Frequently Asked Co-op Questions about COVID-19

Page Last Updated: June 26, 2020


STUDENT QUESTIONS

At this time all SFU Co-op Program offices are open to support you; however, we are restricting public access to our offices on all campuses as per the provincial directives for post-secondary institutions. We are pleased to connect with you and offer the same co-op services through email, phone, Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing platforms. The Co-op program contact information can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html

GENERAL INQUIRIES

Helpful Resources during COVID-19:

Government of Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en.html
Main government website with links to the most recent information on COVID-19 financial assistance, immigration etc.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
(e.g., EI Sickness Benefits, Income Tax Returns, Mortgage Support, Canada Child Benefit, etc..)

BC Provincial Government

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/home

BC: COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information https://www2.gov.bc.ca/…/emerge…/covid-19-provincial-support
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/
WorksafeBC https://www.worksafebc.com/en
Apply for Employment Insurance (EI)

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html
(Dedicated EI Phone Line: 1-833-381-2725)

ICBC Updates on COVID-19

https://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/contact-us/Pages/covid-19.aspx
(e.g., ICBC allows drivers to put off payments for 90 days and renew license by phone.)

BC: Supporting Renters & Landlords during COVID-19

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020MAH0048-000561

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/covid-19-support

BC: Protecting Jobs during Difficult Times https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020LBR0012-000551
COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool https://bc.thrive.health/
Official Global Travel Advisories - Canada

https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
(Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.)

BC Student Loans

https://studentaidbc.ca/news/general/covid-19-coronavirus-information-bulletin-updated-march-26-2020

Canada Student Loans

https://www.csnpe-nslsc.canada.ca/en/home

Q: Will tuition fees be reduced for the Fall 2020 semester?

A: We can appreciate your concern with tuition costs. Any change to tuition fees is a University decision that cannot be determined by an individual department or program. SFU has negotiated the UPass fee waived for the summer term as well as refunded other student services fees to reduce costs for students.

In addition, the University and SFSS has provided additional funding to students experiencing hardship during these times through emergency and increased awards, as well as food security programs: 

SFU's Co-op programs are providing additional value to students through increased access and availability to advising/career counseling plus other supports such as flexibility with requirements for work term completion. Staff are also committed to working with all current employers and developing new opportunities to ensure that students have continued access to a large pool of quality co-op work terms for each of the faculty areas.

Please see below for links to Frequently Asked Questions by students that may provide additional helpful information: 

Q: Can I get a refund for my U-pass since I am now working from home and no longer using public transit?

A: Post-secondary institutions and student associations have worked with TransLink to temporarily suspend the U-Pass BC program as of May 1. For more details: https://new.translink.ca/rider-guide/coronavirus-precautions#u-pass-bc-program-suspended

STUDENTS INTERESTED IN JOINING CO-OP:

Q: When should I apply to Co-op?

A: You are welcome to apply any time prior to your faculty co-op program’s next intake deadline. Co-op program information can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/coop/programs.html

Q: If I join the co-op program now, can I do my first co-op work term in Spring 2021? Will there be any co-op jobs for Spring 2021 or at least enough for all the SFU Co-op students who want a work term then?

A: The co-op program begins two semesters before you start your work term in order for you to complete the necessary preparatory workshops and one-on-one sessions with your Coordinator/Student Advisor. For example, if you apply in Summer 2020, your work term will begin in January, 2021.

NOTE: Please check on your specific co-op program’s webpage for the next intake date - most are around the beginning of June 2020. The Summer 2020 semester will be spent preparing you for applying to postings during the Fall 2020 semester (via online workshops and virtual meetings with co-op staff). We anticipate that postings will continue to be available and that by Fall 2020 we hope to be back to ‘normal’, although of course we need to see how the rest of the summer unfolds.

Q: What if my CGPA after Spring 2020 term is lower than expected and I don’t meet the minimum CGPA requirements for the co-op program? Will you ignore Spring 2020 grades and just look at my other terms?

A: We will be as flexible as we can under the current circumstances and will consider admitting students who were not able to reach the CGPA requirements for their program. Students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and we will do our best to support our students. Please contact your program office with your specific inquiry.

Q: How will I complete the required co-op workshops (resume, cover letter, etc.) - will they continue to be online for the Fall 2020 semester?

A: Yes, our workshops have all been moved online and your co-op program will provide you with the information on how to participate.

Q: I am planning on being out of the country for Summer 2020 - does that matter? Can I complete my co-op program application and new co-op student requirements online?

A: Yes, as long as you have access to a computer with a stable internet connection, you should be able to complete the application, and if accepted you will have access to the preparatory material (resume, cover letter and interview workshops, one-on-one meetings online).

Q: I am an international student and will need to apply for a co-op work permit, is it still even possible to get a permit?

A: Yes, once you have been accepted into your faculty’s co-op program, please apply for a co-op work permit in preparation for your work term. The Government of Canada is currently keeping a log of applications and will process them as soon as they are able. You will need a valid co-op work permit before you can have access to our job postings.

Q: Should I delay applying to the co-op program until later in my degree?

A: You are welcome to apply to co-op for our next intake (check your specific program for application dates) or wait until later - the choice is yours. We are still receiving postings from employers, students are still interviewing and still being hired. If you do apply to join the co-op program in Summer 2020, you’ll be applying to postings in Fall 2020 for a Spring 2021 work term, and we hope that we’ll see a return to regular levels of those postings on our system.

If you are an international student, please ensure you apply for a co-op work permit immediately after being accepted to the co-op program.

Q: How can I interact with co-op staff?

A: Co-op staff are still available via email, phone and/or online (e.g. Skype, Zoom etc.) for appointments and assistance. Please connect directly with your co-op program office to schedule an appointment.

CO-OP STUDENTS CURRENTLY ON A SUMMER 2020 WORK TERM:

Q: How can I best protect myself from COVID-19?

A: There are a number of things you can do to maximize your chances of staying healthy: 

  • Social distancing - maintaining a safe distance (2 meters) from others is one of the best ways to minimize your chances of getting sick. 
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with more than 60% alcohol), especially after sneezing or coughing or if you have to go out into the public. 
  • Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands – any germs on your hands transfer easily to your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Sneeze/cough, etc. into your elbow or a tissue which you then throw away. 
  • Wear a mask and gloves or otherwise protect your hands from touching surfaces (don’t forget to sanitize your gloves if they aren’t disposable). 

Follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for prevention https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

DO THE FIVE

Help stop coronavirus:

  1. HANDS Wash them often
  2. ELBOW Cough into it
  3. FACE Don't touch it
  4. SPACE Keep safe distance
  5. HOME Stay if you can

The BC Centre for Disease Control also provides comprehensive information on prevention & risk at http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19.

Q: What should I do if I feel sick?

A: See the information above. Your health is your priority, please take precautions to minimize your exposure and the exposure of others who may not be as resilient. If you feel sick, it is recommended that you stay home and advise your supervisor that you are ill. Many employers we’ve heard from are being extremely flexible for the safety of yourself and their staff – if you have concerns, of course contact the co-op program. Please also ensure that you advise your co-op program if you become ill and are unable to work.

Use the BC COVID-19 Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. The BCCDC guidelines has additional information here.

Canada’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided steps to take if you are sick: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

Q: What should I do if I'm uncomfortable being in my work environment?

A: If you feel uncomfortable in your work environment, please have a conversation with your supervisor to see if you can work from remotely (i.e. from home), establish an alternate work schedule, or take time off. 

If you must be physically present, you can minimize your risk by following good hand hygiene, not touching your face and being vigilant about coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow. You should also follow self-distancing recommendations. If you are concerned, please contact your Co-op Program.

More info from the BC Centre for Disease Control is available here:

http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

Q: What if my job can't be done from home?

A: As above, we recommend you have a conversation with your supervisor to see what options exist. There are many ways to minimize your exposure, including self-distancing and good hygiene.

More info from the BC Centre for Disease Control is available here:

http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

Q: Will I be penalized by the co-op program if I am sick and can't work from home? What if my program has mandatory co-op?

A: No you will not be penalized as your health and safety is the number one priority. There will be no penalties from the Co-op Program if you cannot complete your work term due to COVID-19. 

If you are unable to work due to illness, please inform your employer and the Co-op Program. If your work term ends early due to COVID-19 there will be no penalties from the Co-op Program. Please contact us if you are in this situation. 

Students in a mandatory co-op program should check with their Co-op Coordinator if they have not yet received information on flexible requirements.  Students will not be penalized for non completion of a work term and will be given alternate options to fulfill graduation requirements.

Q: Will my co-op grade be negatively impacted by COVID-19?

A: Co-op students will not be negatively penalized for work term matters related to COVID-19. If a student's work term has been cancelled or ended early, or if a student needs to be self-isolated or quarantined and cannot fulfill the work term requirements, this will not negatively impact your co-op grade. Grading will be dependent upon submission of the work term report requirements as outlined by your program, and completion of employer and student evaluations. If you have questions please contact your Co-op Program.

Q: What do I do financially if I can't afford to take time off/my employer doesn't pay for sick time/my employer closes my workplace?

A: The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak through it’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Details of funding for individuals can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#individuals 

SFU & the SFSS are also supporting students with emergency funding, awards and support:

Q: What do I do if I want to end my work term early for health/safety reasons?

A: Please contact us before you elect to end your work term early. We understand your concerns and want to work with you and your employer. Students will not be penalized for work terms that are ended early as your health and safety is the number one priority. There will be no penalties from the co-op program due to COVID-19 or other health concerns.

Q: What if my employer has already ended my work term and/or has decided not to extend me?

A: Contact your co-op program immediately and provide them with the details. We recommend that all co-op students have a ‘back-up’ plan (i.e. register for courses, put yourself on waitlists), in the case that our current COVID-19 circumstances last longer than expected.

Please note that the SFU Co-op Program has sent information to Co-op employers to support remote work options.

Ultimately if you are feeling uncomfortable in your workplace, the decision to end your work term is yours, but please confer with your employer and Co-op Program before making a final decision. There will be no penalties from the Co-op Program due to the impact of COVID-19.

Q: I am a student working in the United States (U.S.) what do the border restrictions mean for me?

A: The Canadian government announced on March 18, 2020 that both the Canadian and U.S governments have agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border.  The Canadian government also indicated that exemptions will remain in place to ensure Canadians who are now in the United States are able to return home.

  • If you are a Canadian student working in the U.S. and have concerns please discuss with your employer about ending early, working remotely, and determining a return date to Canada.
  • If you are an international student working in the U.S. contact the SFU International Services for Students to discuss your situation and reach out to your consular representative in the U.S.

COVID-19 current border measures and requirements may be found here.

Note: if you elect to travel back to Canada from the US or elsewhere, you must ensure you quarantine for 14 days after your arrival. Learn more details here.

Q: What if I have a specific situation that I'm concerned about and I don't know what to do?

A: There are lots of resources available (see below), but you can always contact your Co-op Program for any questions at any time.

Students will not be penalized for work terms that are ended early due to COVID-19, as your health and safety is our number one priority.

CO-OP STUDENTS WHO HAVE SECURED A FALL 2020 WORK TERM:

Q: What if my employer has decided not to extend my Summer work term into the Fall semester, as I expected?

A: Contact your Co-op Program immediately and provide them with the details. We are also recommending that all Co-op students who have secured a fall work term to make a ‘back-up’ plan for the Fall semester (i.e. register for courses, put yourself on waitlists), in the case that our current COVID-19 circumstances last longer than anticipated.

Q: Can I work remotely on my co-op work term?

A: The SFU Co-op Program has provided information to employers to support remote work options with their Co-op students, including the Guidelines provided by WorkSafeBC. If this occurs, please advise the Co-op Program of your circumstances. If your employer is not able to accommodate remote work and they indicate that you must be physically present, you can minimize your risk by following good hand hygiene, not touching your face and being vigilant about coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow. You should also follow social-distancing recommendations. 

More info from the BC Centre for Disease Control is available here: http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

If your employer indicates that you cannot work remotely and you are uncomfortable with working in-person, contact your Co-op Program for assistance on your situation. We understand your concerns and want to work with you and your employer. 

It is also important to understand that students will not be penalized for work terms that are ended early due to COVID-19 as your health and safety is the number one priority. 

It is important that before you elect to end your work term early you contact your Co-op Program.

CO-OP STUDENTS WHO ARE SEEKING A FALL 2020 WORK TERM:

There are many co-op work term opportunities available for students for Fall 2020 and we are continually working with our existing, as well as new, employers to develop more opportunities for you.  Employers are aware that students are available and interested in a Fall work term and are continuing recruitment for their co-op jobs.

Q: I am interested in starting an International Work Term for the Fall 2020 semester. What are my options?

A: Due to the Government of Canada global travel restrictions, SFU has suspended all new international work terms until further notice. At this time, the Co-op office can only approve any new international Co-op work terms if students are able to work remotely from within Canada.

Q: How are interviews being conducted?

A: Interviews continue to primarily be through video conferencing (Zoom, Skype etc), however as businesses begin to re-open more are being scheduled in person. Your Co-op program will confirm the type and location of the interview that you’ve been invited to attend. They will also advise you of the in-person safety protocols required to attend an in-person interview.

If you have any concerns with attending an in-person interview, please contact your Co-op program to discuss and explore alternate options. We are here to support you and help you navigate through your concerns.

Q: What will I need to do for an in-person interview?

Your Co-op program will advise you of the safety protocols required by the organization to attend an in-person interview. We encourage you to discuss any concerns that you may have with your Co-op Coordinator.

Q: What if my program has mandatory co-op and my employer cancels my summer work term?

A: There will be no penalties from the Co-op Program due to COVID-19 or other illness. For students in a mandatory program, we are working with the university administration to determine options to accommodate students, including graduate students. 

Please contact your Co-op program if you have not yet received information.

Q: I'm supposed to be relocating to another city within Canada for my work term, what should I do?

