Update on UBC’s Campus Return Plan

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Last month I wrote to you confirming that we are planning for a return to on-campus activity for Winter Session, Term 1, with the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and public health teams in the health authorities. As we prepare for this increase in on-campus activity, I am writing to provide you with further updates outlined below.

Importantly, I would first like to recognize all our students, faculty and staff for your resilience and sense of purpose in responding to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented over this past year. We are watching the course of the pandemic carefully, with the recent rise in cases and new variants of the virus. We are also seeing accelerated progress on the immunization campaign, and are working closely with public health officials at the provincial and regional levels on our plans in this rapidly changing environment.

While it is critical that we continue to be vigilant and adhere to public health measures, we have reason to be optimistic as the vaccine reaches more people. We look forward to a September return to campus and continuing UBC’s excellence in teaching, learning and research.

Course delivery and student housing

Faculties are currently planning the fall course schedule, with as much on-campus instruction for our students as possible, subject to ongoing public health guidance. Certain courses, or elements of courses, will continue online. Details on the mode of delivery will be confirmed by Faculties before the course schedule is finalized in mid-May. In collaboration with other post-secondary institutions across BC and Canada, we are working to address issues related to study permits and quarantine procedures for those students coming from abroad.

UBC Student Housing will accommodate upper-year and graduate students in our Winter Session (September to April) residences on both campuses and year-round residences in Vancouver. UBC Student Housing also plans to provide Winter Session accommodation for eligible first-year residents in all first-year residence communities beginning this fall.

Upper-year students who have applied for Winter Session and/or year-round residence should continue to monitor their waitlist numbers as we will continue to send offers, based on availability. First-year students who are eligible for the First Year Guarantee will receive an update regarding their housing application in mid-June.

We recognize that many undergraduate students will be entering their second year, but will be part of the campus community for the first time. We have given significant consideration to this unique situation and, while we do not have the capacity to provide student housing this fall for all second-year students, we have taken steps to increase their likelihood of being offered housing.

Orientation and extracurricular activities

Orientation programs will be available for new-to-UBC students for Winter Session, Term 1, as well as other extracurricular activities. The nature of the activity and whether it will be in-person or virtual (or a combination of the two) will be confirmed as we work with public health to ensure the safety of these activities.


A series of virtual town halls have been scheduled to hear from faculty in Vancouver and the Okanagan about the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on their research and scholarly activities. Organized by the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, these town halls will run from April 27 to May 10. For more information and to register, visit https://research.ubc.ca/research-and-scholarship-town-halls.

Remote working

This past year has required many organizations, including UBC, to pivot to working remotely for most employees. Many faculty and staff who could not perform their work remotely, served with dedication throughout the pandemic to follow through on their responsibilities on campus. Now as we plan to return to on-campus activity, we have an opportunity to reflect and innovate as we consider future work practices and requirements.

With this in mind, the university recently sought feedback from faculty and staff, via a survey on the impact of remote work and how we might approach this over the longer term. As we plan for an increase in on-campus activities, we are concurrently developing a remote work approach suitable for some employees, with a targeted announcement date of mid-June. You can read more details athttps://ubctoday.ubc.ca/news/april-04-2021/ubcs-approach-working-remotely.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

It is vital that members of our community support the provincial vaccine program and I urge you to register for vaccination as soon as you are eligible. Vaccines are the best way to protect against COVID-19. They do more than protect you, they also protect everyone around you. I recently received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, in accordance with my age and eligibility. The more people in a community who are immunized against COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread. As we look globally, jurisdictions where a large portion of the population is vaccinated are experiencing a much lower burden of infection than just a few months ago. You can learn more at https://immunizebc.ca/.

Keeping our community safe

Dr. Bonnie Henry has been clear that UBC and other post-secondary institutions should be confident that a return to on-campus instruction and increased levels of on-campus research activity can be undertaken safely and successfully. With more in-person activity, we should expect to continue to support our community by maintaining some of the public health and social measures that we have become familiar with and responsible for over this past year.

We also know that in the unexpected event that public health guidance changes in September, we have the ability to pivot, reflecting our commitment to the health and safety of our UBC community. We will be streamlining the COVID-19 Safety Plan process, informed by new COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.’s Post-Secondary Sector, which will be provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. More information about the safety planning process will be provided as it becomes available.

Useful FAQs

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have posted useful FAQs and resources athttps://covid19.ubc.ca/ and https://ok.ubc.ca/covid19/. We now have additional FAQs to help inform and support our UBC community, with regard to the Campus Return Plan. Further updates and FAQs will be posted in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you again to all our community members. COVID-19 has required us to be agile in our response as the situation continually evolves; however, we remain committed to returning to the vibrancy of our campus activities in the fall.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor

This message was sent to faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

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