Working diligently to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 update for January 28, 2022
Updated COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines
An updated version of the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines was released today to reflect evolving public health guidance including updated BCCDC guidance for the post-secondary sector, and the January 2022 letter from Dr. Henry regarding the prioritization of on-campus instruction.
COVID-19 update for January 21, 2022
New Provincial Health Officer Letter to PSIs – Prioritization of On-campus Instruction
Earlier today, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) sent post-secondary institution presidents a letter (see attached) strongly recommending the continuation of on-campus instruction at post-secondary institutions.
- C.’s pandemic response continues to be guided by the epidemiology of COVID-19.
- The lower rates of COVID-19 incidence in the post-secondary population reflect the high vaccination rates and comprehensive safety measures in place.
- Given the disproportionate adverse impacts of the pandemic on young adults in the context of a highly vaccinated population, institutions are encouraged to prioritize on-campus instruction whenever possible.
- The prevention measures outlined in the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines as well as institutional communicable disease prevention plans have been effective at preventing COVID-19 in a wide variety of post-secondary settings and will continue to support successful on-campus instruction.
New Workplace Safety Order:
On January 20, 2022, B.C.’s PHO released a new Workplace Safety Order requiring employers to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in accordance with WorkSafeBC guidance.
- Section T of the Order confirms that the Order does not apply to post-secondary institutions because detailed COVID-19 protocols have already been developed to address COVID-19 related risks, in close collaboration with staff from the PHO.
Return-to-Campus Guidelines (RTCG) – Updates Under Development:
The following updates are under development in partnership with the PHO and the BC Centre for Disease Control:
- Post-secondary rapid testing strategy – NEW
- Contact tracing
- Mask information
COVID-19 update for January 19, 2022
PHO Orders Extended:
There are no expiration dates for these Orders.
Gyms and fitness centers to begin gradual reopening with capacity limits on January 20, 2022.
Bars and nightclubs that do not have full meal services continue to be closed until further notice.
These orders will be reviewed by the PHO by February 16, 2022.
K-12 School Staff Member Vaccination Status Reporting:
On January 17, 2022, B.C.’s PHO released the School Staff Member Vaccination Status Reporting Order to enable local Medical Health Officers to better assess local circumstances with respect to the risk of transmission of communicable diseases in school settings.
A board of education, independent school authority, and francophone education authority must request proof of vaccination from each staff member and must keep a record of each staff member’s vaccination status.
This order does not apply to post-secondary students or instructors participating in K-12 practicums.
COVID-19 update for January 13, 2022
Updated BCCDC Mask Information
On January 10, 2022, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) updated their mask information for the public. Masks are one of many layers of protection used in post-secondary classrooms and workplaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- All types of masks help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 when they fit comfortably over the mouth and nose with no gaps around the face.
- In healthcare and other workplace settings, respirators (e.g., N95, KN95, or CAN95) are specially fitted to each person, but in public settings, this is not needed.
- Respirators and medical masks may provide better protection than other masks when worn correctly and consistently.
- Individuals are advised to choose the mask that is best for them, depending on their ability to wear it comfortably, affordability, and individual risk.
COVID-19 Safety Plan Exemption for Post-secondary Institutions
In a media briefing on January 7, 2022 (see timestamp 6 mins 30 sec) the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) announced that business owners are to implement COVID-19 safety plans that are appropriate for this phase of the pandemic where much of the population is immunized and business continuity is a priority.
- Educational settings (K-12 and post-secondary institutions) and healthcare facilities are exempt from this requirement because detailed COVID-19 protocols have already been developed to address COVID-19 related risks, in close collaboration with staff from the PHO.
- A new PHO order on workplace safety is currently under development and will provide written confirmation of this exemption.
The Ministry is working with the BCCDC and the PHO to update the COVID-19 Return to Campus Guidelines to reflect these updates.
