Coronavirus update: June 12, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

June 12, 2020

We continue to monitor advice from the Provincial Health Officer, public health agencies and various ministries regarding UNBC’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In today’s update:

  • Return-to-Campus Planning
  • Practicing Mindfulness of Others
  • Standing with our Varsity Athletes

Return-to-Campus Planning

As the weeks roll by, we continue to develop plans for people returning to campus. We are working in concert with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (thank you to those committee members for their diligence!) to develop principles and guidelines around return-to-campus planning, all in adherence to direction from the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafe BC. We will see more employees return in September; as I’ve mentioned previously, however, these employees will work predominantly in service areas in which face-to-face services to students, faculty, infrastructure, etc. is absolutely required.

I expect people to continue working remotely wherever possible. Any employee return to campus will require adherence to our guidelines and an approved safety plan before proceeding. You can email for information.

Practicing Mindfulness of Others

Some of our employees are on our campuses because their work requires them to be here. It’s important to note that while those employees are on our campuses, it is not “business as usual” for them. We must not “drop by their office” to have a chat or to request service. We must adhere to the principles of physical distancing and doing as much work remotely as possible. Some of our employees on campus may be immunocompromised or have people in their circle who are immunocompromised, so let’s not ask them to do things differently than the rest of us just because they are working in their office, cubicle, on the grounds etc.

Standing with our Varsity Athletes

I’ll close with a message of support for our varsity athletes, who faced very disappointing news this week. Canada West, the governing body for our varsity athletics, announced Monday the cancellation of conference competition for multiple sports, including soccer. In addition, the start of the basketball season was moved to January 1 2021 at the earliest, with a decision to be made by Oct. 8.

Understandably, this has created a great sense of unease among our Timberwolves, who are tremendous ambassadors of UNBC across Western Canada and beyond. They are exceptional students and athletes, and are role models to thousands of young people across the communities UNBC is proud to serve. I want them to know, as well as our incredible coaches and support staff, that we are proud of their commitment and will be cheering from the stands even louder than before when they return to play.

If you want a sense of just what type of values these athletes demonstrate, check out the inspiring video of men’s basketball star Tyrell Laing on the Timberwolves Facebook page, in which he relays his experiences with racism as part of the critical conversations taking place regarding Black Lives Matter. Truly inspiring, and a demonstration of the leadership student athletes bring to our communities each day.

Thank you for your continued hard work as UNBC continues to adapt and evolve in the face of this pandemic. Please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website for the latest information and send your questions to

Stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne,
UNBC Interim President and Vice-Chancellor