COVID-19 Safety Plan
Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
This website contains useful FAQs and resources for CIRA faculty, staff and students. It is updated regularly, following advice from provincial and federal health agencies.
Last Update: December 3, 2021
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces.
You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold. They include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme fatigue or tiredness
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illnesses, but symptoms can sometimes suddenly worsen in a few days. People infected with COVID-19 can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting a few days after the onset of the above symptoms.
If faculty, staff or students develop symptoms while at the institution:
- Separate the symptomatic individual from others in a supervised area and direct the symptomatic individual to return to their place of residence. Arrangements for transportation should be coordinated if required.
- If symptoms persist, the individual can use the COVID-19 symptom checker to decide what next steps should be taken. If the individual is still unsure, they should be instructed to contact 8-1-1 or their local healthcare provider.
- Staff responsible for facility cleaning must clean and disinfect the space where the individual was separated and any areas used by them (e.g., classroom, bathroom, common areas).
What to do upon leaving campus with symptoms:
- If the individual has not taken the BC COVID-19 Self Assessment, do so for instructions on what to do
- If the individual has symptoms including fever, chills, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste and difficulty breathing, they must get tested immediately.
- If they have 1 of the following symptoms from sore throat, loss of appetite, headache, body aches, extreme fatigue or tiredness, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, they must stay home until they feel better. If they have 2 or more of these symptoms, they should wait 24 hours and see if the symptoms improve and if not, get tested.
- If the individual is unsure about their symptoms, they should contact their local health care provider or call 811.
What to do as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19:
- If the individual has not taken the BC COVID-19 Self Assessment, do so for instructions
- If the individual has no symptoms, they must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms
- If the individual has a symptom of COVID-19 after being a close contact, they must be tested
COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT All faculty, staff, students and visitors must assess themselves daily for COVID-19 symptoms prior to accessing campus property.
- The BC COVID-19 self-assessment tool is available online to be used and/or to help develop assessments.
- In some circumstances, institutions may require individuals to provide self-reporting declarations. This will be dependent on the risk presented, including contact intensity (e.g., childcare, healthcare practicums, physiotherapy clinics, certain lab environments, etc.).
- Expectations for completing a self-assessment and/or declaration should be made clear to all visitors before they enter the campus.
- Anyone with symptoms associated with COVID-19 as well as anyone who has travelled outside Canada in the previous 14 days, or anyone identified as a close contact of a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must self isolate in accordance with guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
- Adequate signage (BCCDC) and regular communication of the above requirements should be provided to everyone who accesses the campus.
- Instructions for individuals to contact 8-1-1 or a medical provider if further health advice is required should be made available.
- Work with local health care providers and student health services to ensure that faculty, staff and students have easy access to COVID-19 testing.
- Seek advice from the local public health authority around managing cases of COVID-19 in the institution.
Academic Concession/ Workplace Accommodation
- Students who would normally attend campus but are self-isolating as a result of the daily self-assessment process, or who reside with someone who needs to self-isolate, may request academic concession due to missed classes or course requirements. Formal requests for accommodation will continue to be managed through the processes outlined in institutional policy. Institutions should review and, if needed, adjust current policies to support students to stay home if they are sick.
- Faculty and staff who would normally attend campus but are self-isolating as a result of the daily self-assessment process should contact their supervisor to report their absence from working on campus and to discuss temporary remote work arrangements, if practical. Institutional sick day policies will apply as appropriate. Formal requests for accommodation will continue to be managed through the processes outlined in the applicable collective agreement, or institutional policy, as appropriate. Institutions should review and, if needed, adjust current policies to support faculty and staff to stay home if they are sick.
- Some Indigenous students may require additional accommodations due to housing or community COVID-19 restrictions. For example, Indigenous communities may have COVID-19 travel restrictions that preclude students from participating in activities.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
The following protocols provide guidance regarding cleaning and disinfecting within institutions:
- Institutions should be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the BCCDC’s Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings.
