SFU community frequently asked questions about COVID-19

Get answers to your questions about COVID-19 and how we are responding at SFU

Last Updated: Fri, 11 Sep 2020 11:45 AM

SFU follows the latest information and recommendations about COVID-19 from regional and provincial medical health officers. For the latest number of confirmed cases in British Columbia, please visit the BCCDC website.

New information:

If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, try the BC government COVID-19 self-assessment tool to help guide you on what to do. The province of BC has also set up a dedicated COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-COVID19 or text 604-630-0300. The service is available daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. with information available in over 110 languages.

As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, watch out for associated scams. Review these tips to protect yourself

COVID-19 impact scale

For information specific to students, staff/faculty and campus services, please check out the links below. For answers to common questions about COVID-19 please check out BC CDC's FAQs.

Q: Will classes be in-person or remote for the fall term?

With the provincial government easing some of the COVID-19-related restrictions in BC, as well as guidelines for colleges and universities, SFU has made the following decisions about the fall 2020 term:

  • Most classes will continue to be delivered through remote methods in the fall term. This decision creates certainty for students and instructors, safety for those with higher levels of health risks, and access to learning for students who cannot travel to BC at this time.
  • If allowed by government and health authorities, and provided that personal health and safety can be maintained, we will open selected courses for in-person instructional activities where the learning objectives cannot easily be replicated through remote instruction. Examples may include laboratory-based classes, field trips, and graduate student classes where in-person participation is essential. To avoid having an unsafe number of people on campus, we will limit the number of in-person courses. Working with faculties and health and safety experts, we will identify which in-person courses and activities will be allowed, and we will share that information as soon as we can.
  • Similarly, and subject to the same health and safety guidelines, some co-curricular and extra-curricular programing (co-op and recreation, for example) may proceed on an in-person basis.
  • Building on our experience gained in the spring and summer terms, we will ensure that remote learning and teaching provides a high-quality experience, and ensure that students who expect to graduate in the 2020/2021 academic year are able to meet their degree requirements.
  • We will continue to enhance remote learning support for students and instructors.
  • We will look at ways to simplify and/or streamline academic requirements to enable students to progress through their programs more easily.
  • Student supports and services will continue to be delivered remotely, with some services offered in-person, subject to health and safety guidelines.

We continue to work on a number of processes, innovations, and safety regulations to support our university community, so stay tuned for further updates.

Q: What is SFU doing about admission of Grade 12 students this fall term?

SFU typically admits grade 12 high school students for the fall term starting in January, based on self-reported grade information.  The majority of our conditional admission offers are made by the end of April and we do not see this timeline being impacted by COVID-19 at this time.

We know that determining how final grade 12 grades will be awarded is a priority for the Ministry of Education, and await their direction before finalizing how we will confirm our grade 12 admissions. We are confident that these matters will be sorted and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of high school graduates to our university this fall.

For more info on admissions, please see our frequently asked admission questions page.

Q: Is convocation being cancelled? 

Following information and advice about COVID-19 from regional and provincial health officers regarding large events, SFU has made the decision to host a virtual Fall 2020 Convocation ceremony to ensure the safety of the SFU community. A late October date is likely; full details will be announced by mid-September.

This virtual celebration is not intended to be a replacement of an in-person graduation ceremony. The SFU community looks forward to inviting 2020 graduates back to campus to celebrate a live Convocation when it is safe to physically gather.

The university hosted a virtual celebration on June 11, 2020, that allowed graduands and their families to gather virtually and celebrate. A recording of this celebration can be watched here.

We will continue to provide updates here and on the convocation website as details, including options to attend a future in-person convocation ceremony, are confirmed. More information can be found on the convocation FAQ page. 

Q: Will fall classes be delivered asynchronously (not at set times)?

With most classes being delivered through remote means in the fall, we are aware that many students are learning in different time zones and have varying schedules, making synchronous (live) classes challenging to attend. For this reason, instructors have been encouraged to adopt asynchronous learning where possible and when consistent with the learning outcomes of the course.

Q: Will there be a reduction in tuition or student fees for the fall term?

SFU remains committed to delivering a high-quality education and learning environment. Building on our experience gained in the spring and summer terms, we will ensure that remote learning and teaching continues to provide a high-quality experience. Students are still learning the same curriculum from the same faculty, many of whom are already well-versed in delivering curriculum outside of a traditional classroom.

Students who are learning remotely currently do not have to pay recreation fees or additional fees related to the use of materials in laboratory courses.

Student Services fees are still being charged because all services are still available. Beyond the administrative units required to run the university (recruitment, admissions, student records, accounts, etc.) other supports such as health and counselling, academic advising, career services, financial aid support are all still available. For more information on what services are available please visit the student support and resources webpage.

We recognize that many students are having financial difficulties during this time. We are providing options for students to join a payment plan if they cannot pay fees by the extended deadline, and will allow students to register for fall courses if they still owe fees but are on the payment plan.

Q: What financial support is available to students for the summer and fall terms?

SFU’s general bursary program is available to both domestic and international students (grad and undergrad) who meet the eligibility requirements. 

Emergency assistance funding initiated in late spring term was meant to be one-time funding, and we will have paid out roughly $3 million dollars within that short period of time. After the summer bursary program applications are processed by late June, we will determine whether additional emergency funding is needed and available.

Any student currently experiencing any food and/or housing insecurity challenges should email to arrange a phone call, virtual meeting, or email follow-up with a Student Services case manager.

Career & Volunteer Services has created several resources on their website dedicated to looking for work during the pandemic. Similarly, our Co-op program is available and has also updated their websites with relevant information.

Q: What precautions is SFU taking to protect the health and safety of graduate students who may return to campus because of research work?

We are working carefully and cautiously to enable additional on-campus research when possible, as well as limited in-person instruction and activities in the fall. This will take time.

We will have a central process for health and safety compliance, as well as to ensure physical distancing for anyone on campus. Guidelines are being developed for all areas to follow; many different groups are coordinating our recovery efforts. In addition to academic and research groups, there are committees dedicated to determining requirements and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, physical distancing, and health screening on campus.

Before resuming activities that require additional faculty, staff, or students to return to campus, a university-approved, unit-specific safety plan is required for that area. The safety plan will comply with WorkSafe BC requirements and demonstrate that physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, compliance monitoring and training will be in place. Once safety plans are approved, they will be posted and shared publicly.

We will consider issues of accessibility and equity when determining who needs to work in-person. Employees and students with extenuating circumstances will be accommodated.

Q: Can recent alums access Career and Volunteer Services?

Yes. Recent alumni can access this service for one year following their graduation. (Students who graduated in June 2019 have extended eligibility through to September of this year.)

Q: If I need to self-isolate, who should I inform at SFU?

If you live in residence, email Residence and Housing at Residence and Housing will provide further information and support. For any other support during self-isolation whether you live on or off campus please contact

Contact your instructors to let them know and ask for a modification or accommodation if needed. Should you have concerns about the response, contact the Chair of the department (or for Continuing Studies, write Finally, if needed, contact the Dean's office.

Q: Can I hold an in-person meeting or event?

The ability to hold in-person meetings/events with six or more people is determined by the SFU COVID-19 Impact Scale. When the Impact Scale is Extreme, in-person meetings/events are not allowed. When the COVID-19 Impact Scale is High or Moderate, approvals may be required. Read the Guidance and Application for In-Person Meetings and Events at SFU to learn more.

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