UPDATE: COVID-19, APRIL 1, 5:45 PM

Over the next few updates, we will be sharing news about different ways you can keep connected with friends and colleagues during this time. 

Today you’ll see in our 'New Items' section for students and employees information about online activities, including free and/or by donation yoga classes. 

And employees, we will soon be re-launching our employee enewsletter - VIU Voices - to keep colleagues connected. To do that we need your help! See the information below in the employee-specific update section on how you can contribute to our “VIU working remotely chronicles”. 

If you have ideas for other ways we can keep connected, please email universityrelations@viu.ca.

Our next update will be on Friday, April 3, 2020. Below, you’ll find information for both students and employees highlighted in green; information specifically for students is highlighted in yellow; and information specifically for employees is highlighted in blue.

 

NEW ITEMS FOR TODAY:

Students and employees:

1: We are pleased to report that thanks to our generous donors, more than 600 students have received an emergency bursary this past week, with a total value of about $150,000. Kudos to our internal VIU teams for pulling together to help students in need including Advancement, Student Affairs, Financial Aid & Awards, Finance and IT. The emergency bursary fundraising campaign has now raised more than $175,000 of the $250,000 goal! We are receiving many thankful responses from students including the following testimonials (intentionally left anonymous):

  • “It has taken me until this point in my life to be able to attend university and move forward with my future career plans, and despite it being very challenging to do with three children, VIU’s help has made it a bit easier for me to continue on, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
  • “My daughter got this emergency money and she was able to pay April rent so thank you VIU!”

2: Online Activities: 

  • Join VIU’s Student Leadership Circle for “Namaste at Home” – a relaxing afternoon of yoga – on Thursday, April 2 at 2 pm via Zoom. Megan Zolorycki, a local yoga instructor in Nanaimo, will take you through a virtual yoga session. To attend this event, please register on this Eventbrite page.
  • Nanaimo Yoga Sanctuary invites the VIU community to online yoga classes. There are “events” scheduled and during class times, teachers will be going live in the “discussion” area of the event. Classes are scheduled through April 25. Grab your mat and follow along. Any donations can be made straight to VIU’s Advancement office. Regardless of the money, at this time our wish is for folks to look after themselves.

3: Facilities Updates: 

  • Building 180 on the Nanaimo campus is now locked and accessible by permitted employee/student cards only.
  • The washroom upgrades in Building 300, which were expected to be complete last week, have taken a little longer than anticipated, but will be open by tomorrow (Thursday, April 2, 2020). Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
  • Reminder: Visit our closed/open website for up-to-date information on all VIU’s facilities. 

4: Looking for an interesting activity for yourself or your friends and family during this time of social distancing? While you are out on your outdoor walks you can become a citizen scientist and help collect invaluable environmental data. The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) Collective Environmental Monitoring App allows users to upload information and images about environmental features or issues they come across such as plants of cultural significance or illegal dumping sites. The info will either be included on the community map or used to facilitate community discussions to help resolve issues. Search MABR in the App Store or to download.

Student-specific updates:

1: Financial Assistance Resources for Students: Are you facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? VIU’s Financial Aid team has created a resource page that lists a variety of supports and relief measures to help you get through this challenging time. It includes VIU supports, government relief measures and other supports.  

2: Important message about Intersession/Summer Session Courses: 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. 

3: The Medical Clinic on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus remains open with some changes. Starting April 8, the clinic’s hours will be 8:30 am to 12 pm Monday to Thursday (changed from 11 am to 3 pm), as the need for medical professionals to aid in the COVID-19 efforts increases elsewhere in the community. Our nurse practitioners will continue to focus resources on providing service to existing patients, students in VIU Residence and Homestay students. Patients can continue to leave a message at 250-740-6620 to book telephone appointments.

 

Employee specific updates:

1: Increase in Phishing Attempts – Be EXTRA vigilant: There has been a significant increase in phishing attempts. The attempts exploit the COVID-19 situation, urging individuals to click links for “crucial information” or to purchase masks, hand sanitizer, etc. Please remain vigilant during this time. When you click harmful links or enter your username/password in malicious websites, you put student, employee and VIU confidential data at risk.

2: Keeping Connected - share your stories with colleagues: What does your “new office” look like? What kind of music gets you through different parts of your day? How are you staying inspired while you work? What does your new morning routine look like? What is your team doing to stay in touch?

If you’re willing to share, please send some stories for the “VIU working remotely chronicles” to share with our employee community. We are asking for pictures of your new “office mates” or “co-workers.” We’d also love images of your work space, your mug with your coffee or tea that gets you going, your Zoom meeting attire, and anything else that may be fun or funny, and always positive. These will be shared in the next issue of VIU Voices, which we are relaunching to help our colleagues stay connected and up to date on what’s going on while we are away from campus. Questions? Reach out to Alyson.Winks@viu.ca

3: Need headphones with a microphone to support you through all those Zoom meetings? IT has a very limited supply of USB headphone/microphone sets. Please email ithelp@viu.ca to request and arrange pick up.

