Post-Secondary Virtual Town Hall meeting with Dr. Bonnie Henry

- University of Victoria

On May 10, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training hosted a Town Hall to discuss the preliminary public health guidance for September 2021 provided in the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Primer. Participants at the town hall, hosted by Thompson Rivers University, included representatives from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), as well as senior representatives from public post-secondary institutions and post-secondary labour unions.

In addition to providing assurances that our plans for the fall are aligned with public health advice, Dr. Bonnie Henry and other PHO representatives addressed a range of questions related to the following important topics:

  • vaccine timetable
  • accommodation
  • Go Forward Guidelines and control measures, including masks
  • testing/tracing and outbreak management

On April 30, the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Primer was released to provide interim guidance to help BC’s post-secondary institutions plan for a full return to on-campus teaching, learning and research in September 2021.

Town Hall video

View the recorded session

We've provided a list of the questions asked along with time-stamped links to easily access where the questions were addressed.

Lead-in question

The GFG primer seems overly confident about the state of COVID infections for fall 2021. Why the optimism?


The possibility of exposure in post-secondary education is up as more young adults get Covid. Why isn't a full return to in-person instruction being preceded by full vaccinations?

Might specific high risk settings mandate vaccine (e.g., nursing students; athletes; residential students in shared living spaces)?

What level of immunization needs to be achieved to have a safe fall term?

When do you anticipate that the vast majority of young adults will be issued their second shot?

Will employers be expected to track employee vaccine status in case of exposure?


Some students and employees are feeling very anxious about returning to campus while COVID is still with us. Under what circumstances should PSIs be expected to accommodate or create alternate arrangements for these people?

Any advice or guidance on how we protect and accommodate students & faculty who can't get the vaccine for medical restrictions in working in high density classrooms & workplaces?

Should our union members be concerned if they are required to work with other people who have chosen to not be vaccinated?

Go forward guideline implementation

When will the revised go-forward guidelines be ready, when will they go into effect and why was the primer released when it was?

Guidelines seem based on a K-12 model. Our students travel on transit and are intermixed, in different rooms, hourly. How is post-sec being treated differently?

Given the risks of in-person classes, why not a phased return with a substantial number of online and hybrid course offerings where pedagogically appropriate?

What threshold of risk has been used to evaluate the statement in the Primer that: "classes can be scheduled without physical distancing requirements"?

In consideration of the mental health and well being of faculty and students, is a phased return to face to face class for the fall being considered?

Many faculty, staff and students, teach, work, and learn at more than one institution. How will work & movement be structured to limit community spread risks?


Will masks be required at PSIs in the fall and under what conditions?

Why the emphasis on surface touching & cleaning over CDC recommendations on controlling exposure through aerosolized droplets & improved ventilation systems?

Should PSIs not ensure the WorkSafe BC requirements and ASHRAE standards for ventilation are met, will there be any enforcement? If so, who do we report it to?

International students

Will international students be required to be vaccinated before arriving in Canada?


Can you touch on the role of the provincial/public health with respect to outbreaks on campus and what that might look like in the fall, including contact tracing?


Will PSIs have the ability to offer rapid testing on campus in the fall and under what conditions and circumstances?

What’s the biggest challenge public health officials see in the future as it relates to COVID?

COVID-19 Resources