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Communicable Diseases in Post-Secondary Institutions

Campuses across B.C. have communicable disease prevention measures in place.

Last Updated: September 28, 2023

The public health guidance for post-secondary institutions details the communicable disease prevention measures recommended for all campuses.

Staff, students and visitors should stay home if they are sick and unable to participate their regular activities. Administrators should support this by communicating how important it is to not come to school when sick.

While sick, individuals should self-monitor and only return to campus when they are able to fully participate in their regular activities. 
Prevention Measures


Vaccines are the best way to reduce the risk of serious illness from many communicable diseases, including COVID-19 and influenza. It is recommended that students and staff keep their recommended vaccines up to date. See the Post-Secondary Institute Guidance for further information on vaccinations, including vaccines for International students. 

Cleaning and Ventilation

Ventilation and Air Exchange

All mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be designed, operated, and maintained as per standards and specifications for ongoing comfort of students and staff (Part 4 of OHS Regulation), and that they are working properly. When weather permits, windows may be opened if it does not impact the functioning of ventilation systems. 

Cleaning and Disinfection

Regular cleaning and disinfection can help prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Cleaning of frequently touched surfaces should occur in line with regular practices and when visibly dirty.  

What You Can Do

Follow your institution's guidance for communicable disease prevention on campus and all applicable public health orders and recommendations. 


The decision to wear a mask is a personal one, based on individual preference. Some staff, students or visitors may choose to wear a non-medical mask or face covering throughout the day or for certain activities. The choice of whether people practice additional personal prevention measures should be respected. Information on non-medical masks is available from the BCCDC.

Learn about effective mask use.

Stay home when sick

  • If you are sick or have symptoms of illness, you should stay home.
  • Staff, students, or other persons can attend if their symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition (e.g., seasonal allergies) or symptoms have improved, and they feel well enough to return to regular activities or otherwise advised by a healthcare provider.
  • Students, staff and faculty can also call 8-1-1 or consult their healthcare provider for guidance.

Clean hands

Clean your hands often. This means washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. 


The support for on-campus instruction at post-secondary institutions is rooted in the goals of pandemic response, which are to reduce serious illness and death, protect the health care system and minimize societal disruption.

Vaccination continues to prove to be the single most effective intervention for reducing the burden of illness related to COVID-19. Epidemiological data from BC shows that being unvaccinated is the strongest risk factor for severe illness requiring hospitalization or critical care. While transmission can occur in any setting, high vaccination rates and safety measures have helped maintain post-secondary intuitions as lower-risk environments.

Research also shows that young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Enabling young people to learn and grow in supportive environments is important to their overall well-being during this stage of life.

B.C. is a highly immunized population. Most eligible people have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Because so many people are vaccinated and there are effective prevention measures in place, we can return to activities on campus and minimize the severe outcomes of COVID-19. 

Analyses of BC’s hospitalization data demonstrate that the vast majority of the post-secondary community, including faculty and staff, are at very low risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.

Case and contact tracing are no longer measures that will help to contain the virus.

Students, faculty and staff should stay home if they feel sick. The person who is sick can use the When to get tested for COVID-19 resource or the BC Self-Assessment Tool to see if they need to get tested. If testing is not recommended, they should self-isolate until they no longer have fever and feel well enough to return to regular activities. 

Anyone who is a close contact can continue to go to campus as long as they don’t have symptoms of illness themselves. They should self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they feel sick.

See the resources on testing for more information on what to do if you have symptoms or test positive.


Socializing and meeting new people is an important part of the post-secondary experience. This includes participating in recreational activities like intramurals, joining special interest clubs, and going on dates. 

These activities are important for physical and mental health, and can help you to feel part of the on-campus community. You can participate in the activities that make campus life great while keeping your risk of COVID-19 low by getting vaccinated and following the prevention measures in place on your campus.

It’s normal to feel nervous or anxious as you start to participate in in-person activities that haven’t happened for a while. Start with the activities you’re most comfortable with, and add in more as your personal comfort and public health guidance allows.

Remember that everyone has had different experiences with the pandemic, which impact how they’ll want to interact in-person. For example, some people may be comfortable shaking hands when you meet, while others might prefer a wave. The best thing to do is ask others what works for them, and share what works for you. Everyone will go at their own pace.

Make the decisions that are best for you, and respect the personal choices others make about socializing and participating in recreational activities. Everyone will go at their own pace.

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SOURCE: Communicable Diseases in Post-Secondary Institutions ( )
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