Support for enhanced campus COVID-19 safety protocols

- President Kevin Hall

Dear UVic Community,

I have engaged with many students, parents, faculty and staff who have come forward in the last few weeks expressing their concerns regarding current COVID-19 health and safety protocols as outlined in the province’s restart plan. I want you to know that I’ve heard your concerns and that I, along with leaders at university and college campuses across the province, are in active discussions with the ministry and Provincial Health Officer (PHO) on these issues.

It is understandable that some of us feel anxious about what September may bring, but I want to assure you that the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty is my top priority.

As a British Columbia post-secondary institution, we are following the Return to Campus guidelines approved by the PHO and those guidelines include specific measures to minimize the potential for COVID on our campuses. The safety measures include cleaning protocols, daily health checks and improved ventilation that meets required standards in place to enhance the safety of our community. Our plans are, of course, subject to change depending on revised guidance from the PHO.

I support the call for mandatory indoor masking to ensure the well-being of our students, staff and faculty. UVic is finalizing its revised mask policy in anticipation of updated provincial health guidance and we are in active consultations with local medical health officials to ensure easy access to vaccines and rapid test kits, as needed, in the fall. In addition, I support and encourage the PHO’s ongoing consideration of vaccine policies appropriate for our sector. As a research university, it is important for us to ensure that measures put in place are evidence-based, and can be implemented without impacting privacy laws, human rights and access to education. The presidents of BC’s research universities are working closely with the government on these issues and we hope to have more clarity next week.

I want to extend my gratitude for everyone’s efforts to protect their own health, and the wellbeing of others, by participating in BC’s COVID-19 immunization program which dramatically lowers infection, hospitalization and serious illness.

As a parent, university president, and community member, I take my responsibility to keep campus a safe and healthy learning environment for our students, staff and faculty very seriously. I will have further updates next week as discussions with the province progress.

Planning for a safe September,