COVID-19 update for January 07, 2022
Learning and Business Continuity for Post-secondary Institutions
Public health in BC continues to strongly recommend the continuation of on-campus instruction for post-secondary institutions (PSIs) starting January 10, 2022 as outlined in the Provincial Health Officer’s recommendations.
- Evidence to date indicates that BC’s PSIs are low-risk settings for the transmission of COVID-19 due to:
- High vaccination rates;
- Sector-wide health and safety protocols; and,
- High compliance with Provincial Health Officer orders, including the requirement for masks in all post-secondary classrooms and workplaces.
- In-person learning is critical to alleviating the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on young adults in British Columbia as documented by the BCCDC COVID-19 Young Adult Task Force, including significantly worsening mental health.
As part of a long term, sustainable approach to managing COVID-19, PSIs need contingency plans in place to support learning continuity for students as well as operational continuity during short-term business disruptions resulting from students, faculty, or staff becoming ill due to COVID-19, as per direction from BC’s Provincial Health Officer. Institutions should reference the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines and the COVID-19 resources noted below to review and update their existing business continuity plans.
COVID-19 update for December 30th, 2021
Recommendation for Jan 10/22 Start of Classes:
Post-secondary institutions are advised to delay the start of in-person instruction until Mon, Jan 10/22, where operationally feasible, in order to allow additional time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant and review plans for returning to campus after the winter break. BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) is supportive of this delay.
- Time-sensitive programs including clinical or other experiential components, trades training, and practicums may however begin as planned on Jan 4/22 with appropriate safety protocols in place.
- Post-secondary campuses will remain open and available to learners including student housing and student services.
- Based on experience in BC and internationally, educational settings are low-risk for COVID-19 transmission.
Public health continues to monitor COVID-19 closely to ensure that safety measures are informed by evolving evidence. In the event that the measures need to change, the PHO and AEST will discuss with post-secondary institutions immediately.
COVID-19 updates for December 22th, 2021
December 2021 Guidance from BC’s Provincial Health Officer – Continuation of On-Campus Instruction for January 2022: :
On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), Dr. Bonnie Henry, informed (see attached letter) all public post-secondary institution presidents of the strong recommendation by public health experts in B.C. to continue with on-campus instruction as planned for PSIs in January 2022.
- Experience in BC and internationally show educational settings as low risk for COVID-19 transmission. Transmission in educational settings on campus continues to be uncommon.
- Experience with all variants of concern reflect similar patterns of risk:
- High-risk settings are homes and unstructured or informal social settings.
- Low-risk settings are educational settings, including large classrooms, and workplaces with safety measures in place.
- Structured educational settings do not amplify transmission.
- The previous move to online post-secondary education in 2020 and 2021 was associated with significant negative consequences for post-secondary students.
- There is no evidence that moving to online post-secondary instruction will decrease interactions in households and unstructured social settings.
- Maintain in-person instruction on post-secondary campuses and ensure students continue to have in-person access to their instructors.
- Return to Campus Public Health Guidance, COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines and institutional safety plans have been very effective at preventing COVID-19 in a variety of settings across B.C.
- For non-educational activities, such as social gatherings of students and/or staff, seek virtual alternatives, and continue to comply with the PHO Order for Gatherings and Events.
Given the importance of maintaining in-person and on-campus education of post-secondary students, Public Health leadership will work with PSIs to provide guidance, support, and assistance to ensure that students are able to continue learning in place.
Rapid Antigen Testing in BC:
An accelerated roll-out of rapid antigen testing strategy (December 2021 – January 2022) was announced on December 21, 2021, as part of the broader announcement regarding strengthened COVID-19 measures for a safer holiday season. The testing strategy includes:
- Case/Contact/Cluster Management – testing multiple people who may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 (e.g., events with exposure)
- Post-Secondary Education (students, faculty, and staff) – 500,000 tests for rapid testing of symptomatic students, faculty and staff, students, etc.
As the roll-out for rapid testing progresses more information may become available to PSIs.
