Archived Covid-19 Updates

10:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 27

Recap: Webinar aims to help students address fear and anxiety related to COVID-19

BCCampus.ca hosted a free webinar on Wednesday, June 3 geared toward providing students with strategies that foster healthy mental well-being during these trying times. It was an interactive session in which students could ask questions of facilitators Rhonda Schmitz, Claire Hewson and Bree Harwood of Selkirk College.

To learn more about or request a video of the webinar, visit BCcampus.ca.

***

9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 27

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

On Tuesday, May 26, Okanagan College Counsellors Samantha Johnson and Sarah Lefebure hosted a BC-wide webinar on BCcampus.ca about Self-Compassion during COVID-19. The recorded webinar has been made available online here

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.

***

 

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

 

***

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.

***


9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 13

Statistics Canada shares post-secondary student survey results

Statistics Canada has released some information arising from its survey of post-secondary students between April 19 and May 1. More than 100,000 students from across Canada answered the survey, which posed questions related to academic disruptions to employment prospects. Significant changes in employment situations and prospects were among the major findings of the survey. Click here to read more.

***

1:30 p.m. Friday, May 8

Message from Jim Hamilton, President Okanagan College

To our students and prospective students, 

I wanted to let you know that we are hard at work planning for a number of different options for this coming fall that revolve primarily around a blend of online and face-to-face delivery of classes, labs and shops. 

Our approach was reaffirmed this week when the province released its Rebuilding BC document. Part of the rebuilding BC strategy is the development of safety standards and guidelines for all post-secondary institutions in BC. We are hoping that this information will help determine how many people we can accommodate in our classrooms, buildings and even on campus. That information is critical for us to be able to decide which programs can be offered in which format. 

I want to assure you that we are engaging all departments in the institution in planning for what the fall may look like. Our first consideration in all this is student and employee health and safety. With our focus on student success, it is important that we will provide the best possible education, training and support services that we can, given the circumstances. That’s core to our planning right now. 

Our Deans, Directors and other members of our Leadership Team have been focused on working with departments, faculty, instructors and student support areas to provide you with clarity about our operations for the coming months as soon as possible. Some of the information we need to make the final decisions, though, is not yet available at this point. 

Right now, we are doing all the necessary planning so that we will be poised to move quickly once we know what the parameters are within which we can operate. We are in consultation with student association and employee group leaders and as soon as we are able, we will communicate the parameters to you as well. 

We understand that most students would prefer face-to-face instruction. The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us realize that there are alternatives and I know that when we end up in what the province is referring to as stage four of the recovery - when we’re all back on our campuses, in regular classes, labs and shops – we’ll have stories to tell each other and reason to celebrate. 

In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and share your desire to achieve clarity as soon as possible. 

Sincerely, 

Jim 

Stay #ocstrong 

***

11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 7

 

Learn more about BC’s restart plan

The Provincial Government has released a Restart BC plan that outlines steps and phases that will be taken in the coming months. Click here for more information.

***

1:45 p.m. Monday, May 4

Thinking about summer session? It’s not too late to register. Here’s what you need to know.

Format and how to register

As part of Okanagan College’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Summer Session courses will be offered online, in addition to flexible distance education courses.

As classes will not be conducted face-to-face, this gives students the added flexibility to register for any courses offered in the session that still have space available, regardless of their home campus. Search for courses on ClassFinder. Be sure to select "All Campuses" to see online and distance education course.

What's the difference between online courses and distance education? Click here to find out.

Key Dates

11 May 2020 Classes begin for Summer Session I and Distance Education courses

15 May 2020 Last day to receive a refund of tuition fees for Session I course drop & without penalty

22 May 2020 Last day to receive a refund of tuition fees for course drop (distance education course)

19 Jun 2020 Last day of regularly scheduled classes for Session I

3 Jul 2020 Last day to withdraw from a distance education course without academic penalty

6 Jul 2020 Classes begin Session II

10 Jul 2020 Last day to receive a refund of tuition fees for a Session II course drop

17 Aug 2020 Regular classes and final exams end Session II

More information/contact us

Please consult our Summer Session page for more information and whom to contact if you have registration or other questions.

 

***

2:30 p.m. Friday, May 1

BCcampus launches COVID-19 site with resources for post-secondary students, faculty and staff

BCcampus has created a website for the B.C. post-secondary sector that addresses the increased need for mental health supports during COVID-19. The website, http://covid19.bccampus.ca, contains a variety of resources for students, staff, and faculty including information around mental health support, financial aid, COVID-19 key links, online learning and teaching resources and more.

***

2:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 29

B.C. extending state of emergency to continue COVID-19 response

The provincial state of emergency is being extended for the third time, to support the extraordinary measures taken by the Province under the Emergency Program Act to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has officially extended the state of emergency through the end of the day on May 12, 2020.

Read the full story here.

***

1:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 29

Job postings for students

OC students, this notice is published as a reminder to visit the online student employment opportunities page here for the latest postings for student positions at Okanagan College. Check back often as this page is updated frequently.

***

8:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 29

Online Wellness Wednesday Workshops for all OC students and employees

The Flourish Wellness Project is offering weekly Wellness Wednesday online workshops this spring, with a special focus on strategies to help you cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarah Lefebure, Counsellor on the Penticton campus, will lead the one-hour drop-in online workshops.

