Frequently Asked Questions

VIU 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. Check out our Fall Semester 2020 FAQs for more details. 


General

Residence / Homestay

Travel

Employees

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.

This does not mean that all Canadians will get the disease. It means that there is already a significant impact on our health care system. If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.

We continue to reassess the public health risk based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

While COVID-19 can make anyone sick, some Canadians with specific health circumstances are at an increased risk of more severe outcomes, including individuals:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

In addition, social and economic circumstances may also be a factor in identifying someone who is vulnerable to COVID-19. This includes anyone who has:

  • economic barriers
  • difficulty accessing transportation
  • difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
  • unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
  • insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions
  • ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
  • social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
  • difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
  • ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
  • difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes

Think you might have COVID-19?
Take a self-assessment

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.

Should I wear a mask? 

For general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask. BC CDC says:

  • Masks should be used by sick people to prevent others from becoming infected. A mask will help keep a person’s droplets in.
  • For a healthy person in the community, it is less effective to wear a mask as it can give you a false sense of security and you may touch your face more frequently to adjust the mask.
  • The most important thing you can do to prevent getting coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.

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? 

Here are some guidelines from Island Health on what home isolation entails: 

Stay home:

• Remain in your home except to get urgent medical care.

• Do not go to work, school, or public areas (e.g. places of worship, stores, shopping malls, and restaurants).

• Cancel non-urgent appointments.

• Do not use public transportation or taxis.

 

Notify health care facilities before you visit:

• Call ahead before visiting a health care facility, and advise them that you have or are being tested for novel coronavirus.

• Remind health care providers when you arrive. This will help health care facilities to take steps to keep other people from becoming infected.

 

Monitor your symptoms:

• Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, are unable to drink fluids, or if your illness is getting worse.

• Notify health care facilities and health care providers (e.g. emergency departments, ambulance paramedics, doctor’s offices) before you visit.

 

Wear a face mask:

• Wear a face mask when you visit a health care facility.

• If your mask gets wet or dirty, change it.

• Face masks are available at the entrance to health care buildings. N95 respirator masks are not required.

 

Separate from household members:

• If you have a mask, use it in shared spaces or maintain a two metre distance from household members.

• Stay and sleep in a well-ventilated room separate from other people.

• Use a separate bathroom if available.

• Household members should stay in another home or place of residence if possible, especially if they have compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions.

• Restrict visitors until you recover and confirm you are not infected with coronavirus.

• Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water.

 

Maintain good hygiene:

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues into a lined trash can in your room before disposal. Immediately wash your hands.

• Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use disposable paper towels when possible. For more information search for ‘hand washing’ at healthlinkbc.ca.

• Flush toilet with the lid down – the virus may also be present in stool.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces once per day with regular household disinfectant containing one part bleach to nine parts water.

Should we be cancelling events on campuses? 

Important update on events and public gatherings: All events and public gatherings hosted on VIU campuses or sites are cancelled or postponed until June 30, 2020. A review to possibly extend this recommendation will be conducted no later than May 15, 2020. Wondering what to do in place of a physical event? Visit campusevents.viu.ca 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 guard.me through VIU there is additional information about accessing their mobile doctor service.  This information is found at https://www.guard.me/viuinbound.

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 residence@viu.ca 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 at https://residences.viu.ca/residence-forms. 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?

  • If your student(s) are experiencing any symptoms of illness, they should review these guidelines to find out what to do and what steps to take to minimize the risk of transmission. Please review these guidelines with your students.
  • International students on Guard.me insurance have access to Guard.me 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 homestay@viu.ca with any questions.

I’m an international/out-of-province/exchange student studying at VIU. Should I book my flight home now?

If you decide to return home before Thursday, March 19, 2020, which is when professors are scheduled to communicate their plans for completing courses and assessments directly to their students, please be assured that VIU faculty will do their best to enable you to complete your courses from your home location using alternate approaches.

We want to reassure our students that they will be supported to complete their semester (please see specific details in the next question for Trades programs). We have been working on options to support faculty and students for some time now, enhancing training through our Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning and supporting courses to have online profiles that will be activated by faculty members.

Each instructor will choose the appropriate delivery model for the remainder of their course content and will communicate their plans for completing courses and assessments directly to their students, as noted, no later than March 19, 2020. 

What are the current travel restrictions? 

All Canadians are asked to avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice:

As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and as fewer international transportation options are available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period.

If you are outside of Canada:

  • you may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services
  • you may face strict movement restrictions and quarantines
  • your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses
  • we may have limited capacity to offer you consular services.

If you are currently outside Canada or you are returning home, see COVID-19 safety and security advice for Canadians abroad.

If you need financial help to return to Canada, see COVID-19: Financial help for Canadians outside Canada.

Foreign nationals

If you are a foreign national arriving from the U.S. with symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.

Foreign nationals arriving from the U.S. without symptoms of COVID-19, will be allowed to enter Canada only for essential travel.

Foreign nationals, excluding those arriving from the U.S., will not be allowed into Canada. However, there are exemptions to these restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from other countries.

Non-residents

If you are not Canadian or a permanent resident and you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.

If you show signs of an infectious disease, officials will contact a quarantine officer.

The quarantine officer will perform a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the quarantine officer may:

  • order you to be transported to hospital to undergo a medical examination
  • inform the local public health authority

More info: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html

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

All VIU-sanctioned international travel, including to the US, has been cancelled. This includes VIU-sanctioned Professional Development.

The Federal Government advised that all Canadians who are abroad should return home. Given this notice, Vancouver Island University is recalling all students on university sanctioned activities abroad. This means all students must either return to Nanaimo or to their home community in Canada at the earliest opportunity. VIU’s Department of International Education is reaching out to all students who are abroad and supporting them to return home. If you have any questions about this, please email: universityrelations@viu.ca.

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 residence@viu.ca.

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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