Return to Campus Transitional Planning Update, August 27, 2021 - 9:05 a.m.

August 27, 2021

Conversations continue to evolve in the post-secondary sector regarding this fall’s return to campus, and what that means for our community. Earlier this week, a number of provincial announcements were made regarding masks and proof-of-vaccination to address safety concerns on our campuses, and now we are starting to see some of the outcomes of those announcements.

In today’s update:

  • Proof of Vaccination
  • Rapid testing

Proof-of-Vaccination program

While a majority of our University community will be vaccinated by the start of the semester, more may be done. We have been provided guidance by the Provincial Health Officer regarding the province’s proof-of-vaccination program, but we have also been granted the autonomy to investigate further measures designed to promote community health and safety.

As a result, I plan to work closely with our labour union and student leadership teams to investigate the potential for a voluntary disclosure of vaccination status for our employees. Working collaboratively, we can, if needed, develop an approach that is right for the UNBC community. As you can imagine, many details need to be cleared, especially when it comes to the sheer logistical resources that would be required for such an effort!

Regardless, we do know that proof of vaccination will be required in several of our on-campus settings starting Sept. 13. At this point, however, classroom and lab settings will not require proof of vaccination. And as I mentioned Wednesday, we continue to develop plans with Northern Health regarding pop-up vaccination clinics on our campuses.

I know many questions remain unanswered, but we are working through the challenges and will provide information when we can. As I have stated before, if you are able to, we strongly encourage you to be vaccinated when coming to our campuses to protect yourself and those around you.

Rapid Testing

With a voluntary proof-of-vaccination initiative, we would need to ensure that options such as rapid testing are available that further strengthen public health for those who have not yet been vaccinated or choose not to disclose their status. To that end the Research Universities of British Columbia released a statement yesterday in support for rapid testing on our campus. Again, I would work with our labour union and student leadership teams to investigate and agree on these options and with public health agencies to ensure safety precautions are in place.

In closing

Neither of these decisions have been made as of yet, but we are investigating them as circumstances change. Rest assured I continue to hear your concerns and we will keep you up to date as our planning unfolds.

You may see announcements from other institutions who have already made decisions that are right for them, so it is important you are aware of UNBC’s ongoing planning efforts to address the safety within our community. Although, post-secondary has been given latitude to develop additional measures by the PHO, we have to continue to take direction and support from them to ensure any measure we develop and agree to at UNBC is effective in increasing the safety for all those within our community and on our campuses which is our top priority.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to adapt to the challenges and pressures to which COVID-19 is exposing us all.

Your health and safety remains our top priority. Please visit our Transition and Return-to-Campus from COVID-19 website for the latest information and resources, and if you have questions, please send them to

Stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)

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