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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and First College Updates​

August 31, 2021

Dear all,

Good afternoon. I hope this email finds you well.

There are a couple of updates regarding the COVID-19 safety plan.

Mandatory Masks

The Provincial Health Officer has issued new province-wide mandatory mask requirements for all indoor public areas effective August 25, 2021, including shopping centres, coffee shops, retail and grocery stores, pubs, and public transportation.

To support the full return to in-person education, research and on-campus services for B.C.’s post-secondary institutions, the new mask order will apply to all indoor public areas on post-secondary campuses, including classrooms, labs, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and elevators.

Please note, our current mask policy under the First College COVID-19 Safety Plan is still applied to the current situation.

Proof of Vaccination

Starting September 13, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required in B.C. to access a broad range of social, recreational, and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province, including indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres and gyms, indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor theatre events, and indoor organized events like conferences and weddings.

According to the guidance from the Education Quality Assurance - Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, post-secondary institutions are able to implement their own proof of vaccination requirements as a part of their communicable disease prevention plans.

As a result, First College is planning to update the COVID-19 Safety Plan to include the Proof of Vaccination in the month of September 2021; we are going to collect your vaccination record within the next two weeks. In the meantime, we highly recommend you get your vaccinations. This applies to all staff, faculty members and students at Firs College.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. We are in this together and will get through this together!

Sincerely,

Timothy Yang, College Director

July 29, 2021

Province Introduces Regional Restrictions for Central Okanagan Communities

Dear First College Office Staff, Faculty Members and Current/prospective Students,

The province took the unprecedented step of imposing new and tighter restrictions for central Okanagan communities (only) on Wednesday, July 29, 2021. If you live in Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation Territory, and Peachland - these new orders apply to you.

THE NEW RESTRICTIONS AND MANDATES:

Interior Health (IH) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the central Okanagan and announced measures to contain the outbreak:

  • Effective last night (midnight), IH is placing a regional mandatory mask order for all public indoor spaces in the central Okanagan communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Kelowna and Lake Country. The order applies to individuals older than 12 years of age.
  • People from outside the central Okanagan are discouraged from non-essential travel to the area for the duration of the outbreak unless they are fully vaccinated (7 days after their second dose).
  • When businesses (Including our College) in the central Okanagan experience three or more COVID-19 cases, IH medical health officers will now have the option (and authority) to follow up and issue a closure order.
  • Gatherings have a limit of 50 people or 50 percent of the total capacity.
  • Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs must have COVID-19 safety plans in place. Liquor service can remain at normal hours but people should not be socializing between tables.
  • Nightclubs can remain open, with up to 10 people at a table and seating.
  • IH is also reducing the second-dose interval to four weeks, to get people vaccinated quicker and they are also expanding asymptomatic testing availability.
  • This order will remain in place for 14 days or until the outbreak lessens or vaccination rates increase.

As a reminder, Step 3 includes a return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings; however, in the central Okanagan people should be more cautious:

  • Organize events outdoors rather than indoors, if possible.
  • Maintain physical distancing, hand cleaning, and stay home if you are sick.
  • Continue to set a maximum capacity for indoor organized gatherings at 50 people or up to 50 percent of a venue’s total capacity.
  • Events scheduled during this outbreak in the central Okanagan should have a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

Interior Health also advises that they are taking steps to make access to COVID 19 vaccines easier including adding pop-up and mobile clinics in downtown Kelowna and throughout the central Okanagan.

In the meantime, please keep following the First College COVID-19 Safety Plan.

This is a minor setback on our restart plan but with continued resilience, respect, and determination - we will successfully navigate this most recent challenge.

We are in this together and will get through this together.

Warm regards,

Timothy Yang, College Director

June 22, 2021

Organized gatherings

  • Indoor seated organized gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Outdoor organized gatherings up to 50 people are allowed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Sports and exercise

  • Indoor high and low intensity group exercise is allowed with reduced capacity.
  • Indoor and outdoor games and practices for both adults and youth group/team sports are allowed.
  • Spectators at any indoor sport activities are not allowed. Outdoor spectators of up to 50 people are allowed.
  • For high performance athletes there is no limit on the number of persons who may participate in a sports event.

April 26, 2021

Good afternoon,

I hope this email finds well. Please note the following COVID-19 update for April 26, 2021:

PHO Workplace and Post-Secondary Institution Safety Order updated as of April 21, 2021.

Changes were made to the PHO Workplace and Post-secondary Institution Safety Order to respond to an increase in community transmission and COVID-19 cases, and to support the WorkSafeBC requirement for COVID-19 Safety Plans to ensure consistent mask wearing in indoor common areas. This order does not have an expiration date.

Changes include:

- A student must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in an indoor common area or a classroom in a post-secondary institution (On Campus), subject to the exceptions noted in section 9.

