Monday March 8, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
A full return to on-campus education in September 2021 should be prepared for, it was advised to presidents of all public colleges and universities today by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.
The news was released this afternoon by Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.
That’s based on the expected progress of a sped-up BC Immunization rollout, with Canada now having four approved vaccines.
“This year has been incredibly hard, and I’ve heard from many students, faculty and staff who are eager to return to campus when it is safe,” said Minister Kang.
“I’m encouraged by Dr Henry’s advice that a return to in-person instruction can be done safely this fall for all students, staff and faculty,” said Kang in a statement around 4 pm today. “In fact, it’s important to do so for people’s well-being,” she added.
This comes on the heels of Dr Henry’s live COVID media briefing at 3 pm during which she said that the K-12 public education system can also expect to have a normal return to class in September of this year.
All the return to school and campus is based on a province-wide immunization program against COVID-19 that is ramping up now (with the elderly and for indigenous communities), with full vaccination of the entire BC population in four phases, now expected to be completed by mid-summer (previously the plan saw immunization of most campus-age adults in September 2021).
Kang acknowledges that people will be nervous but adds that “safety is our priority”.
As the process gets underway, the Go Forward Guidelines (updated at February 2021) will be followed (a document released last year that enabled the current hybrid model of post-secondary education).
The guidelines will provide high-level guidance to post-secondary institutions for a safe resumption of on-campus learning.
“Institutions will then work with their local medical health officer and WorkSafeBC to develop more detailed safety plans for each institution,” it was stated in today’s release.
Some of the details in the guidelines still include physical distancing, engineering controls (such as plexiglass), administrative controls and use of PPE (such as masks).
Students and families are encouraged by Kang to start planning for in-person instruction on a campus of their choice in September.