FAQs on VIU’s 2021-22 Academic Year

VIU is following the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training’s Return-to-Campus guidelines as well as the BC Restart Plan. Everyone can contribute to the health and safety of our campuses and facilities by following the guidelines outlined in our Communicable Diseases Plan. Below we answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine self-declaration program, provincial health orders on mask wearing and proof of vaccination, and how courses, programs, services and supports will be delivered during the 2021-22 academic year. 

While the vast majority of our community will be vaccinated and able to wear masks, some people will not be able to for medical and other protected reasons. We want to ensure everyone at VIU feels safe, secure and included. Please be kind and considerate as we move forward with implementing these measures.

If you have a question that isn't answered here, please email students@viu.ca

Questions about the Mask Mandate?

View our Mask Protocol FAQs

🆕 Vaccine self-declaration program

On Friday, August 27, VIU announced a COVID-19 vaccination self-declaration program to enhance the safety and confidence of our students and employees in returning to our campuses and locations for Fall 2021. A Public Health Order related to a mask mandate was issued on Thursday, September 2, 2021. The combination of these measures, along with other safety protocols outlined in our Communicable Diseases Plan, will help protect everyone at VIU this fall.

You will have received an email on Thursday, September 16 about how the vaccine self-declaration program will work and the steps you need to take. There is a link in that email that will take you to the online portal where you can record your declaration.We are requesting all students and employees declare their status by October 1. 

We are requesting all students and employees declare their vaccination status by October 1. Those who are unvaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccine status may be subject to other measures (such as regular rapid testing). Please see the email that was sent on Thursday, September 16 for more information.

These are two separate programs.

VIU’s self-declaration program is an approach that VIU and many other post-secondary institutions in BC and Canada are taking. It adds an additional layer of protection for students and employees.

The proof of vaccination is a new BC public health order which started on September 13 where individuals are required to show proof of vaccination to access a broad range of social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses throughout the campus. On campus, this proof of vaccination is required to live in on-campus housing. Discretionary, non-educational activities and businesses captured by the new proof of vaccination requirements include restaurants, pubs, gyms and indoor ticketed events. This does not include the cafeteria on the Nanaimo Campus or on campus Starbucks. View the full list of activities/locations at VIU requiring proof of vaccination here.

All people who are unvaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccine status may be required to comply with rapid testing or other safety measures. We are committed to accommodating all individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or other grounds under the Human Rights Code.

We are working through this process and will share more information as soon as possible. 

Misrepresentation of vaccination status is a conduct issue for both employees and students and will be taken seriously. Students who misrepresent their status are subject to protocols laid out under the Student Code of Conduct. Employees who misrepresent their status are subject to disciplinary measures. As part of the self-declaration process, you are agreeing to provide truthful and accurate information. If you have concerns about misrepresentation of vaccine status, please speak to your manager or Student Affairs.  

VIU is encouraging everyone who attends on our campuses to be vaccinated. VIU is currently determining procedures for members of the campus community who are not students or employees. 

 

You will not know the results as this is confidential health information. Only the Health and Safety Office will have access to the vaccination self-declaration records.

Your status will be held confidentially in student and employee records, and strictly limited to the Health and Safety Office.  

Yes. For individuals who require an accommodation for medical reasons or other protected human rights under the BC Human Rights Code, please email studentaffairsadmin@viu.ca, who will help you with the confidential process to make an accommodation request.

VIU encourages all people who have been vaccinated to get their second dose. Please indicate if you are partially vaccinated on your vaccine declaration.

Refunds will be issued as per our refund policies and deadlines. In many cases a full refund will be available if you withdraw before the first day of the semester (or enrolment period). If you withdraw after the start of the semester (or enrolment period), but during the first two weeks of it, your fee assessment may be eligible for a reduction down to $200. International students and students in some graduate or professional development programs are subject to more stringent withdrawal and refund deadlines. For more information specific to your situation, please contact of the Office of the Registrar at registration@viu.ca.

We strongly encourage all members of the VIU community to get vaccinated. You can get vaccinated at the on-campus vaccine clinic which is located on the first floor of Building 255 in the multi-purpose room (170) from September 8 - 23, 10 am - 2 pm (Monday - Thursday).

🆕 BC Vaccine Card

Activities/locations requiring proof of vaccination on VIU’s campuses and facilities: 

  • Mariners games or any other indoor sporting events taking place at our campuses
  • Events at the Malaspina Theatre (Nanaimo Campus) that have more than 50 people in attendance
  • any organized indoor social or recreational events at any of our campuses or facilities including conferences and workshops
  • the VIUSU pub
  • the VIU gym
  • Discovery Room on the Nanaimo Campus
  • extra-curricular activities not related to your course or program that have more than 50 people in attendance (for example choir, pottery, art, student clubs) 
  • VIU’s residences

You do NOT need to present your BC Proof of Vaccination to access: 

  • your classes or any required activities related to courses or programs
  • the cafeterias on our Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses
  • the Starbucks and Subway on the Nanaimo campus
  • the libraries at all VIU locations

Please find a summary HERE

Timeline and how to show proof of vaccination: 

On September 13, you will be required to show proof of one vaccination at the locations listed in the question below. Until September 27 you can either show the paper copy of your vaccine record or download the new BC Vaccine Card which is now available. After September 27, you will need to show your BC Vaccine Card. As of October 24, proof of two vaccinations will be required.  

If you have any questions please email universityrelations@viu.ca. It is important to note that this is not related to VIU’s vaccine self-declaration program. More details on the VIU program will be shared in the coming weeks.

Follow the instructions on the Get the Vaccine Card website to receive yours.

For international/out-of-province students: follow the instructions outlined in this blog post. Also, here's a downloadable version: 

vaccine-scheduling-general-health-poster.pdf
Vaccine card - how to get it for international/out-of-province students

Academic

Information about course and program delivery is now available through the timetable system. We have always had some online and hybrid programming, which we will continue to offer. We expect these opportunities to be expanded this fall and going forward, as we have learned from our experiences during the pandemic that some programs and courses benefit from flexible delivery options. More questions? Connect with us through students@viu.ca

The answer to this question could vary course by course. The timetable system shows whether the course is synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time) or asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule). Your professors will share more specific details on a course-by-course basis via email near the start of the semester.  

For any "blended" delivery courses, your instructor may have a room booked that could be used during any online session. Remember to bring headphones/ear buds to campus! 

Check out the list of recommended study spaces below. 

study-spaces-nanaimo-campus.pdf
Download the list of study spaces

Building 108 (Trades Discovery Centre)

Room 110 (student commons)

Room 105 (innovation space)

100.1: corridor/lounge

170.1: lounge

Building 180: 

Room 270: corridor - north end

Room 472: student area

Room 580: corridor - north end

Building 170 (Shq'apthut - VIU's Gathering Place)

lounge is open

Building 210 (Health & Science Centre)

Room 100: corridor/commons

Room 200: corridor/loft

Room 300: corridor

Room 400: corridor

Building 250 (Faculty of Management)

Room 200: study/tutorial area

Room 230.1: surf centre

Room 230.2: surf centre

Room 230: undergrad centre

Room 302: the exchange

Building 255 (Centre for International Education)

Room 100: student lounge

Room 101: group study

Room 102: group study

Room 103: group study

Room 104: group study

Room 100: corridor - west/north

Building 305 (Library)

Room 345: silent study

Room 340: silent study

Room 338: group study

Room 339: group study

Room 425: group study

Room 426: group study

Room 428: group study

Room 440: graduate study lounge

Room 500: corridor

Building 310 (Malaspina Theatre)

Room 201: lobby

Building 320 (Music)

Room 201: lobby

Building 340 (Arts & Humanities)

Room 135: student study

Building 355 (Arts/Sciences)

Room 211: multipurpose room

Building 356 (Education/Social Sciences)

Room 200: atrium study area

Building 360 (Math/Chemistry)

Room 318: study area

Room 303: study lab

Masks are required in all indoor public areas, including classrooms and labs. The Provincial Health Officer has indicated that there are no limits on the number of participants for in-class educational activities this fall, and that fall classes can be scheduled without physical distancing requirements. This is based on experiences over the past year showing that educational activities supporting teaching, learning, research and student development are low-risk sites for COVID-19 transmission, including activities in classrooms, lecture theatres, libraries, studios, workshops, labs, field schools, practicums, research settings, etc.

Support services will be delivered in-person with some online/blended delivery options available. See this welcome back letter from Irlanda Gonzalez Price. More details on the different services available can be accessed at Student Affairs.


This will depend on whether your courses are fully online or have some face-to-face components. Please see the course timetable for more details. 

In-store purchases can be done at the Nanaimo Campus Store. Campus Store hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday. Cowichan Campus store hours are Monday to Friday, 9 am to 3:30 pm.

Online textbooks, digital materials and course supply orders can be done by visiting the Shop Course Supplies link, which also includes online ordering instructional videos. Sponsor students can now order course materials through the Campus Store website. When selecting a method of payment, the sponsor student will have the option to select SPONSORSHIP and enter their Student ID Number and the dollar amount the sponsorship is authorized to cover. These steps can be viewed in the Ordering physical textbooks video at the 2-minute mark. For instructions on how to print documents on campus, please visit How Does Student Printing Work? For bus passes, visit the Students' Union website.

During the 2020-21 academic year, buildings were locked with student/employee card access only to control traffic and numbers. We are anticipating a return to normal building access hours, which are 9 am to 5 pm for many buildings, with the Nanaimo campus library accessible 24-7 with student/employee cards. One exception is the lower cafeteria (building 185), which remains closed.

We have learned a lot over the past year and will be offering more courses in a fully online or blended delivery method; however, many courses will be fully delivered face-to-face, and in those cases it will not be possible to attend virtually.  

Health & Safety

VIU is following the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training’s Return-to-Campus Guidelines. An institutional-level Communicable Disease Plan has been developed and VIU has transitioned away from COVID Safety Plans.

On August 24, Advanced Education and Skills Training Minister Anne Kang announced two new requirements in the Return to Campus guidelines:

  • Masks are now required in all indoor public areas on campus, including lobbies, hallways, stairwells, elevators, classrooms and labs and in spaces that are high traffic and/or require close proximity to others.
  • As part of the new provincial vaccine requirement, accessing some non-essential services on campus will now require a proof of vaccination, including but not limited to: gyms, nightclubs, restaurants and a variety of indoor events, such as sporting events and concerts. Students who are living in on-campus housing will also require proof of vaccination.

Other key elements of VIU’s Communicable Disease Plan include:

  • Maintaining appropriate hygiene practices such as sneezing or coughing into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hand, discarding tissues immediately into the trash, and following regular handwashing/hand sanitizing practices;
  • Supporting employees and students to stay home when sick;
  • Supporting employees and students to receive vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases;
  • Following routine cleaning practices;
  • Maintaining adequate ventilation.

VIU will continue to work with Island Health on COVID-19 case management and response processes.

As of Wednesday, August 25, 2021, by order of the Provincial Health Officer, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout BC. At post-secondary institutions, this mask order will apply in all indoor public areas on campus, including lobbies, hallways, stairwells, elevators, classrooms and labs and in spaces that are high traffic and/or require close proximity to others. This temporary order will be reassessed as the BC vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational settings. See our Mask Protocol and FAQs for more details.

If you are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms, you are expected to stay home. Please visit this BC Centre for Disease control webpage to determine if you need to get a COVID test. Learn more about self-isolation. Students who miss class due to illness should reach out to their instructors for instructions on how to get caught up. We suggest starting this conversation early in the semester so you are prepared to catch up if necessary. Many profs are including this information on the course syllabus. If you have medical documentation to support a formal accommodation, please contact Accessibility Services.

Employees who miss work due to illness should follow the guidance of Human Resources.  

VIU is encouraging open discussions among students and instructors as well as VIU employees about how to support the wellness of the entire community. We are also prepared to adapt in response to emerging health orders from the public health office and changes in the local health conditions in the region.

VIU works directly with Island Health to manage exposures and/or outbreaks. VIU’s Case Management team has a process in place if there is an outbreak on campus. VIU will continue to work with Island Health to ensure we fully support our community in our return to campus in Fall 2021. The process is based on the foundational principle of keeping our students and employees safe and healthy, and ensures timely and relevant communications are delivered.

Face masks are available for purchase from the Campus Store and vending machines throughout campus. A limited supply is also available in the Welcome Centre (Building 300) for those who are unable to purchase a mask.

While we support people being vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccines will not be mandatory to be present on campuses or in facilities. However, beginning September 13, 2021, Proof of Vaccination will be required across the province for certain settings and to take part in discretionary events and recreational activities. Discretionary non-educational activities and businesses on post-secondary campuses captured by the requirements include restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, gyms, and indoor ticketed events. The proof of vaccination will be phased in -- by September 13, proof of one vaccination will be needed for certain setting and activities (this date is moved up for students in residence to September 7); by October 24 proof of full vaccination will be required. Proof of vaccination is NOT mandatory to attend classes. The exception is students participating in health science programs must be fully immunized as required by the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventative Measures Order dated August 20, 2021 in order to participate in student practicums and clinical placements.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge to everyone ages 12+ living, working or studying in BC during the pandemic. This includes international students and their families. For more information, visit How to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

VIU will continue to work within the parameters set out by WorkSafeBC around indoor air quality for all occupied spaces. This includes any additional requirements in response to the COVID-19 virus. A review of VIU spaces has been undertaken by Facilities. Occupancy will not be allowed in spaces that do not meet or exceed these safety requirements. 

Please see our Building Ventilation FAQs for more details. 

Technology

The Student Technology Guide is your one-stop-shop guide to all things technology related at VIU: 

  • Set up your computer account and password 

  • Get a computer (requirements, loaners, recommendations for purchasing) 

  • Get free software (like Microsoft Office) and access course software 

  • Connect to the VIU wireless system

  • Access VIULearn 

  • Get immediate help through Student Tech Help Chat. Chat is available Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.  

If your question isn’t answered there you can email us at StudentTechHelp@viu.ca or phone us at 1-250-740-6300.   

Housing

We are looking forward to having more students join us this year. There has been a higher than normal level of interest in rooms at Residence, we are grateful that so many students want to spend this academic year with us. With the decreased occupancy to ensure the safest living environment for our Residence Community, all rooms have currently been offered out. To safely accommodate more people in Residence, we will continue to work with public health officials on a safety plan that includes occupancy levels, quarantine arrangements for international students, isolation requirements and options for on-site programming. Applications will remain open for those who would like to be added to the waitlist. We will be communicating with all applicants if double occupancy and/or more rooms become available. Visit VIU Residences for more information. 

There are several options for students looking to live off-campus. Long-term accommodation options can be found on Places4Students or other external sources such as Nanaimo Rentals and Nanaimo Housing Rentals Facebook groups. If you are hoping to find a place to live without making any long-term commitment, you can choose from a number of Hotels/Hostels in the Nanaimo Community. VIU International Education also has a great website with lots of information for all students who have questions about living off campus.

Contact IE.Housing@viu.ca to discuss your options or visit the Off-Campus Housing site for more details. Another great resource is the Where Should I Live While Studying at VIU? blog post.

Students who are living in on-campus housing will require proof of vaccination. Additional information will be provided in response to these new requirements in the coming days. Please see this update from August 24 from VIU Residences.

Food, Shopping and Transportation

VIU Food Services has got you covered for a great semester on campus! In the Upper Cafeteria, new outlets will allow Food Services to provide lots of options while ensuring a safe experience based on lessons learned during the pandemic. The salad bar has been replaced with a new build your own salad, sandwich and power bowl station serviced by our staff. There will also be an allergen station and grill station providing everything from your classic hamburger to a barbecue grilled rack of ribs. You can now purchase Dining Plans online. Hours:

  • Cafeteria hours are Monday to Friday, 7 am to 7 pm and Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm.
  • Grab and go food items remain available in the Campus Store Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Starbucks will be open starting September 7 from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm.

The Campus Store carries everything you need to make the most out of your VIU experience. This includes all your back-to-school gear, textbooks, digital access codes for online materials, special attire, tools, art supplies and much more. Nanaimo store hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Students can currently pick up online orders from the Cowichan store Tuesday to Thursday, 9 am to 3:30 pm, and after August 30, the store will be open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3:30 pm.

With the return to campus, demand for parking will resume, so parking rates are going back to pre-COVID pricing levels. Parking terms will generally remain the same with the most significant adjustment related to long-term passes. VIU will no longer be offering annual parking passes, the longest term will now be four months (term pass). This adjustment has no impact on pricing. For example, before the pandemic an employee general pass was $600 per year, whereas a four-month (term) employee pass will now cost $200. Visit the WestPark FAQs page for more details. 

