Students, faculty and staff at B.C.’s colleges and universities are being supported to come back together for in-person learning this fall, informed by the release of new Return-to-Campus Guidelines.
This follows the announcement that B.C. has transitioned to Step 3 of the Province’s restart plan.
“The pandemic has made the past year and a half difficult for post-secondary students and institutions, but now, thanks to vaccines, brighter days are right around the corner,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “I am so thankful to students, faculty and staff for showcasing their professionalism, flexibility and compassion throughout the pandemic, and I am excited for students to return to in-person learning this fall.”
The Return-to-Campus Guidelines are designed to parallel B.C.’s four-step restart plan. The transition period between Step 3, which took effect July 1, and the beginning of September is a crucial time, as post-secondary institutions ramp up operations and welcome back faculty, staff and students. The guidelines highlight the importance of public health measures, such as daily health checks and hand hygiene, as well as classroom logistics and on-campus student housing and dining services. For example, on-campus student housing providers can plan for close-to-full occupancy for the fall. Access to mental health supports for students, faculty and staff, Indigenous gathering places and accommodations for on campus-services are also outlined to support the transition.
“We have made excellent progress with our provincial immunization program in B.C. That, along with declining case counts and low hospitalization rates, means we can gradually and safely move ahead with our restart plan – including in-person learning at our colleges and universities,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “We will continue to carefully monitor any transmission episodes on campuses, just as we do with influenza or other respiratory illnesses this fall, to keep students, faculty and staff safe. This is something we have shown we can successfully manage in B.C.”
The new Return-to-Campus Guidelines are the result of consultations 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.
Previous versions of B.C.’s guidelines for post-secondary institutions have been adopted by other jurisdictions across Canada as a model for planning a return to on-campus instruction.
Further, post-secondary institutions will no longer be required to have a COVID-19 safety plan. Instead, institutions are developing communicable disease plans to reduce the risk of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The goal for the fall is to transition from highly prescriptive COVID-19 specific orders and protocols back to normal institutional policies and guidance on occupational health and safety.
Brett Fairbairn, president and vice-chancellor, Thompson Rivers University, and chair, Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia (RUCBC) –
“The collaboration between research universities throughout COVID-19 has been critical to the student experience during the pandemic. By working together, we have also ensured that world-class research has continued despite the challenges the pandemic presented. RUCBC’s top priority is student health and safety, and we will continue to take guidance from the provincial health officer.”
Sherri Bell, president, Camosun College, and chair, BC Colleges –
“New approaches and technologies have ensured students at colleges throughout B.C. were able to succeed and thrive amid the pandemic. Our focus is now on supporting the full return to in-person education and on-campus services in September 2021 as an important part of the B.C. restart plan. While some people may be a little nervous as well as excited, the health, safety and well-being of employees, students and campus visitors remains the priority.”
Joanne MacLean, president and vice-chancellor, University of the Fraser Valley, and chair, BC Association of Institutes and Universities (BCIAU) –
“Welcoming students back to campus is something to celebrate. We have been planning a safe and gradual return to campus that allows for flexibility, support and adjustment to the change from remote study and work to campus life.”
New Return-to-Campus Guidelines for B.C.’s post-secondary sector: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/post-secondary-education/institution-resources-administration/covid19-return-to-campus-guidelines-web.pdf
Information about returning to post-secondary: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/post-secondary-education/institution-resources-administration/studying-during-covid-19
BC’s Restart plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/response
BC’s Restart plan, Step 3: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/RestartBC_Step3.pdf
Register for your vaccine now:
Or call 1 833 838-2323.
Get secure access to your health information through Health Gateway: https://www.healthgateway.gov.bc.ca/
Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s dashboard: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data
International students and studying in Canada:
Free mental health support for post-secondary students: https://here2talk.ca/home
With British Columbians achieving nearly 80% adult Dose 1 vaccine coverage and COVID-19 case counts continuing to decline, the Province is safely moving to Step 3 of its four-step restart plan on July 1, 2021.