Workshop Schedule - Wednesdays 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • May 6 – Taking care of your mental health during the pandemic

  • May 13 – Time management in the time of COVID-19

  • May 20 – Self-compassion in the time of COVID-19

  • May 27 – Making room for emotions in challenging times

To attend any of these workshops, OC students and employees can self register for the Flourish Wellness Workshop Moodle. To do so, log into Moodle, click Site home on the left and search for Flourish. If you have any problems, email Sarah here.

Workshops are free for all Okanagan College students and employees on any campus. They are also drop-in, so attend as many or as few as you’d like, and please ensure you have paper and pen or marker with you for the workshop. Try to choose a quiet place in your home where you are less likely to be interrupted

Please note:

  • This is not a counselling group. Individuals requiring therapeutic support are encouraged to seek individual counselling (e.g. through OC Counselling Services for students and the Employee and Family Assistance Program for employees)

  • These workshops are designed to be psycho-educational, which means they will help you to learn about topics related to psychology and how to take care of yourself.

  • To protect the privacy of other participants, we ask that you take what you learned and leave what you heard, especially any specific information about other participants.

*** 

5 p.m. Tuesday, April 28

Reducing Student Stress – Student Rights – Get Your Questions Answered!

BCcampus.ca is hosting a free online seminar from 3-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30 aimed at helping students reduce stress and tap into support during COVID-19. This session will help students learn and ask questions around student rights, human rights and disability justice. The facilitators will address some of the current concerns and challenges that are presented by students amid the pandemic.

Facilitators:

Duane Seibel has held numerous roles within the BC Post-secondary System and in the last 15 years, much of his work has centered around human rights, the development and delivery of student services, as well as creating fair student policies and practices. Duane recently left his role as Director, Student Affairs and Services at Douglas College to undertake consulting.

Tracy Ho is a staff member with the Douglas (College) Students’ Union where she provides Advocacy for students who believe they have been treated unfairly during the application of the institution’s policies or procedures. Tracy has strong roots within the Student Union movement first as a student leader within the Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College and the UVIC Student Society. For the last 10 years, she was a staff member with the student unions at VCC and Douglas College.

Click here for more information and to register in advance.

***

2:15 p.m. Monday, April 27

International Students may be able to access the CERB

This notice is published as a reminder that international students may be able to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, if they meet necessary eligibility criteria. These include:  

  • Residing in Canada

  • Having a valid Social Insurance Number 

  • Having earned more than $5000 in 2019, or in the 12 months preceding an application, and

  • Having lost their employment due to COVID-19

Please check the CERB website and FAQ for exact eligibility language: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html.

***

4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 23

Feedback wanted: Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on post-secondary students

OC students, take note: From April 19 – May 1, Statistics Canada is inviting post-secondary students to complete a short survey to provide their input on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your studies, financial situation and other aspects of your life.

Click here to learn more and participate in this five-minute crowdsourcing data collection.

The purpose is to provide early insight into the educational, employment and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on post-secondary students. This information will be used by governments and other organizations to evaluate the need for services and assistance programs to support post-secondary students during and after the pandemic.

Stats Canada is also encouraging students to share the survey link above throughout your network. The more people that participate, the better the data.

***

3:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 22

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

To help battle the COVID-19 outbreak, effective Wednesday, April 22, the Government of Canada will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

Read more in the media release.

***

Update: 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 22

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday, April 22 comprehensive support totalling nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates. This plan will help provide the financial support they need this summer, help them continue their studies in the fall, and help many get the experience they need to start their careers. These measures include launching:

  • the proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.

  • the new Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall. 

The Government of Canada will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months. In addition, to help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will:

  • double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.

  • broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

  • enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.

  • increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.

  • extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

Read more about the new and expanded supports here.

***

Update: 9:15 a.m. Monday, April 20

College responds with free professional development offerings during COVID-19

With organizations of all sizes in our communities facing uncertainty and disruption or adaptation to the way they conduct business in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Okanagan College is stepping up with resources to help individuals and employers tap into professional development offerings.

The College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department has published a new online Professional Development Resource page on its website to help people tap into free OC courses, webinars and panels. It will also point them in the direction of educational content, resources and helpful links to online education offered by others. Please help us spread the word about these opportunities by sharing throughout your network.

Read more and see how to tap into these free and low-cost resources here.

***

Update: 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16

Province launches free counselling service for post-secondary students

The Government of British Columbia has launched Here2Talk, a new mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students.

The service offers confidential, free single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Until now, post-secondary students have never had access to 24/7 province wide mental health support services,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Students advocated for years to fill the gap in available mental-health counselling services in British Columbia. Over the past several months, we’ve been working together to develop this new free service. With the advent of COVID-19 and the increased stress it puts on students, we doubled down to get students the supports they so desperately need. I’m very excited to say that Here2Talk is now available for all 555,000 post-secondary students registered across B.C.”

Chat sessions with a trained counsellor can be accessed by downloading the Here2Talk app or visiting: here2talk.ca.

Students can speak to a counsellor by phone, toll free at 1 877 857-3397 or direct 604 642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial 1 604 642-5212 (international calling charges may apply). Translation services are available in a number of languages.

Read the full media release here.

OC provides tips, resources for taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

There have been many rapid changes to protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even depressed as a result, know that you are not alone and that help is available. In times of transition and uncertainty, taking good care of ourselves is more important than ever and Okanagan College Counselling Services has some tips and resources to share. Read their suggestions and find other helpful links and resources in the full story hereCounselling Services are still available to students during the COVID-19 pandemic via confidential video and phone sessions. Email counselling@okanagan.bc.ca with your full name, 300 number, and campus to speak with a counsellor.

***

Update 12:20 p.m. Thursday, April 9

Message from Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an exceptionally challenging time for every person involved in B.C.’s post-secondary, skills and training sector. I know that some of you are being directly affected by this virus or are concerned about friends and family here and around the world. I recognize that many of you are worried about paying your bills, finishing your programs, returning home and being disconnected from your communities. I understand that our daily lives have been turned upside down and want you to know that our government is doing everything we can to fight this pandemic and keep one another safe.

Everything we are doing is about protecting students, faculty and staff while also supporting the shift in delivery of B.C.’s world-class learning and training programs. This is equally true for the post-secondary system, as well as the hundreds of organizations who play a vitally important role in skills training across B.C. This is a uniquely unsettling time, but I want to assure you that your education and training goals will be met.

Read the full message from Honourable Melanie Mark here

***

Update: 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, April 7

Message from Office of the Provost and Vice President Academic

New Withdrawal Option for Okanagan College Students

Okanagan College will continue with its regular grading for the Winter 2020 semester to preserve student academic records, but is providing an option that will allow students to request a withdrawal from a course after they are given a final grade in the course.

Normally, the opportunity to withdraw from a course without penalty occurs part way through a semester. Two weeks ago, the College extended that deadline to the final day of classes, recognizing the impact that the transition to online learning formats might have on students.

Now, Education Council has approved a further option: students will have 21 calendar days after they receive a final grade in a course for the winter term to request a grade to be changed to withdrawal if they so choose. Note that students will not be provided with a tuition refund as the course has been completed.  This new option is being provided for students in recognition of the difficult circumstances some of our students are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We strongly encourage students to complete their courses for the winter semester, and to complete final exams or assignments. A student may request to withdraw from a course after the course has been fully completed and grade received. Once reviewed by the Registrar, the grade for the course will be replaced with a “W” on your transcript.

Several options to deal with grading for this semester were considered, including a pass/fail option that has been adopted by some institutions in Canada. No publicly-funded colleges in B.C. are choosing to pursue this option at this time, for the same reasons as Okanagan College.  We want to serve the best interests of our students, and believe it is better to provide the option to choose a late withdrawal in those cases where a student receives a grade they do not wish to see on their transcript.

Many of our students plan to pursue further education at another institution, whether to complete a Bachelor’s degree or to pursue post-graduate studies. It is unclear how receiving institutions will credit a “pass” on a transcript and we do not want to disadvantage our students as they seek to transfer.

Introducing a pass/fail grading method could impact progression into degree programs, and limit students’ future educational opportunities. A “W” on a transcript is better than an “F”: it does not affect grade point averages for purposes of credit or transferability, nor does it impact consideration with regard to academic probation.

Some students are in programs that are accredited by external agencies, and a “pass” might not be acceptable to those organizations in terms of meeting their requirements.

Student Options for the Winter 2020 Semester:

  • Complete your course and final assessment, obtain a final grade as usual; this will count toward your GPA;

  • Choose to withdraw by the last day of classes for your course, don’t complete your course and final assessment; a W will be entered on your official transcript for this course;

  • Complete your course and final assessment, receive your grade, and – should you wish – complete a Request to Withdraw form and submit it to the Registrar within 21 calendar days of the grade being posted by the Registrar’s Office. We strongly advise discussing a request to withdraw with an education advisor, an international advisor, or your Dean’s office before submitting such a request.Note that once changed, the W will remain on the transcript; there is no option to revert back to the original grade. The necessary form is now available online from the Registrar’s Office.

At this point, you should be aware of the final evaluation plans (exam or otherwise) for your Winter 2020 courses. If you aren’t, please contact your professor or instructor for details.

I want to assure you again that we are all focused on our students’ success.  We fully recognize that this is a difficult time for all, and sincerely wish you all the best as you compete your studies this semester.

Thank you,

Andrew Hay, PhD, P.Eng
Interim Provost and Vice President Academic
Okanagan College

For your convenience, you can download a PDF of this message here.

***

Update: 4:25 p.m. Tuesday, April 7

June Convocations are being postponed

Okanagan College has decided to postpone its planned June convocation ceremonies until later in the year, when it will be possible to hold these important celebrations in an in-person format. The decision was informed in part by perspectives gained from a survey of students who had registered to graduate and attend ceremonies. The majority of respondents were clear that their first choice was to postpone the ceremonies, many citing the wish to celebrate in person with classmates, family and friends. More information will be provided as the situation regarding large gatherings and COVID-19 becomes clearer.

***

Update: 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 7

Reminder: you can register for summer session offered online and via distance education

Okanagan College will be moving ahead with its two summer sessions, as well as 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. If you're looking for tips, resources and support for learning online, including tech support, please visit the Online Resource Centre page for students here. 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 distinct differences between Distance Education course delivery and online course delivery; more information will be provided soon to students 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.

***

Update: 1 p.m. Monday, April 6

Okanagan College Students’ Union contributes emergency aid for students

The Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU) is applauding the emergency aid investment of $3.5 million for domestic students and $1.5 million for Indigenous students across the province announced recently by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. To support OC students facing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OCSU is adding to that investment by committing $15,000 for emergency relief for students in addition to the current funding available through the College.