Return-to-Campus Guidelines (RTCG):
The RTCG will be updated to include the December 2021 guidance from BC’s Provincial Health Officer in the coming days. Expect to see a separate sector communique later this week with the updates.
COVID-19 update for December 8th, 2021
Information Bulletin from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) shows low COVID-19 rates at PSIs in the VCH region:
- Data collected by VCH shows that post-secondary institutions in the VCH region have seen low rates of COVID-19 transmission with the fall return to campus.
- Since September 7, 2021, there have been fewer than five transmissions detected in post-secondary learning settings, and 219 cases overall among students and staff (see chart below).
- Consistent with international literature and VCH data from other sectors, transmission within learning settings has been low.
- VCH Medical Health Officers believe the low case rates are thanks to high vaccination rates and robust communicable disease prevention plans at post-secondary institutions.
COVID-19 updates for November 26th, 2021
International Students: Adjustments to Canada’s Border and Travel Measures
- Effective November 30, 2021, Canada will expand its list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines for the purposes of entry into Canada and introduce exemptions from some testing and quarantine requirements.
- As of January 15, 2022, international students (18 years or older), will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved for entry into Canada.
- Fully vaccinated students will be allowed to attend any provincially or territorially designated learning institution in Canada.
COVID-19 updates for November 19th, 2021
Updates to Hospital and Community (Health Care and Other Services) COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures Order:
The Provincial Health Officer updated the vaccine mandate order for hospital and community settings on November 18, 2021, and published the order on November 19, 2021.
- Revisions include the addition of student health services in post-secondary institutions as a care location and requirements for the staff of student health services to be vaccinated, along with specific timelines.
- The updates extend the order to other health care settings not covered by the initial order and provide further support for the full return to on-campus activities for post-secondary institutions.
- This order does not have an expiration date.
Extension of Region-Specific Gatherings and Events COVID-19 Order for the Northern Health Authority:
Public health measures were updated on November 18, 2021, for the Northern Health Authority.
- The order expiry date was removed. Current measures will remain in effect pending further assessment of the region’s COVID-19 status.
- NOTE: This order does not apply to educational activities for students of post-secondary institutions in any location when provided by a post-secondary institution.
COVID-19 updates for November 18th, 2021
Gatherings and Events Order Update:
The Provincial Health Officer updated the Gatherings and Events Order on November 16, 2021, and published the order on November 17, 2021. The changes include the following clarifications:
- The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to educational activities, including a practicum or research, involving students or researchers of post-secondary institutions when provided or arranged by a post-secondary institution.
- NOTE: Students or researchers in health care sciences going to care locations are still subject to the vaccination requirements of the vaccine mandate order for hospital and community settings.
- Events that are subject to requirements for participants to be seated include entertainment (e.g., theatrical productions or dance performances), musicals (e.g., concerts), business presentations or workshops, and social events including sponsored or ticketed parties.
- This order expires at 12:01 A.M. on January 31, 2022.
COVID-19 updates for November 10th, 2021
Updates to the Hospital and Community (Health Care and Other Services) COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures Order:
The Provincial Health Officer updated the vaccine mandate order for hospital and community settings on November 9, 2021, and published the order on November 10, 2021.
- A post-secondary institution (PSI) must request proof of vaccination, or an exemption, from each person in a care location for training, certification, equipment assembly, research, or associated administrative purposes.
- The PSI must keep a record of each person’s vaccination status.
- For the purpose of recording a student’s vaccination status, a PSI may collect information from the HSPnet database, and may enter this information into the HSPnet database.
- This order applies to students, employees, faculty, contractors, technical specialists, volunteers, or PSI researchers who are in a care location.
- This order does not have an expiry date.
COVID-19 Updates as of October 29th, 2021
Face Coverings (COVID-19)
- The Provincial Health Officer has extended the mask mandate in indoor public spaces to continue to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
- The Face Coverings (COVID-19) Order applies to students, faculty, staff and visitors in post-secondary common spaces including lobbies, hallways, public bathrooms, classrooms, labs, or those present at an inside event.
