BCCDC’s Public Health Guidance Update ahead of Fall term throughout the pandemic, B.C.’s post-secondary institutions have maintained a coordinated approach rooted in BCCDC guidance. As students, faculty and staff begin a new term, here are the updated recommendations from them.
What is Public Health doing at this stage of the pandemic?
Public Health continues to maintain a high level of attention in tracking the trends and changes in the pandemic. It also reminds everyone to follow good health practices of:
- Keeping up to date with all vaccinations
- Stay home when sick
- Regular handwashing
- Follow respiratory hygiene
- Wearing a mask is a personal choice depending on individuals’ own risk assessments. Students, faculty, and staff choosing to practice additional personal prevention measures should be respected
Public Health expects that there will continue to be periodic fluctuations in COVID-19 activity. At this point in time, Public Health does not anticipate that population-wide public health orders will be needed in view of the level of population immunity that now exists.
What are the recommendations of Public Health regarding the different areas of the pandemic?
Masks have been a great protective measure for the prevention of spreading COVID-19. The virus can be spread by people that have mild symptoms or that are not even aware that they have it. For that reason, masks are an essential factor to prevent and stop the spread of COVID. All types of masks help prevent COVID to a certain extent, however the most effective are the N95, KN95, or CAN95.
In classroom and learning settings:
- Public health orders do not require face coverings in public spaces, including post-secondary classrooms, student housing facilities, or workspaces.
- Students, faculty and staff working in health care settings may be required to wear a mask at their workplace.
- More detailed information about types of masks and how to use them is available on the BCCDC website.
- Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to continue to be supportive of individual choices and requirements with respect to the wearing of masks.
People who test positive for COVID, test negative on the day of the test but do not feel well yet, when having symptoms of COVID, or when travelling outside of Canada should self-isolate and self-monitor. This should be for a period of time depending on the age, conditions, and vaccination status of the individual. Also, self-isolation means staying at home and keeping away from others to help stop the spreading of the virus.
- Those who have been advised to test and test positive for COVID-19 are recommended to self-isolate as much as reasonably possible
- If you have mild symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test. Stay home and away from others until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities and you no longer have a fever
- Testing for COVID-19 is recommended when a positive or negative result will inform decisions about treatment or care
- Those with symptoms can assess whether or not they need a test by using the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool
Individuals can continue to access shared common areas when necessary, including kitchens and washrooms with safety measures in place. These safety measures include:
- Minimizing prolonged face-to-face interactions
- Wearing a face mask while in close physical proximity to others
- Practicing regular hand washing
- Accessing shared space during quieter times when possible
This will reduce the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing an individual who tests positive to access essential facilities such as shared kitchen and bathroom spaces. Students require to isolate and as a result, cannot participate in course assessments should follow their PSI’s policy regarding accommodations for missed assignments due to medical reasons.
Information about the bivalent vaccine and Monkeypox:
Monkeypox is a viral infection that can start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. The illness usually lasts 2-4 weeks. To learn more about the symptoms and signs, go to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention website.
- There are ongoing discussions about the bivalent vaccine, and more information will be available on the BCCDC website
- Information on Monkeypox is available on the BCCDC website linked here.
Additional information for Post Secondary studies, such as PSI-specific Communicable Disease Prevention plans can be found here.
How to get a vaccine or booster?
People from 6 months of age or older are available for vaccination in BC. The province is currently offering the primary series of vaccination (first and second doses). The individual should wait for 8 weeks to get the second dose.
The vaccines that are available in BC are:
- Pfizer Comirnaty mRNA vaccine
- Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine
- Moderna Spikevax Bivalent mRNA vaccine
- Novavax protein subunit vaccine
- Janssen viral vector vaccine
There are no problems in mixing the vaccine for the primary series of doses. To register you can either go to the BC government website, call by telephone at 1-833-838-2323, or in person at all Service BC offices. Remember you need to have a Personal Health Number, if you do not please call the number above and create one.
Additionally, the BC government is currently offering booster doses as well; which help to maintain the level of protection against intense illnesses from the COVID infection. Also, the government is offering the third dose which is ideal for people who may not develop a strong enough immune response with only two doses.