Post-secondary schools across B.C. will be welcoming students and staff back into classrooms this fall.

This comes as the province moves into Step 3 of its restart plan.

“The pandemic has made the past year and a half difficult for post-secondary students and institutions, but now, thanks to vaccines, brighter days are right around the corner,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training. 

“I am so thankful to students, faculty and staff for showcasing their professionalism, flexibility and compassion throughout the pandemic, and I am excited for students to return to in-person learning this fall.”

The Return-to-Campus Guidelines are designed to parallel B.C.’s four-step restart plan. 

Supplied by the Province of British Columbia

The province says the transition period between Step 3, which took effect July 1st, and the beginning of September “is a crucial time, as post-secondary institutions ramp up operations and welcome back faculty, staff and students.”

The guidelines include daily health checks and hand hygiene, as well as classroom logistics and on-campus student housing and dining services. 

For example, on-campus student housing providers can plan for close-to-full occupancy for the fall. 

Access to mental health supports for students, faculty and staff, Indigenous gathering places and accommodations for on campus-services are also outlined to support the transition.

“We have made excellent progress with our provincial immunization program in B.C. That, along with declining case counts and low hospitalization rates, means we can gradually and safely move ahead with our restart plan – including in-person learning at our colleges and universities,” said provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

“We will continue to carefully monitor any transmission episodes on campuses, just as we do with influenza or other respiratory illnesses this fall, to keep students, faculty and staff safe. This is something we have shown we can successfully manage in B.C.”

The province says the new Return-to-Campus Guidelines “are the result of consultations with a broad team of experts from the public post-secondary sector, including Indigenous organizations and student associations, alongside faculty and staff unions, in partnership with the ministry and public health experts from the BC Centre for Disease Control, regional health authorities and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.”

Previous versions of B.C.’s guidelines for post-secondary institutions have been adopted by other jurisdictions across Canada as a model for planning a return to on-campus instruction.

Further, post-secondary institutions will no longer be required to have a COVID-19 safety plan. Instead, they’re developing communicable disease plans to reduce the risk of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID. 

The goal for the fall is to transition from highly prescriptive COVID-19 specific orders and protocols back to normal institutional policies and guidance on occupational health and safety.

You can link to the guidelines here.

QUICK FACTS

  • B.C.’s vaccination coverage is among the highest in the world;
  • On June 29th, with the transition to Step 3 of BC’s Restart plan, almost 80 percent of British Columbians have had at least one dose of vaccine.
  • As of June 25th, 64.63 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 in B.C. have received at least one dose of vaccine.