Student update on our fall semester

Dear VIU Students,

I know the past month and a half has been filled with lots of change and uncertainty and I wanted to thank you for your patience, flexibility and resilience as we worked to respond to the many impacts of COVID-19. As the pandemic continues to affect countries around the world, I know many of you have questions about what will be happening at VIU as we move forward, particularly regarding our fall semester.

Our main priority remains the safety and well-being of our students, employees and broader community, and we have been closely following the advice and guidelines of BC’s Public Health Office. We have also been working closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and BC’s other post-secondary institutions.

At this time, to continue to support the safety and well-being of our communities, we are making plans to deliver our educational programs, supports and services in different ways, supporting face-to-face delivery where possible and/or necessary (for example for practicums, labs and experiential learning), while also ensuring that we are following the necessary guidelines to support our students’ safety and well-being.

That is why we have decided to move to a hybrid program delivery model for our fall 2020 semester.

A hybrid program model takes advantage of the best features of both face-to-face and online learning and will include: the use of robust online educational technologies for most classes; re-imagined experiential learning opportunities (ensuring compliance with health and safety guidelines including guidelines on social distancing); new or modified approaches to labs and practicums – that will still support an in-depth practical learning experience; and virtual supports, services and extra-curricular activities.

I am connecting with you today to assure you that although the upcoming year might look different than expected - VIU is here for you and you can be certain that:

  • We will continue to provide the student-centred, high-quality education we have always delivered, supported by small class sizes and dedicated faculty;
  • You will not be alone ‒ our faculty and staff are committed to being with you every step of the way and we will continue to offer you supports and services beyond your course learning (i.e. counselling, advising, student residences) to ensure you are comfortable and prepared for the success we know you are capable of; and
  • There will be lots of opportunities to take part in a variety of virtual activities to enhance your learning and allow you to connect with others and be part of the VIU community.

As we have a wide variety of programs, there will be different approaches to ensuring your ongoing safety and that you receive a valuable and enriching educational experience.

We will continue our planning and envisioning of our fall semester over the coming weeks and will share more details with you by June 8, 2020.

We will also continue to monitor this situation carefully and take a risk-based approach to make adjustments as appropriate. Part of this monitoring will include continuing to follow the advice of BC’s Public Health Office on how and when we might be able to further open our campuses and on-site services.

I know that this will likely raise many questions. As this situation continues to change so rapidly we may not have all the answers right away, but please do not hesitate to reach out to us at universityrelations@viu.ca and we will respond as quickly as possible. As well, please remember that VIU has different supports and services available to help you navigate through this time.

We have also developed a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding our fall semester.

Finally,we know that our International Students will have specific questions and there will soon be more information coming directly to you from the Dean of International Education.

Once again – I want to reassure you that VIU is here for you during this time. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

 

Deb Saucier, PhD

President and Vice-chancellor

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