As we approach Term 4, the current guidance from the Provincial Health Officer is to prepare for a return to campus. As an institution that is approved for the delivery of our programs on campus, there is also an expectation from the government that we begin the transition to offer courses on campus. As previously communicated, our plan is to offer approximately 50% of our courses on campus. This will be increased to 75% in January and 90% by April. The return to on campus delivery by the end of this year is also expected by Immigration Canada to meet the requirements for work requirements. While we have had a good response to registration to classes on campus, we are sensing some preference for students to continue with online delivery. Based on recent polling, some of the reasons stem from health concerns, some for personal circumstance, and some appear to be a preference for online studies. We understand this remains a difficult time for everyone and that many students are worried about returning to class. I wanted to provide you with some additional information regarding safety, which I hope will address any concerns.
Safety and Studying on Campus
We are working closely with our partners in public health and met with representatives of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) last week. As you know, public institutions in BC have returned to offering classes on campus. VCH indicated that educational learning settings are considered a low-risk area and therefore gathering restrictions do not apply to education activities such as lectures, seminars and presentations.
We are closely following the health guidelines set by the BC Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC, to prepare for the return. In addition to high standards provided in our building which include MERV 13 air filtration system (a standard similar to general hospital settings), a mandatory mask policy in the building and elevators, additional cleaning of public areas and limitations on elevator capacity, Acsenda will be implementing protective measures to keep the community safe in our return this fall, prioritizing the safety of our students, staff and faculty. Some of these measures will include:
- Requiring that non-medical masks be worn indoors.
- Providing additional cleaning on campus throughout the day.
- Providing hand sanitation stations throughout the campus
- Maintaining a mandatory self health check prior to entering the campus
- Implementing ongoing core public health measures of the PHO to prevent the spread of all communicable diseases.
- Encouraging people to limit the number of sustained close contacts and to respect personal space.
- Requiring those experiencing symptoms of illness to not come to campus.
- Continuing to offer some classes online.
Mandatory vaccination is not currently required at post secondary educational institutions in BC. Although some public institutions are now requiring vaccinations or mandatory testing.
I am pleased to report that based on a polling of students over 92% of our students indicated that they have already been vaccinated or are in the process of doing so.
As you have heard from the public health office, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated. Data provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control indicates that unvaccinated people continue to be the most at risk, making up a vast majority of cases and hospitalizations. While there are cases where people have contracted Covid after vaccination, the There are many locations where you can get the vaccine, and it is free.
As you may have heard, BC will be introducing a new Vaccine Card, which I understand the digital version is available as of today. Beginning September 13 you will need to provide proof of vaccination to attend certain social and recreational settings and events and restaurants and other settings are expanding the requirement of vaccines. You should be prepared that providing proof of vaccination may become more common now in BC. For more information on where to get vaccinated, how to register for your card and the restrictions, go HERE.
Class Delivery & Special Accommodations
For students who are registered in an on-campus class, courses will be offered as they were prior to Covid. All students will be expected to attend on campus for each scheduled session. However, if a student has special circumstances related to health, location or extenuating personal situations, there will be a process to apply for accommodations to join those classes virtually.
We want to reassure you that we have been preparing for this moment for a long time and we are very comfortable with the procedures we have put in place, following all the recommendations of our public health professionals. We are not planning to change the capacity or delivery of our sections for next term, so therefore if you are waiting to register, you are encouraged to choose a section that is available.
If you have any questions or concerns about this process, I will be meeting with students on Monday September 13th at 6:00 pm, for a special Chat with The President if you want to discuss further.
As well, I want to remind all of you that we continue to offer a mental health counselling service through Student Services known as Keep.meSAFE and I encourage students to take advantage of this program.
I look forward to seeing you all soon,