Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

VIU's number one priority is the health and safety of our students and employees. The University has decided to move to a hybrid program delivery model for our fall 2020 semester. Students can check out our Fall Semester 2020 FAQs for more details. 





Teaching and Learning 

Visit our Fall Semester 2020 FAQ page for more information. 

What is the Coronavirus? 

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been identified before in humans. A new coronavirus was detected in December 2019 and named 2019-nCoV and is the cause of illness originating in Wuhan, China. This virus is now officially called COVID-19. 

What is the risk?

From the Public Health Agency of Canada: 

COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high. The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Symptoms are similar to several respiratory illnesses and include fever, dry cough, sore throat and headache. Most cases are considered mild to moderate with a subset experiencing more severe symptoms including shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Are there any presumed or confirmed cases of Coronavirus on campus?

At this point in time, VIU has no cases presumed or confirmed.

What can I do to protect myself? 

As usual, continue to practice good hand washing techniques and hygiene practices. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve.
  • Dispose of tissues appropriately.
  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay at home or in your residence room if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. 
  • Clean high-touch surfaces such as electronics, computer keyboards and phones frequently.
  • Practice social distancing – maintaining at least one metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid shaking hands.

For further information on how to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, visit HealthLinkBC or BC Centre for Disease Control.

What is VIU doing to prepare?

In mid-March, VIU transitioned to alternate course delivery and assessment and will remain in a hybrid model of education delivery for Fall 2020. See these Fall Semester FAQs for more details. 

VIU campuses remain open and key buildings, including the library and the cafeteria commons, remain accessible (for example, the Library Commons will remain accessible via student/employee card fob), although VIU is ensuring we are supporting our community to minimize the risk of transmission.

VIU has also cancelled all events and gatherings on our campuses, closed the VIU Gym and the university cafeterias. 

Employees have moved to a work from home model if possible. If not, additional precautions are being implemented to support the provincial and federal governments' social distancing guidelines. 

VIU has plans in place, which tie into our emergency response structure, that cover illness outbreaks and will work with public health officials and will follow their lead and direction.

VIU is following all travel advisories and guidelines issued by the federal and provincial governments. More details in questions below.

What is VIU doing to help prevent the spread of illness? 

This website and FAQ has been developed to provide information on stopping the spread of any illness. We have additional resources on hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette. We have increased cleaning at our locations and we are following all provincial and federal recommendations including self-isolation guidelines and travel restrictions. As mentioned above, VIU is transitioning to alternate course delivery and assessment to help meet the provincial government's guidelines around social distancing.

What if I have a non-medical question regarding COVID-19? 

The provincial government has developed a non-emergency line for those with non-medical questions related to COVID-19: 1-888-COVID19. This will be staffed from 7:30 am to 8 pm and offered in more than 110 languages. 

I have to self-isolate for 14 days. What do I do? 

Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control's Self-Isolation page for detailed instructions. 

Should we be cancelling events on campuses? 

All events and public gatherings hosted on VIU campuses or sites are cancelled or postponed until August 15. At that time VIU is encouraging everyone to consider holding their events remotely or post-poning them. Starting August 15, if an event organizer wants to hold an event in person, they will need to go through a process to get approval to do that. This process is still being developed but will include submitting a rationale as to why the event needs to be face to face as well as a comprehensive safety plan demonstrating how the event will meet health and safety guidelines and protocols 

Wondering what to do in place of a physical event? Visit for some virtual event inspiration. 

I live in residence and think I may have flu-like symptoms. What should I do? 

If you have symptoms or are returning from international travel, you should contact call HealthLinkBC by dialing 8-1-1, or phone your primary care provider. Please call all health care providers in advance to notify them you will be attending the office. If you are an international student enrolled in through VIU there is additional information about accessing their mobile doctor service.  This information is found on the site.

If you experience symptoms or are returning from international travel while living in residence, please contact your Community Leader or phone the Residence office at 250-740-6640 or at so we can support you while you self-isolate.

I live in residence. Do I have to move out now that VIU has switched to a hybrid model of course delivery and assessment?

VIU Residences remains open and all residence students have the option of remaining in their housing. It is expected that all residents continue to abide by the Residence Community Living Standards (RCLS). To ensure the safety of all our residents, cleaning frequencies have been increased and supplies have been added to common areas to allow students to clean and disinfect before use. If you wish to disinfect your room or shared bathroom, supplies can be signed out at the front desk.

If you plan to move out, you will need to clean your room/bathroom and return your keys. The move-out checklist can be found See Residence forms for the move-out checklist. Be sure to update your address on your student account so your damage deposit will go to the current address on file.  

What is the status of my housing at VIU Residences?

Residence will be open during alternative course delivery and assessment at VIU. VIU understands that this is home for students and plans to provide safe accommodations for all residence students.  Plans are currently in place to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus to the residence community and to continue to provide essential services to our residence community. Every effort will be made to ensure VIU Residence students can expect secure housing.

