I’m writing to update the community on UBC’s response to the quickly evolving situation with COVID-19.
UBC is a community and it’s important for our community to know that our number one priority is to ensure our students, faculty and staff are supported and safe, whether in British Columbia or abroad. For updated information on the university’s response to COVID-19, I highly encourage anyone with questions to see the FAQs at ubc.ca.
I know this is a worrying time for students, faculty and staff. I want to reassure you the university is working as hard as possible to ensure the health and safety of our community members. We are in close contact with BC’s public health agencies daily.
Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are leading the coordinated response to COVID-19. UBC is taking direction from the Province as we plan and consider next steps.
Our health care partners have requested UBC to continue operations as normal at this time.
We are not aware of any presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty or staff, but it’s important that we take steps to prepare ourselves.
That’s why beginning in early January, the university convened a group of stakeholders from across our campuses to monitor COVID-19 and to discuss and plan for the potential operational and academic impacts of the outbreak on our campuses in Vancouver, Kelowna, and Robson Square, as well as on our students, staff and faculty overseas.
Right now, that group is working to make sure the learning tools and support for faculty are in place in order to be able to deliver courses online if need be. The group is also exploring the potential for alternate arrangements for end of course exams, should the need arise. The working group will communicate broadly with our students, faculty and staff should operations change at the university, as it has done through many channels for the past weeks.
Decisions around classes, exams, and limiting access to campus will be made in consultation with our health care partners.
We will of course continue to closely monitor the situation and communicate immediately should the situation and health agencies’ advice change.
On our B.C. campuses and in residences, staff have put up posters and stickers advising of recommended hygiene practices and the same information is being communicated through digital signage. An important preventive message is for people to stay home when ill. We have also reached out to our students, faculty and staff through internal channels whenever we can with the latest information.
In closing, I ask that we as a community extend our thanks and support to the many health care professionals across B.C., Canada and around the world who are working so hard to combat COVID-19, and assist those who have fallen ill.
I’d also like to extend my personal gratitude to our students, faculty and staff who are supporting one another at this challenging time.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor