Resumption of on-campus activities

June 22, 2020 - University of Victoria

In accordance with BC’s careful, step-by-step approach to increasing social and economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is moving into the next phase of resuming on-campus activities.

Our approach continues to be careful and gradual while maintaining our focus on the health and workplace safety of our campus community. Units will continue to modify their operational plans to ensure they have the people, whether working on or off campus, and services in place to support our commitment to high-quality academic programming and services. Senior leaders will continue to update faculty and staff on their unit’s plans as they are modified.

Between now and early July, this means little change for many staff, whether they have been working from home or on campus and in frontline service delivery roles. We will continue to support and encourage working from home except where it is operationally necessary or we are able to safely accommodate requests to work on campus.

This managed, gradual return to campus is one way we can do our part to minimize the potential risk of an increased spread of the virus in our community. The fewer people we have on campus, the easier it is for those who are on site to maintain effective protective measures.

Outlook for the summer and fall

As we look towards the fall, there will be cases where we will need to shift where we work to prepare for the start of the academic year, including asking some staff who have been working remotely to return to their usual workplaces.

Even with summer course delivery online and almost all learning online in the fall, we will be welcoming some students and others onto campus throughout the summer. For example, we also know that research and creative activity will be increasing in managed phases in June, July and August. Having more faculty, staff and students on campus means also gradually increasing the supports and services on campus. 

We also recognize that some staff may feel more productive if they have the opportunity to work on campus more regularly. Leaders will be asked to prioritize on-campus working while balancing health and safety protocols, meeting on-campus operational requirements and individual needs.

Planning with health and safety as a priority

As we ready for the slow and cautious increase of people on campus, the leadership in each unit will be working with Occupational Health, Safety and Environment to develop a Safe Work Plan for each area. To guide safe work practices, the university has created a Safe Work Plan website with templates and instructions to support a principled, safe and gradual resumption of on-campus activity. The first of these plans is the On-Campus Resumption of Research released last month.

Given the diversity of programs and services on campus, these planning templates have been tailored and grouped into four categories:

  1. Offices (administrative and academic)
  2. Specialized units or services
  3. Research and research centres
  4. Teaching and instruction (available in July)

We will also soon have a short, online COVID-19 Safety Plan Awareness and Safe Return to Work course. This program complies with WorkSafeBC requirements for Phase 3 and will provide information on COVID-19 safety protocols at UVic to ensure people know how to keep themselves safe while at work. We plan to have this workshop in place by July 1.

The university will provide regular updates to leaders and units about assessing and adjusting on-campus activity over the coming months. Units will continue to be as flexible as possible in supporting staff who are balancing the impact of COVID-19 in their personal lives, including individual health considerations and the availability of child care.

Our campus and workplaces are safe, and we are developing the appropriate practices and protocols so faculty and staff can feel confident about their working conditions. BC’s restart is a careful, step-by-step process to ensure our combined efforts and sacrifices are not inadvertently reversed. Our approach to gradually increasing on-campus activity reflects that approach. 

Thank you again for all that you are doing in support of these extraordinary public health measures and our campus community.