“The Okanagan College Students’ Union was created to provide support to our members and, in this time of crisis, this financial commitment is something more we can do to provide that support,” said Alex Starker, Chairperson of the Okanagan College Students’ Union. "With layoffs, physical distancing, and classes suddenly being completed online, students and their families have a lot to worry about right now," said Starker. "Providing additional relief will go a long way to help those in need be able to stay focused on being successful in their studies.”

Read more in the media release.

***

Update: 9 a.m. Sunday, April 5

Message from the Office of the Registrar regarding final grades

On Saturday, April 4, OC students should have received by email a message from the Office of the Registrar. The email contains important information to help students understand the College’s current grading practices, including the various options and alternatives in place to support you in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full message here. The Registrar’s Office team is here to help, so if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to email registrar@okanagan.bc.ca for more information.

***

Update: 5 p.m. Friday, April 3

B.C. brings in more emergency supports for Indigenous students

Indigenous post-secondary students experiencing financial pressures will benefit from additional provincial emergency funding.

The B.C. Government is providing an additional $1.5 million to supplement the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund, which assists Indigenous students who are experiencing an unexpected financial emergency that may affect their ability to finish their studies. Support is available through all 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., as well as Native Education College (NEC).

Read more in the media release.

Indigenous students at OC can find more information about how to access emergency support through the Financial Aid and Awards website here.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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 themhere.

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

***

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.

 

***

3:45 p.m. Thursday, March 26

A Message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton

To the Okanagan College community,

As we conclude another week of dealing with the COVID19 crisis, we have made significant progress as a College in dealing with this new and constantly changing reality. In the middle of a constant barrage of worrying news about this escalating pandemic, I find solace in, and take inspiration from how well our colleagues and students have responded to help us do our part in combating COVID-19.

The transition to alternate delivery has been truly remarkable. While there have been disruptions to educational delivery for all students, most have adapted well, thanks to a concerted effort by employees to remain focused on our dedication to helping students continue their education. Unfortunately, some have been unable to continue classes for now, even in an online format, because of the nature of their courses. I wish it were otherwise but we must respect the direction of our Public Health Officer, the province and the federal government regarding social distance. Above all, we must protect the health of our students, our employees and the public.

We continue to have electronic meetings daily with our employee group and student leaders that are proving their value in fostering a collaborative approach to issue identification, solutions and communications. I look forward to these meetings and appreciate the constructive suggestions and questions raised by the group. My thanks to Yvonne Caldwell (BCGEU Support), Sharon Mansiere and Rod Watkins (OCFA), Cam McRobb (BCGEU Vocational), Gordon Shuster and Nancy Darling (Admin. Association), Brianne Berchowitz (OCSU) and Eric Reist (Vernon Students Association). My thanks also goes out to all those in all parts of the institution who are putting in so much time and effort, either collectively or individually.

This morning, our Interim Provost and Vice President Academic, Andrew Hay, sent a message to all students regarding temporary changes to our withdrawal policy, where we are headed with regard to final exams, and an extension to the application deadline for graduation this spring. He also said we are considering options for this spring’s planned convocation ceremonies. You can see a copy of that message here (or find it below).

In the space of a few days Okanagan College has become an institution that is largely being driven by employees working remotely, with some still working on campuses to ensure business continuity. As the days go by, we are refining what that looks like and will endeavor to increase the numbers of employees working remotely. Following the guidance of the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association and Public Sector Employers Council, we are accommodating employment situations that develop as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The direction to date has been fairly clear and easy for us to follow, given our inclination as an employer. It is essentially this: be compassionate.

To date, we are aware of no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection among the OC community and are in regular contact with Interior Health. Should an instance occur among our students or employees, we will follow the direction of the Public Health Officer in terms of communications and notifications. The safety of our students and employees is paramount in our decisions and actions.

As I – like many of you – adjust to working primarily from home, I am constantly aware of the fluidity of the situation we face, which is a process, not an event. Every day brings new issues and new decisions. We will continue to address issues as they arise, and - as we have over the past weeks - will continue to draw upon the goodwill, commitment, flexibility, ingenuity and patience that our employees and students continue to demonstrate. I hope you and your loved ones remain safe.

Jim Hamilton
President
Okanagan College

***

Update: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 26, 2020

A message from the Office of the Provost and Vice President Academic – March 26, 2020

This has been an extraordinary time, for you as students and for Okanagan College, and for our society as a whole. I want to first thank you for working with us, each other, and our instructors and professors to move toward completing delivery of the learning outcomes you envisioned when you registered for this semester’s courses.

I also want to extend my heartfelt hope that all of you are healthy and safe and that you are supporting and connecting with others and being supported yourself.

There are several vital decisions that have been reached that you should be aware of, regarding:

  • Extension of Winter 2020 Term Course Withdrawal Date
  • No Face-to-Face Final Exams
  • Applying to Graduate and Convocations

Please click here to read the full update with this important information.

Andrew Hay
Interim Provost and Vice President Academic
Okanagan College

Extension of Winter 2020 Term Course Withdrawal Date

Click here for more information about the extension of the withdrawal date for Winter 2020 Term courses, including:
whom to contact for assistance, instructions for withdrawing from a course in myOkanagan self-service, potential implications for funding, student assistance, awards or grants, and other things to keep in mind if you are planning to withdraw from a course.

 

***

2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Province announces supports for renters, landlords during COVID-19

As we know this news will be pertinent to many in the Okanagan College community, please find below an update from the Provincial Government today:

To support people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.  

The new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, building on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for British Columbians facing financial hardship. Find more details here.

Province and Government of Canada freeze student loan payments

Yesterday, the Province also announced a freeze on B.C. student loan payments for six months, starting March 30, 2020. Federal student loan payments are being frozen as well. Read more in the media release.

Tips, resources for enhanced teaching and learning

OC’s Learning & Applied Research and Education Technology department will be providing frequent updates to help you enrich your learning and teaching experience using Blackboard Collaborate and other tools. Click here for seven of their top tips. You’ll also find links to resources available to you and information on whom to contact if you have a question or need technical support or advice.

Available Services page updated to serve you better

Need to speak with a counsellor? Get help from a librarian? Connect with the Registrar’s office? Reminder to students: you can still access services remotely. Okanagan College employees are here to help you during this challenging time. Visit the Available Services page to find contact information, hours and more details, so you can get in touch.

 

***

12:25 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Working from Home Information/Employee Health & Wellness 

Okanagan College’s Human Resources has prepared some new information and resources for employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for helpful guidelines and reminders around everything from safety to IT support and security. During this evolving situation, Okanagan College strives to take care of our employees in the best way we can, and this includes their health and well-being. Working remotely and feeling disconnected with social connections can result in emotional strain on employees’ mental health. Prevention and taking pro-active steps to minimize this risk for employees and employers is important. Click here for resources around employee health and wellness. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your supervisor or reach out to Human Resources for more information.

***

1 p.m. Monday, March 23, 2020

To help people with B.C. student loans, the Province is freezing B.C. student loan payments for six months, starting March 30, 2020. Federal student loan payments are being frozen as well. Read more in the media release.

***

12:45 p.m., Monday, March 23, 2020

A message from OC Librarians

As part of the institution-wide closure of offices and in-person services for students, effective Friday, March 20 at 5:00 p.m., all Okanagan College campus libraries will be closed, and all in-person library services will be suspended indefinitely. During the closure, the Library will continue to support faculty, instructors, students and others online, as we always have, as well as with additional services.

Librarians would like everyone to know that the physical spaces may be closed, but we remain available in the online realm to provide research assistance, connect faculty and instructors to resources that will support their student’s learning, as well as connect those providing instruction with high quality online resources. Librarians are available to provide research instruction to online classes and we are providing reference and research services virtually. We have a huge number of online resources to support faculty in their online teaching. Some key information for faculty and instructors is outlined below: 

·  Reference and research help services will be provided online by OC librarians 10 am – 4 pm through AskAway. Students and faculty can also contact their liaison librarian by e-mail.

·  Resources for faculty and instructors that can be embedded into online courses include streaming videos and media clips, articles, e-books, book chapters, links to research databases, research guides, citation guides, and more. Work with your liaison librarian to integrate these resources into your online courses.

·  The full list of online textbooks currently available through the Library is here. Contact the Web Services Librarian to see if an electronic version of your textbook may be available.

·  Copyright questions can be directed to the OC Copyright Officer.

·  Interlibrary loan requests for online articles will be accepted, but delivery is dependent on other libraries’ ability to provide service.

·  Borrowing of physical items is no longer available. Loan periods of books have been extended and overdue fines accumulated will be waived.

·  The Kelowna Learning Centre continues to offer one-on-one assistance with English & Writing, Math & Science, and Trades, via the website and Moodle.

·  For Student Success Centre service information outside of Kelowna, please visit the relevant campus information page:PentictonSalmon Arm & Revelstoke and Vernon.

·  Students who require the use of a laptop computer to complete OC coursework from off-campus should contact the IT Services Help Desk.

·  Additional information is available via the Library’s COVID-19 Support Resources Guide. This includes resources for online learning, data mapping of the Virus, and links to key library resources.

The Library website has been updated to include a page related to the closure and the continuation of online services. Please refer to that page, along with the official Okanagan College COVID-19 pagefor updates about the situation.

Librarians are here to support you and your students as we move forward delivering instruction in new and unfamiliar ways.

All the best during these uncertain times.

- Okanagan College Librarians


 

 



3:25 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

Message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton to Students

To our students,

Thank you for continuing to be patient while we work our way through the complex web of challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to our lives. This week we have again been working hard to keep our students, employees and public safe on our campuses while delivering the same high quality of education and services to students and practicing social distancing. 

Today, you should have also received a letter from Andrew Hay, our Interim Provost and Vice President Academic. This message outlined some of the ways in which Okanagan College will continue to support students, whether you are travelling home outside of Canada, across the country, or will be continuing your studies through alternative modes of delivery from within the region.

I would like to share a few important updates today:

Services

  • All offices will be closed to students and the public by end of day today (Friday, March 20).
  • Library Services and Food Services will be closed on all campuses (you can still continue to access Library Services online here.)

  • If you need support or equipment from IT services, please click here.

  • Okanagan College Student Housing remains open at this time. Domestic residents who are able to return home are encouraged to do so. International students are being advised that if they are not able to return home they may remain in student housing.

  • Students will continue to be able to access all our student services online.

  • You can visit a new webpage designed specifically to help students access services and find updates, hours and contact information.

  • We are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to our employees about how you can continue to access these services remotely. 