“British Columbians have stepped up at every stage throughout this pandemic,” said Premier John Horgan. “We’ve helped our neighbours stay safe, we’ve sacrificed time with friends and family and we have diligently registered to get vaccinated. We’ve now reached a point in our vaccination efforts when we can begin to remove restrictions. Let’s continue to respect everyone’s comfort level as we safely take another step toward putting this pandemic behind us.”
Moving to Step 3 will signal the end to the longest provincial state of emergency in B.C.’s history. The emergency will be lifted on June 30 at 11:59 p.m.
B.C.’s public health emergency will remain in effect during Step 3 to support amended public health orders from the provincial health officer (PHO), with reduced requirements.
During Step 3, businesses will gradually transition to new communicable disease plans, with guidelines for these plans released by WorkSafeBC on June 28. These guidelines were developed in consultation with public health and businesses will continue to be supported by WorkSafeBC and the PHO as they transition.
These plans will continue to include physical barriers at many business and retail settings. Capacity limits, formal health screening tests and directional arrows, as well as other physical distancing measures will no longer be required. However, they may still be used during this transition period.
“Step 3 is a major milestone for British Columbians,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We can now resume more of the activities and occasions we enjoy, workplaces and businesses will have more flexibility, and it opens the door for more economic activity as we transition into summer. We are able to take this step because of the work everyone is doing to keep themselves and each other safe.”
Moving from Step 2 to Step 3 also includes:
Canadians travelling to B.C. from outside of the province are asked to plan ahead and be respectful while visiting communities, especially smaller and rural towns, as well as Indigenous communities – including respecting local travel advisories. For travel manners and guidelines to follow during summer trips and vacations – see travel manners under the Learn More section.
More than 250 meetings and discussions have taken place since the launch of BC's Restart plan as part of government’s ongoing engagement, a majority being with industry organizations that represent thousands of employers and tens of thousands of employees. This includes an industry engagement table on new workplace safety guidelines, led by Kahlon.
The four-step restart plan was designed based on data and guidance from the public health team led by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. Progressing to each step of the plan will be measured by the number of people vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths and other key public health metrics.
“Because of the efforts of people in B.C., we continue to see a significant decline in new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and deaths as the number of people who are fully immunized goes up,” Henry said. “Public health teams throughout the province are closely watching the case data to ensure we maintain this positive momentum as we safely and gradually move into Step 3 of our Restart plan.”
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said: “Nearly 80% of eligible adults in B.C. have protected themselves, the people they love and their communities by getting vaccinated. I urge everyone to get fully vaccinated with two doses as soon as they are offered and continue this life-saving momentum.”
On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed after the end of the provincial state of emergency. Under the provisions of this act, police and other enforcement officials will continue to be able to issue tickets for anyone who is contravening the Gatherings and Events or Food and Liquor Premises public health orders, which will remain in place. This includes fines for people who are being abusive or belligerent about the requirements of public health orders.
To view the June 29, Step 3 presentation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/RestartBC_Step3.pdf
The provincial health officer has laid out travel manners and guidelines for everyone travelling within B.C.:
To view the June 28, 2021, modelling presentation, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/6-28_PHO_presentation.pdf
To learn more about BC’s Restart – a four-step plan to bring B.C. back together, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/restartbc
To learn about B.C.’s current travel restrictions, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/covidtravel
To learn about current PHO restrictions, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/COVIDrestrictions
To get registered to get a first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.html
For technical immunization information, visit the BCCDC’s website: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine
For more information on what to expect when you go to get vaccinated for COVID-19, visit: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/getting-a-vaccine
Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, has issued the following statement on the release of Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey for June 2021:
“Today, British Columbia has surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels – the only province to do so in June – recovering over 100% of the jobs lost during COVID-19.
“The Labour Force Survey for June showed our plan to build a stronger B.C. is working with substantial employment growth of 42,100 jobs gained throughout the province. There are now 17,000 more British Columbians employed than in February 2020, and B.C.’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at 6.6%, well below the national average of 7.8%.
“Since moving to Step 3 of BC’s Restart plan, even more opportunities have opened for people and businesses. There is a renewed sense of optimism throughout the province, which is showing in our economy as more people travel, ‘buy B.C.’ and ‘support local’ in their communities.
“While our province’s recovery is gaining momentum, there is still more work to do. We know many British Columbians continue to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. That’s why we have made the most investments per capita in this country for people and businesses to help them navigate this pandemic.
