B.C.’s three largest post-secondary institutions are moving to online classes for the remainder of the term to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The University of British Columbia (UBC), University of Victoria (UVic) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) announced the move will take effect Monday, March 16. UBC says it is still working on plans for classes that can’t be moved online.
The move at UBC applies to the Vancouver, Okanagan and Robson Square campuses. Information on exams will be shared next week, UBC said.
“We understand this shift in delivery will have a significant impact on our community and you have many questions,” said UBC president Santa J. Ono in a statement.
“I would ask for your patience as we seek to answer those questions.”
UBC says it is not aware of any cases of COVID-19 on campus.
SFU said instructors and students will get more information on the transition in the coming days, and added that campuses will remain open.
On Vancouver Island, the University of Victoria says it will transition from face-to-face instruction to “alternative modes” of instruction.
BCIT has announced it will cancel classes on March 16 and 17, with online instruction due to begin on March 18. Trinity Western University and Capilano University have announced the same dates for their transitions to online or remote classes.
Emily Carr University of Art and Design will also shift online starting March 16 for the remainder of the term, and is cancelling its convocation ceremonies and graduation exhibition.
Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops will suspend classes for the week starting March 16, with courses shifting to “alternate formats” on March 23. The University of the Fraser Valley announced the same plan.
The Native Education College made the transition to online classes Friday, which is set to last until March 27.
The moves come after the B.C. government on Thursday directed the cancellation of any gatherings larger than 250 people in an effort to “flatten the curve” of new coronavirus infections.
Globalnews.ca coverage of the coronavirus in B.C.
Meanwhile, Quest University in Squamish said it is shutting down and sending students home.
The institution has closed the campus to the public and cancelled all upcoming events. Staff are being instructed to work from home, as officials look to replace in-person instruction with online teaching.
There are now 73 cases of coronavirus in B.C. as of March 14.
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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