- Employers must require workers (Staff and Faculty Members) to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in indoor common areas.

- Visitors to indoor common areas continue to be covered by the face covering requirements in the Emergency Program Act Ministerial Order No. M012.

 Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

First College Director Timothy Yang

March 30, 2021

Dear all,

Yesterday, the BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) introduced new Province-Wide Restrictions to address rising COVID-19 case counts. These restrictions are in effect until midnight April 19, 2021. Below is a summary:

Athletic Activities

  • All indoor adult group fitness activities are cancelled until April 19 at midnight.
  • Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed.

Religious Gatherings and Worship Services

  • The variance allowing indoor religious gatherings and worship services between March 28 and May 13 is suspended.
  • Outdoor worship services under the current variance may continue.

Restaurants, Pubs, Bars and Food Courts

  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and food courts are closed for indoor dining until April 19 at midnight.
  • Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery is allowed with continued use of COVID-19 layers of protection and physical distancing.

NOTE:  Dining facilities for student housing and cafeterias serving students, faculty and staff at educational institutions are exempt from the closure order.

Social Gatherings Restrictions

No indoor social gatherings of any size at private residences is permitted other than between those who reside in the household.

  • A person who lives alone may have up to two other people visit if they are people with whom the person regularly interacts.
  • Up to 10 people can gather outdoors with continued use of COVID-19 layers of protection such as maintaining physical distancing and mask wearing.

In addition, the PHO strongly recommends:

  • Avoiding all non-essential travel. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

Warm Regards,

First College Management

January 7, 2021

Greetings,

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for January 7, 2021:

Extension of province-wide restrictions

On January 7, 2021 BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered an extension to existing province-wide restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Specifically, the sections of the gatherings and events order concerning visitors in private residences and allowable/prohibited events (sections A, B and C) that were to expire on January 8th have been extended to February 5, 2021 at midnight.

All events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions.

All non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

PHO updates re: varsity sport and retail occupancy limits

Varsity sport

On December 24, 2020 BC’s Public Health Officer (PHO) amended the Gatherings and Events Order to expand and clarify restrictions on sports and fitness activities. These changes include permitting varsity sports subject to conditions, such as allowing participants to train or practice only with their home institution, ensuring participants maintain three-metre physical distancing, and prohibiting spectators.

For the sake of clarity, “varsity sport” includes only formally recognized sports rather than intramural or other informal fitness activities. It is defined as follows:

“Varsity sport” means a sport for which the eligibility requirements for participation are established by a national association for the regulation of intercollegiate athletics, or which is designated as a varsity sport program by a post-secondary institution, and includes fitness training, sport training, practice and competition.

Retail occupancy limits

Previous guidance on retail occupancy limits has been incorporated into the Gatherings and Events Order to emphasize the need for stores and malls to prevent overcrowding and congestion. This includes requiring operators to calculate maximum occupancy based on five square metres/person in publicly-accessible areas.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

Warm Regards,

First College Management

December 8, 2020

Dear all,

Yesterday the Provincial Health Officer extended province-wide restrictions as noted below:

Extension of PHO province-wide restrictions

On December 7, 2020 BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered an extension to existing province-wide restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

The PHO Gatherings and Events Order, which has been in effect since November 19, 2020, has been extended to January 8, 2021 at midnight.

All events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions.

All non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

Warm Regards,

First College Management

November 20, 2020

Dear all,

Yesterday BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered new province-wide restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Some of these restrictions previously applied to the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Regions only. As of November 19, 2020 they apply to the entire province. Below is a summary. 

Masks are required in all indoor public settings and workplaces

This applies to common areas where people circulate freely, such as hallways, stairwells, elevators, etc. but not to restricted areas such as enclosed office spaces where physical distancing can be maintained.

The mask requirement does not apply to people unable to wear a mask or put on or remove a mask on their own. 

Social gatherings

No social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your household or core bubble.  This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces.

A person who lives alone may have up to two other people visit if they are people with whom the person regularly interacts.

Events

All events and gatherings as defined in the PHO Gatherings and Events Order are suspended until further notice.

NOTE: this does not apply to educational activities offered by post-secondary institutions to deliver and/or support student learning and development.

  • Please see page 15 of the 

COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for BC’s Post-Secondary Sector for more information on educational activities.

Events such as convocation ceremonies are not considered educational activities.

Athletic Activities

Please review the Athletic Activities section of the new province-wide restrictions.

The following high risk indoor group physical activities must be suspended:

Spin classes

Hot yoga

High intensity interval training

Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed. 

Games, competitions and practices can continue with no spectators and no travel. 

Travel

All non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province. 

Essential travel within BC includes:

Regular travel for work within your region

Travel for medical appointments and hospital visits

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

Warm Regards,

First College Management

June 29, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE: First College is open September 2020 to both new and continuing students. Applications are being accepted from new students currently in Canada.

May 7, 2020

Dear all,

Good morning. I hope everything is going well with you and your family. In order to provide timely COVID-19 information updates to students and institution partners, StudentAid BC has created a COVID-19 Response Information web page. Currently, the following topics are covered:

Emergency benefits

Additional student financial supports for 2020-21

Repayment supports

Temporary service delivery changes

Interruption of Study

Program eligibility for student financial assistance

Thank you for doing your part to fight the spread of the Coronavirus by staying home and practicing physical distancing.

I wish you all the best as you complete your projects, papers, and exams online. Take care of yourself. I want to remind you of the supports available to you—ask for help if you need it.

We are in this together and will get through this together.

Warm Regards,

Director of First College

May 7, 2020

April 14, 2020

Provincial Government news release with some important information and tips to ensure British Columbians can enjoy the long weekend, while following the public safety guidelines set by the provincial health officer to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.

COVID-19 Resources:

Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

  • If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local 

March 18, 2020

There are three COVID-19 updates:

Federal Travel Restrictions

The federal government announced several travel restrictions in response to COVID-19 including limitations on:

International flights;

Entry of passengers to Canada, including those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents; and,

Entry of passengers with COVID-19 symptoms.

Further details are available on federal government websites:

New Transport Canada measures for COVID-19 response; and,

Special Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID‑19 

2. Essential Service Worker

Attached is new guidance from Dr. Bonnie Henry on essential service workers.

3. COVID-19 Symptom Self-assessment Tool

The BC Ministry of Health developed a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool to help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.

Attached is new guidance from Dr. Bonnie Henry on essential service workers.

March 17, 2020

Transition to online classes at First College

Dear students, staff and faculty members,

As you know, governments and institutions around the world are grappling with the spread and impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation continues to evolve and it has become an unprecedented scenario for the College.

Today I am announcing that most of programs are in a transition to online classes effective Monday, March 24, 2020 until May 29, 2020. Students will receive an email from your faculty this week regarding the details.

To be clear, NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty or staff. However, we understand the need to be prepared as a College and act accordingly – aligned with guidance from the Provincial Health Officer and working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

On behalf of First College board of Directors, to all of the students, faculty and staff that make up First College’s community, I want to say I am inspired by the level of support and assistance you are providing one another during this immensely challenging time.

Best Regards,

Timothy Yang

Director of First College

March 17, 2020

March 15, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty members,

At this point there is no direction from the Provincial Health Officer to close campuses. Interior Health is reiterating that the risk of infection remains low, given student demographics and the relatively small size of our classes.

Our campuses will remain open and services will continue to be provided, reviewed as necessary while this situation continues to evolve.

You can also play a part in helping to prevent the spread of colds, flu and viruses on our campuses. The advice from health agencies is:

Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.

If a sink is not available, 60-90% alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, you can use an alcohol-based disposable hand wipe to remove the dirt and then use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Do not touch your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands.

When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow, and then wash your hands.

Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the illness to others.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick with an infection.

My thanks to all who are focused on helping students complete their studies this semester. Over my many years working at First College I have always been impressed by the way employees and students have worked together to overcome challenges. I expect this situation to be no different.

Sincerely,

Timothy Yang

Director of First College

March 15, 2020

March 13, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty members,

Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with the virus as “low for Canada”.

Within British Columbia, Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are leading the coordinated response to COVID-19. First College continues to take direction from the BC Provincial Government and Ministry of Advanced Education as we plan and consider next steps.

As of March 12, 2020, The Office of the Provincial Medical Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control and Ministry of Health has advised the following:

Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have travelled outside Canada (including the United States) after March 13 should stay home or self-isolate in their residence*/room alone for 14 days, immediately on their return. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).

Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have been laboratory tested for COVID-19 should stay home or self-isolate in their residence*/room alone, until their test results are known.

Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by laboratory testing should stay home or self-isolate in their residence*/room alone for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).

This does not apply to travellers who have returned to Canada up to or before March 13. (Previous mandated self-isolation requirements for travellers returning from Hubei Province, China, Iran, and Italy remain in effect.)

Those who develop symptoms during the 14-day monitoring period should immediately self-isolate (stay in a room that is not shared with anyone else) and call their healthcare provider or the provincial health line at 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

A new toll-free phone line has also been established for Canadians (1-833-784-4397) to answer general questions about COVID-19.

The Office of the Provincial Medical Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control and Ministry of Health has also recommended the immediate cancellation or postponement until further notice of all events with more than 250 people in attendance.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Timothy Yang

Director of First College

March 13, 2020

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