Archived Covid-19 Updates

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.

 

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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. 


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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