International Students

The Government of Canada recently introduced changes to quarantine requirements. If you are fully vaccinated and meet specific requirements, you may be exempt from the 14-day quarantine (self-isolation) requirement. Even if you are exempt, you are still required to have a quarantine plan in place and enter the address of your place of quarantine in the ArriveCAN app BEFORE travelling to Canada in the event border officers determine you do not meet the requirements for exemption or are symptomatic. You may not be able to quarantine in the place you plan to stay longer term, so it is vital to confirm your quarantine plans in advance and register those plans with VIU.  

If you are confident that you will meet the requirements, Study Safe Corridor Operator The Student Travels can provide fully vaccinated students with a backup quarantine plan – at no cost – that allows students to enter a quarantine hotel address into the ArriveCAN app prior to departure. Students can activate the quarantine plan if they are denied exemption after arriving in Canada. 

For non-vaccinated travellers arriving after August 9, 2021, the government has removed the 3-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement which means you can complete your mandatory 14-day quarantine at the address you submitted in the ArriveCAN app. 

View Quarantine (Self-Isolation) Options

If you are concerned your arrival may be delayed due to quarantine or other travel requirements, reach out to your instructors to let them know you still plan to attend class and ask about arrangements for missed work. Students can also email advising.international@viu.ca with any help they need in re-arranging course schedules. The deferral policy can be accessed here 

Helpful links 

All international students attending VIU face-to-face must have a valid study permit. We highly encourage you to apply for a study permit as soon as possible. The VIU Timetable system indicates whether courses are online, in-person or blended.

We are pleased to share that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced new measures that will provide more flexibility for international students. The new measures will allow international students to complete up to 100% of their programs online from outside of Canada, while still remaining eligible for a post-graduate work permit.  

This means that if you were hoping to work in Canada after graduation, you can still do so even if your program was online and you did not travel to Canada to study. Wondering if your program will be online this fall? Information about how courses and programs will be delivered for 2021-22 is available through the timetable system.

To learn more, please read the updatedPost-Graduate Work Permit eligibilityinformation and bookmark ourCOVID-19 updates for international students page to stay up to date with what’s happening at VIU.  

Since VIU’s immigration advisors are not able to encompass the specific requirements of VISA Applications Centres (VAC) of each country, unfortunately it is not possible to provide support outside of Canada. Once you are in Canada, our Immigration Advisors can assist you in your study and work-related applications.  

Unfortunately, Immigration Advisors or VIU employees are unable to intervene in expediting applications.  

Travel restrictions are not unique to your country; Canada has also implemented travel restrictions. However, there are some exceptionsSee theIRCC and CBSAwebsites for details about exceptions.  

Information about how courses and programs will be delivered is available through the timetable system. If your courses are all delivered online, it is possible to study from your home country. We strongly recommend that you apply for your study permit immediately upon receiving your letter of acceptance from VIU, as a study permit to start face-to-face classes will be required. 

Yes. If you are living in BC during the pandemic, you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial government's vaccination program. Visit this ImmunizeBC page for more information and details on how to register.

Travel

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

Please visit the COVID-19 Updates for International Students website for more details on travelling to Canada to begin your studies at VIU.  Also see Question #1 in the International Students section.

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

  • For international travel involving students, the recommended extension to the current restriction is for the Fall 2021 term. 

  • For VIU-sanctioned travel outside of Canada involving employees, including to the United States, this restriction is recommended until at least December 31, 2021. 

 

VIU will review these restrictions for the Spring 2022 semester by September 17, 2021, or in the event that the Government of Canada’s Official Global Travel Advisory asking Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada” is lifted. VIU 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 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 for personal reasons, including to the United States, they must follow 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 can review VIU’s options for self-isolation and quarantine.  Those 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. 

Virtual opportunities exist for students; however, all non-essential outbound international travel is currently on hold (see VIU's policy above). The VIU Education Abroad office continues to support VIU students in planning for future international mobility programs. Weekly drop-in sessions are offered and individual appointments are available upon request by email (EdAbroad@viu.ca). Learn more about VIU Education Abroad program updates and drop-in Zoom sessions. VIU students may apply to participate in virtual exchange programs, field schools, internships and summer programs, where available. These experiences provide interesting opportunities to explore new perspectives from home while earning credits that can be applied towards VIU degrees.  

 

The Education Abroad office continues to also support Inbound Exchange students, who may participate in programs, through virtual or hybrid delivery where available. 

Contact EdAbroad@viu.ca for more information.