Coronavirus update: May 11, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

May 11, 2020

Since the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our University community has responded remarkably to an unprecedented scenario, which has meant accepting our new reality and embracing change.

Last week, Premier John Horgan provided an outline of how British Columbia is going to take a phased and methodical approach to the province’s recovery and to begin relaxing some of the restrictions put in place for our collective safety. One essential sector that needs to adjust, rebound, and move forward is the post-secondary sector, which is included in the first phase of the province’s approach. 

Over the past several weeks, we have worked on plans for what the Fall semester may look like for new and returning students at UNBC, faculty, and staff. I can share with you some of the principles guiding us in our decision making and some initial steps we’re taking here at UNBC:

  • The health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff are of paramount importance, and we will adhere to the Provincial Health Officer’s (PHO) guidance.
  • We are committed to delivering an exceptional post-secondary experience for our students, regardless of the learning delivery model.
  • We will take a phased approach to delivering in-person learning and on-campus services based on the PHO’s guidance, our risk assessment processes, and evidence-informed actions.
  • We will communicate decisions as soon as feasible for students, faculty and staff to provide as much certainty as possible. 

So what does this mean for the Fall semester at UNBC? UNBC students will participate in classes predominantly via alternative modes of delivery. We have provided some guidelines to our faculty around that plan.

We will release the Fall and Winter schedules for viewing on May 19 with timetable and instructor information; on June 1, we will open registration for the Fall semester with an updated schedule that will indicate the location and delivery modes for all Fall courses. We will schedule times for the Winter semester, but make decisions about delivery modes at a later date. The schedules may, given the current situation, change.

Part of our plan will also include how our employees move forward. Returning to work from remote operations will be phased, methodical, and, above all, safe. We’ll share details on that aspect in the coming weeks.

While we understand information delays are difficult, please know that all of these decisions are being made thoughtfully and as quickly as possible, with student, faculty and staff safety at top of mind.

Ultimately, I pledge to continue supporting students, faculty and staff to successfully study and work on our campuses and remotely as appropriate. We’ll do this best by addressing challenges in a collaborative spirit. While this is a complex matter that encompasses issues such as mental wellness, learner success, personal safety and accountability, I am confident that our community is up to the challenge.

Please send your questions to so we can identify themes, learn together, and develop timely responses. In the coming days and weeks, we will likely be able to provide more detailed updates regarding research programs, student services and more.

As always, please continue to visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website for the latest information and updates. 

Above all, be kind, stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne
UNBC Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

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