COVID-19 update: health and safety, remote work and rapid test kits

- University of Victoria

Further to our update on Feb. 16, 2022 about the easing of COVID-19 public health orders, we are pleased to share how some of the temporary measures we introduced on Jan. 6 are adjusting to keep pace with changing public health conditions and orders. The easing of restrictions announced by Dr. Henry is informed by current COVID-19 provincial data, and is an encouraging milestone in BC’s ongoing pandemic response.

Health and safety measures

Measures that are changing

  • Masks will continue to be required to be worn by students at all times in study spaces, including library study spaces, but may be removed when actively consuming food and beverages, or where exempt for a medical reason.
  • In-person indoor social events for employees and students can resume in alignment with our updated health and safety guidelines for gatherings and events.
  • Units may resume in-person or hybrid meetings. Attendees may remove masks when seated and if able to maintain at least 2m of physical distance from others. Masks may also be temporarily removed when actively consuming food and beverages in meetings.

Measures that are not changing at this time

  • Proof of vaccination continues to be required to access a number of campus-based services and activities, including student housing.
  • Masks must be worn in common areas of buildings, including in on-campus housing and office buildings (e.g., lobbies, hallways, bathrooms).
  • Masks must be worn by students at all times in classrooms except where exempt for a medical reason. Consuming food and beverages is not permitted in classrooms until at least the end of winter term classes.

Remote working

The PHO has updated the Provincial Health Officer Order on Workplace Safety to support the transition of employees back into the workplace. As a result of this positive direction, we are now able to return to the principle-based approach to remote working for staff that we introduced last year. Units may use the month of March to transition back to previously approved remote work arrangements.

Thank you to all those who made the effort to have those arrangements in place when we initially set out our approach to remote work arrangements last year. It is clear the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how we work. We will be evaluating the framework in the coming weeks and look forward to your feedback on your initial experience with it.

If you have not been on campus for awhile, please take some time to review the campus communicable disease safety plan. This safety plan outlines the core prevention measures that everyone needs to follow, as well as enhanced COVID-19 safety measures as we continue to support on-campus activities.

Rapid tests - Pick up your kit by Mar. 4

Rapid test kits are now available for pickup by UVic employees and students. The test kits have been supplied by the province as a COVID-19 self-management tool for symptomatic students and employees, and are intended to support the continuity of on-campus learning, instruction and research.

For more information, including how to register to pick up your kit by March 4, visit the COVID-19 website.

Future planning and communication

With the fifth wave on the decline, the Provincial Health Officer is now signalling that we are entering a new stage of pandemic response. This stage acknowledges that we will be living with COVID-19 for many years to come and that we have the experience and tools to effectively manage through periods of high or low rates of community transmission.

The efforts of our students, faculty, instructors and staff to get vaccinated and follow core health and safety measures through every stage of the pandemic have enabled us to resume in-person learning, research and social activities that enrich our community. Following public health guidance, we can gradually and confidently transition to a sustainable COVID-19 management plan that focuses on vaccination, self-monitoring and specific actions to protect those most at risk.

Given that we are entering a period of improvement and long-term maintenance, we have recommended, and the university’s executive team has agreed, to hand the coordinating and planning work back to normal university systems, processes and governance structures. To ensure our efforts remain cohesive, Rob Johns, Manager of Emergency Planning, will assume responsibility to guide and coordinate this stage of our pandemic response.

In this capacity, Rob will continue to monitor provincial health and safety measures and consult with our public health partners and key on-campus units to ensure that local and sector-wide health and safety measures keep pace with evolving public health guidance over the coming weeks and months, including the measures that will be in place for the exam period, summer session and beyond. Our thanks to Rob for taking on this role.

We continue to adhere to all public health orders and implement all of the health and safety measures required by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO). The PHO has consistently expressed confidence in the core layers of protection that are in place on BC campuses.

We will continue to communicate about these measures including doing a daily health check, staying home if sick, following public health guidance while ill, wearing masks and getting vaccinated.


Thank you,

Susan and Kane
Co-chairs, UVic COVID-19 Transition Team