“Our government has set the groundwork for a strong economic recovery. Investments, like yesterday’s partnership with the federal government on $10-a-day child care, will help parents enter and remain in the workforce.
“We’re also making many other investments to make life better for people. The StrongerBC Future Leaders Program is creating meaningful work experience opportunities for young people. This year, we’re investing $90 million in connectivity projects around B.C. to help close the digital divide. We have also increased the minimum wage and provided half a billion dollars in direct support for businesses when they needed it most. Now, we’re engaging with thought leaders throughout the province as we develop an economic plan to build a B.C. that’s more innovative, sustainable and inclusive.
“Because of the efforts of all British Columbians, life is beginning to return to normal. While we are gradually lifting restrictions, we are not out of the woods yet. I urge everyone to get fully vaccinated, support your communities and respect people’s comfort levels as we work through our plan to bring us back together.”
Stronger BC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
Adult, family and Indigenous-focused programs designed to help people gain skills in reading, writing, math and digital literacy are being offered in 128 communities throughout British Columbia this fall.
“The everyday impact of building literacy on our communities will be felt for generations. Literacy and numeracy programs help people fill out application forms, understand health information, help kids with their homework, establish household budgets, and read and understand labels,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “It goes beyond that, too. For many adult learners, literacy programs are an important first step in an educational journey to post-secondary studies as they work toward career and life goals for themselves and their families.”
Community-based Indigenous, adult and family literacy programs are provided for free and delivered by community organizations, Indigenous-led organizations and public post-secondary institutions. Literacy programming typically includes one-on-one tutoring and small-group instruction, which support all levels of literacy. In 2020, many programs shifted to online service delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Province is investing $2.9 million in the Community Adult Literacy Program, which includes a one-time top-up investment for 2021-22. This support will fund 97 programs, delivered by 66 organizations in 128 communities throughout the province.
“It is never too late to develop literacy skills, and the skills gained can change lives in so many ways. Adult literacy programs are an investment in an individual that impacts whole communities,” said Margaret Sutherland, executive director, Decoda Literacy Solutions, the only provincewide literacy organization in British Columbia to provide service and support to more than 400 communities.
For details on the Community Adult Literacy Program (scroll to bottom): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/adult-education/adult-upgrading
People in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living and their loved ones will have more ways to safely spend time together, with a further easing of visitation rules coming into effect on July 19, 2021.
“The pandemic has challenged people living and working in long-term care in ways we never could have imagined, but we are now finally in a place where people can safely spend more time together again,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
Changes to long-term care and seniors’ assisted living include:
“After an incredibly challenging 18 months, it is uplifting to see people in long-term care and assisted living get back to doing more of the things they love, like gathering with friends, family, and community members,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Services and Long-Term Care. “As we put COVID-19 behind us, we will continue to ensure our seniors living in long-term care and assisted living are safe, supported and cared for.”
The screening of visitors and practices such as hand hygiene, use of medical masks and physical distancing will remain in place when visitation restrictions are eased. It is strongly recommended that visitors choose to get fully immunized against COVID-19, in order to lower the risk to people in long-term care settings.
At the same time, new public health requirements around vaccinations will add protections for people in long-term care. Effective July 19, new requirements to better protect seniors will include:
“While vital for reducing the spread of COVID-19, we recognize the restrictions on visitors have been incredibly challenging for people in long-term care and their families,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “Because nearly 80% of people in B.C. have stepped up to be vaccinated, we are now in a place where visitation in long-term care can resume in a more normal way. This means residents and their families and friends will be able to spend more quality time together – safely.”
Early in the pandemic, public health officials identified people living in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living as particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19. In response, the Province took action to protect seniors and deliver better care to keep people safe and healthy.
People living and working in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living were among the first to receive first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C.’s vaccination rollout. All long-term care and assisted living residents and workers have now been offered both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
To view a PowerPoint presentation outlining the changes, visit: VisitorRestrictionPPT.pdf
The BC Career Colleges Association was established in 1977 to promote and support post secondary schools, stakeholders, students and all interested parties involved in private post-secondary education and training in BC.