COVID-19

Okanagan College students, staff and visitors, please note:

In light of growing concerns about spreading incidents of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection, Okanagan College is closely following the situation, maintaining contact with Interior Health and monitoring updates from provincial and national health agencies.

The College has a committee tracking the issue and developing response plans, involving representatives from Facilities, International Education, Regional Deans, Occupational Health and Safety, Public Affairs, the VP Students, Student Services, and employee group and student union leaders.

This webpage will be updated immediately should there be any change that would directly impact the operations and well-being of the College community.

Current Status

Update: 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 3

New service launched to help students access software remotely

IT Services has created a new service for students to access software they may not have available to them at home. This is done through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Students can watch this how-to video for more information about how to log in to access software while learning remotely. The service allows students to access software listed in the general pool here.

Contact the Helpdesk at 250-762-5445 ext. 4444 (toll-free: 1-866-839-4032) or email support@okanagan.bc.ca if you have any questions.

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Update: 4 p.m. Thursday, April 2

Emergency aid for students

On Thursday, April 2 the B.C. Government announced $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance to benefit students attending British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions, who are experiencing emergency financial pressures. The investment will supplement existing student emergency financial assistance. Read the media release here.

We know that some students may be experiencing added financial stress and uncertainty due to loss of work, decrease in hours, or layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that this may put an additional strain on you during an already challenging situation.

We want you to know you are not alone. We are here to help.

Okanagan College students experiencing financial emergencies as a consequence of COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for emergency funding.

Learn more about how to apply for COVID-19 emergency funding, emergency loans, emergency bursaries and Aboriginal Emergency financial assistance at www.okanagan.bc.ca/emergencyfunding.

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Update: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31

A Message from OC President Jim Hamilton

Students,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to add to the normal pressures of being a student, I hope you have found ways to cope that serve to support yourself, your friends, colleagues and family.

Over the past few days, the provincial and federal governments have been announcing a string of initiatives to help Canadians – including students – deal with some of the pressures resulting from the pandemic. I want to remind you that Okanagan College is here as well, with a range of services you can access, from counselling to emergency financial aid, accessibility services and online support for those who want assistance mastering the world of alternate education delivery. Information regarding those services, and more, can be found on this page, our COVID-19 website, which is updated daily. Please, if you need help, just ask for it.

We have had success with the rapid shift from face-to-face to alternate delivery of our courses.

These are some things we’ve done already in response to the changing landscape:

  • Eliminated face-to-face final exams for this semester

  • Extended the period that students can take to request a withdrawal from their course

  • Extended the application-to-graduate deadline

Issues we are currently working on include:

  • Grading: Some institutions (notably universities, which do not have the same breadth and diversity of programs as colleges) have chosen to move to a pass/fail option for their courses. In many instances, having a grades-based outcome to courses is very important, both for accrediting bodies and organizations as well as for students who wish to transfer into another institution or gain entry in to programs such as nursing or medicine, for example. We are continuing to examine the best options for our students to ensure you can meet your educational goals. Watch for more news about about this in the coming days.

  • Convocation ceremonies in June: face-to-face ceremonies are not permitted under current Public Health Officer directives. This will likely persist for the foreseeable future. There are several options available to us and we are surveying those students who have already indicated an interest in attending those ceremonies to gather their opinion. Stay tuned as we try to find the best solution for our students.

We will be moving ahead with our two summer sessions, as well as our planned distance education courses. The regular summer session courses will be now offered only in online format, rather than face-to-face. Professors will be working hard to ensure these courses are of excellent quality for our students, using the best approaches available to us. Distance education courses will continue to be offered as they have in the past. Neither will have any face-to-face final examinations. There are, however, distinct differences between Distance Education course delivery and online course delivery; more information will be provided soon to assist you in determining which option would be most suitable for you. You can register for those courses online through our website. If you need the assistance of an education advisor, you can contact them here.

This is a period of uncertainty, with a shifting set of circumstances that is as much a new and unsettling world for you as it is for those of us working to provide you quality education and service.

Thank you for your flexibility and commitment to your education. You can be sure that everyone at the College is equally committed to your success by providing a safe and supportive learning environment.

Please be safe and reach out when you need help.

Jim

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Update: 3 p.m. Friday, March 27

Access to OC facilities and services

Reminder: during the COVID-19 pandemic, Okanagan College continues to operate and provide services remotely. Physical access to facilities is restricted in order to ensure social (physical) distancing and for the health and safety of all.

If you need to access facilities at any of our campuses, or have questions about how to access any services, please contact the Regional Dean office at your campus:

  • Central Okanagan (Kelowna): 250-762-5445, ext. 4789

  • South Okanagan-Similkameen (Penticton): 250-492-4305, ext. 3216

  • North Okanagan (Vernon): 250-545-7291, ext. 2206

  • Shuswap-Revelstoke (Salmon Arm): 250-832-2126, ext. 8239

You can also click here to find out how to access all available services, including hours and contact information.


Recent updates 

View archive of Covid-19 updates here
Provincial and Federal news updates pertinent to students:

 

Province boosts emergency funding supports for students

New emergency supports for province’s most vulnerable

Province announces supports for renters, landlords during COVID-19

Province and Government of Canada freeze student loan payments

Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses


Overview of COVID-19

 

Prevention

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly through coughing, sneezing, or direct contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or with surfaces they have recently touched.

Background and Further Sources of Information:

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)

http://www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/information-on-novel-coronavirus

Health Canada Information on coronavirus. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set up a coronavirus telephone information line at: 1-833-784-4397.

Interior Health information regarding coronavirus

As of March 16, people can call 1-888-COVID-19 or text 604-630-0300 for details, advice, and further information on the virus.

B.C. has an online self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. You can also download the COVID-19 support app for the latest info.

Click here for recommendations and tips from the BCCDC for Post-Secondary students and institutions.





 
Maintaining a Safe Working and Learning Environment

Okanagan College is committed to maintaining a safe working and learning environment at its campuses and centres. The COVID-19 situation warrants special attention and the College has implemented a higher-level cleaning and disinfection protocol for the period of concern. It has also implemented a program of information-sharing regarding best preventative practices to help avoid risk of infection and is providing additional stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

In instances where a student or employee is known to have contracted COVID-19, appropriate action will be taken to remove that individual from contact with others in the College community until a return to work/campus is deemed safe. Again, direction and advice will emanate from governmental health authorities. The College has no legal capacity to institute mandatory testing for those who may have been exposed to or contracted a coronavirus, but will continue to work with Interior Health, and federal and provincial agencies to promote procedures and approaches that minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Okanagan College will continue to monitor and take advice from Interior Health and federal and provincial agencies with regard to best practices for maintaining a safe working and learning environment.

As of March 6, 2020, WorkSafeBC was advising employers and workers that special precautions for COVID-19 are not required, beyond the recommended measures to prevent common respiratory viruses like influenza:

  • Washing your hands often, and always after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or, if soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintaining at least two metres distance from others when possible, and avoiding shaking hands, tapping elbows or other physical contact in greetings.

 

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