Dear members of the UBC community.
I would like to acknowledge that I am speaking to you from the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
I have heard from many members of the UBC community asking for the university to introduce mandatory non-medical masks and vaccines for those returning to campus in September.
I want to assure you that we understand your concerns and, supported by the Board of Governors, we are engaging with the provincial government on these issues.
I have shared with the provincial government that I am supportive of mandatory indoor masking and vaccination. First, I believe that instituting both will be critical to allow us to start the term with the confidence of our community. Second, just as the Provincial Health Officer has mandated vaccination for all working in long term care facilities, I think we should do the same, at least in high-density residences and high contact circumstances such as Varsity athletics and theatre/music, in light of the surge in cases driven by the delta variant of SARS-CoV2.
We are taking every step possible to ensure the health and safety of every member of our community.
For example, I am pleased to tell you that we will have both rapid testing clinics and vaccination clinics at both campuses. We will be sharing details on these clinics shortly.
If you are not already fully vaccinated, you will find it easy both to register and to receive your vaccination. If you are already fully vaccinated, thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and those around you. You can find out more about vaccinations at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.
We are also working on ensuring that your commute to campus is as safe and smooth as possible. Whether you bike, walk, take transit or drive, you can find resources to help you plan your trip at planning.ubc.ca/transportation for the Vancouver campus and transportation.ok.ubc.ca for the Okanagan campus.
I know that some of you are concerned about ventilation of classrooms, labs and other indoor spaces. I can assure you that we are doubling our efforts to ensure university spaces meet or exceed guidelines set out by WorkSafeBC, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. You can find out more at UBC’s HVAC teams are making sure we can breathe easy.
I will have more to say about our preparations for the return to campus in the next few weeks.
Before I close, I would like to give a special message to members of the UBC Okanagan community. I know that your circumstances are especially difficult right now. Thank you for your perseverance and for opening your hearts to those around you who are affected by the wildfires. You are my unsung heroes for this week.
Best wishes and stay safe.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor