18 March 2020 Update on COVID 19

Update on COVID 19

18 March 2020 at 10.10 pm PST


Please note the following three COVID-19 updates:

1. Federal Economic Response Plan

The federal government announced an $82 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.  Highlights include:

    • Canada Student Loan repayments and interest accrual will be suspended for six months.  The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training is working with the Ministry of Finance on a strategy for BC Student Loans, which are integrated with Canada Student Loans, as part of BC’s COVID-19 response plan.
    • New Emergency Support Benefits for workers facing unemployment who are ineligible for EI, as well as a new Indigenous Community Support Fund.
    • All non-essential travel across the Canada-US border is temporarily restricted.


2. On-campus Child Care

The Provincial Health Officer is currently not recommending child care closures for the prevention of COVID-19.  A variety of options are being considered to support access to child care services for essential service workers.  The Ministry of Children and Family Development is monitoring the situation closely and reviewing child care funding policies to support both childcare providers and families. 


3. First Responders

The Provincial Health Officer issued advice on self-isolation precautions for first responders (see attached).



17 March 2020 at 10.10 pm PST

The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has recommended a measured and evidence-based approach to institutional responses to COVID-19. At this time, universities and colleges are encouraged to continue to take steps to remain open while promoting strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. Yesterday, the PHO provided new advice regarding the cancellation of large events and a more robust approach to social distancing. We are following that advice and at the same time ensuring that students are able to complete their semester.


Classes and examinations

To achieve the above goals, effective tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17, transitioning from face-to-face to alternative modes of instruction and evaluation for the remainder of this term.

Instructors will assess whether sufficient learning outcomes have been achieved for their courses at this time. In cases where content remains to be delivered, faculty and instructors can choose the most appropriate alternative delivery method for their pedagogy, such as emailing students with course content, posting slides or lecture notes online, uploading video content, and/or using online learning platforms, at their discretion.

In addition, there are three COVID-19 updates:


4. Federal Travel Restrictions

    • The federal government announced several travel restrictions in response to COVID-19 including limitations on:
      • International flights;
      • Entry of passengers to Canada, including those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents; and,
      • Entry of passengers with COVID-19 symptoms.


5. Essential Service Workers

Attached is new guidance from Dr. Bonnie Henry on essential service workers. 


6. COVID-19 Symptom Self-assessment Tool

The BC Ministry of Health developed a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool to help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.


COVID-19 Resources:

  • Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the BC Pandemic Preparedness
  • Monitor the BC Centre for Disease Control website for updates, information and resources.
  • For non-health related COVID-19 questions (e.g. supports, programs, etc), a new dedicated phone line is available at 1-888-COVID-19.
  • For advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, contact your local Medical Health Officer.




16 March 2020 at 8.55 pm PST

To the Eton community:

The global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a rapidly changing, fluid situation. Eton College takes the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and other community members very seriously. I am providing the following update on our planning and response. 

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 can already be characterized as a pandemic. However, the Provincial Health Officer in British Columbia has indicated that the public health risk associated with COVID-19 remains low in British Columbia.

At Eton College, we continue to follow advice provided by provincial, national and international health authorities and organizations. We are working closely with other post-secondary institutions in British Columbia as well with provincial ministries in regards to the planning and management of the crisis.

Clearly, we as a country (and an entire world) are facing a health crisis. We want you to personally know that you are not alone, and that we at Eton College are engaging in battling and recovering from this health issue.

The health and safety of our campus community is always my top priority and we are taking the matter seriously.


Current COVID-19 Facts and Gov’t Guidelines

Here are some facts to consider:

  • At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with the virus as “low for Canada.”
  • Eton College business operations and classes would continue as normal until further notice.
  • Eton College continues to take direction from the BC Provincial Government as we plan and consider our next steps.
  • There are currently no COVID-19 cases reported or being verified on the campus. We are continuously assessing the situation.
  • Today, the Provincial Health Officer issued direction against gatherings of 50 people or more.  Please comply with this new direction in order to top the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


The Office of the Provincial Medical Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control and Ministry of Health has advised the following:

  • Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have travelled outside Canada (including the United States) after March 12 should stay home or self-isolate in their residence*/room alone for 14 days, immediately on their return. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).
  • Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have been laboratory tested for COVID-19 should stay home or self-isolate in their residence*/room alone, until their test results are known.
  • Students, faculty, staff or visitors who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by laboratory testing should stay home or self-isolate in their residence/room alone for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).
  • This does not apply to travellers who have returned to Canada up to or before March 12. (Previous mandated self-isolation requirements for travellers returning from Hubei Province, China, Iran, and Italy remain in effect.)


Where We Stand on the COVID-19 Situation?

  1. Eton College will remain open.
  2. Students wishing to go home and study remotely can do so.
  3. For the time being, staff and faculty members should continue to report to work as usual. If you have extraordinary circumstances that require accommodation, please speak with your supervisor.
  4. If you are ill, please stay home. Those who develop symptoms during the 14-day monitoring period should immediately self-isolate (stay in a room that is not shared with anyone else) and call their healthcare provider or the provincial health line at 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
  5. A new toll-free phone line has also been established for Canadians (1 833 784 4397) to answer general questions about COVID-19.
  6. All discretionary events on campus currently scheduled until May 1, 2020 are being cancelled, postponed or offered virtually.
  7. The College is working through contingency planning for final exams. More information will be shared in the coming days.
  8. Instructors had been asked to waive the doctor’s note requirement for students who are out sick for less than two weeks. Students are advised to stay home and away from others if they’re feeling ill.


