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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and First College Updates​

January 7, 2022

Dear all,

Good morning. I hope this email finds you well.

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

Learning and Business Continuity for Post-secondary Institutions

Public health in BC continues to strongly recommend the continuation of on-campus instruction for post-secondary institutions (PSIs) starting January 10, 2022 as outlined in the Provincial Health Officer’s recommendations. 

  • Evidence to date indicates that BC’s PSIs are low-risk settings for the transmission of COVID-19 due to:
  • High vaccination rates;
  • Sector wide health and safety protocols; and,
  • High compliance with Provincial Health Officer orders, including the requirement for masks in all post-secondary classrooms and workplaces.
  • In-person learning is critical to alleviating the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on young adults in British Columbia as documented by the BCCDC COVID-19 Young Adult Task Force, including significantly worsening mental health.
  • As part of a long term, sustainable approach to managing COVID-19, PSIs need contingency plans in place to support learning continuity for students as well as operational continuity during short-term business disruptions resulting from students, faculty or staff becoming ill due to COVID-19, as per direction from BC’s Provincial Health Officer.  Institutions should reference the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines and the COVID-19 resources noted below to review and update their existing business continuity plans. 

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

 

First College Management

October 26, 2021

Dear all,

Good morning. I hope this email finds you well.

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for October 25, 2021:

 

COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines Update:

  • An updated version of the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines (“the RTC Guidelines”) was released today to reflect evolving public health guidance.

The October 25, 2021 version includes:

1. Updated BCCDC Return to Campus Public Health Guidance including:

  • CCDC modelling that the benefit of routine asymptomatic testing diminishes as immunization rates increase; and,
  •  Revised contact tracing and notification protocols.

2. Updated program specific vaccination status considerations for individuals in health care locations for training or research purposes.

 

The RTC Guidelines will continue to be updated periodically, as necessary, to align with evolving guidance.

 

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

 

First College Management

October 6, 2021

Dear all,

Good morning. I hope this email finds you well.

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for October 5, 2021:

 

Proof of Vaccination for B.C. Public Service Employees:

The B.C. government is making it mandatory for B.C. public service employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 22, 2021.

  • Proof of vaccination using the BC Vaccine Card will be required.
  • Questions and answers on the new proof of vaccination policy are available online.

COVID-19 vaccination policies at post-secondary institutions:

  • A mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is an option available to post-secondary employers for their employees.
  • If an institution choses to introduce a vaccine mandate for their employees, they must undertake their own due diligence and consult with public health.
  • BC’s post-secondary institutions have infection prevention measures in place to reduce the risk of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.
  • Protecting the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors remains the top priority.

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

 

First College Management

 

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,

Carol.Zhou 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,

Carol.Zhou 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.

Carol.Zhou College Director

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