Dear IAHLA Member Institutes,
On July 6, 2021 the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced the release of the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines, which provides updated public health guidance to support BC public post-secondary institutions in their full return to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.
This resource was developed specifically for public post-secondary institutions but we are providing it to you to inform your planning for September. The Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) fully respects the authority of its member institutes to make decisions in the best interests of students, staff, and communities consistent with local circumstances.
Core measures that are expected to be in place for September include:
- Completing a daily self-administered health check and not attending campus when ill (NOTE: It is a personal responsibility for everyone accessing a post-secondary campus to complete a daily health self-assessment);
- Following handwashing and hygiene protocols;
- Transitioning COVID-19 specific safety plans into communicable disease plans inclusive of strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. WorkSafeBC guidance is currently under development;
- Following regular pre-COVID cleaning protocols in all indoor settings and on high touch surfaces; and,
- Wearing masks based on personal choice or if recommended by public health (NOTE: masks will no longer be a legislated requirement in indoor common areas).
The guidelines also set expectations for public institutions in terms of how they should be addressing the needs of Indigenous learners and working with First Nations as they plan for September. These expectations include that:
- Institutions should continue to work collaboratively with local First Nations and Indigenous community partners to ensure that the health and safety of Indigenous learners and communities are taken into account. (p. 9)
- Institutions should continue to work with students, faculty and staff to create culturally safe and inclusive campus communities free of racism, recognizing that Indigenous students may be experiencing increased racism related to the pandemic, including regarding the prioritization of Indigenous people for vaccination. (p. 9)
- Recognizing that some First Nations may be maintaining increased safety measures, including states of emergency that keep communities closed, institutions should work with local First Nations and any students that are impacted by the closure of their communities to ensure access to academic programming and services. (p. 9)
Additionally, the following expectations apply to public post-secondary institutions regarding partnerships with Indigenous communities and institutes, including IAHLA institutes, for community-based programs:
- Institutions are encouraged to work with community-based partners to jointly develop plans for safely resuming or continuing program delivery and determine whether additional supports are required for learners who face barriers to remote learning, such as lack of technology or online literacy. (p. 10)
- Institutions, faculty and staff should work with Indigenous community partners to understand and respect the health and safety precautions of the community. (p. 10)
We hope that you find this information helpful. IAHLA will continue to support Indigenous institutes with their preparations for the upcoming school year, providing further information as it becomes available.
Find our updates related to COVID-19 at www.fnesc.ca/covid19.
With best wishes for the summer.