- The Order does not have an expiration date.
COVID-19 Updates as of October 25th, 2021
COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines Update:
- An updated version of the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines (“the RTC Guidelines”) was released today to reflect evolving public health guidance.
The October 25, 2021 version includes:
- Updated BCCDC Return to Campus Public Health Guidance (Attachment 2 of the Guidelines) including:
- BCCDC modelling that the benefit of routine asymptomatic testing diminishes as immunization rates increase; and,
- Revised contact tracing and notification protocols.
- Updated program specific vaccination status considerations for individuals in health care locations for training or research purposes.
- Updated BCCDC Return to Campus Public Health Guidance (Attachment 2 of the Guidelines) including:
- The RTC Guidelines will continue to be updated periodically, as necessary, to align with evolving guidance.
COVID-19 Updates as of October 5th, 2021
Proof of Vaccination for B.C. Public Service Employees:
The B.C. government is making it mandatory for B.C. public service employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 22, 2021.
- Proof of vaccination using the BC Vaccine Card will be required.
- Questions and answers on the new proof of vaccination policy are available online.
COVID-19 vaccination policies at post-secondary institutions:
- A mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is an option available to post-secondary employers for their employees.
- If an institution choses to introduce a vaccine mandate for their employees, they must undertake their own due diligence and consult with public health.
- BC’s post-secondary institutions have infection prevention measures in place to reduce the risk of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.
- Protecting the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors remains the top priority.
Proof of vaccination for B.C. public service to increase workplace confidence, stop spread
The B.C. government is supporting the effort to increase vaccination rates throughout the province by making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for B.C. public service employees.
COVID-19 Updates as of September 13th, 2021
Proof of Vaccination
By order of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), some events, services and businesses are required to check a person’s proof of vaccination effective September 13, 2021.
- Updated PHO orders outlining proof of vaccination requirements were released on September 10, 2021: Gatherings and Events and Food and Liquor Serving Premises .
- There are two ways for businesses to confirm proof of vaccination:
- Visually – verify the person’s BC Vaccine Card presented on paper or on a person’s phone.
- QR Code – the business uses the BC Vaccine Verifier app to scan the BC Vaccine Card QR code presented on paper or on a person’s phone.
- Businesses can download the BC Vaccine Card Verifier app for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
- Information for businesses on proof of vaccination is available online.
Rapid Testing Support
- Support for BC post-secondary institutions setting up rapid COVID-19 screening programs is available through the Creative Destruction Labs Rapid Screening Consortium (CDL RSC).
- Health Canada funds CDL RSC to support organizations (free of charge to the organization) in the setup of rapid point-of-care testing.
- CDL RSC currently has 12 post-secondary institutions across Canada that are able to provide a buddy system and a community of support for BC institutions
COVID-19 Updates as of September 8th, 2021
Proof of Vaccination: The British Columbia (BC) Vaccine Card
The new BC Vaccine Card was launched on September 7, 2021 and will allow vaccinated people to show their proof of vaccination at higher-risk social and recreational events, and settings when new COVID-19 vaccine requirement rules take effect on September 13, 2021.
- Students living in on-campus student housing at B.C.’s post-secondary institutions will require:
- Partial vaccination (one dose) by September 7, 2021; and,
- Full vaccination (two doses) by October 24, 2021.
- Proof of vaccination is not required to attend in-person classes, seminars, or tutorials, or to access on-campus cafeterias.
Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions.
Verifying BC Proof of Vaccination
- Starting September 13, 2021, some on-campus events, services and businesses will be required to check a person’s proof of vaccination for access to their venue or space.
- Information on how to verify proof of vaccination, including how to download the verifier app for the BC Vaccine Card, is available online.
- COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines are hosted on government’s public website.
- Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.
- If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer.
- WorksafeBC guidance is available on communicable disease prevention plans.