FAQs on VIU’s 2021-22 Academic Year

VIU is excited to welcome more students and employees back to our campus this fall. Following the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training’s Return-to-Campus guidelines as well as the BC Restart Plan, VIU has developed a plan to reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of communicable diseases on our campuses. Everyone can contribute to the health and safety of our campuses and facilities by following the guidelines outlined in this plan.  

Below we answer frequently asked questions about how courses, programs, services and supports will be delivered during the 2021-22 academic year. Please note that this document is being updated on a regular basis as new information becomes available; please bookmark this page and check back regularly. Do you have a question that isn’t answered here? Please email students@viu.ca.

Academic

Information about course and program delivery is now available through the timetable system. See the next question for more details on delivery models. Please stay tuned to the Student Pulse enewsletter (back issues can be accessed on the VIU Blog) for more information on Fall 2021. You can also connect with us through students@viu.ca 

The Fall/Spring timetable, which is now available, indicates on a course-by-course basis whether the course is:  

  • In-person (face-to-face) 

  • Blended (online and in-person) synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time each week) 

  • Blended (online and in-person) asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule) 

  • Online synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time each week) 

  • Online asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule). 

Yes, 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. Details on course delivery is available through the timetable system 

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.  

VIU will be making spaces available on our campuses to attend live Zoom lectures. More information will be available soon. 

We expect access to buildings to return to normal this fall. Some of our favourite study spots on the Nanaimo campus are: the library, the Centre for Health and Science and the quad (when it's nice out).

We expect these to look very similar to what they looked like pre-COVID. 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, which became available on April 26, for more details.  

We expect these to look very similar to what they looked like pre-COVID. 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.

In-store purchases can be done at the Nanaimo Campus Store. Hours are 8 am to 3:30 pm Monday to Friday until Friday, July 30, 2021. Starting on Tuesday, August 2, 2021, Campus Store hours will be 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.

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

More details will be available before the start of the Fall semester. 

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, with the Nanaimo campus library accessible 24-7 with student/employee cards. 

We anticipate that most courses will be offered in a face-to-face format; however, we have learned from the past year of delivering many courses and programs online and we expect that moving forward the number of blended or fully online course offerings will remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.   

Application deadlines have been reviewed on a program-by-program basis. Each program description in the online Calendar has up-to-date information under the heading, “Start Date and Application Deadlines.”

We have learned a lot over the past year and will be offering more courses in a fully online 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 is being developed and VIU will begin transitioning away from COVID Safety Plans. Key elements of the Communicable Disease Plan that will continue to protect students, staff and faculty include:

  • Following routine cleaning practices;
  • 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; and
  • Maintaining adequate ventilation.

The Return-to-Campus guidelines aim to transition post-secondary institutions from highly prescriptive COVID-19 specific orders and protocols back to normal institutional policies and guidance on occupational health and safety. VIU will continue to work with Island Health on COVID-19 case management and response processes.

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. Your instructor/supervisor will make accommodations for missed classes/work due to illness.  

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.

Mask wearing is now recommended, rather than mandatory, at all indoor public spaces and classrooms at VIU campuses and facilities until you have received your second vaccination and passed the two-week immunity-building phase. At the recommendation of the regional Medical Health Officer, VIU may be required to implement the mandatory wearing of face masks during times of increased transmission.

Face masks are available for purchase from the Campus Store and vending machines throughout campus.

Beginning July 5, the Government of Canada has announced some exemptions for people eligible to enter Canada and able to meet specific vaccination conditions. Please visit the Government of Canada Travel page for up to date information on entry requirements and vaccination information. Please review this information before travelling to Canada. If you are a student or employee who will be coming to VIU from another part of Canada, or from an international location, please see the information from ImmunizeBC to learn about vaccine availability for you.

 

While we support people being vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccines will not be mandatory to be present on campuses or in facilities. 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.

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. 

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 then 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 and most have been confirmed with students for this upcoming year. We are now offering rooms as they become available to those on the rolling waitlist. 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.

Food, Shopping and Transportation

As the on-campus population begins to climb again, additional services will be opened in support of the increased demand. Updated schedules for each service will be posted well in advance of the return to campus in September.Currently, the Mount Benson Market in the Campus Store remains open and has grab and go food options available. 

Starting in September, the Upper Cafeteria (Building 300) will be open Monday – Friday 7 am - 7 pm, and Saturdays 10 am-2 pm. Starbucks will be open Monday to Friday am – 2 pm. The Lower Cafeteria (Building 185) will remain closed at this time. 

This is being reviewed once we know approximately how many people will be returning to campus. More flexible options are currently being explored. More information will be available prior to the return to campus.  

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.