September Planning Update: July 5, 2021, 4 p.m.

July 5, 2021

Earlier this morning, the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced the new return-to-campus guidelines.

As Coronavirus cases continually decline and more and more people are vaccinated especially those 18-years-old and older, the guidelines provide all B.C. post-secondary institutions with an important road map as we transition and continually plan for a safe return-to-campus in September and face-to-face classes. The guidelines also align with the B.C. Restart Plan.

They highlight the importance of public health measures, such as daily health checks and hand hygiene, getting vaccinated, staying home when sick, as well as classroom logistics and on-campus student housing and dining services.

With the health and safety of UNBC students, staff and faculty at the top of our minds, the guidelines were developed in consultation with a broad team of experts from the public post-secondary sector, including Indigenous organizations and student associations, alongside faculty and staff unions, in partnership with the ministry and public health experts from the BC Centre for Disease Control, regional health authorities and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.

Other highlights of the guidelines include:

  • The wearing of masks in September will be based on personal choice and will no longer be required in indoor common areas unless recommended by public health. Masks are still recommended from July 1 until at least September 7.
  • Student housing will be at near capacity for the fall semester, with a few suites held back for the isolation or quarantine of students in the event of an infection.
  • Fall classes will be scheduled without physical distancing requirements (e.g. a classroom with 30 seats can be scheduled with 30 students; a lecture theatre with 150 seats can be scheduled with 150 students).
  • 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.
  • Students, faculty, staff, researchers and campus visitors will no longer be required to confirm that they have completed the health self-assessment prior to accessing campus. 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 available at no charge 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), BC Services card, or to be enrolled in B.C.’s Medical Services Plan to get the vaccine.

We know some UNBC employees may be anxious and nervous and we hope to provide you with as much information as possible to allay those anxieties.

Join Mark Dale, Interim Provost, and Rahim Somani, Vice-President Finance and Administration, on Thursday, July 8, at 2:00 p.m. for a virtual Town Hall. We will provide more details for faculty and staff on what the orderly return to the on-campus environment will look like, and how it will roll out.

We expect to have someone from Northern Health this time to answer any questions about the pandemic and vaccinations.

We regularly update our COVID-19 return-to-campus plans and guidelines web page 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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