Campus COVID-19 planning continues - vaccination clinic coming

- President Kevin Hall

Dear UVic Community,

In just over two weeks, UVic’s 2021/ 22 academic year will begin. I already see the signs of our stunning campus coming back to life: parents walking the quad with their first years, faculty getting set to deliver their courses to their students in a classroom rather than in front of a zoom screen, and staff readying for the influx of 24,000 students.

There’s a growing sense of anticipation and excitement, though understandably mixed with concern around coming together again amid growing COVID-19 case counts and the emergence of the Delta variant.

I empathize with those of you grappling with this complex mix of emotions. I hear and understand your concerns for additional health and safety measures. The wellness of all our students, staff and faculty has always been at the centre of our decision making.

Please know that UVic is ready to welcome you back with the added layers of protection required to keep us all as safe and as healthy as possible. We are working diligently to update our protocols in readiness for direction from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), whose guidance BC’s universities and colleges have been following as the pandemic has unfolded.

Discussions about masking and vaccination protocols for the post-secondary sector are continuing between the ministry, university leaders and the PHO.  As I shared last week, I support the call for a temporary return to mandatory indoor masking this fall given the evolving COVID-19 conditions. We are expecting PHO direction on masking next week and will be communicating quickly and broadly about any changes. 

I also support the PHO and our ministry developing a vaccination protocol that is appropriate for all post-secondary institutions in BC. A sector-wide approach takes more time, but will result in a more comprehensive plan for our university communities. 

We are also continuing to work with local public health officials to make access to COVID-19 vaccines as easy as possible. I am happy to let you know that through a partnership between the Student Wellness Centre and Island Health, students, faculty and staff will be able to access vaccines on campus in September.

We will provide more information about temporary on-campus vaccination clinics in the coming days. In the meantime, if you are not yet fully vaccinated I encourage you to visit a community vaccine clinic.

To those who have received two doses of the vaccine—thank you. To those who are waiting for their second shot—your patience is appreciated. And to those who are able but have not yet taken advantage of the benefits of the program—please consider the ramifications of that decision, for yourself and others.

UVic is not just a renowned research university situated in one of the most stunning cities in Canada, we are a community that is over 25,000 strong.

For our students who are joining us from other parts of the country and abroad, we are mentors and a surrogate family. For many of us, our colleagues are the people we spend as much time with as with our families. It is for these reasons that I believe we must take extra care of each other and do what is in the best interest of the entire UVic family.

I thank you for your continued patience and for the respect I know you will continue to give to one another as we navigate these uncertain times together.

Planning for a safe September,