The following list of frequently asked questions addresses items of concern that have been identified through the planning process for a full return to safe operations for Fall 2021.
The following represents recommendations based on current guidance, knowing that there are many unknowns and details still to be determined. This information will be updated as advice changes and new questions emerge.
*New: Accomodation FAQs
Employees who are considering accommodation by Selkirk College are directed to reach out to their direct supervisor (or designate) and Trina Sutherland in the Human Resources Department.
1. Where can I find information relating to Accommodation at Selkirk College?
Policy 6015: Accommodation Policy (contains request form)
If you feel that you may be eligible for a workplace accommodation please review Policy 6015 and have your medical professional complete and forward to HR Department (HR) the Request for Workplace Accommodation Form. You will find it contained in the policy link above. HR will work with you and your supervisor to ensure accommodation plans are established when required.
Each request for accommodation will be determined based on the individual circumstances and in accordance with Policy: 6015, collective agreements and legal obligations. Employees are expected to facilitate the accommodation process by providing relevant and appropriate documentation from a medical professional to support a request for accommodation, and generally participate and to cooperate throughout the process.
2. How long does the accommodation process usually take?
As long as reasonably necessary to complete the documentation, facilitate the discussion, and make the decision.
3. How does the accommodation process work, and who is a part of the accommodation process? What are my duties?
Everyone has a role to play in the accommodation process.
Employees requesting an accommodation have a duty to participate and cooperate in the process and accept a reasonable accommodation should one be determined.
Supervisors/Managers have a duty to provide a reasonable accommodation, ensuring there isn’t undue hardship upon the college.
HR is the liaison between the employee, the Supervisor/Manager and your medical professional. HR will request further medical info where necessary in order to support an accommodation and ensure the employee is safe and successful.
Should you wish to keep all medical confidential, employees may wish to use AMA provided by Manulife. This is a third party program and works similar to the above process, however medical information is stored with Manulife. Please advise HR should you wish to go through the AMA accommodation process, or would like more information.
4. What if I am feeling anxious on returning to campus what level of accommodation is available to me?
As we return to campus, the COVID-19 situation will continue to evolve. PHO guidance, based upon current evidence-based research, is that B.C. post-secondary campuses are safe places to study, conduct research and to work. Understandably, over the past year we have felt the safety and protection that working from our homes provided, only going out when required and limiting our social interactions. Physically returning back to work, commuting and being back in a public place may feel overwhelming and trigger unwanted physical and emotional reactions for some. It is important for staff and faculty to understand that we are compliant with all Work Safe BC rules and guidelines providing a safe work environment. B.C. post-secondary campuses were safe during the pandemic and they will remain so post-pandemic.
We all share a role in supporting one another as we transition back into the workplace in the coming months. For those that are feeling anxious we offer supports such as our EFAP program Homewood Health.
5. Is there an accommodation for employees and students that can’t get vaccinated?
No, according to our Provincial Health Officer there are very limited reasons that will restrict a person from receiving the vaccination. As such, all residents 12+ that wish to be vaccinated can register with the Get Vaccinated Provincial Registration System.
6. Is there an accommodation for those employee and students who live/support dependants that are compromised?
The health and safety of students, faculty, staff, volunteers and guests who are a part of the Selkirk College community is our top priority. Health & Safety guidelines are in place to support a safe return to work. While we understand that others maybe in the role as a caregiver for a compromised person, there is no reason why it would not be safe for the caregivers who are already taking precautions in their lives.
As we return to campus, the COVID-19 situation will continue to evolve. PHO guidance, based upon current evidence-based research, is that B.C. post-secondary campuses are safe places to study, conduct research and to work.
If you have concerns, you are encouraged to discuss your situation with your manager. If you believe that you may require a workplace accommodation please review Policy 6015.
7. Is there an accommodation or policy to protect employee and students from those who have chosen not to be vaccinated?
The Return-to-Campus Guidelines, which were developed in close collaboration with the Provincial Health Officer, states that post-secondary institutions should not introduce COVID-19 prevention measures into their work and learning areas that are different from those supported by public health professionals. Under the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for students, faculty or staff. Nor will they be asked to disclose their vaccination status.
We can all contribute personally and professionally by getting vaccinated (as we are able), following campus safety plans, performing our daily health check, staying home when sick, wearing masks as required, following handwashing and hygiene etiquette and following public health guidance both on and off campus.
It is up to each one of us to do our part, but it is our collective efforts that will make the difference. This is the time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.
8. Is there any advice from the Public Health Officer on dealing with anxieties related to COVID-19 and returning to the workplace?
A level of anxiety is quite normal and shared by many. We all need to work together to support each other as we come back together. It is recognized that everyone may have a different level of anxiety and it will take time to transition into a post-pandemic state. We will all be able to return to work safely. It should be noted that we have schools within Selkirk College that have been successfully providing in-person instructions through out the pandemic. The college was a safe environment during the pandemic and will continue to be so afterwards.
Selkirk has been committed to promote Health and Wellness in our day-to-day lives, please click on the link on the name to find more resources.
All additional questions can be directed to Selkirk College Human Resources department at HR@selkirk.ca.
Return-to-Campus Guidelines (RTC) and BCCDC Public Health Guidance - Sept 2 2021
The COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines provide updated public health guidance to support the full return to in-person education, research and on-campus services for B.C.’s post-secondary institutions. The RTC Guidelines were developed by a team of experts from B.C.’s post-secondary sector, the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, regional health authorities and the BC Centre for Disease Control. The RTC Guidelines replaces both the interim Return-to-Campus Primer and the previous COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.’s Post-Secondary Sector.
The BC Centre for Disease Control also issued Return to Campus Public Health Guidance on September 1 which outline the prevention measures recommended by public health for post-secondary institutions in B.C. to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It aligns with, and is complementary to, the RTC Guidelines.
How do you know it will be safe to return in the fall? What do you say to people who feel this is moving too fast?
The plan to return to in person learning is guided by the advice of public health professionals, and they tell us this is a safe way to gradually move forward right now. Our vaccination coverage is amongst the highest in the world with vaccines completely transforming how we live with COVID-19. It may feel strange after more than a year of staying apart, but we can now safely do many of the things we did before the pandemic. These new activities are options for people - we encourage everyone to go at their own pace.
What if transmission or outbreaks continue?
The RTC guidelines support best practices to manage any communicable disease that should arise - we have learned many lessons from this pandemic. If clusters or outbreaks occur on campus, local health officials may still require short-term closure to control the outbreak and protect students, faculty and staff. This is the normal function of local health officials under the Public Health Act. Institutions will also be required to continue to follow guidance and direction from Public Health authorities, particularly in any time of elevated risk. While the majority of measures implemented to manage the COVID-19 pandemic to date will no longer be required, it's possible that some of the same or similar measures may be required in the future to manage transmission during periods of elevated risk.
Do I need to wear a mask on campus while indoors? What’s the new mask guidance?
Face masks/ face coverings (medical or non-medical or tightly woven fabric that covers the nose and mouth of a person but does not include a small or large clear plastic face shield) must be worn in all indoor public spaces including classrooms/shops/labs (an inside area in which a post-secondary institution provides instruction in an educational or training program). This also applies to travel in vehicles for college purposes (ie field school, fleet vehicles, maintenance vehicles). This information is current as of the PHO Order on Face Coverings issued September 2 2021 whiich also outlines specific information for instructors.
Will classrooms and lecture halls be at full capacity?
The guidelines specify that there are no limits on the number of participants for in-class educational activities. Fall classes can be scheduled without physical distancing requirements (e.g. a classroom with 30 seats can be scheduled with 30 students; a lecture theatre with 150 seats can be scheduled with 150 students) NOTE: The Interior Health COVID-19 Gatherings and Events Order continues to provide an exemption to the 50-person limit for gatherings for post-secondary institutions engaged in educational activities. However, please note that indoor and outdoor gatherings and events not directly related to educational activities (e.g. BBQs, social orientation events, etc.) will be limited to 50 people.
What about ventilation systems in crowded lecture halls?
WorkSafeBC continues to advise that building ventilation systems, in good operating condition, do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Institutions should ensure that building ventilation (HVAC) systems are operating and maintained in accordance with WorkSafeBC standards.
What is happening to COVID-19 Safety Plans, why are they no longer required?
