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Health & safety

Our safety programming is informed by guidance and direction from the provincial health officer, COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.’s Post-Secondary Sector and WorkSafeBC.

Returning to campus

We’re introducing new plans, protocols and resources to protect the health and safety of the UVic community.

Daily health screening

Everyone must do a self-assessment daily for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus.  All units must implement a process to ensure that every employee performs a daily COVID-19 health check before entering the workplace.

If you have any symptoms please:

Download the COVID-19 BC Support App to use the self-assessment tool. Available on the App Store and GooglePlay.

Learn about UVic's self-assessment and self-isolation protocols.

Masks

Masks are required in public indoor spaces, including: lobbies, hallways, stairwells, washrooms, elevators, kitchens, break rooms, campus fitness facilities, and food service outlets (when not eating or drinking).

In classrooms and study spaces, students are required to wear a mask at all times, including while seated at your designated seat or workstation. This applies to classrooms, lecture halls, teaching laboratories, computing facilities, art studios, theatre and music facilities (when not playing an instrument), study spaces, research labs and other research facilities. 

Even when wearing a mask, please continue to practice physical distancing as much as possible, as a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing. For those who are not able to wear a mask for medical or other reasons, please be especially careful to maintain a safe distance.

Students, please read the safety plan for your classroom posted or contact your instructor for more information about safety protocols for lab or studio classes, including the use of non-medical masks.

COVID-19 vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone 18+ who lives or works in BC. You must register to receive an invite to book a vaccine appointment.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and protect against infection from the severe disease that can occur in people of all ages. The vaccines cause your body to produce antibodies that will help to protect you and those who are not vaccinated or are susceptible to infection from getting sick if exposed to the virus. 

UVic employees are entitled to up to three hours of paid leave to be vaccinated against COVID-19, if required.

Please note: the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory in order to study, work, visit or live on campus. No vaccines in Canada are mandatory. Public health authorities encourage all British Columbians to learn about the benefits and safety of the vaccine and consider vaccination to protect themselves and others.

Building air quality & ventilation

We’re taking steps to further improve indoor air quality as part of our COVID-19 safety plans.

COVID-19 symptoms

If you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or are feeling sick, avoid contact with others and self-isolate at home, even if your symptoms are mild.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold.  According to BCCDC, key symptoms of COVID-19 include: fevers or chills, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include: sore throat, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue or tiredness, headache, body aches, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. 

If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, use the BC COVID-19 self-assessment tool to help guide you on what to do.  If you have health questions, you can call your doctor or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C., or for the deaf and hard of hearing, call 7-1-1 or contact through Video Relay Services. The province of BC has also set up a dedicated COVID-19 hotline for non-medical questions at 1-888-COVID19.

If you are a student at UVic you can also call the Student Wellness Centre at 250-721-8563. The Student Wellness Centre may be able to provide currently registered students with testing for COVID-19. Please call first to receive instructions and an appointment time; do not arrive at the Student Wellness Centre unannounced if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

What to do if you are ill

If you are ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please stay home and self-isolate in accordance with guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Do a self-assessment and follow the instructions provided in that self-assessment or call HealthLinkBC at 811. If it becomes harder to breathe, you can't drink anything or feel much worse, seek urgent medical care at an urgent care clinic or emergency department.

You must remain off campus until you are medically cleared to end your self-isolation or when you meet the criteria set-out by the BCCDC.  

Students

You can continue to report absences due to illness as you usually do. If you are scheduled to attend campus but are self-isolating, you may request an academic concession.

Students living in student housing must follow the established COVID-19 protocols and all instructions from UVic Health and Residence Services. Advise Residence Services staff immediately in order to develop a self-isolation plan.

Faculty and librarians

Please contact your academic leader/University Librarian to report any inability to undertake expected academic or professional responsibilities, due to illness or need to self-isolate. You can discuss temporary remote work arrangements, if practical. If you are not able to work remotely, you will be placed on a sick leave in accordance with your collective agreement.

Staff

Please contact your supervisor to report your absence if you would normally attend campus, but are sick with COVID-19, have flu symptoms or are self-isolating. You can also discuss temporary remote work arrangements, if practical. If you are not able to work remotely, you will be placed on a sick leave or leave of absence without loss of pay for periods of work during the above absences, in accordance with your collective agreement or any COVID-19 sick day agreements between the unions and the university.

If you become ill while on campus

If you become ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while on campus (e.g. in a classroom, lab, or workplace), please do the following immediately:

  • Put on a mask or face covering and isolate yourself from others (preferably outdoors) while waiting for transportation and while leaving campus.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands and avoid contact with others. Avoid touching doors, furniture, and other items while waiting or leaving campus.
  • Do not use public transit.

Medical & family status accommodations

If you are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 or you have a DSM-5 medical disorder that disables you from returning to face-to-face work on campus you may request a COVID-19 medical accommodation or sick leave. Contact your leader as soon as you are aware of the need for accommodation. Evidence of your illness/disability will need to be provided by your doctor. See more information on the process for a temporary COVID-19 medical accommodation and non-COVID medical accomodation on the UVic human resources website.

If the return to campus constitutes a change in your working conditions that seriously interferes with a substantial parental or family obligation, you may be eligible for a family status accommodation. Please notify your leader as soon as you are aware of the need for family status accommodation. More information on the process for establishing a family status accommodation can be found here.

If there is a COVID-19 case on campus

The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training recently released a sector-wide approach to COVID-19 case management, contact tracing and communication. For complete details, see page 7 of the COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.’s Post-Secondary Sector.

If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus, Island Health will manage the notification process and directly notify those people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 as a close contact of the ill person.

UVic will work closely with Island Health when asked to notify the university community of any confirmed cases and when broad public notification is required. Please keep your contact information in Online tools up-to-date.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing is the process used by the health authority to identify any close contacts of the ill person. Island Health leads this process.

Island Health will notify the ill person directly if their test for COVID-19 is positive. Notification of the patient and contacts is a priority and occurs as soon as possible after a positive test result becomes known. Contact tracing will identify any close contacts; these people will be notified directly by Island Health.  

The university will provide information to Island Health when asked as part of this process and when Island Health is not able to gather all information necessary during the contact tracing activity. Island Health follows strict guidelines to protect the privacy of the ill person during the contact tracing process.

The university will not conduct additional COVID-19 testing as the result of a positive case in a member of the university community. Any decision to conduct additional COVID-19 testing on campus rests with the health authority.

Cleaning

High touch surfaces on campus are being cleaned/disinfected at least twice per day as part of our response to COVID-19 in accordance with PHO post-secondary guidelines. This cleaning process is in addition to the hand washing and physical distancing efforts that all people on campus should be following.

Areas where an ill or symptomatic person was working, including any equipment or tools used, may need to be disinfected per WorkSafeBC requirements, and Occupational Health, Safety and Environment will coordinate an assessment. Island Health has indicated that specialized cleaning of an area is rarely needed beyond what is done as part of the regular cleaning procedures. They will notify the university if additional cleaning is necessary.

Privacy

Your privacy will be protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

The university will only provide identifying information to the health authority as requested, and in accordance with current Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) guidelines. It may be necessary to notify the university community of a COVID-19 case on campus if there are broader safety considerations, but all effort will be made to protect the identifying details of the ill person. Information provided to the University of Victoria may be used and disclosed on a need to know basis to only those University of Victoria employees as needed for the same purposes.

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