What you need to know about COVID-19 at UVic this fall
With the fall semester quickly approaching, students may be wondering what policies and strategies UVic has in place to manage the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
As of July 2022, UVic has not announced an updated COVID-19 plan for the fall 2022 semester, but has rather expressed the intention to continue in the same manner as the winter 2022 semester. This means class lectures delivered primarily face-to-face, with the possibility for an online component.
UVic’s last COVID-19 update, released on March 28, announced that the UVic Board of Governors had voted not to accept the Senate recommendation to continue to mandate mask-wearing indoors until the end of the term.
This update follows the March 11 change to provincial health orders, which announced the end to mandatory mask-wearing indoors, alongside other changes. Following this change to provincial health policy, UVic now only strongly encourages people on campus to wear masks while indoors.
UVic instructors are being encouraged to record lectures as a “supplement [to] face-to-face learning rather than provide the robust online experience required for online courses.”
UVic’s COVID-19 information page states that students are expected to attend classes in person unless they are feeling unwell. Students who feel unwell are encouraged by UVic to stay home and contact their professors as soon as they are able to.
While in-person attendance is expected to be the norm again going into the fall 2022 semester, students who are unable to attend classes due to illness are encouraged by UVic to “check Brightspace or ask your instructor(s) if they have PowerPoints, recordings, or other materials,” as well as to ask fellow students if they might share notes.
There are additional measures in place to help students who are unable to attend exams due to illness. Students who cannot attend their exams are able to request either an academic concession or a deferral.
How does UVic’s fall strategy compare to other universities?
Other major universities in B.C., including the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU), and Vancouver Island University (VIU), have also ended mandatory indoor mask wearing.
SFU and VIU both elected to end the requirement to wear masks indoors on March 11, the same date that mask-wearing indoors became optional according to provincial guidelines. UBC, meanwhile, continued to require masks to be worn indoors until June 30 but has since lifted the requirement.
All of the universities mentioned are encouraging students to continue to wear masks while indoors, as well as to get vaccinated if they have not already, and to practice other measures including self-assessments, handwashing, and staying home when sick.
As part of the provincial COVID-19 immunization plan, BC will be offering fall booster shots to those 12 and older.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) encourages everyone who is eligible to receive a fall booster shot, but especially individuals 65 years and older or those at greater risk of severe illness.
This second wave of booster shots is currently only being offered to people of any age that are immunosuppressed, residents of long-term care facilities, individuals over 70, and Indigenous people over 55. The booster is expected to be available to everyone who wants it by fall 2022, to accommodate the increase in respiratory infections that occurs in the fall and winter months.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available to UVic students both from the Student Wellness Center and from local pharmacies and vaccination clinics.