Dear members of the UBC community,
I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
Yesterday, the BC Provincial Health Officer announced that the Public Health Order requiring masks to be worn in public indoor spaces is lifted as of today, March 11.
While face coverings are optional for people in all indoor public settings, individual organizations can choose to continue to require mask wearing. As such, UBC will continue to require masks to be worn in public indoor spaces on both campuses, until the end of the Winter Session on April 30. Learn more about the UBC COVID-19 Campus Rules at https://srs.ubc.ca/covid-19/ubc-campus-rules-guidance-documents/.
Although hospitalizations and deaths in Canada are headed downward in the current COVID wave, they are still higher than any previous wave. There is also concern about the omicron variant BA2 that is surging in certain jurisdictions such as New York and the UK. In both places, premature lifting of mask mandates and relaxation of other public health measures has been linked to a four-fold increase in COVID cases compared to the rates prior to the relaxation of such measures. This information, as well as input received from multiple stakeholders across UBC – indicating significant concern in lifting the UBC mask mandate at this time – are the reasons we will maintain the UBC mask requirement until the end of this term.
Students who are attending academic activities in settings outside of the university campuses are still required to wear a mask if mandated in such settings and students in residence are bound by a separate Public Health Order until April 8.
Public health partners continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 and should there be any changes to public health guidance, we are well positioned to re-introduce safety measures, should they be required.
I would like to thank every member of the university community for your commitment. Let’s continue to support one another, and create a safe environment for all of us.
The attacks launched on Ukraine by Russia last month continue to affect many of our university community members and their families and loved ones, especially for those from Ukraine.
I know how difficult and frightening this unfolding tragedy is for those in the UBC community with ties to the region.
Please know that our hearts and thoughts are with you and that we are here to support you through this time.
Canadian banks are currently not allowing money transfers in and out of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We understand that this may pose a financial challenge for some UBC students.
UBC Vancouver students should contact your Enrolment Services Advisor directly. If you do not have an assigned advisor, they are still available to help.
UBC Okanagan students should visit the UBCO emergency funding page for contact information.
Your wellbeing is important to us. Please do not hesitate to reach out to discuss your concerns and to access support from your UBC community if you need it. We are here to support you.
Finally, the entire UBC community is mourning the loss last month of Harmandeep Kaur, a member of the UBC Okanagan Campus Security team. I wish to extend my condolences to her family and friends and to offer our support at this very difficult time.
UBC is committed to fostering a safe, healthy and respectful environment for every member of the university community. We have programs and services in place to minimize risks and help you stay safe.
If you feel unsafe at any time, please contact Campus Security either using one of the blue emergency phones around campus or by calling 604-822-2222 at UBC’s Vancouver campus or 250-807-8111 at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Take care and best wishes.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor