Skip to main content

Post-Secondary

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

Last Updated: April 25, 2022


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

With health and safety measures in place, institutions are encouraged to prioritize on-campus instruction whenever possible. Campuses have high vaccination rates and the risk of COVID-19 transmission in structured settings like classrooms is low.

Enabling youth to return to regular learning and social activities is important for pandemic recovery. The prevention measures outlined will help balance the benefits of on-campus learning while reducing the risk of communicable diseases, including COVID-19, on campus.

  • Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on campus. Everyone eligible is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive recommended booster doses.
  • COVID-19 is now managed in a manner similar to other vaccine-preventable respiratory illnesses.
  • Post-Secondary institutions must continue to follow communicable disease guidance.

Regions may add additional prevention measures based on local epidemiology and risk. Follow any additional measures recommended for your regional health authority.

Rapid tests are available as an optional, time-limited initiative for post-secondary institutions for testing of symptomatic employees and students. The tests are a self-management tool intended to support the continuity of on-campus learning, instruction and research. 


Read the guidance for the use of Rapid Testing for Post-Secondary Institutions


 The Public Health Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions aligns with, and is complementary to, the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines.
Prevention Measures

Vaccination

Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. A primary series of vaccination provides effective protection against serious illness from COVID-19, including variants of concern. A booster dose enhances protection. Vaccines are available to all faculty, students, and staff, including international students and their families. 

Proof of vaccination

Proof of vaccination is generally not required in post secondary institutions. Federally regulated travel and some experiential learning placements (including practicum and co-op placements) may require students to be vaccinated in line with practices for other employees. This includes health sciences students working in certain health care settings by Order of the Provincial Health Officer. 

Testing

Testing is available for eligible people based on the BCCDC when to get tested guidance. Most people do not need testing and can self-manage symptoms at home. 

Students, faculty and staff who have symptoms and are not tested should stay home until they no longer have a fever and feel well enough to return to their regular activities. See our resources on testing for more information.

Rapid antigen tests are available for those who wish to use them, but are not required for return to campus. Routine asymptomatic testing is not recommended. 

Public health will only conduct case and contact tracing if necessary in high-priority settings like health care facilities associated with a post-secondary institution. Contact tracing is no longer an effective measure for control of COVID-19 in the community. 

Everyone should self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they feel sick.

Provincial Health Officer Orders

Post-secondary institutions must follow any applicable Provincial Health Officer Orders. Full details on Orders are available from the Provincial Health Officer

Cleaning and Ventilation

Ventilation systems should be effectively maintained as per WorkSafeBC requirements and ASHRAE standards for indoor air quality to ensure they are working properly.

Clean and disinfect educational spaces as per usual protocols. 


What You Can Do

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

Get vaccinated

Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on campus. Getting vaccinated with all recommended doses, including booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine provides effective protection against serious illness from COVID-19.

Vaccines are available to all faculty, students, and staff, including international students and their families. Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to get all the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Masks

Public health orders do not require face coverings in public spaces, including in post-secondary classrooms, student housing facilities, or work spaces. Wearing a mask in most indoor public spaces is a personal choice. Masks are still required in some situations like visiting healthcare facilities or on federally-regulated transportation like airplanes or trains. Masks are encouraged on public transit and BC Ferries.

Some businesses, workplaces or events may choose to require masks. Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask because they are more comfortable wearing a mask or because they, or someone in their family, may be at higher risk and want to take extra precautions. Be respectful of everyone whether they choose to wear a mask or not. It is important to be kind and respectful of other's choices.

Medical masks, respirators and 3-layer cloth masks are best and should fit closely to the face covering the nose, mouth and chin.

Learn about effective mask use.

Stay home when sick

  • If you are sick or have symptoms of illness, you should stay home.
  • Check the guidance on when to get tested or the B.C. Self-Assessment Tool to find out whether a COVID-19 test is recommended.
  • For many people with mild symptoms, testing will not be recommended. 
    • If a test is not recommended, the person can return to campus when they no longer have a fever and feel well enough to participate in regular activities.
  • If a test is recommended, the person must stay home until they receive their test result. 
    • If the test is negative, they can return when they feel well enough to participate in activities. 
    • If the test is positive, follow the guidance on If You Have COVID-19.
  • 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. 


FAQs


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.


 
 

Young people in BC who have at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are very well protected against the severe outcomes of COVID-19.


COVID-19 has disproportionately affected young people's social and mental health. Young adults are twice as likely to report worsening mental health during the pandemic than adults above the age of 65.


Read more in the BCCDC July 2021 Report by the BCCDC Young Adult Task Force: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults in British Columbia. 


While the Omicron variant spreads more easily, vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death against the Omicron variant. Youth who are unvaccinated may experience more serious illness from the Omicron variant compared to vaccinated youth.

BCCDC provides a number of tools and resources that share the latest data on COVID-19 in B.C.


The COVID-19 dashboard provides the latest information on cases, recoveries, deaths, hospitalizations, and testing.


The BCCDC COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard outlines vaccination progress in B.C. communities. It is based on where people live, so may not reflect the vaccination progress of the people on postsecondary campuses in those communities. It is updated weekly. 


The situation report provides an in-depth look at COVID-19 epidemiology, underscoring data and key trends. It is released weekly.


Find these and more on the BC COVID-19 data page


 


Tab Heading
SOURCE: Post-Secondary ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2022 Provincial Health Services Authority.