Last week, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced added safety measures for post-secondary institutions returning to on-campus learning this fall semester.
The changes come after a rise in COVID-19 cases across the province.
“It’s vitally important for post-secondary students that we resume in-person learning to support young people’s well-being, and with these added measures and increasing vaccination rates, we are confident we can do so,” said Henry in a news release.
Among the changes, Henry reinstated the mask mandate for indoor settings in the province. At all post-secondary campuses, this includes lobbies, hallways, stairwells, elevators, classrooms, and labs.
Henry also announced that all British Columbians will be required to show proof of vaccination to attend certain events starting Sept. 13, when the government develops a “secure website” for residents to access their B.C. vaccine card. The card will be downloadable to a phone for ease of access to show at events and certain services where required.
Most British Columbians are expected to be partially vaccinated by Sept. 13, receiving one dose, and fully vaccinated by Oct. 24, receiving a second dose.
Proof of vaccination will be required for students to attend on-campus venues like gyms and nightclubs but as of now will not be required to attend classes. But students in health science programs must be fully immunized to participate in practicums and clinical placements in long-term care or extended-care facilities.
However, Kwantlen Polytechnic University is exploring “a confidential system of vaccine self-declaration to ensure the safest possible learning environment” for a return to campus, reads an Aug. 27 update by KPU president Alan Davis.
The university will follow the PHO guidelines for mandatory masks inside campus buildings. KPU will also have free masks available at security stations, hand sanitizer at entryways, enhanced cleaning measures, and regularly monitor their ventilation systems. Large indoor events remain on hold at the campuses.
Before coming to campus, KPU is encouraging students to use the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool. KPU asks students who have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days, have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, have been told to isolate by public health authorities, or have any new or worsening symptoms associated with COVID-19 to “not attend any KPU site in person.”
Employees and contractors of the university working on campus are required to complete a health check before starting their shift. This also applies to anyone attending a KPU site for a quick visit.
KPU will finalize plans before Sep. 7, just before classes are scheduled to start.