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A Message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton regarding the OC’s continued response to COVID-19

 
Picture of Tom Esson
A Message from Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton regarding the OC’s continued response to COVID-19
by Tom Esson - Tuesday, 17 March 2020, 6:32 PM
 

To the Okanagan College community,

We are learning, working and living in trying times. With that in mind, I want to pass on my deepest thanks to all employees, who are working hard to support the transition to alternate modes of delivery for our classes, where possible and reasonable, as soon as possible and while maintaining student services.

I appreciate the challenges you are working under – given what is unfolding in the world, in our province, and in our communities around us.

I commend you for the hard and smart work you’ve invested to support our students, to ease their concern and to ensure continuity of their education and support services under difficult circumstances.

I also want to say how proud I am of the way in which our employees have supported each other, collaborating, innovating, going above and beyond and all the while showing kindness and consideration.

Finally, I want to acknowledge our students, who continue to show remarkable patience and resilience as they move through this unexpected disruption to their education. We know a number of our students are also grappling now with disruptions to their employment and extracurricular activities, which creates added stress in an already stressful situation. If you need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Students Service, Counselling Services, or your Dean’s office, for more information on the supports available to you right now.

A few updates:

  • Unless otherwise communicated by their instructor, students should still report to face-to-face classes tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18. Many have now made the transition to alternate means of education delivery; that process will continue wherever possible.
  • The College’s executive has given leadership team direction and authority to look at remote working opportunities for employees, with business and service continuity in mind. Employees should speak with their supervisors for more information; until arrangements for remote working have been approved, employees should report for work as normal. At this time, in accordance with our policies and values as an institution we will be providing as much flexibility as we can.
  • We’re making progress daily on the transition to alternate delivery for classes. There has also been progress on considerations around examinations, as well as planning for next steps in those programs where alternate delivery may not be possible. Updates will be communicated to staff and students as soon as possible. We know everyone has many questions in this regard. Thank you for your patience.
  • We continue to be in close communication with Interior Health, the B.C. Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Advanced, Education, Skills and Training, and will continue to follow their guidance on how we operate with the health and safety of students and staff in mind. To date, we have cancelled all events of 50 people or more (as per the advice of the B.C. Ministry of Health on March 16). Any classes that exceed that threshold have also been transitioned to an alternate delivery model.
  • All student support services (e.g. International Education, Library Services, and Student Services, etc.) are still operational and functioning on campuses. Students can continue to either call or access services in person. For more information about our services please go to: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/Student_Services.html
  • Library Services continue to operate as usual on all four campuses, and online. Any future changes to hours will be posted to the Library Hours page of the website and communicated directly to students. For assistance in the use of online library resources, please contact your liaison or campus librarian. For more information about library services, please contact your campus library.
  • The fitness facilities at our Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton campuses have been closed.
  • We have delayed intakes of more than 20 trades programs that were due to start later this month and into April, recognizing that program continuity is an issue that we must consider as we contemplate what lies ahead. We are in touch with the enrolled students.
Above all, I want to reiterate that we are in this together, as a College and a community. We will get through it together.

I know many of you have questions, and I thank you for your patience as we strive to respond to each phase of challenges this situation presents and to keep you informed. As always, you can find updates at www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid. 

Daily updates – or in some cases, more frequent communication – will follow as the situation unfolds.

With my thanks again,

Jim