- Develop a schedule that focuses on cleaning high-traffic areas and high-contact surfaces, such as doors and cabinet handles, stair railings, washrooms, shared office spaces, desks, keyboards, light switches, communications devices, equipment, common areas, and transportation vehicles.
- Remove shared items where cross-contamination is possible (e.g., shared office supplies, coffee and water stations, and snack bins).
- Provide and stock adequate hand-washing facilities on site and ensure the location is visible and easily accessed. Provide the ability for frequent hand washing or sanitizing.
- Develop guidance around when faculty, staff and students should wash their hands, including upon arriving on campus, before and after breaks, after handling cash or other materials, before and after handling common tools and equipment, etc.
- Ensure those engaged in cleaning have adequate instruction, training, materials and supplies (e.g., soap and water/hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes).
- Limit capacity in washrooms to ensure physical distancing.
Measures to prevent and limit spread of COVID-19
- Campus will be operate with reduced in-person capacity
- Preventing sick people from entering the campus (provide information beforehand, culturally safe screening, accessible signage at entrances, temperature checks)
- Use of plexiglass, plastic or other transparent barriers for environments with high risk of transmission
Ensuring proper air ventilation in all buildings
- Facilitating good hygiene practices: installing accessible hand hygiene stations throughout the campus, especially in high traffic areas, entrances and exits, place with high touch surfaces
- Establishing policies regarding the use of NMM/ cloth face coverings on campus, including student, faculty, staff and visitor
- Being able to identify or notify individuals in the event that they are exposed to COVID-19
- Seating students at least 2 meters apart when in-person (e.g., taping off every other seat in a lecture hall, placing markers on the floor in a lab, spacing desks appropriately during in-person exams).
- Offering virtual lectures simultaneously or asynchronously to limit the number of individuals in classrooms.
- Offering online exams and using remote proctoring as necessary or other alternative testing formats.
- Offering activities in outdoor environments to further increase distancing and reduce the likelihood of transmission (weather permitting).
- Increasing ventilation in the learning environment by adjusting HVAC system or opening windows (weather permitting).
- Moving activities outdoors where feasible and weather permitting.
- Increasing access to hand hygiene facilities (e.g., hand sanitizer stations) throughout campus buildings/lecture halls/labs/workshops/studios etc.).
- Condensing the academic calendar to minimize time on campus, if in-person attendance is required, and academic standards are not compromised
- Enhancing environmental cleaning and disinfection practices in all settings (e.g., lecture halls, classrooms, bathrooms), with emphasis on high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles, hand railings, chairs, tables, elevator buttons, shared equipment etc.).
- Limiting the number of individuals on campus and in classrooms/lecture halls at any given time by staggering classes, alternating in-class days for students.
- Establishing a schedule for access to lab facilities, including keeping the same individual time slots to minimize number of potential contacts.
- Prioritizing presence on campus for small classes and experiential/applied learning opportunities.
- Restricting in-person instruction only for programs where it is required to fulfill industry or field-specific accreditation or licensing requirements.
- Developing virtual labs, simulations, and multimedia resources for experiential learning (e.g., laboratory-based learning, tutorials, and seminars) that may not be able to take place in-person.
- Considering other strategies, such as postal delivery or partnering with local businesses so that students are able to receive the necessary supplies to participate in the learning activity (e.g., ingredients for culinary programs).
- Cohorting/use of small groups, including keeping the same individuals in the groups to minimize number of contacts.
- Ensuring that strict exclusion policies are in place for students/faculty/staff/visitors who are ill, while taking care to support students, faculty and staff in isolation and avoid stigma or discrimination.
- Implementing policy and technology that allow students, faculty, and staff who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes (i.e., older adults, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, people of any age who are immunocompromised, and people living with obesity) or cannot attend in-person learning activities classes, to participate online/remotely.
- Having a procedure for isolating students/faculty/staff/visitors who become sick while on campus.
- Keeping a safe, secure record/sign-in system of students/faculty/staff/visitors who access a campus building for learning and research activities, to facilitate public health investigation of cases and contacts in the event of an exposure at a campus building.
Monitoring, screening and testing for COVID-19
- Basic information on how to recognize symptoms of COVID-19 is made available to parents/guardians, students, faculty, staff and visitors, before arrival and while engaged in activities at the institution.
- Students/faculty/staff are encouraged to monitor their health daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they develop symptoms compatible with COVID-19.
- Faculty and staff observe students for any signs of COVID-19 and isolate any students who are ill away from others, as quickly as possible, in a way that is mindful to avoid stigma and discrimination and follow established protocol for accessing medical attention and notifying the local public health authority.
- Students are encouraged to monitor their own health and self-isolate themselves if experiencing illness.
- Students, staff and faculty should be provided appropriate instructions on seeking medical care and notifying their local PHA as appropriate.
Responding to a COVID-19 outbreak
If COVID-19 transmission is ongoing in the local community or COVID-19 has been identified among students/faculty/staff or guests who have access to our institution, we will work with the local public health authority (PHA) to establish plans to reduce the risk of further transmission at the institution.
We will collaborate with the local PHA to determine the number of cases that meet the threshold for declaring an outbreak at the institution. We will establish an outbreak response team, including a liaison or members of the local PHA. When responding to a COVID-19 outbreak, we will put our emergency operations and communication plans into action. This will include:
- Working with the local PHA to determine whether an outbreak should be declared, how to implement mitigation measures, and how the outbreak will be monitored by the PHA.
- Staying informed about the local COVID-19 situation. Get up-to-date information from the PHA. Regularly provide accessible and actionable information to people who are accessing your campus in accessible ways relevant to the population (e.g., email/text notification, social media, website updates, and signage in classrooms or residences).
- Enhancing education for students/faculty/staff/guests about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including physical distancing and other personal practices, as well as instructions of what to do if symptoms occur and where to access testing.
- Prohibiting non-essential visitors from accessing campus spaces, including student residences, gym facilities, food courts, etc.
- Enhancing active (asking culturally safe questions about health status) and passive (accessible signage, voluntary reporting) screening activities of students/faculty/staff.
- Increasing access to hand hygiene stations/hand sanitizer dispensers and reminders about cough etiquette for all individuals accessing campus.
- Increasing cleaning frequency of highly used spaces, high-touch surfaces and objects (lounges/common areas, dining halls/food service areas, desks, doorknobs, electronics, elevator buttons, and faucets).
- Monitoring or connecting with students/faculty/staff who may be more likely to be exposed to the COVID-19 virus and those at risk of more severe disease or outcomes (e.g., older adults, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, people of any age who are immunocompromised, and people living with obesity), and reach out to them regularly. Ensure that they are informed about the symptoms of COVID-19 and how they may protect themselves through physical distancing and hand hygiene. When possible consider single rooms for those living in residences who are high risk due to chronic medical conditions.
New Arriving International Students
All new arriving students should follow the federal guidelines document to implement a 14-day quarantine requirement under the Quarantine Act.
All air travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a negative laboratory molecular test result for COVID-19 to the airline before boarding international flights to Canada.
Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Airlines will refuse boarding to travellers who are unable to provide proof of a:
- negative COVID-19 test
- positive COVID-19 molecular test taken between 14 and 90 days prior to departure
- take the test within 72 hours of your scheduled departure time
- keep proof of your test results for the 14-day period that begins on the day you enter Canada
As of February 21, 2021, travellers, unless exempted, will also be required to reserve a government-authorized hotel for 3 nights prior to departure to Canada.
Travellers arriving in B.C. from international locations including the United States by air, land or sea must complete the federal ArriveCAN application. The application can be completed prior to your return or on arrival.
Download ArriveCAN on your mobile device
Submit your ArriveCAN application online
Comply with the Federal Quarantine Act
On March 25, 2020, the federal government implemented a self-isolation plan for returning international travellers on select flights under the Quarantine Act.
- The federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order to self-isolate, enforceable by RCMP or local police
- Maximum penalties for breaking self-isolation orders include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months
Service BC will conduct compliance and wellness checks to ensure travellers can effectively maintain their 14-day self-isolation.
Assessment Process on Arrival
In addition to the ArriveCAN application, federal screening measures are in place for all travellers arriving in Canada, including B.C.
When entering Canada, you’ll be required to:
- Wear a mask.
- Answer eligibility and health screening questions, including quarantine plans.
- Provide required information and documents.
- Take a COVID-19 molecular test.
- Collect a test kit for use later during your quarantine.
If you have symptoms or an unsuitable quarantine plan, your stay and arrival test will be at a designated quarantine facility.
As of February 21, 2021, travellers, unless exempted, will be required to:
- reserve a government-authorized hotel for 3 nights prior to departure to Canada
- stay in the government-authorized hotel while awaiting the results of the COVID-19 molecular test taken on arrival
- pay for the cost of the hotel stay, as well as all associated costs for:
- infection prevention and control measures
After your arrival and testing in Canada, you will go to your pre-booked hotel to await results of your arrival test. You must go directly to this location and wear a non-medical mask or face covering while travelling.
- If the test is negative:
- continue on to your place of quarantine
- complete your test kit as instructed
- If the test is positive:
- relocate to a designated quarantine facility or other suitable place of quarantine
- follow instructions as provided
For the next steps of your quarantine or isolation you must:
- arrange for a suitable place to quarantine or isolate, within your financial means
- go directly to your place of quarantine or isolation, without stopping anywhere
- wear a non-medical mask or face covering while travelling to the place where you’ll quarantine or isolate
- stay at your place of quarantine or isolation for 14 days (only leave to seek medical assistance if needed)
- complete daily symptom self assessments throughout your 14 day quarantine period.
- not have any guests
- monitor your health for fever and a cough, or fever and difficulty breathing.
- follow all other guidance provided by your local public health authority
You’re strongly urged to make housing arrangements for quarantine or isolation before you arrive in Canada. In most cases, this can be in your own home or in the same place you’re visiting in Canada.
If this isn’t possible, you should consider making alternative arrangements that are within your own financial means. A suitable place is one where you:
- won’t have contact with people who are vulnerable, such as those who:
- are 65 years or older
- have underlying medical conditions
- have compromised immune systems
- aren’t in a group living environment
- can stay for at least 14 days (and possibly longer)
- have access to basic necessities, including water, food, medication and heat during the winter months
Exceptions to staying with a vulnerable person include if:
- they’re a consenting adult
- they’re either the parent or the minor in a parent-minor relationship
Before you travel, you must plan to quarantine or isolate in a suitable place. If you don’t, you may be assessed further. If you can’t quarantine in your own home, consider other options within your financial means, such as:
- other paid housing
- friends or family, as long as you won’t expose anyone who:
- is not part of your travel group
- is at risk of more severe outcomes of COVID-19
If no other options are available, travellers may be referred to a designated quarantine facility as a last resort. This decision will be made by a government representative at the border.
After you arrive in Canada, a representative of the Government of Canada will call you to monitor compliance with your mandatory quarantine or isolation. We ask that you please answer calls from 1-888-336-7735.
Travellers who need medical testing or treatment while in quarantine or isolation
If you need to seek testing or medical treatment, you must:
- immediately return to your place of quarantine or isolation location afterwards
- wear a non-medical mask or face covering while in transit
We also recommended that you contact your local public health authority and follow any additional instructions they provide.
Testing is recommended for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. Symptoms include:
- Cough or worsening of chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
While less common, symptoms can also include:
- Stuffy nose
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Dizziness, confusion
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes.
While anyone can get tested, some symptoms can also be signs of other conditions or medical issues and you may need to seek medical care. If you are unsure whether to seek medical care or get tested, contact your health care provider, call 8-1-1 or use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.
Transportation from the airport
Food and Personal Items
During your 14-days isolation period, if you do not have any assistance from your accommodation, there are a few options available to order food and essential items online to be delivered. It is important to ensure you have enough food and supplies to last and will not go bad in short periods of time because the demand for delivery is high in demand, and delivery time slots may be limited and delivery times can be longer than expected.
Online ordering does not accept cash. Visa and MasterCard are the most common forms of paying.