Classes

In addition to the changes to alternate delivery in Arts, Business, Science, Technology, Health and Continuing Studies that we have made over the past week, here is the most recent news on our ongoing plan to transition remaining classes to alternative delivery:

  • Upgrading (Adult Basic Education / Adult Academic and Career Preparation) classes will be cancelled Monday and Tuesday as these continue to be transitioned to alternative modes of delivery. The department or your instructors will communicate with you directly about how they will be delivering classes.

  • Adult Special Education (ASE) classes will be cancelled next week. Further updates will follow.

  • Trades classes will continue in alternative modes of delivery next week, with a focus on online delivery of theory coursework, with the exception of:

    • Culinary Arts classes will be delayed until further notice. Communication will follow from instructors.

This means that there will be no face-to-face classes of any kind next week.

The College’s Executive and COVID-19 committee continue to meet frequently and remain in contact with regional and provincial health officials to follow the latest guidance. In addition, we have daily update meetings with student and employee group leaders to make the best possible decisions.

As always, you can find the latest updates on www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid

At this time, I encourage you to reach out to us if you need support. You are not alone. Please also take a moment to check in (digitally or in other ways that respect social distancing) with your classmates, friends and family, to ensure nobody is feeling isolated as we adapt to social distancing in our daily lives.

Thanks,

Jim Hamilton
President, Okanagan College

 

***

 

9:45 a.m. Friday, March 20

Note from the International Education Department: Please find a brief introduction to this letter, translated into 10 additional languages here.

 

Note for Okanagan College International Students and Domestic Students Who Reside Elsewhere in Canada

Given the continually evolving response to COVID-19, all Okanagan College students in degree or diploma programs who are planning to travel home may do so, prior to the end of the semester.  This applies to all international students, and to domestic students who reside elsewhere in Canada.  Alternate modes of course delivery are or will soon be in place for you.

For Okanagan College students who are planning to travel home and are taking English as a Second Language (ESL) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses, please consult with your instructor, preferably via email or phone, to assess arrangements to allow you to complete these courses when you return to your country.

Final exam planning is underway to move to online formats or altered forms of assessment such as term papers or projects.  Your professor or instructor will be providing your class with details in this regard soon, and we will work with you to ensure you can complete your course as seamlessly as possible.

These are extremely challenging times for all and your professors and instructors are working tirelessly to provide you with the best and safest learning environment possible. Please be patient and considerate as we continue to adjust our course delivery in ways that will allow you to successfully complete your term.

Andrew Hay, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Interim Provost and Vice President Academic

Click here for the letter in PDF.

 



4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 19

OC Community rallies with COVID-19 translation help for students; submit your messages of support

Members of the Okanagan College community united digitally over the past couple of days to translate important COVID-19 updates for International students into 11 languages and counting. 

Thank you to all of the staff members of the International Education department and faculty and staff around the College who contributed to the project to support students accessing important information during a challenging time. 

The College is working on a new online services and supports page on www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid that will help students and staff see which services are available online, hours, and current status of facilities across campuses. An update will go out to subscribers when this page goes live.

New questions and answers continue to be posted to the FAQ section here

OC Public Affairs is inviting staff and students to submit #COVID-19 messages of support for each other that will be shared on the College’s social media channels to help ease anxiety and feelings of isolation during social distancing. If you wish to submit a message, please contact OC Public Affairs

On a provincial note, today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 12 in the Interior Health Region, for a total of 271 total cases in the province. Find answers to COVID questions, links and resources and the new B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assesment Tool here.

***

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 12:50 p.m.

College cancels remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery

Effective Thursday, Okanagan College is cancelling any remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 90 per cent of academic classes have already been transitioned to an alternative form of delivery this week. Classes still being delivered in a face-to-face format will be cancelled for Thursday and Friday in order to provide instructors and professors more time to complete plans to move fully to alternative forms of delivery.

“The vast majority of our classes have already transitioned to alternative forms of classroom delivery. As you can imagine, given the diversity of programs we offer, this was no easy task for our faculty and staff,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“We continue to work on creative ways to deliver trades training programming, especially shops, following guidance from the Provincial Health Officer. We have already postponed more than 20 planned intakes of trades programs that were to start in the next few weeks.”

Okanagan College students currently on practicum placements can continue those placements unless advised by OC. The College is working with practicum providers to carefully assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to moving classes to alternative forms of delivery, the College is also providing many services for students online to ensure continuity of services.

While campuses and in-person services remain open, students are encouraged to utilize these alternative forms of service delivery where possible to encourage social distancing.

“Many of our student services are already available online and others are transitioning to ensure students feel supported while not on campus, such as counselling and accessibility services,” says Hamilton. “We know this is a stressful and uncertain time for students, as it is for all, and so we’re going to be taking a look at every way we can provide support and help students face whatever challenges they’re encountering as the situation unfolds.”

The College is also communicating out to employees means and opportunities for them to work from home, while maintaining those critical supports to students and other services to keep the institution functioning.

The College will continue to communicate directly with students, and updates will also be posted to the College’s COVID-19 information page, www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid.

 

***

5:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton regarding the OC’s continued response to COVID-19

To the Okanagan College community,

We are learning, working and living in trying times. With that in mind, I want to pass on my deepest thanks to all employees, who are working hard to support the transition to alternate modes of delivery for our classes, where possible and reasonable, as soon as possible and while maintaining student services.

I appreciate the challenges you are working under – given what is unfolding in the world, in our province, and in our communities around us.

