British Columbia sets COVID-19 guidelines for colleges and universities ahead of fall semester

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New COVID-19 guidelines for post-secondary institutions, ranging from safe transportation to supporting international students, were released on Friday as colleges and universities prepare for the start of classes in the fall.The guidelines reflect many of the regulations that other businesses and workplaces must follow.

The Government of British Columbia encourages colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions to:

  • Put a limit on the number of people in a space at a time.
  • Provide adequate amounts of hand sanitizer, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) if necessary.
  • Require masks if social distancing cannot occur.
  • Increase support for students, faculty and staff who may be uniquely affected by the pandemic, such as people with disabilities.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for British Columbia, said in a statement that the “Going Forward” guidelines would provide greater certainty for staff, students and staff. teachers. She says the guidelines also offer a “minimum standard” for institutions to follow.

Protocols are suggested, not required

However, the protocols outlined by the province on Friday are not mandatory.

“These protocols are not a list of requirements,” reads the Go-Forward guide. “However, they should be considered and implemented as they address the current risks of COVID-19 for individual institutions. ”

Post-secondary institutions must implement COVID-19 security plans, but WorkSafeBC will not review or approve them.

Nevertheless, inspections to assess the measures a school has taken to protect its community can take place.

The guidelines also recommend that post-secondary institutions allow international students to travel to campus early to accommodate the mandatory 14-day quarantine they must complete. Schools are also encouraged to offer meal options for people in quarantine or isolated. Meanwhile, to avoid large indoor gatherings, institutions are encouraged to reduce or remove furniture from certain common areas of the campus.

All libraries, pubs, daycares and other facilities on campus must follow the relevant provincial guidelines.

Most schools plan to only partially open in the fall, and many students attend online classes. Mark says his ministry will work with the area for a full reopening when it is safe.

A mixed reaction from student activists

Tanysha Klassen, president of the BC Federation of Students, described the newly announced guidelines as “a very secure baseline.”

Of particular importance is the call for post-secondary institutions to implement so-called academic concessions for students who miss class because they have to self-isolate or self-quarantine, according to Klassen.

“I think it might help allay some of the worries students have about going back to school in the fall, knowing that they won’t lose their grades if they have to stay home to ensure. the safety of others, ”Klassen said.

However, Sarina de Havelyn, director of academic relations with the University of Victoria Student Society, believes that these guidelines came too late.

De Havelyn suspects that most students have already decided whether they will return to campus in the fall or whether they will only engage in distance learning.

“This directive is unlikely to be a huge force for change for students,” she said.

And while de Havelyn was encouraged to see attention being paid to marginalized groups, she believes the province could have put more emphasis on issues like accessibility to ensure universities meet the needs of all students. .

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