As we transition from Step 3 to Step 4, institutions will no longer be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and will instead transition to Communicable Disease Prevention Plans. WorkSafeBC has developed a Communicable Disease Prevention Guide that outlines the steps that employers must take to prevent transmission in their workplace. These plans will focus on supporting staff with symptoms to avoid being in the workplace and ensuring appropriate cleaning and hand-hygiene and ventilation. Institutions will also need to incorporate guidance and direction from public health officials on an ongoing basis.
The Provincial Health Officer is recommending employers maintain some measures like physical barriers that they've put in place as part of their COVID-19 Safety Plan during Step 3 of the BC Restart Plan.
What does ‘communicable disease prevention’ mean?
As we take another step to put the pandemic behind us, COVID-19 will be one of several communicable diseases that we need to help prevent. Communicable diseases are transmitted through close contact with other humans or animals. Some examples include influenza, measles and tuberculosis. Key elements of prevention include regular handwashing, regularly cleaning surfaces, staying home if you are sick, and getting vaccinated.
13. What are the key elements of communicable disease prevention?
Implementing policies to support people who may be sick, so they can avoid being at the workplace.
Promoting regular hand washing and using appropriate hygiene practices.
Maintaining a clean environment through routine cleaning processes.
Ensuring building ventilation is properly maintained and functioning.
Implementing measures as required by a medical health officer or the PHO to deal with communicable diseases in your workplace or region.
Are you concerned that some people will not feel safe returning to businesses/that there will be a public confidence issue for businesses?
We know this is a big change for everyone, but public health tells us that this is the right time to be easing restrictions. Our vaccination coverage is amongst the best in the world and vaccines have now transformed how we live with COVID-19 in B.C. But we know that people will be adjusting to these measures at their own pace, and this is a gradual change. That’s why public health is recommending a transitional period in workplaces and businesses to help ease the people into these new rules. Dr. Henry recommends employers maintain some of the protocols they've put in place - including maintaining physical barriers like plexiglass.
What about international students?
While the Canadian border is open to international students, the federal government is responsible for border restrictions and we continue to engage with them on these issues. It is anticipated that students entering Canada to study will continue to be permitted entry if they are attending an institution that is on the federal list of approved Designated Learning Institutions managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. These students will be required to continue following federal requirements in place at the time of entry into Canada. The federal government has announced the first phase of the border reopening plan that began in July.
What are the rules for International students returning to campuses from other countries and vaccination requirements?
International students can receive vaccinations in Canada and should check with their campus health providers.
If an international student has received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine outside of B.C., they can have it recorded in the provincial immunization registry so there is a record of their vaccination status. If they only received one dose outside of B.C, registering is important so they can be notified when it is time to receive their second dose.
Ahead of reporting a vaccination, people should gather as much information about their immunization as possible. Register with the Get Vaccinated provincial registration system Submit proof of an official vaccination record. It will be entered into the Provincial Immunization Registry.
You said vaccinations will be provided to students on campuses. Who will administer those and how will that process work?
Selkirk College is hosting Interior Health Vaccine clinics through September 2021.
1. Has anyone looked into our HVAC systems to ensure that they are safe as we return to campus?
Yes. The college undertakes regular preventive maintenance of filters and other parts to keep all machinery running in optimal condition. Selkirk College’s HVAC systems are compliant with WorkSafeBC guidelines. Learn more at MySelkirk...
2. Will the cafeteria be back to providing a full range of hot and cold options?
Food Services is planning a slightly pared-down menu from typical years but the menu will include hot and cold items. No catering outside of the cafeteria should be expected until 2022.
3. Will we be expected to teach in the classroom or will it be our option to zoom or be on campus?
Educational programing delivery needs to be addressed at the program level in consultation with the appropriate chair and dean. The college will be providing guidance to allow for remote work arrangements where practicable.
4. What are the procedures for dealing with students and community members who don't comply with safety measures? The college presently may not have security and not everyone's supervisor is easily available.
Many of the protocols that may have caused non-compliance have been lifted. Please see current Health & Safety protocols here.
5. If someone attends campus (student, employee, visitor) when sick what steps should be taken?
Health & Safety is everyone’s responsibility as we shift to preventing the spread of all communicable diseases. If someone is exhibiting symptoms, we should all feel comfortable advising them that as per our guidelines, they cannot be on campus and will need to go home. This protocol will remain in place for all employees, students and visitors when we return in September.
