Bringing vibrancy back to our campuses

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In just a few weeks we will be welcoming the start of Winter Session. Whether you are transitioning back to campus, or you remained on campus, I would like to thank you for your support over the last year.

On July 1, the provincial government shifted to Step 3 of BC’s Restart plan ( Moving to Step 3 signaled the end of the longest provincial state of emergency in BC’s history. BC’s public health emergency remains in effect to support amended public health orders from the provincial health officer, with reduced requirements:

  • Non-medical masks are now recommended but not mandatory for indoor public spaces.
  • Indoor social gatherings are allowed for up to 50 people or 50% of capacity, outdoor social gatherings are allowed for up to 5,000 people or 50% capacity.
  • Indoor fitness classes, gyms and recreation facilities are allowed to have normal capacity.
  • If the situation continues to improve, we could move to Step 4 by September 7.

On July 5, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training published newCOVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines for all BC post-secondary institutions, ( The guide was developed by a team of experts from BC’s post-secondary sector, representatives from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the executive lead for BC’s vaccination program, in partnership with Indigenous leaders, student leaders, senior university administrators and others.

According to the guide, experience over the last year has shown that educational activities supporting teaching, learning, research, and student development are low-risk sites for COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, the Provincial Health Officer has indicated that there are no limits on the number of participants for in-class educational activities, and fall classes can be scheduled without physical distancing requirements.

The guide also provides direction for UBC’s streamlined safety planning process. Institutions are not required to manage the flow of pedestrian traffic within buildings or confined areas, or post occupancy limits for spaces, such as elevators or washrooms. UBC continues to monitor provincial health direction and advice from regional health authorities and sector-specific regulators to ensure we comply with the latest orders, notices and guidance. You can learn more about UBC’s safety planning process and access resources at:

You can also learn about UBC’s building ventilation and safety measures at:

The COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines state that post-secondary institutions should not introduce COVID-19 prevention measures into their work and learning areas that are different from those supported by public health professionals. The last year and a half have shown us how important it is to follow guidance from our province’s public health professionals, and this is even more crucial as we transition to the next stage of returning to campus.

The guide also indicates that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for post-secondary students, faculty or staff, nor will students, faculty and staff be asked to disclose their vaccination status. Vaccinations are being managed by the regional health authorities and they are accelerating availability of vaccination appointments for both first and second doses.

BC Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and BC’s health authorities have determined that with the expected number of partially and fully vaccinated individuals, the health risk is low for the return to campus this fall. Current vaccination rates in the province show 80% of all adults have received their first dose, more are registered, and second doses are progressing well. Students travelling from abroad, and who haven’t been vaccinated upon arrival, also have rapid access to the BC immunization program.

We appreciate that many of you may be reflecting on your experiences over the last number of months, and some of you may feel anxious about the next stage of transition. UBC has worked, and continues to work diligently to ensure that the concerns of our community are heard and addressed in as timely a manner as possible. The health and safety of the UBC community is first and foremost in all planning processes, which are informed by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, the relevant health authorities, and in accordance with BC’s Restart plan and COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines.

I hope you also feel optimistic about returning to our campuses, bringing back the energy and vibrancy that is a key part of the UBC experience. As we continue this transition, it is important to remember some key elements for our success:

Get vaccinated

It is vital that all UBC faculty and staff participate in the provincial COVID-19 vaccination program. Vaccines save lives. They protect those around us. And, they are safe. Now is the time to support each other and raise the rate of vaccination. You can find out more at

UBC’s Campus Rules

To ensure we all remain as safe as possible, everyone is required to follow the COVID-19 Campus Rules. You can learn more at

COVID-19 mandatory online training

UBC has launched a new campus-specific COVID-19 training course. Whether you have previously completed safety training because you’ve been on campus, or are planning your return, please ensure you complete this online training. You can find training for both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan at

Being aware of our mental health, and the health of our friends and colleagues

The last year has significantly impacted many of us, as well as our loved ones. I strongly encourage you to take the time to access resources available to support your mental health and wellbeing:

Ongoing updates

Useful updates and FAQs continue to be posted to and I encourage you to visit these sites regularly.

Finally, I would like to offer an expression of gratitude to all of you for your contribution to UBC over the last year. Whether you were delivering our courses, conducting research, maintaining essential services, supporting our IT capabilities, taking care of our prospective and registered students, supporting faculty or staff, or any one of countless other roles – UBC could not have navigated this pandemic without you. Thank you.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor

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

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