Here are FAQs and other important information that I urge everyone to have a look at and take to heart.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on 16 March 2020 – 8.55p.m. PST

The following FAQs have been compiled to help students, faculty and staff during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

How high is the risk of contracting the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 in BC?

At this time, the BC Centre for Disease Control advises that the risk to British Columbians continues to be low. More information can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Within British Columbia, Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are leading the coordinated response to COVID-19. UBC continues to take direction from the BC Provincial Government as we plan and consider next steps.


Are any Eton College students, faculty or staff reported to be confirmed cases?

We are currently not aware of any cases amongst our students, faculty and staff, both within BC or abroad. In the event of a confirmed case, information would be provided to the public by the relevant health agency, according to their protocols.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Information on the prevention, transmission, symptoms, and treatment of COVID-19 can be found at the Government of Canada website Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


What precautions can I take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections?

The advice from health agencies is:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • If a sink is not available, 60-90% alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, you can use an alcohol-based disposable hand wipe to remove the dirt and then use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Do not touch your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow, and then wash your hands.
  • Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the illness to others.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick with an infection.
  • If you are ill, have symptoms of flu like a fever or cough, you should stay home.


What is Eton College doing to minimize the risk of infection to students, faculty and staff?

To lower the risk from our campus environment:

  • Routine cleaning is scheduled daily and follows industry cleaning standards laid out by the Association for Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA), which are a blended approach designed to manage risk. Our cleaning standards comply with APPA’s best practices.
  • We have posted information to remind people of how to reduce the spread of infections and continue to monitor and refill our current hand sanitizer stations located in the main entrances.
  • We are encouraging all campus users to follow the best practices in self-care being shared by the BC Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health.
  • We have placed hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes in all the classrooms and in the pantry area.


What should I do if I have travelled outside Canada (including the United States) after March 12?

Any students returning from outside Canada after March 12 are advised to contact their instructor.

Faculty and staff are required to answer the following questions (while the self-isolation after travel outside of Canada is in place). If the answer is yes, you must bring this to the attention of your manager or supervisor. It will mean that you must self-isolate for the 14 days immediately following your return to Canada.

  • Are you and/or anyone in your household currently travelling outside of Canada and returning after March 12, 2020?
  • Have you or anyone in your household come into contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • Do you have plans to travel outside of Canada in the foreseeable future?


Why is Eton College not closing?

The safety and well-being of our campus community and the health of our broader community is our top priority. As such, Eton College is continuing to follow the advice of BC’s top medical experts including the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

At this time, universities and colleges are being encouraged by province to continue to take steps to remain open while promoting strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. In response, Eton College has temporarily suspended non-essential travel and cancelled large public gatherings.

Administrative offices are open, though services and times may need modifying going forward

Eton College’s focus will remain on the health and well-being of our community and our students’ academic success.


What should I do if one of my students or colleagues shows symptoms of COVID-19?

Anyone who is concerned they, or someone they have been exposed to, may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health-care provider or call public health at 8-1-1. For more information and the latest updates, visit http://www.bccdc.ca


Will staff be permitted to work from home?

You must have a discussion with the Campus Director if you need to work from home during this outbreak.


What about events and large gatherings?

As of March 12, 2020, the Office of the Provincial Medical Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control and Ministry of Health has recommended the immediate cancellation or postponement until further notice of all events with more than 250 people in attendance.

At this time, planning for the 2020 Commencement Ceremony continues as normal, though we are considering alternatives should that be required.

Classes will continue as normal.


What if I’m on a practicum placement?

Students currently on practica placements should contact their student services coordinator for further information.


What is the best way to ensure I get support while on Eton College related travel, if it’s required?

No matter where you are planning to travel, you are advised to consult travel.gc.ca, which is the Government of Canada’s official source of destination‑specific travel information. It provides important advice to help travellers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad.

Travellers with Canadian citizenship are advised to register their travel with the Canadian government here https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration.


Is Eton College distributing masks for people to wear to prevent the spread of infection on our campuses?

The college is not distributing masks. Some members of our community may opt to wear masks, and we fully support their right to do so. We ask the community to be respectful of students, faculty and staff who choose to wear masks.

If you have questions or concerns that are not currently addressed here, please contact info@etoncollege.ca.


To Our Valued Community…

We are closely monitoring and reviewing the changing situation to ensure we quickly put new procedures in place and have the answer to respond to questions and concerns from our staff, faculty and students.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for your patience and understanding. We’ve entered uncharted territory. We know these decisions will cause some disruption, and we apologize for that.  The steps above are being taken out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to reduce risk.

To All Eton College staff, faculty and students: Thank you.  Your care for this community is extraordinary.


Kalai Ponniah

Vice President, Education Services and Campus Director



Call 1-604-677-3866
to speak with an Eton College representative.



604-677-ETON (3866) or 604-569-3896



604-677-ETON (3866) or 604-569-3896