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OPINION – BC Federation of Students Support Increased Safety Measures for Returning to Campus

New Westminster – With the fall 2021 semester starting in two weeks, post-secondary students across British Columbia are heartened by today’s announcement of added measures for a safe return to campus, based on the increase of the COVID-19 Delta variant across BC.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer and the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Anne Kang, announced two new safety measures for on-campus learning. Masks will be mandatory on campus and many aspects of campus life will require proof of vaccination.

“Today’s added measures will help students return to in-person instruction,” said Melissa Chirino, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students. “We are confident that, with vigilance and by working together, we can all do our part to keep our campuses and communities safe.”

Students returning to campus in September will be required to wear masks in all indoor common spaces, including classrooms and lecture halls. In addition, those who live in on-campus housing and those wanting to access non-essential services and activities on campus will require proof of vaccination. Institutions may choose to implement further requirements so long as they work alongside public health to do so.

The BCFS strongly encourages everyone who is able to get their COVID-19 vaccine, so the campus community can all be able to safely return to campus. However, on top of mask and specific vaccine mandates, there are many policies and procedures that post-secondary institutions can put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19: allowing students to take sick days without the requirement of a doctor’s note and without penalization, providing hygiene and cleaning supplies to campus users to ensure spaces are safe for everyone before use, and holding vaccination drives on campus.

“Students are eager to return to the classrooms so long as it is safe to do so,” said Chirino, “I and the BC Federation of Students are hopeful that if we stay the course and follow public health recommendations, we can do just that.”

The BC Federation of Students represents over 170,000 students at 15 universities, colleges, and institutes in every region of BC. Together, these students advocate for a well-funded system of post-secondary education in BC that is affordable and accessible for all students.

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