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

9:45 a.m. Thursday, May 21

OC Counsellors lead webinar on Promoting and Practicing Self-Compassion during COVID-19 – May 26

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, Okanagan College Counsellors Samantha Johnson and Sarah Lefebure will be leading a BC-wide webinar on BCcampus.ca about Self-Compassion during COVID-19. 

This is a free webinar for all students and employees of BC postsecondary institutions. Click here to register now. Please help spread the word, and visit BCcampus.ca to explore other free webinars on various topics designed to help you thrive during the pandemic.

About the facilitators:

Samantha Johnson, BSW, MACP has worked as a social worker for the last 18 years and recently completed her Masters in Counselling Psychology. She is now a counsellor at Okanagan College in Salmon Arm and views self-compassion as an important tool in supporting our mental health and wellness.

Sarah Lefebure MA, RCC has been working in postsecondary counselling since 2008, first in Quebec, then at Camosun College in Victoria and now at Okanagan College in Penticton. Sarah is involved in running OC’s Flourish Wellness Project, which fosters conversation and learning around ways we can all take care of our mental health, and encourages participants to develop their own unique toolkit for wellness.

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9 a.m. Wednesday, May 20

A Message from Andrew Hay, Interim Provost and Vice President Academic

Okanagan College will be delivering a mix of online and face-to-face courses for fall 2020, following the direction of the province and the Provincial Health Officer as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most students can expect programs to be delivered in either a fully online or a hybrid (a combination of online and face-to-face) format this fall. The exact mix is still being determined and will be clear by July 6, when registration for Okanagan College’s fall courses begin.

On-campus instruction will be a priority for those courses where learning outcomes are dependent on experiential, hands-on learning, such as healthcare labs, trades shops, and science and engineering technology labs. Where possible, labs and shops and some lecture classes will be offered in a face-to-face format, respecting WorkSafeBC, Public Health Officer and provincial guidelines to ensure a safe situation for all concerned.

The model for the delivery of student services is also being determined, and students can be assured that the full range of necessary services will be available to them.

The majority of Okanagan College employees are currently working from home. As we plan for our fall courses – with guidelines established by WorkSafeBC and the Provincial Health Officer – Okanagan College will continue to work with our employee groups and student associations to ensure a safe working and learning environment.

There are several guidelines that we shall be following in our planning:

  • Routine daily screening for all staff and students.

  • Routine and frequent environmental cleaning.

  • A clear policy for students and staff who have symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, with any coughing or sneezing not to attend classes, extra curricular activities, sports or work.

  • Increased use of on-line learning balanced against the need of social interaction for learning and development.

  • Early arrival and self-isolation for 14 days of international students.

How some of these are to be implemented (for instance, the routine daily screening) is still to be clarified, and sectoral plans are being developed with input from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, WorkSafeBC, and a committee of subject experts and representatives from post- secondary institutions.

Our first concern is always for the health, safety and support of our students and employees as we continue to develop our plans for fall 2020 and beyond. We continue to focus on providing the quality education and support services that our students are used to enjoying and that has helped distinguish our College as one of the best places to learn in Canada.

Andrew Hay,
Interim Provost and Vice President Academic

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1 p.m. Friday, May 15

Government of Canada announces Flexibility in post-graduation work permit rules to help international students and Canadian post-secondary institutions

On May 14, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced flexibility in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible designated learning institution (DLI), such as Okanagan College, this fall.

Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a program via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible. 

PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.

Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. 

In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

Read the full announcement here.

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8:55 a.m. Friday, May 15

Students can now apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit

The Government of Canada is now accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The benefit provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19. From May to August 2020, the CESB will provide a payment to eligible students of $1,250 for each 4-week period or $2,000 for each 4-week period, if you have dependants or a disability. 

Learn more about the CESB here and click here to apply.

Please visit Okanagan College's Financial Aid and Awards webpage for additional FAQs, information and whom to contact if you have questions about support available to students through Okanagan College, as well as assistance through the provincial and federal governments.

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Recent updates 

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

Learn more about BC's Restart Plan

Canada removes barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19

More federal support for students and grads affected by COVID-19

Province announces Here2Talk 24/7 mental health resource for students

A Message to students from Minister Melanie Mark - April 16

State of emergency extended to continue B.C.’s COVID-19 response

Changes to Canada Summer Jobs program to help businesses and young Canadians affected by COVID-19

Virtual Mental Health Supports During COVID-19

Applications open for temporary rental supplement

OCSU NEWS: Okanagan College Students’ Union contributes emergency aid for students

BC brings in more emergency supports for Indigenous 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

 

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. 

 

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:

B.C. Centre for Disease Control 

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

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.

 





 
Maintaining a Safe Working and Learning Environment

Okanagan College is committed to maintaining a safe working and learning environment at its campuses and centres. While on-campus offices/services are currently closed to students and the public, more information about on-campus cleaning protocols, physical distancing instructions and other pertinent information for students and employees will be communicated out as plans for Fall 2020 class and service delivery are finalized.

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.

Recommended measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other common respiratory viruses like influenza include:

  • 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, and avoiding shaking hands, tapping elbows or other physical contact in greetings.