Coronavirus update: November 20, 2020 - 3:30 p.m.

November 20, 2020

Yesterday the Provincial Health Officer asked British Columbians to make some changes to our behaviours in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve once again. Many of her recommendations and orders focused on asking people to take greater individual responsibility for their actions such as not socializing in person beyond your household, wearing masks, and avoiding non-essential travel. More information regarding yesterday’s announcement can be found on the Government of B.C. COVID-19 website

I also ask that you remember that when we make decisions regarding UNBC’s response to COVID-19, we do so following the guidance of public health experts such as Dr. Bonnie Henry, as well as that of public health agencies and various provincial government ministries. We are not alone in our decision making; the post-secondary sector in B.C. works closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training to review the new Orders as they relate to the post-secondary sector so that we maintain a consistent approach in our response.

In today’s update:

  • Masks
  • Working remotely
  • Travel


It is good to see a strong stance being taken regarding masks in public places. As announced by the PHO yesterday, masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces. We at UNBC had already placed the expectation that our community wear masks in all public areas on our campuses such as hallways, stairways, elevators and other public spaces. The new order from the PHO now extends that requirement to all shared work areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained. The order specifically references small office spaces, break rooms, kitchens and customer service counters.  If you work in a service or retail area that had a plexi-glass screen installed as part of your exposure control plan but are still located within a larger shared space you should also now be wearing a mask.

The PHO order also applies at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre. More specific information regarding the NSC will be posted on their website.

Masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but to be effective they must be combined with other preventative measures including frequent hand washing and physical distancing. By wearing a non-medical mask, you are helping to protect yourself and those around you, and I thank the community for following this direction.  

Working remotely

Yesterday the PHO asked us to do all we can to remain safe, which includes working remotely when possible. This isn’t a change for us at UNBC, as many of us have worked from home since mid-March. Let’s redouble our efforts – if you don’t need to be on campus, please work from home. Individual supervisors are empowered and encouraged to make decisions that align with their units’ exposure control plans and business requirements, but given the rising case numbers and the new PHO expectations, let’s all do our part to reduce that in-person contact where we can. I also expect that we monitor our exposure control plans and make the required adjustments based on the PHO’s latest orders and recommendations. If you need help with this, you can reach out to

For those of you whose job requires that you be on campus, thank you for your commitment to safety and adhering to mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements. The community appreciates your efforts! 


I’ll close with a quick reinforcement regarding travel. Please do not travel unless it is urgently required. I know we are tempted to take that quick weekend getaway, but now is not the time. Let’s take a few weeks, follow the PHO orders and recommendations, and remain safe as a University community.

If you are planning travel related to work, please contact before finalizing your plans.  

We, as a University community, can help champion good behaviour and be leaders in how we respond to COVID-19. I know it is tiring, and that we all face unique challenges, but the more we pull together, the safer we can all be.

 Next week, I’ll provide some more information about how UNBC will respond to cases in our community, and give you a sneak peek into some of the details and processes that go into what, on the surface, might seem like a simple decision (such as enacting an expectation regarding masks). Until then, I hope you find new ways to enjoy your weekend!

Please remember that if you are looking for the most current information, we regularly update our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website with the latest on our ongoing response. And if you have questions, please continue to send them to

Stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor