New province-wide restrictions

- University of Victoria

Message from Kane Kilbey, AVP Human Resources and Susan Lewis, Acting Vice Provost

On Nov. 19, Dr. Bonnie Henry issued new Public Health Orders for individuals, places of work and businesses to significantly reduce the level of social interactions and travel in British Columbia and combat the rising number of cases of COVID-19.

The orders are in place from Nov. 20 to Dec. 7, 2020. Although these orders do not significantly affect campus activities, the implications are summarized below.

Masks now required in public places

  • The updated Public Health Orders require that masks be worn in the following indoor public settings and shared work areas on campus:
    • elevators, kitchens, break rooms, hallways, customer counters and other high-traffic areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained
    • retail outlets, libraries, athletic/recreation centres and food service outlets (when not seated at a table)
  • People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt.
  • In classrooms, study spaces, laboratories, studios, open offices and other shared work or learning areas, please continue to follow the existing mask protocols in your Safe Work Plan, and ensure masks are worn when you are away from your assigned seat or workstation.
  • 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.

Avoid non-essential travel

  • The Public Health Orders also ask everyone to avoid non-essential travel. For now, avoid travel to other regions inside or outside of the province unless it is essential.
  • Students are permitted to travel home over the winter break, subject to any travel restrictions associated with the home destination (e.g. requirement to self-isolate).
  • If you must travel for essential reasons, wash your hands often and practice physical distancing. Respect the communities you're travelling to by staying within your household bubble and sticking to the outdoors as much as possible.

These orders are in addition to the restrictions already in place for international travel.

Campus services and amenities

  • The majority of on-campus services and amenities, including those operated by the UVSS, are not affected by the recent Public Health Orders.
  • However, the orders have required UVic to temporarily suspend all in-person faith-based services.
  • Some activities at CARSA, such as spin classes, have been temporarily suspended. HIIT classes have been revised to low intensity to meet PHO guidelines. CARSA remains open to students, employees and the public for a wide variety of programs.
  • Residence Services will provide updated guidance for students living on campus about the Public Health Orders specific to social gatherings.

Remote working and Safe Work Plans

  • If you are already working on campus, you can continue to do so. The orders encourage workplaces to support remote working where it is practical to do so. Given that our units are already supporting a modest blend of in-person and online campus activities and services in accordance with their safe work plans, we recommend that units maintain their existing flexible approach to staffing at this time and temporarily suspend any plans to increase the number of staff on campus until these orders are updated.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plans are required to be reviewed to ensure they clearly reflect the need for daily self-assessment, and to ensure safety within small office spaces, break rooms and kitchens. Occupational Health, Safety and Environment (OHSE) will be coordinating the review of the UVic COVID-19 Safe Work Plans over the coming week.
  • We remain confident that our workplace safety protocols and measures, developed and regularly updated in accordance with the requirements of the PHO and WorkSafeBC, enable us to continue the current blend of in-person and online campus activities and services.

Daily self-assessment

  • While many faculty, staff and students continue to work and study remotely at least part of the time, as much as a third of our workforce is currently on campus on any given day and we are supporting 3,500 students studying in-person this semester.
  • All students, staff and faculty are required to self-assess daily for symptoms of COVID-19, before arriving at their workplace or for any on-campus activities and instruction. Please use the BC self-assessment tool.
    • Anyone experiencing symptoms should follow the guidance provided in the self-assessment tool.
  • For more information about daily health screening and steps if you are feeling ill, visit the Health & Safety section of the COVID-19 website.

We will continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 public policy environment. The Provincial Health Officer will likely provide additional clarification about these orders, and we appreciate your continued patience as our community adjusts over the coming days.  For up-to-date guidance and information about the university’s ongoing COVID-19 response, please visit UVic's COVID-19 website.

More information