I commend you for the hard and smart work you’ve invested to support our students, to ease their concern and to ensure continuity of their education and support services under difficult circumstances.

I also want to say how proud I am of the way in which our employees have supported each other, collaborating, innovating, going above and beyond, and all the while showing kindness and consideration.

Finally, I want to acknowledge our students, who continue to show remarkable patience and resilience as they move through this unexpected disruption to their education. We know a number of our students are also grappling now with disruptions to their employment and extracurricular activities, which creates added stress in an already stressful situation. If you need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Students Service, Counselling Services, or your Dean’s office, for more information on the supports available to you right now.

A few updates:

  • Unless otherwise communicated by their instructor, students should still report to face-to-face classes tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18. Many have now made the transition to alternate means of education delivery; that process will continue wherever possible.

  • The College’s executive has given leadership team direction and authority to look at remote working opportunities for employees, with business and service continuity in mind. Employees should speak with their supervisors for more information; until arrangements for remote working have been approved, employees should report for work as normal. At this time, in accordance with our policies and values as an institution we will be providing as much flexibility as we can.

  • We’re making progress daily on the transition to alternate delivery for classes. There has also been progress on considerations around examinations, as well as planning for next steps in those programs where alternate delivery may not be possible. Updates will be communicated to staff and students as soon as possible. We know everyone has many questions in this regard. Thank you for your patience.

  • We continue to be in close communication with Interior Health, the B.C. Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Advanced, Education, Skills and Training, and will continue to follow their guidance on how we operate with the health and safety of students and staff in mind. To date, we have cancelled all events of 50 people or more (as per the advice of the B.C. Ministry of Health on March 16). Any classes that exceed that threshold have also been transitioned to an alternate delivery model.

  • All student support services (e.g. International Education, Library Services, and Student Services, etc.) are still operational and functioning on campuses. Students can continue to either call or access services in person. For more information about our services please go to: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/Student_Services.html

  • Library Services continue to operate as usual on all four campuses, and online. Any future changes to hours will be posted to the Library Hours page of the website and communicated directly to students. For assistance in the use of online library resources, please contact your liaison or campus librarian. For more information about library services, please contact your campus library.

  • The fitness facilities at our Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton campuses have been closed.

  • We have delayed intakes of more than 20 trades programs that were due to start later this month and into April, recognizing that program continuity is an issue that we must consider as we contemplate what lies ahead. We are in touch with the enrolled students.

Above all, I want to reiterate that we are in this together, as a College and a community. We will get through it together.

I know many of you have questions, and I thank you for your patience as we strive to respond to each phase of challenges this situation presents and to keep you informed. As always, you can find updates on this page. 

Daily updates – or in some cases, more frequent communication – will follow as the situation unfolds.

With my thanks again,

Jim

 

***

 

4 p.m. March 17, 2020 - Effective immediately, fitness facilities at the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses will be closed until further notice. 


***

12:30 p.m. March 17, 2020

OC’s Online Teaching, Learning and Working Remotely Resource Centre launched

 Okanagan College has launched an Online Resource Centre to support students, instructors and staff during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the College transitions to alternate delivery for programs wherever possible.

Follow this link www.okanagan.bc.ca/onlineresource to access the online portal which includes information, details and links for:

  • How students can access equipment if they do not have computers at home

  • Remotely accessing learning tools like Moodle and Blackboard Collaborate

  • Information for instructors on how to ramp up online instruction

  • Tips from Learning and Applied Research on making the most of the online learning experience

  • Links on how to prepare for remote work or connecting to the network

Students, instructors and staff are encouraged to bookmark the site and check back often, as additional tools, links, videos and instructions will continue to be added to the Online Resource Centre.

The College has also updated its FAQ for students with additional information today, and will continue to add to this resource.

As always, updates about the College’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid.

***

6:45 p.m., Monday, March 16, 2020

Message for Okanagan College students

MARCH 16, 6:45 p.m. – Okanagan College students should continue to look for communication from their professors or instructors regarding classes and whether they have been transitioned to alternative forms of delivery or whether they will continue in a face-to-face format as scheduled. In the absence of communication, students should assume classes are as regularly scheduled for Tuesday. Questions may be directed to instructors, professors or your Dean’s Office.

With the goal of addressing concerns about coronavirus COVID-19, Okanagan College, its departments, professors and instructors are progressing on the institution’s goal of transitioning face-to-face classes to alternative forms of delivery, where possible and reasonable. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we move in this direction to maintain a safe learning and working environment as we deal with issues related to COVID-19. This is a stressful time for all, so please be considerate of others.

In some instances, especially in trades and apprenticeship programs and because of requirements for hands-on, in-person training, there is limited opportunity to alter format. In those instances, shop and lab organization will be altered to reflect social distance considerations. Some Science, Technology and Health programs will also continue to have in-person labs and clinical experiences.

STUDENT SERVICES

All student support services (e.g. International Education, Library Services, and Student Services, etc.) are still operational and functioning on campuses. Students can continue to either call or access services in person. For more information about our services please go to: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/Student_Services.html

Library Services continue to operate as usual on all four campuses, and online. Any future changes to hours will be posted to the Library Hours page of the website and communicated directly to students. For assistance in the use of online library resources, please contact your liaison or campus librarian. For more information about library services, please contact your campus library.

