As we continue our planning for safe return to campus for the Fall semester, we hosted our second virtual Town Hall on July 8 where we provided more details for faculty and staff on what the orderly return to the on-campus environment will look like, and how we will transition to face-to-face classes and operations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Rakel Kling, the Northern Health Medical Health Officer for joining us and providing her expertise to that session.
I know you’re anxious and nervous about what the Fall semester will entail and I hope the Town Hall was informative, worthwhile and helped ease some of those concerns.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Town Hall and to those who submitted questions that we answered during the session.
We also unveiled the UNBC Return-to-campus Transitional Safety Plan that provides all operational departments with a detailed timeline of our phased-in approach to gradually increase the return of additional employees to our campuses.
UNBC created the plan based on direction from the provincial health officials, WorkSafeBC, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, and the Research Universities' Council of British Columbia (RUCBC). These guidelines and principles are to ensure academic and operational continuity as we transition back to on campus activities from the pandemic.
As mentioned earlier, we will use a phased-in and scaled approach for a gradual return to campus as we transition from COVID-19 specific plans back to institutional safety plans. A scaled approach means that not all employees within departments or programs will return at the same time, their re-entry will be phased over a couple of months in order to meet on-campus operations, services, research and instructional requirements.
Remote work arrangements in response to the pandemic were a temporary arrangement and a principled guideline document for the continuation of remote work arrangements during the transitional period is undergoing a final review. This will provide employees with a Temporary Remote Work Arrangement Request Form to ensure continued and ongoing support.
We also recognize the mental health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff is vitally important and everyone may have struggled physically and emotionally over the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. And that’s OK. We have support services in place to help you. We just ask that we treat everyone within the UNBC community with kindness and respect as we move forward into September.
We are currently in Step 3 of the B.C. Restart Plan (announced June 30) and the provincial Return-to-Campus guidelines that were announced on July 5.
Based on the guidelines and UNBC’s Transitional safety plan, we are reminding everyone that:
- The wearing of non-medical masks is still recommended by public health in indoor common areas until at least Sept. 7.
- UNBC will continue to work with the provincial government to update our occupational health and safety plan to include communicable disease planning to reduce the risk of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.
- Effective immediately students, faculty, staff, researchers and campus visitors are no longer required to confirm that they have completed the health self-assessment prior to accessing campus; this is now a personal repsonsibility. The declaration statement through the website will be taken down this evening.
- Individuals experiencing symptoms should stay home, consult the B.C. COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if COVID-19 testing is needed, and contact 811 or their healthcare provider for medical advice as necessary.
- COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to everyone over the age of 12 living, working or studying in B.C. during the pandemic. You do not need a Personal Health Number (PHN), B.C. Services card, or to be enrolled in B.C.’s Medical Services Plan to get the vaccine.
- People do not need to be vaccinated before returning to campus and proof of vaccination will not be required but UNBC strongly encourages our community members to get vaccinated. Please remember that like the wearing of masks, getting vaccinated is a personal choice and this information is confidential, so sharing the information is also an individual choice.
- Building Ventilation – UNBC has installed MERV 14 filtration to our air handling within campus air handling systems that exceed both WorkSafeBC and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) guidelines issued as part of the COVID19 response.
- Sanitization – Enhanced cleaning and sanitization remains in place, in particular the high touch point areas of public space. Free standing and wall mounted hand sanitization units are situated throughout campus. Hand washing and hygiene protocols continue to be actively promoted with reminder signage in place. Frequent hand washing and the cleaning of any shared tools or equipment should be continued.
- Indoor Communal Space – in order to manage the safe flow of pedestrian traffic in hallways and gathering places such as the atriums and Canfor Winter Garden; directional arrows will remain in place and furniture will remain limited to discourage crowding. Barriers and screens remain in place at front line service counter and retail areas.
I encourage you to take the time to read the UNBC Return-to-campus Transitional Safety Plan in its entirety.
We regularly update our Transition and Return-to-campus from 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)