COVID-19 Update: BCCDC guidance, Return to Campus Guidelines, rapid testing
As January draws to a close, I want to thank you all for continuing to support one another as a learning community throughout these first weeks of the term.
The OC community has done an outstanding job of adhering to the public health guidance and on-campus expectations, and I encourage us all to remain diligent and thank you in advance for doing so. It remains particularly important we all continue to avoid coming to campus if feeling unwell, and to consult the BCCDC page for guidance on isolation, testing and managing our health. If you need support, reach out.
This week brings the following important COVID-19 updates:
Updated BCCDC Guidance and Return to Campus Guidelines
The BCCDC has updated its public health guidance for post-secondary institutions to support in-person learning for the winter academic term. This new guidance supplements the revised Return to Campus Guidelines. Please familiarize yourself with these documents as they contain the latest guidance on everything from mask wearing to contact tracing to isolation and testing.
Post-secondary Rapid Test Kit Strategy
The BCCDC and Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training (AEST) has confirmed that rapid tests will be distributed directly to post-secondary institutions from the Provincial Health Services Authority. These will be distributed in the coming weeks based on allocation priorities outlined in the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Guidance for Post-secondary Institutions available on the BCCDC website.
- Rapid tests will be available as an optional, time-limited initiative for post-secondary institutions for the testing of symptomatic employees and students. Based on initial guidance from the BCCDC, we anticipate tests will be prioritized for students living in on-campus housing; we will share updates as more information becomes available.
- The tests are a self-management tool intended to support the continuity of on-campus learning, instruction and research.
- Asymptomatic screening of employees and students is not recommended by public health and tests distributed to postsecondary institutions from the provincial supply are not to be used for asymptomatic screening programs.
Okanagan College is currently formulating its distribution strategy and will share updates as we learn more details of when rapid tests will arrive and how they will be distributed. (The College has not yet received tests; you will be contacted if you are eligible to receive a test to use when symptomatic.)
- Public Health continues to remind us all that vaccination remains the most important measure to prevent and lessen the effects of COVID-19 illness. All members of the OC community are encouraged to be vaccinated and boosted at their earliest opportunity. Visit Interior Health’s Immunization page for more information.
- The B.C. Vaccine Card will remain in effect until June 30, 2022, as outlined by the Provincial Health Officer. At OC, a B.C. Vaccine Card is required for those living in OC Student Housing, to access fitness centres, seated dining at Infusions and some non-educational (discretionary) indoor events when they are permitted again.
Following the BCCDC guidance and provincial health orders, non-academic (discretionary/social gathering) events continue to be suspended at OC. However, recognizing the crucial support and engagement opportunities that events provide for students, a variety of virtual events will continue and grab-and-go/flow-through style events (i.e. info tables or to-go food tables) are proceeding in adherence with Interior Health and PHO guidance.
I’d like to express my appreciation again to all members of our learning community for continuing to show kindness and understanding. Please continue to monitor the COVID-19 page for guidance and updates.
President, Okanagan College
Tags: COVID-19, COVID-19 employees, COVID-19 students
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