GATHERINGS LARGER THAN 50 PEOPLE

As of today, the province has instructed event organizers and others to cancel any gatherings exceeding 50 people in attendance. Few classes at OC cross that enrolment threshold – we have made alternate arrangements in those instances to abide by provincial edict. We are also cancelling any external events on campuses where attendance is expected to approach or exceed that limit.

We will continue to keep you apprised as developments warrant on a daily basis during this rapidly-evolving situation.

 

 

4:30 p.m., Monday, March 16, 2020

Okanagan College is in progress to implement alternative modes of instruction and evaluation for the rest of this term, where possible. For any classes moving to alternate modes of delivery, students will be notified prior to the class start time. Any information on OC's plans regarding transition to alternative forms of education delivery will also be posted to this page. 

There are no reported cases of COVID-19 within the Okanagan College community.

On Monday, March 16 at 11 a.m., Dr. Bonnie Henry on behalf of the B.C. Ministry of Health announced 30 additional cases of COVID-19 in the province, for a total of 103 cases in B.C. The statement referenced new cases in the Interior Health region but did not specify how many. Read the full statement here.

Travel-related update from the Federal government

The federal government has announced that the Canadian border will close to foreign nationals on Tuesday, March 17. Those exempt from crossing closure include: Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, their family members, air crews, diplomatic staff, residents of the United States, as well as commercial and trade shipments. 

Canadian citizens and permanent residents currently travelling are urged by the government to return to Canada while commercial means are available. All airline passengers will be screened for COVID-19 before boarding, and those exhibiting symptoms will not be permitted to board the airline. International arrivals will only be permitted in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, where international travellers will receive instructions about self-isolating for 14 days. Read the full media release here.

 

***

4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2020

There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Okanagan College community.

The College's COVID-19 FAQ page was updated with some additional FAQs pertaining to Trades and Apprenticeship students.

Face-to-face classes at Okanagan College are proceeding as scheduled on Monday, March 16. For any classes moving to alternate modes of delivery, students will be notified prior to the class start time. More information on OC's plans regarding transition to alternative forms of education delivery will be posted to this page and communicated to students and employees through a variety of channels.

Campus-to-campus half marathon cancelled

Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia Okanagan announce that the campus-to-campus half marathon and celebration scheduled for Saturday, April 4 has been cancelledThank you to all of the students, staff and community partners who provided input, time and expertise in the planning for this eventFor those registrants who are interested, there will be the option to apply your refund to a fund for bursaries and scholarships for OC and UBCO students. Read the full story here.

***

8 p.m. Saturday, March 14, 2020

A message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton

Students and Employees at Okanagan College,

As a consequence of concerns regarding coronavirus COVID-19 contagion, Okanagan College is moving to implement alternative modes of instruction and evaluation for the rest of this term, where possible and reasonable. Given the wide range of courses at the College, it will take a few days to fully roll out the changes. In the meantime, classes will continue as scheduled on Monday unless students learn otherwise from their professor or instructor.

Our campuses will remain open and services will continue to be provided, reviewed as necessary while this situation continues to evolve.

Because of the diversity of the types of programs we offer, we recognize that not all programs, courses, labs and shops may be suited to be delivered through a single alternative method. Planning for moving to alternative modes of instruction began this past week and Deans will be working with instructors and professors, departments and program areas to determine whether, and how best, to accommodate alternative methods of instruction and evaluation. Students will learn of the changes affecting them through their instructors or professors as the changes are implemented.

This step is being taken out of an abundance of caution and a desire of the College to do its part in helping to contain the spread of the virus. It is important to note that at this time we are aware of no cases of coronavirus COVID-19 at Okanagan College among students and employees. Of the 73 reported cases of coronavirus in B.C., only two are in the Interior Health region (which covers the entire Okanagan College region). The latest case in the Interior Health region was reported Saturday.

At this point there is no direction from the Provincial Health Officer to close campuses Interior Health is reiterating that the risk of infection remains low, given student demographics and the relatively small sizes of our classes.

Providing a safe and healthy learning and working environment for students and employees is a focus for our deliberations and decision-making in these matters. We also want to ensure that students receive the education and evaluation that will deliver the learning outcomes they seek.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps we have already taken as we have followed the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and from federal and provincial health authorities. In response, Okanagan College has:

  • Cancelled all events that involve more than 250 people for the remainder of March and April
  • Placed a moratorium on new external bookings for space on all of our campuses (to be reviewed in mid-April)
  • Implemented additional cleaning at all our campuses and distribution of additional hand-sanitizing stations
  • Distributed information about recommended measures to help avoid infection
  • Restricted out-of-country travel on College business, including a two-week self-quarantine period upon return to Canada

My thanks to all who are focused on helping students complete their studies this semester. Over my many years working at Okanagan College I have always been impressed by the way employees and students have worked together to overcome challenges. I expect this situation to be no different.

Please watch okanagan.bc.ca/covid for updates and relevant information.

 

***

12:25 p.m. Saturday, March 14

At noon on Saturday March 14, Dr. Bonnie Henry, on behalf of the B.C. Ministry of Health, announced 9 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, for a total of 73 cases. The risk of spread of COVID-19 remains low in B.C. at this time.  

The Ministry continues to recommend that B.C. residents avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States. Anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be asked to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return.

 - Event organizers are to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people. This includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings or other similar events.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Government of Canada continue to recommend social distancing to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. What does social distancing mean? Find definitions of the levels and recommendations here