UVic introduces new measures in response to COVID-19

 - University of Victoria

In response to the ongoing and global spread of the COVID-19 virus and today’s advice of the Provincial Health Officer, the University of Victoria has introduced new measures regarding international travel and large gatherings that will affect students, staff and faculty.

These actions have been taken in consideration of the recent declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, confirming that the virus is likely to spread to all countries with a corresponding rise in the risk level of all international travel. It also supports our commitment to the safety and well-being of our campus community and the health of our broader community. 

Large gatherings

Following today’s advice of the Provincial Health Officer, gatherings of more than 250 people will be cancelled. Instructors of classes with more than 250 students are being advised to cancel these classes.

The limitations of public gatherings will also impact any events, both academic and non-academic, that may be held in UVic facilities. Event organizers will be asked to contact affected participants.

These new measures recommended by the Provincial Health Officer for all British Columbians are being taken in an effort to slow the disease, protect the vulnerable, protect our community and protect the health care system. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to provide updates to the university community as the situation changes.

Travel

On March 12, the Provincial Health Officer advised against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including the USA. In addition, travellers are required to stay away from work or school (self-isolate) for 14 days on their return home. In response, the university is temporarily discontinuing all university-sponsored outbound international travel, effective immediately.

These actions have been taken in accordance with today’s direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO). We continue to monitor this evolving situation and expect to be making further decisions in support of containment of COVID-19, including further travel restrictions as necessary. The limitations on university-sponsored international travel will be reviewed on May 15, 2020 or upon advice of the Provincial Health Officer. Consequently, making plans for university-sponsored outbound international travel after May 31, 2020 is also strongly discouraged until the COVID-19 situation stabilizes or we have provided additional guidance in this regard.

Student travel

The University of Victoria is temporarily discontinuing all university-sponsored outbound international travel for students effective immediately until the end of May.

University-sponsored travel typically means travel that is funded centrally using department/school or faculty budget, and includes professional development funds. Examples of university-sponsored international travel include: student or faculty exchanges; cooperative education work term placements; practica; internships; travel/study programs; travel to attend conferences and university business; activities that are part of a university course or program (credit or non-credit); and university-organized extracurricular or athletic activities.

It is recognized that there may be exceptions to the temporary student travel suspension—for example, international students travelling home to participate in a co-op placement. A risk-informed process has been established to assess such exceptions on a case-by-case basis, with final approval resting with the applicable vice-president or delegate.   

It is also recognized that this decision may impact units in such a way that they are unable to absorb the cost of cancellation on such short notice. To that end, a process will be established to review applications for financial assistance on a case-by-case basis.

Faculty and staff travel

Effective immediately, non-essential university-sponsored outbound international travel for staff, faculty and librarians is discontinued. A temporary process to review and approve requests for essential international travel has been established, with final approval resting with the applicable vice-president or delegate.

While this decision does not limit the ability of faculty to travel internationally using external funding sources or for members of the campus community to vacation internationally, we have updated our advice below and strongly discourage international travel to impacted areas until further notice.

Similarly, it is also recognized that this decision may impact units in such a way that they are unable to absorb the cost of cancellation on such short notice. To that end, a process will be established to review applications for financial assistance on a case-by-case basis.

Externally funded travel (Tri-Council or industry-funded)

Given the Provincial Health Officer's announcement today, faculty, librarians and staff should avoid non-essential international travel, including the United States, for the foreseeable future. This advice will remain in place until such time as government agencies or external funding agencies advise otherwise.

Faculty who travel should enrol in the ISOS travel registry  and review current off-campus travel resources and government travel advisories for such destinations. Enrolment with the travel registry will provide registered travellers with automated medical advice, security and general travel alerts applicable to the destination.  Note, however, that we have been advised that due to the overwhelming global demand for such services, the ability for ISOS to intervene in a medical situation related to COVID-19 may be limited and the university itself will have very limited resources to assist employees who choose to undertake international travel. 

Similarly, ISOS has advised that those who become ill must be prepared to stay in-country to recover. We anticipate that, given the current uncertainty with this disease, options will become more limited. Additionally, a number of insurance providers have identified impacted countries as "uninsurable until further notice." Travellers are advised to review their international medical insurance exclusions and trip interruption insurance coverage before departing. Insurers are also advising travellers to benchmark travel decisions using multiple sources of trusted information rather than focusing exclusively on the federal travel advisories.

Finally, in accordance with the Provincial Health Officer's advice, travellers are required to stay away from work or school (self-isolate) for 14 days on their return home.

Personal travel

The Provincial Health Officer has advised against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including the USA. In addition, travellers are required to stay away from work or school (self-isolate) for 14 days on their return home.

Faculty, staff and students engaging in personal travel to international locations are advised to conduct risk assessments in advance and consider postponing trips. Please note that the number of cases and countries affected by COVID-19 continues to evolve.  Similarly, we have been advised that those who become ill must be prepared to stay in-country to recover.

If you have personal plans to travel to an affected region, please see the  Government of Canada's latest travel advice

A number of insurance providers have identified impacted countries as "uninsurable until further notice." Travellers are advised to review their international medical insurance exclusions and trip interruption insurance coverage before departing. Insurers are also advising travellers to benchmark travel decisions using multiple sources of trusted information rather than focusing exclusively on the federal travel advisories.