COVID-19

Okanagan College students, staff and visitors, please note:

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

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

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

Current Status

Update: 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 30

Emergency aid for students

Okanagan College students experiencing financial emergencies as a consequence of COVID-19 pandemic can reach out to OC’s Financial Aid department at financialaid@okanagan.bc.ca. Reminder, you can access all services for students remotely; more information is available here.

Update: 3:15 p.m. Friday, March 27

Updates to FAQs - Student Loans

The COVID-19 FAQ section related to student loans was updated today. Click here for more information.

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.


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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.

Recent updates 

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

Province announces supports for renters, landlords during COVID-19

Province and Government of Canada freeze student loan payments

Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses


Overview of COVID-19

 

Prevention

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

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

Background and Further Sources of Information:

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

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

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

Interior Health information regarding coronavirus

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

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

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





 
Maintaining a Safe Working and Learning Environment

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

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

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

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

 

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