UPDATE: COVID-19, APRIL 3

It’s Friday, which means we hope everyone will take some time this weekend to do something to nurture and lift their spirits - there are some activities listed in our Reminders section that may help support this. 

Our next update will be on Monday, April 6, 2020 - if you have any questions please email us at universityrelations@viu.ca.

Below, you’ll find information for both students and employees; information specifically for students; and information specifically for employees.

NEW ITEMS FOR TODAY:

Students and employees:

None for today - see the Reminder section for activities to keep you engaged this weekend. 

Student-specific updates:

1: This week, the provincial government announced two new funding supports for post-secondary students: 

  • $3.5 million to post-secondary institutions across BC to boost their emergency bursary funds for students, which help students in financial need. “This investment is going to help hundreds of VIU students meet basic needs so they can focus on finishing their semesters,” says Irlanda Price, Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs. To apply, students can email financialaidinfo@viu.ca.
  • An additional $1.5 million to supplement the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund. “We are pleased the province is providing additional support to our Indigenous students,” says Jennifer Christoffersen, VIU Services for Aboriginal Students Coordinator/Education Advisor. “For several years, [this fund] has been instrumental in helping … VIU’s Indigenous students get through emergencies and unforeseen circumstances that impact their ability to concentrate on school. To apply students can email: sas@viu.ca or Jennifer.Christoffersen@viu.ca.

2: Elder Support to continue next week (April 6 - 9): VIU’s Elders-in-Residence will be available again next 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. 

Employee specific updates:

1: Join Keeping Connected VIU - a new Facebook group for VIU employees that aims to give colleagues a place to share posts, and help each other smile during this time of social distancing. We’re used to seeing each other in the cafeteria, in the classroom, in the hallways and around campus, but without that physical space to interact, we thought this group would be a great place to spread some positivity. Share a video of you playing your favourite song on the guitar, a picture of your workspace at home, pictures of your furry “co-workers,” fun videos that are helping you keep a smile on your face, memes to make us laugh and messages of positivity for our community. Whatever you think would help brighten everyone's day. Join by searching Keeping Connected VIU on Facebook.

2: VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning has published some guidance on how to protect yourself from Zoom bombing and on how to protect your privacy while using online tools (this includes templates for consent forms, if needed). 

REMINDERS:

Student and Employee reminders:

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: 

  • 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, are now open. 
  • 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 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.

5: 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.

6: 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. 

7: 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: 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.

4: 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.

5: 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.  

6. 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). 

7: 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: 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 workspace, 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 a headphone with 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 & Resources for Employees: Our fabulous Human Resources team has compiled a list of employee-specific resources including information on meditation courses and other supports. 

5: Mindwell U 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. 

 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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