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A message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton

Picture of Tom Esson
A message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton
by Tom Esson - Sunday, 15 March 2020, 8:02 AM

Students and Employees at Okanagan College,

As a consequence of concerns regarding coronavirus COVID-19 contagion, Okanagan College is moving to implement alternative modes of instruction and evaluation for the rest of this term, where possible and reasonable. Given the wide range of courses at the College, it will take a few days to fully roll out the changes. In the meantime, classes will continue as scheduled on Monday unless students learn otherwise from their professor or instructor. 

Our campuses will remain open and services will continue to be provided, reviewed as necessary while this situation continues to evolve. 

Because of the diversity of the types of programs we offer, we recognize that not all programs, courses, labs and shops may be suited to be delivered through a single alternative method. Planning for moving to alternative modes of instruction began this past week and Deans will be working with instructors and professors, departments and program areas to determine whether, and how best, to accommodate alternative methods of instruction and evaluation. Students will learn of the changes affecting them through their instructors or professors as the changes are implemented. 

This step is being taken out of an abundance of caution and a desire of the College to do its part in helping to contain the spread of the virus. It is important to note that at this time we are aware of no cases of coronavirus COVID-19 at Okanagan College among students and employees. Of the 73 reported cases of coronavirus in B.C., only two are in the Interior Health region (which covers the entire Okanagan College region). The latest case in the Interior Health region was reported Saturday. 

At this point there is no direction from the Provincial Health Officer to close campuses Interior Health is reiterating that the risk of infection remains low, given student demographics and the relatively small sizes of our classes.

Providing a safe and healthy learning and working environment for students and employees is a focus for our deliberations and decision-making in these matters. We also want to ensure that students receive the education and evaluation that will deliver the learning outcomes they seek.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps we have already taken as we have followed the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and from federal and provincial health authorities. In response, Okanagan College has:

  • Cancelled all events that involve more than 250 people for the remainder of March and April
  • Placed a moratorium on new external bookings for space on all of our campuses (to be reviewed in mid-April) 
  • Implemented additional cleaning at all our campuses and distribution of additional hand-sanitizing stations 
  • Distributed information about recommended measures to help avoid infection
  • Restricted out-of-country travel on College business, including a two-week self-quarantine period upon return to Canada


My thanks to all who are focused on helping students complete their studies this semester. Over my many years working at Okanagan College I have always been impressed by the way employees and students have worked together to overcome challenges. I expect this situation to be no different.

Please watch for updates and relevant information.