Updates from the President

  • September Planning Update: June 14, 2021 - 2:00 p.m.

    Today, the Province of B.C. and Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced that we will move into Phase 2 of BC’s Restart plan. Here is what today's announcement means for UNBC at a high level:

    • Masks are still required in public indoor settings.
    • Physical distancing is maintained
    • If you or anyone in your family feels sick, stay home and get tested.
    • Small, in-person meetings are permitted.

    We have included more information regarding what Step 2 means for UNBC on our COVID-19 web page.

    As vaccination rates climb, and COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and transmission rates decrease, we are moving to a renewal phase for UNBC. We are not “going back to the way things are,” and we are not “going to a new normal” either. We are doing a bit of both, which requires a lot of planning and participation from all of us. 

    I am sure some of you have concerns, and are feeling hesitancy, uncertainty and even stress regarding our planned return to more in-person operations in September. I understand that; please know that your health and safety remains our top priority.  

    We are exploring every facet of our operations to ensure our campuses are a safe environment to which we can return. For example, we have installed MERV 14 filtration to our air handling system that exceeds both WorksafeBC and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) guidelines for COVID-19 response. Housing is setting aside a few extra vacant suites in case of emergency. New directional signage will help with traffic flow to provide a bit more space. We will continue with changes and preparations as we transition back over the coming weeks and months.  

    We are not, however, doing this work in isolation; we are consulting with our labour unions, student leadership, and multiple employee groups to make decisions about how we proceed safely. We are gathering information that we will distribute on our website, on social media, via email, through the student portal, and more. Our goal is to always keep you up to date on where we are in the transition.

    We have faced exceptional circumstances over the past 15 months. In our current mindset, it is challenging to look ahead and see that September is going to look vastly different than today from a public health perspective. But it will. Dr. Bonnie Henry projects cases and transmission rates will continue to drop. And vaccination rates will climb, as vaccine availability has improved from the early days of the vaccination program. For example, just this week alone Canada will receive more than nine million doses! (If you have not registered to receive one, please do so.) 

    I know you have questions, and we want to hear them. Please send them to unbccommand@unbc.ca - we are collecting them, gathering the information, and will send out more frequent updates as our planning continues through the summer. But don’t wait for updates. The best source of information remains our COVID-19 website.

    Thank you all again for being a part of this exceptional community; I am, as always, inspired by all your collective efforts!


    Geoff Payne 
    UNBC President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)

Previous updates

  • Some big news to share for our students today regarding the federal government’s Canada Emergency Student Benefit program. Please remember to visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website for the latest information. In... more
  • As I suspected, my update yesterday generated many questions. Thank you for sending them in. While some, unfortunately, can only be answered with a very honest “We don’t know right now,” others can be answered, so in my... more
  • Since the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our University community has responded remarkably to an unprecedented scenario, which has meant accepting our new reality and embracing change. Last week, Premier... more
  • Earlier this week the Premier and B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer provided an update regarding the province’s plans regarding how we emerge from our current state. Early next week, I will have information to share... more
  • It’s amazing to think that 100 days ago, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided a first warning regarding what was then being called the Novel Coronavirus. What a journey it has been for our... more
  • As promised, I’m happy to provide this week’s update regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impact on our community. We have a number of important topics to report on today, including a couple of good news... more
  • I began sending daily updates to you regarding UNBC’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic a little more than a month ago with my first update on March 11. In that time I have covered a wide range of topics... more
  • I trust you had some time over the weekend to refresh a bit before the final push to the end of this semester. It is hard to believe we are into the second month since my first update to the UNBC community. As I spent... more
  • Here we are, at the end of another semester of classes. To say that this semester, let alone this academic year, has been challenging would be an understatement. Yet our entire community, from students to faculty to... more