Employees have been advised not to engage in confrontational conversations with individuals who are in an escalated state and are encouraged to elevate the matter to the student’s school chair, dean or Director of Student Development Rhonda Schmitz or to the staff member’s direct supervisor.
6. What should an instructor do if a student comes to class/campus sick and refuses to leave?
It is important that we be kind and caring as we transition back to in-person learning. If a student is visibly sick and refusing to leave, an instructor should speak to the student privately and explain that the college is trying to ensure a safe and healthy environment for staff and students and part of that is to reduce transmission of common illnesses. Therefore, individuals are not able to attend campus when sick and are required to go home. If the student continues to refuse to leave the campus the instructor should contact the student’s school chair, dean or Director of Student Development.
7. Is there a designated person who can be called and is readily available? Not all employees are comfortable with what may be very difficult conversation.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you are not comfortable approaching someone, please let your immediate supervisor know. Training can be provided by Human Resources or Health & Safety to try to make employees more comfortable in these circumstances.
8. When will security be back on campus?
Security will be back on the Castlegar Campus effective August 16, 2021.
9. Will there still be physical distancing at the college in the classroom, the cafeteria and the pit?
No. Provincial guidelines state that distancing measures are no longer necessary. Refer to the Selkirk College Restart Plan. NOTE: The Interior Health COVID-19 Gatherings and Events Order continues to provide an exemption to the 50-person limit for gatherings for post-secondary institutions engaged in educational activities. However, please note that indoor and outdoor gatherings and events not directly related to educational activities (e.g. BBQs, social orientation events, etc.) will be limited to 50 people.
10. How do we know whether students visiting campus are filling out the daily screening form?
Selkirk College enforced daily screenings are no longer required according to updated provincial guidelines. Please see current Health & Safety protocols here.
11. Will Selkirk have COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the fall?
Community vaccination clinics have been operated by Interior Health. They will continue to operate these clinics if there is sufficient demand to justify the resources required to operate a clinic. Community members will still be able to receive vaccines after the community clinics have ended. Interior Health will provide details on where and how that will happen.
12. What can an employee do if they do not feel that coming to work is safe, what is the process for refusal of unsafe work?
As a worker, if you have concerns about the safety of your work, you have the right to refuse unsafe work without being disciplined by your employer and your supervisor or employer has a responsibility to investigate. Your supervisor may temporarily assign a new task to you, at no loss in pay. For guidance on the process please click on this link.
13. If I have any questions not included on this list, who would be the best person for me to contact?
New Paid COVID-19 Vaccination Leave of Absence FAQ
There has been a new section 52.13 of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) which provides employees with a paid leave of absence to be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective to April 19, 2021. The provision does not provide employees with a retroactive right to the paid leave for time taken off work to be vaccinated before April 19, 2021. The new leave provides employees with a right to up to three (3) hours of paid leave to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The leave is available each time an employee needs time off to be vaccinated. The paid leave is in addition to the unpaid COVID-19 related leaves provided under section 52.12 of the ESA.
1. Will all employees receive the new leave?
Not all employees will require leave or the full three hours of leave from work to obtain their vaccinations. They may already have received one or more doses before April 19, or may have an appointment outside of working hours. The college may approve less than three hours of leave if the employee needs less time off work to obtain the vaccine, such as where an employee’s appointment is close to or at their worksite.
2. Does this apply for employees to take a dependent to obtain a vaccine for the dependant?
The new paid leave of absence is available for the employee to be personally vaccinated against COVID-19. Unlike the job-protected unpaid leave under the ESA introduced effective April 1, 2021, the paid leave does not extend to employees accompanying or assisting others to be vaccinated. An employee who needs time off work to assist a dependent to be vaccinated against COVID-19 remains eligible for an unpaid leave of absence under the ESA (or an applicable leave of absence under the collective agreement).
3. What is the relationship of this new leave to other leaves under the collective agreement?
Employees may also be entitled to a leave of absence under a collective agreement, such as leave to attend medical appointments. The ESA provides the minimum leaves of absence to which employees are entitled.
References: Please contact Human Resources or review this useful link: Bill 3 – 2021: Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2021 (leg.bc.ca)
All additional questions can be directed to Selkirk College Human Resources department at HR@selkirk.ca.