UBC announced it is taking guidance from the BC Office of the Provincial Health Officer and cancelling events and suspending classes with more than 250 people in attendance.
In a broadcast email sent to students, staff and faculty on March 13, UBC announced that all large university events including sporting events and events at the Chan Centre will be cancelled.
“In accordance with that recommendation, and as of today (March 13, 2020), UBC is cancelling all on-campus and off-campus events with more than 250 people (including sporting events), whether indoors or outdoors, that are organized by students, faculty and staff,” reads the email.
UBC also recommended that community members avoid travel outside of Canada — and if they do leave the country they will be “required” to self-quarantine for 14 days and notify their instructors, managers and/or supervisors at the university.
On March 12, several UBC events announced they would be cancelled until further notice. The events included UBC Rec’s Storm the Wall, AMS Event’s Block Party and the Indian Students’ Association’s Holi Event, among others.
Across campus, many UBC lecture courses also have more than 250 students enrolled. The university said they are working with the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology to try and transition lectures online. As of now, those courses are “suspended until alternate arrangements are in place.”
Smaller classes are continuing to be held in-person, although some professors have moved completely online at their own discretion. Other universities across Canada have decided to move their courses completely online to try and contain the spread of the virus.
Laurentian University announced on March 11, they would be suspending in-person classes, and McGill and Concordia followed suit on March 12. The University of Toronto announced today they would be suspending in-person classes from March 16 to April 3 to “foster a degree of “social distancing” and protect the health of the university community.”
UBC’s decision comes after a daily virus briefing from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who advised people not to leave the country for non-essential travel and to avoid large gatherings. She maintained that COVID-19 risk in BC remains “very low.”
“… While it hasn’t changed a lot here in BC, the risk has increased all around us, I would say, and our understanding of the situation has also changed,” she said.
She added the government still has time to do more research before taking further action.
“We have a period of time where we can be thoughtful, we can investigate the issues around schools, we can talk with the stakeholders and make sure we know what is the best thing for us to do in the coming days to weeks as the situation continues to change around us,” she said.
Henry also announced that the number of known COVID-19 cases has increased to 53 people, only one of which has been hospitalized and is in stable condition.