4: Supports and Resources for Employees: Our fabulous Human Resources team has compiled a list of employee-specific resources including information on meditation courses and other supports. 

 

REMINDERS:

Student and Employee reminders:

1: New hours for the Cowichan Campus: The Cowichan campus has moved to reduced hours effective today (Monday, March 30, 2020). The main doors will be unlocked to allow students access to the Learning Commons from 10 am to 3 pm, Monday to Saturday, until further notice. Learn more at VIU’s open/closed page

2: The Parksville-Qualicum Centre remains open via remote services (email). This is due to the restricted access to the building as the City of Parksville has closed the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre (PCTC) to the public, which the centre is located in. To contact the Parksville campus, email pqcampus@viu.ca or phone 250-248-2096 and messages will be returned. 

3: Library: Please review this information from our Library team to learn more about numerousavailable services, resources and supports - we’re here for you! Website updated daily on weekdays.

4: IT: If you need help with IT please contact 1-236-362-1121 or email ithelp@viu.ca to reach the IT Helpdesk. As well IT has put together these helpful guidelines and some tips and tricks to troubleshoot Internet problems while at home. 

5: We have created a list of both VIU and community supports that are available for everyone – please reach out if you need to and encourage others to do so as well. 

 

Student-specific reminders:

1: Elder Support: VIU’s Elders-in-Residence are available this week for phone calls with students who want some support or words of encouragement. Email Sylvia.Scow@viu.ca to access the Elders-in-Residence. 

2: Academic Penalty-Free Withdrawal – deadline changed: As noted in the email that went out on Friday, March 27 to all students, the deadline to withdraw from any class taken during the Spring 2020 semester has been moved to the final day of instruction, April 9, 2020. Students in Adult Basic Education courses have also had their course withdrawal deadline extended to the final day of instruction. Please send any questions to registration@viu.ca.

3: Flexible Grading: As noted in the email that went out on Friday, March 27 to all students, VIU has introduced a flexible grading process for students for the Spring 2020 semester. Students have the option of being graded on a “Pass/Fail” basis. To make this decision as easy as possible, you will be graded in the normal fashion with a letter grade and a corresponding grade point value. If, after receiving your final grade, you prefer to receive a grade of “CR”, please notify your instructor or the Records department (Records@viu.ca). A “CR” grade can replace any assigned passing grade. You will have up until the end of August 2020 to make this request. Please send any questions to registration@viu.ca.  

4. E-tutoring available: International Academic Support (IAS) and VIU’s Writing Centre have moved to e-tutoring models. If you have any questions, email sylvia.arnold@viu.ca (IAS) or John.Hill@viu.ca (Writing Centre). 

5: International Students: 

  • Students currently insured under the guard.me plan have free 24/7/365 access to the mobileDOCTOR program. mobileDOCTOR by guard.me allows you to connect with Canadian doctors on Maple, a telemedicine company, as a part of your health benefits. Maple provides access to doctors, Canada-wide, on your phone, tablet or computer anytime, anywhere. Seeing a doctor on Maple is safe and reliable, and can help prevent the need to go to a walk-in clinic or emergency room. For more information about mobileDOCTOR and other guard.me services please consult the VIU International guard.me website.
  • International Education has created a specific page for information for international students related to COVID-19
  • Further questions can be directed to support.international@viu.ca. We will continue to update the FAQ resource as new questions come in.

 

Employee-specific reminders:

1: ProPass Program on Hold: As Nanaimo Regional Transit has made bus travel free of charge for the near future, Payroll will suspend the ProPass deduction for all employees currently accessing it until regular fares resume. The next affected payroll is April 3, at which time employees taking advantage of the program will notice that the deduction will not come off. 

2: Mindwell Challenge: A reminder to employees that VIU has a subscription to Mindwell U - an evidence-based, 30-day Mindfulness Challenge available at MindwellU. VIU employees can invite a buddy to take the Challenge with them. 

3: Employee and Family Assistance Program: A reminder to employees that the Employee and Family Assistance program (EFAP) continues to be available. EFAP is a confidential counselling and information service sponsored by VIU. This program is designed to help you and your eligible dependents with any personal problems that affect your family life, your work life or your general well-being.

4: Working remotely guidelines and checklist: VIU has developed two documents outlining the process to support employees to work from a remote location. These are called the VIU Remote Work Checklist and Remote Work Guideline. They are located on a web page titled Working on Campus or Remotely, which can be found in the menu on the main COVID-19 page. Managers will be reaching out to employees very soon to discuss and complete the checklist. 

  

MORE INFORMATION:  

  • VIU’s COVID-19 website (go here first)  

  • Employee and student emails (email will be used for broad community updates and any major changes; the website will contain all the updates)
  • VIU’s Safety App
  • VIU Twitter feeds: @viunews; @viuniversity
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