UPDATE: COVID-19, MARCH 30, 5:40 PM

We wanted to start today’s update by sharing a video message from Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, who is working from her home office. She wanted to share her appreciation for our amazing community members and everyone’s willingness to work together and support one another as we transitioned to alternate learning delivery and working remotely. 

As well, we emailed information out earlier to let everyone know we have decided to postpone our spring convocation. Although our convocation was not going to take place until June, planning the event takes months of preparation. Because of this and given the daily uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, we needed to make the difficult decision now to postpone the event. 

Our next update will be on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. You can connect with us at any time through universityrelations@viu.ca and visit our COVID-19 website for the most up to date information. 

 

NEW ITEMS FOR TODAY:

Students and employees:

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. Learn more at VIU’s open/closed page

Student-specific updates:

1: 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.

2: 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 passing grade. You will have up until the end of August 2020 to make this request. Please send any questions to registration@viu.ca.  

3: Financial Supports for Students: 

  • Important - fill out your Scholarship, Award and Bursary Profile by tomorrow (March 31, 2020), to apply for approximately $2 million in scholarships and awards. Learn how to apply by visiting Financial Aid. After March 31, VIU’s Financial Aid & Awards team will prioritize filled out profiles over other types of requests.
  • If you are a student experiencing financial hardship, email financialaidinfo@viu.ca with a request to access emergency bursary funds, Be sure to include your name, student number and reason for need.

4: Elder Support: VIU’s Elders-in-Residence are available March 30 - April 3 for phone calls with students who want some support or words of encouragement. Email Sylvia.Scow@viu.ca to access the Elders-in-Residence. The schedule for the week is as follows: 

  • Tuesday: Geraldine Manson 
  • Wednesday: Barney Williams 
  • Thursday: Maxine Matilpi 
  • Friday: Geraldine Manson

 

Employee specific updates:

1: Counselling App: Homewood e-AP is a user-friendly mobile application for iOS and Android devices by Homewood Health - our employee benefit provider. Homewood e-AP includes access to a wealth of tools and resources on HomeWeb, access to the i-Volve online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for depression and anxiety, and access to HomeChat (live chat). The app is available from the App Store.

 

REMINDERS:

Student and Employee reminders:

1: A huge thank you to the Financial Aid & Awards team for their amazing work last week in processing more than 230 student emergency bursary forms. A second shout out to the VIU Students’ Union and the VIU Foundation for their leadership in launching a campaign to raise $250,000 for the student emergency bursary fund. Our VIU community has proved yet again that we come together in times of need.

2: 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.

3: 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. 

4: Information on Campus Facilities/Services that are open or closed: Are you wondering what services/facilities are open or closed at VIU and how to access services now that the University is following the provincial government’s social distancing guidelines? We’ve created a webpage with more detailed information.

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: 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.

2: Online Social Strengthening Events: VIU’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning is planning eight weeks of virtual #socialstrengthening activities to keep our community connected. Stay tuned for more info! Questions? Email ccr@viu.ca.

3: Are you struggling with the transition to alternate delivery? VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning has a three-part blogpost – How to be a successful student during COVID-19 – to help students navigate the changes to courses, assignments and their own personal well-being. It includes three key strategies to help students manage these changes: stay connected to key people, make a plan and use good strategies.

 

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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