COVID-19 – Update on return-to-campus planning

Posted on May 12, 2021

A message from Surinder Aulakh, Director, Safety, Security & Risk

On behalf of VCC’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and Recovery Plan Working Group (RPWG), I would like to share an update as we look towards September and returning to campus.

The RPWG, which includes input from all areas of the college including CUPE and FA, has been working on identifying gaps in college resources and developing a Return to Campus Guide for departments and service areas. This guide will support unique area needs when planning for on-campus operations this fall.

On Monday, B.C. post-secondary leaders attended a town hall with Dr. Bonnie Henry, where we had a fulsome conversation around the recently released Provincial COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Primer (PDF).

A key takeaway from the town hall was optimism from the PHO that by September:

  • anyone who wants a vaccination will have one; 
    • All adults in B.C. will have had an opportunity to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before July 1, 2021, while many will have received two doses by the end of August.
  • COVID-19 transmission will be low, and serious infections will be uncommon. 

As we move forward, VCC leadership, EOC, and RPWG will continue to review any PHO updates, alongside the primer, as part of our ongoing work to ensure a safe return to campus for all students and employees.


Some key questions

Given the number of daily COVID-19 cases and worries over the impact of new variants, is VCC still planning for a full return in September? Are we still confident that can happen?

Yes and yes. Our planning is based on the PHO’s indication that those wanting to be vaccinated will have had their shots by July.

That does not take away from the fact we are now in a critical phase of the pandemic and the province remains under strict safety protocols. We anticipate that VCC’s current on-campus safety measures will stay in place at least through May and June. Employees are currently encouraged to work from home where possible and continue to follow the recommendations and restrictions that have been put in place by the PHO.

For planning purposes, however, we’ll continue to look ahead and prepare for the next phase.

What are the main considerations for the planning process?

Safety will always be the overriding consideration. Even as we move into the next phase of the pandemic response, VCC will continue to follow all safety guidelines issued by the PHO, AEST, and WorkSafeBC— as we have from the outset.

We are also committed to providing the best possible learning experience for our students and the best working environment for our employees, consistent with ensuring health and safety. We welcome the prospect of returning the elements of personal engagement, campus life, and collegial exchange we have missed over the past year.


Lastly, please remember that B.C. is still operating under pandemic restrictions and current orders from the Provincial Health Office remain.

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Regards,

Surinder Aulakh
Director, Safety, Security & Risk
Vancouver Community College 

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