DAILY UPDATE: COVID-19, MARCH 16, 6:10 PM

First, we’d like to thank everyone again for continuing to support each other and for your patience and understanding as we try to get messages out and make critical decisions as quickly as possible. 

We again want to reassure everyone in our community that we are working very hard in the background to respond to this situation as everyone across Canada tries to understand the impacts and the best way to respond. It is changing rapidly, and teams across VIU have been mobilized on a daily basis to ensure we can react as quickly as possible to support our students and employees, taking guidance and direction from the Public Health Officer as well as the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. 

As always, if you have questions not answered here please email universityrelations@viu.ca, or contact specific emails noted below. 

General Updates:

1.     REMINDER: All of us have a responsibility to support each other and mitigate the risk of transmission. The best way we can do this is to ensure we are observing the guidelines around social distancing and carefully washing our hands

2.     We have decided to cancel all internal and external events at VIU’s campuses and facilities until May 1. This does not include meetings that are essential for the normal operations of VIU, such as the Board and Senate meetings. This decision will be reviewed on April 15 and an update shared. This is based on the Provincial Government’s recommendations to cancel all events with 50 or more people and to ensure we are putting actions in place to support the advice on social distancing.

3.     REMINDER FROM SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020 UPDATE: VIU is transitioning to alternate course delivery and assessment – which includes exams. Please Note: this also includes, practicums, internships and field trips, all of which have been adjourned for the week. As plans are developed and approved, students will receive specific direction from their instructors no later than Thursday, March 19. 

4.     Please remember there are counselling services for both employees and students who feel they need extra support during this time. 

5.     VIU’s Starbucks on the Nanaimo campus is moving to a grab and go model – there will be no seating in the location and reduced hours are also in place; the location will be open Monday to Friday, 7 am - 3 pm.

6.     VIU’s Writing Centre is no longer open for face-to-face meetings; all of the appointments will be through e-tutoring. If you have any questions please contact john.hill@viu.ca.

7.     VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Bowser, Milner Gardens & Woodland in Qualicum Beach, and the gym on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus are closed to the public until further notice. This is to support the Provincial Government requirements of having no more than 50 people gathered together at once and to ensure we are putting actions in place to support the advice on social distancing.

8.     Cafeterias at both Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses are open to ensure employees and students can continue to be supported with food services. Staff are taking precautions to minimize risk of transmission such as having food items served by Food Services team members (limiting guest contact with food); increased table and surface cleaning; and removal of individual cutlery which has been replaced with sealed cutlery packages.

Important Updates to Travel Guidelines:

  • The Federal Government announced today that Canada is closing its border to foreign travellers effective March 18, 2020; exceptions are being made for immediate family members, air crews, diplomats and US Citizens. 
    • If you are a citizen or permanent resident and are returning to Canada you must self-isolate for 14 days.
      • If you left the country prior to March 13 and are returning, please review the Employee Leave Protocol on how VIU will support employees; VIU Students returning from VIU-sanctioned activities (exchange programs, practicums and internships) should connect with educationabroad@viu.ca; all other returning VIU students should contact their faculty or program chair.  
      • If you left the country on March 13 or after, students and employees are required to self-quarantine 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 who reside in VIU Residences 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. 
        • Employees: For more information, check the Employee Leave Protocol
        • For students, if your circumstances are unique to those outlined here, please contact safety@viu.ca

Reminder: Student-Specific Updates:

Educational support: 

  • The VIU Library in Cowichan and Nanaimo are currently operating regular hours, with steps taken to increase social distancing and cleaning cycles.
  • VIU’s Library Commons is open 24/7 to provide support to students and faculty, with 60+ computers, 2 media stations, and video and audio editing labs.
  • VIU Library’s electronic collections (journals, ebooks, databases and more) are available 24/7/365, in support of research and assignments.
  • Research help services are available – visit us in person or via the VIU Library website for hours and to make an appointment. 
  • Library instruction services are available – visit us in person or via the VIU Library website to make an appointment. 

Leave Support: 

  • If students are experiencing any symptoms of illness, they should review these guidelines to find out what to do. 
  • If students are feeling ill, then they need to reach out to their professor or faculty to let them know they will not be in class.

 

EMPLOYEE SPECIFIC UPDATES: 

Attending at work:

  • There are various reasons that you may be reluctant to come to work during the uncertainty around COVID-19, including being a caregiver of an elderly person or living with someone who is immunocompromised. In consultation with your manager, it may be possible to work from home, take leave without pay or use vacation time if you prefer to be away from the workplace. If you are an employee who works in an area designated as ‘operational requirements’ or essential services and you prefer to be away from work, please contact your manager about options available to you.
  • To minimize the risk of transmission between employees and counsellors, VIU’s Employee and Family Assistance Provider, Homewood Health, moved away from face-to-face counselling and will be implementing telephone counselling services. 

SUPPORTS FOR OUR COMMUNITY:

We know that many people are feeling anxiety and concern around this quickly changing situation. We encourage anyone feeling impacted by this situation to access supports.

Students: 

Counselling and other services for students are provided by VIU’s Student Affairs (Building 200, third floor) as well as by International Student Services in the Faculty of International Education (Building 255). You can also access other resources in the community such as the 24-Hour Crisis Line that has text, chat and phone support. Counselling services are also available at VIU’s Cowichan and Powell River campuses. 

Employees:

Counselling services are available to anyone who feels they may need support through VIU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) through Homewood Health. The telephone number is 1-800-663-1142.

You can find more information and updates on COVID-19 at these places: 

  • VIU’s COVID-19 website (this site, come 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

If you have any questions or need further information please let us know at universityrelations@viu.ca. We want to support our community as best we can and appreciate your feedback. 

Thank you for your patience as we work to provide the most reliable information during this rapidly developing situation. 

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