks of classes of the Winter semester, it is important to remind ourselves that 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, are absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of the disease any further.
On Monday March 29, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a “circuit breaker” over the next three weeks to slow the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, along with additional restrictions around indoor adult group fitness classes that affect the Northern Sport Centre.
Dr. Henry is encouraging us all to work from home, where possible and to limit our travel for work or medical reasons. Dine-in service at restaurants, bars and pubs is also prohibited, except for outdoor patios. Take-out and delivery services are still available. This is not directed at the cafeteria at the Prince George campus, as a cafeteria for residents attending an educational institution it is exempt from this order.
As the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out continues, we have to continue to be diligent and 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:
- Northern Sport Centre
- Vaccinations for clinically extremely vulnerable
- Virtual Convocation
- September return to campus
Northern Sport Centre
On Monday, the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an Order and province-wide restriction in regards to participation in low intensity group exercise classes from midnight March 30 until midnight April 19.
Unfortunately, that means we have cancelled all low intensity fitness classes such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Boomer Fit, 30+ strength and conditioning classes.
I encourage you to contact the Northern Sport Centre for your questions.
On March 23, Dr. Henry announced those between the ages of 16 – 74 who are clinically extremely vulnerable and have received their patient invitation letter can get vaccinated. As of yesterday, March 29, they can call their health authority to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The phone number can be found on page 1 of the patient invitation letter.
To see if you fit the criteria of clinically extremely vulnerable, please refer to this list: Vaccines for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable - Province of British Columbia.
On March 15, UNBC and other universities across the province announced our plans of holding virtual Convocation ceremonies for the Class of 2021 since it is still not safe for us to hold large gatherings on campus due to the ongoing pandemic.
UNBC’s virtual ceremonies are slated for June 25. All UNBC graduates in the Class of 2021, including those who attend campuses in Prince George, Terrace, Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a, Fort St. John and Quesnel can participate in the virtual ceremony.
These decisions are being made with the health and safety of our students, graduates, staff and faculty at the top of our mind. It is important we recognize the achievements of our students and a virtual ceremony allows us to safely do that. I appreciate the hard work our Convocation Office is doing in organizing another virtual event as it works closely with students to get feedback and find ways to safely celebrate our students this year.
I understand this is a difficult and challenging time for all of our students, especially those in the Class of 2021 as they complete their final year and a half of their degrees in alternate delivery modes.
Return to campus
Although with Monday’s latest restrictions, planning continues for a safe return to campus in September. Discussions and planning continue with our colleagues in government, WorkSafe BC and faculty to prepare for the safe increase to on campus classes, research and activities in laboratories, classrooms, lecture theatres and the field.
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.
I echo the words of Dr. Henry who realizes how important social connections are yet we must continue to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe. Non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people.
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 email@example.com.
Stay safe, and thank you!
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)