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Post-secondary students can get this right, if they choose

“I expect better from all of our students in the post-secondary system." ~ Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education., Skills & Training

Wednesday September 16, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC

Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Most students on university and college campuses in BC are following the physical distancing rules as in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But yesterday it was necessary for the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark, to issue a statement on the excessive number of students gathering publicly at the University of Victoria (UVic) when not in educational activities.

It’s understandable that youth feel they are invincible. That’s always been the way in humanity. But a pandemic is a serious thing, kind of like a state of war, with the enemy unseen other than by its harmful and deadly results.

The breach on campus:

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education Skills and Training
Melanie Mark — BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training — at Royal Roads University, June 26, 2018 [West Shore Voice News file photo]

“Last week, half a million students returned to post-secondary education in B.C. through both in-person and online instruction,” said Minister Mark. “This was made possible by the herculean efforts of staff, faculty, administrators, parents and students themselves, whose sole focus has been on mitigating COVID-19 health risks.”

She went on to say that Provincial Health Offer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been very clear about the need for individuals, organizations, communities and our province to work together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and follow orders and guidelines around social gatherings.

“To learn that some students are blatantly ignoring the advice and orders of Dr. Henry and gathering in large numbers is unacceptable, completely irresponsible and could lead to enforcement measures,” said Mark.

Expecting better:

“I expect better from all of our students in the post-secondary system,” said the Minister of Advanced Education. “I hope that this behaviour is not replicated going forward at UVic or any other post-secondary institution in the province. It undermines the efforts of so many other students and staff who are working to keep campuses open and safe.”

“I understand that returning to campus this fall is an exciting time after months of physically distancing and limiting our social activities, but no one wants to contract or unintentionally spread COVID-19 to our friends and family.”

Dr Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer
BC Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry during a press conference August 27, 2020 in Victoria.

“I appreciate that most students are following Dr. Henry’s direction and that staff are working hard to provide safe campuses and learning environments.”

“We are all in this together, and we all need to do our part to hold the line against COVID-19.”

Local journalism:

As reported on September 12 by the UVic campus newspaper, The Martlet:

UVic Director of Residence Services Kathryn Macleod says students received clear and consistent messaging about public health guidelines throughout the residence move-in process.

“We realize this is a time of year when students are trying to make new friends, and that is absolutely an important part of student life,” Macleod said. “We are disappointed that some students are gathering in inappropriate numbers.”

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