COVID-19 Update – January 21, 2022 – New PHO Letter to PSIs + New Workplace Safety Order + RTCG Updates Under Development

Please note the following COVID-19 updates for January 21, 2022:

New Provincial Health Officer Letter to PSIs – Prioritization of On-campus Instruction

Earlier today, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) sent post-secondary institution presidents a letter (see attached) strongly recommending the continuation of on-campus instruction at post-secondary institutions.

  • B.C.’s pandemic response continues to be guided by the epidemiology of COVID-19.
  • The lower rates of COVID-19 incidence in the post-secondary population reflect the high vaccination rates and comprehensive safety measures in place.
  • Given the disproportionate adverse impacts of the pandemic on young adults in the context of a highly vaccinated population, institutions are encouraged to prioritize on-campus instruction whenever possible.
  • The prevention measures outlined in the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines as well as institutional communicable disease prevention plans have been effective at preventing COVID-19 in a wide variety of post-secondary settings, and will continue to support successful on-campus instruction.

New Workplace Safety Order:

On January 20, 2022 B.C.’s PHO released a new Workplace Safety Order requiring employers to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in accordance with WorkSafeBC guidance.

·        Section T of the Order confirms that the Order does not apply to post-secondary institutions because detailed COVID-19 protocols have already been developed to address COVID-19 related risks, in close collaboration with staff from the PHO.

Return-to-Campus Guidelines (RTCG) – Updates Under Development:

The following updates are under development in partnership with the PHO and the BC Centre for Disease Control:

·        Post-secondary rapid testing strategy – NEW

·        Contact tracing

·        Mask information

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response. Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions.

COVID-19 Resources:

·        COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines are hosted on government’s public website.

·        Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

·        If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer.

·        WorksafeBC guidance is available on communicable disease prevention plans.