What do I do if I believe my Homestay student or another member of my household may be sick?

  • International students on insurance have access to Mobile Doctor. This program allows your student to connect with Canadian doctors on Maple, a telemedicine company, as a part of their health benefits. Maple provides access to doctors, Canada wide, on the phone, tablet or computer anytime, anywhere.
  • Students have been told if they are feeling ill or experiencing any type of illness that they are to stay home until they are well. Students need to reach out to their professors or faculty to let them know they will not be in class. If your student is a THS student and not attending class, the Host Family must call to inform the high school at 250-740-6317.

In the case another member of your household is sick or needs to self-isolate after returning from abroad, please notify our office as soon as you are able for advice and support on next steps.

If you are a VIU-sanctioned homestay, please contact the VIU Homestay office at with any questions.

What are the current travel restrictions? 

All Canadians are asked to avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice. Learn more by going to the Global Affairs Travel Advice and Advisories homepage. 

To protect Canadians from the outbreak of COVID-19, the Prime Minister announced travel restrictions that limit travel to Canada. Until further notice, most foreign nationals cannot travel to Canada, even if they have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).

These restrictions stop most non-essential (discretionary) travel to Canada. Learn more.

I am interested in an Education Abroad trip. Are these still happening?

All VIU-sanctioned employee and student travel outside of Canada, including to the United States, is restricted for the foreseeable future. This restriction will be reviewed by August 15, 2020.

What is VIU's policy on travel outside of Canada? 

All VIU-sanctioned employee and student travel outside of Canada, including to the United States, is restricted for the foreseeable future.

  • For VIU-sanctioned international travel involving students, the recommended restriction is for the entire Fall 2020 term. Spring 2021 restrictions will be reviewed no later than August 15, 2020.
  • VIU-sanctioned travel outside of Canada, including to the United States, involving employees, is restricted until December 31, 2020, or until the Government of Canada's Official Global Travel Advisory asking Canadians to "avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada” has been lifted. This restriction will be reviewed by August 15, 2020. 

VIU also encourages employees and students to consider delaying or cancelling all personal non-essential travel outside of Canada, in accordance with ongoing travel advisories. Individuals should monitor and follow the Government of Canada host country travel advisories, as well as their own insurance providers’ policies for regular updates. If students or employees choose to travel internationally, including to the United States, for personal reasons they must self-quarantine for 14 days at their own cost:

  • Employees can choose to take leave without pay, use vacation time and may be able to work from home with their supervisor’s approval.  
  • Students who reside in VIU Residences or VIU Homestay will need to check if they are able to self-isolate there. If they are unable to, they will have to find their own accommodation for the self-isolation period, which would be at their own cost. 

I am affected by travel restrictions and cannot return to Canada. What should I do? 

If students are unable to return to the University as a result of the travel restrictions, they should contact their department program and indicate the following information:

  1. Full name
  2. Program
  3. If they are a student who lives in residence
  4. If they are a homestay student

Program Chairs will work with students for the best outcomes possible.

What if I feel unsafe in the workplace or have concerns about someone else who is ill in my work area?

If you are concerned about someone in the workplace who is ill and exhibiting flu-like symptoms or have concerns about safety in your workplace, speak to your Manager. Managers are advised to contact Human Resources and/or Health and Safety. Employees in the workplace who are ill with flu-like symptoms should advise their Manager, stay home (as per regular sick leave) and seek out medical advice as recommended.

What happens if I miss classes or work due to illness?

Students: If you are unable to participate in a class, please let your professor know. Please note: Doctor’s notes are no longer required for students who miss classes or assignments due to cold or flu-like symptoms. Communication is required to receive accommodation for any missed classes or coursework. Students in residence housing should contact

Employees: Please report your absence to your Manager in accordance with your normal sick leave protocol and to ensure continuity of sick leave benefits as applicable.

What about intersession and summer session classes? 

For students taking courses in May, June, July and August: These courses will go ahead as scheduled in alternate course delivery and assessment format, with no face-to-face instruction. Students will receive detailed information from course instructors outlining what this will entail at least one week before their course is scheduled to begin. Students in Academic and Career Preparation courses will hear from their instructors no later than April 9, 2020. We would like to thank students for their patience as we move these programs into a different mode of delivery. 

Is my internship/practicum still happening? 

Students should reach out to their professors or program chairs to find out the status of internships or practicums attached to programs and courses. We know that many students are struggling as many of the job opportunities typically available to them are not available this year - please visit our Financial Aid resources page for more information if you are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 situation. 

Should students or employees with flu-like symptoms be excluded from class/work? 

Everyone with flu-like symptoms should stay at home or in your residence room and call HealthlinkBC by dialing 8-1-1, or phone their primary care provider. Travel history and symptoms should be provided before attending an appointment.   

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