A: Your employer should be able to provide you with information and support on relocation through their HR department. However, we recommend some of these suggested guidelines:

  • Review the provincial work safety guidelines for businesses
  • Check airline regulations and new policies so you are prepared for your flight
  • Discuss plans for work safety with your employer
  • Review rental agreements for accommodations you are considering for any COVID-19 related cancellation policies before signing a lease

Discuss any concerns or develop a plan with your Co-op Coordinator here: https://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html.

Q: Will I be penalized by the Co-op program if I can’t start my work term when expected (whether in or out of town)?

A: No. Your health and safety is our number one priority. There will be no penalties from the Co-op Program for COVID-19 related situations.

Q: Can I cancel my work term if I've already accepted a position?

A: Yes, if the cancellation is related to COVID-19, but please contact your Co-op Program first. The Co-op Program will connect with your employer, as there may be other options (later start date, working remotely, postponing to the Fall term).

Q: What if I want to stop looking for a work term?

A: You can elect to halt your seeking activities, but please contact your Co-op Program to discuss, as there may be other options (pausing your search for a few weeks, etc.).

Q: Should I register for courses as a back-up plan?

A: Yes, we recommend you consider a back-up plan, and register for courses or add yourself to wait lists, if needed.

Q: What if I have a specific situation that I'm concerned about and I don't know what to do?

A: Contact us https://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html as we are here to support you and guide you through your Co-op program.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AT SFU

Q: I am an international student who needs to submit biometrics to Service Canada / Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Has the deadline been extended at this time?

A: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has extended the biometrics deadline. You may notice that in their recently-released Program Delivery Instructions, they now reference a 90-day deadline instead of a 30-day deadline. The biometrics instruction letter that is sent to applicants via MyCIC may be out of date.

For more information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/service-canada-appointment-system-notice.html?redirect=/reservation?utm_campaign=not-applicable&utm_medium=vanity-url&utm_source=canada-ca_service-canada-appointment

Q: I am an international student in the Co-op Program. My co-op work permit is ending. What are my co-op options for the next semester?

A: International students have implied status as long as they applied for a new work permit. Please check in with the ISS office and see IRCC for additional details: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/foreign-workers/work-without-permit/authorization-work-without-work-permit-implied-status.html

Q: I am an international student and will need to apply for a co-op work permit, is it still even possible to get a permit?

A: Yes, please apply for a co-op work permit in preparation for your work term. The Government of Canada is currently keeping a log of applications and will process them as soon as they are able. You will need a valid co-op work permit before you can have access to our job postings.

FINANCIAL AID FOR CO-OP STUDENTS

Q: Are co-op students eligible for SFU Bursaries?

A: All co-op students are eligible to apply for bursaries if they are enrolled in a minimum of 9 units of standard graded courses for the semester that they apply in.

Q: Are co-op students eligible for Emergency funding?

A: Yes co-op students are eligible to apply for the SFU Emergency funding. You will be asked to outline your financial situation to Financial Aid. Apply direct to FAA.

Q: Are co-op students eligible for the federal government funds such as EI or the CERB grants?

A: You will need to check the eligibility criteria on the federal government sites:

EI: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html
CERB: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

If you're eligible, apply directly on their sites.

HEALTH RESOURCES

Q: What should you do if you feel unwell?

A: The most important thing is to maintain your health and the health of those around you. If you feel unwell, self-isolate. That means staying home, and not having guests. 

Follow Canada’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines on what to do if you are sick.

Q: What if I am feeling very anxious about the COVID-19 situation?

A: If you are feeling fear, anxiety, isolation and/or confusion, all of which are completely normal, there are excellent resources available for you through SFU’s Health & Counselling.

See resources for SFU students here: 

Q: What are the COVID-19 symptoms?

A: Please consult with the BCCDC website for symptom information:
http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19.

You can find more information about COVID-19 on Canada’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID19-symptoms.pdf

EMPLOYER QUESTIONS

Thank you to all our co-op employers who are supporting SFU students during these unprecedented times. The University is continuing all courses online through the summer and fall semester, and all staff are continuing to work remotely from home.

Q: Are your Co-op program offices still open?

A: Yes, our offices are still open with staff all available to connect with you by email, phone or videoconference.  SFU is following the provincial health guidelines for the post secondary education sector in BC directing all staff to work from home and remain off campus.

Please see our list of contact information for each of the co-op programs at: http://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html

Q: What if my co-op student indicates that they feel ill?

A: The health and safety of our co-op students and employers is of great concern to us. Our students are placed across the globe and in various workplace environments. We have advised our students that if they feel ill, they should follow the expert opinion of the local health authorities.

Q: If my co-op student is ill, what do we do next?

A: We have also advised students that they need to inform their employer if they are ill. Many students are concerned about the financial repercussions of staying home, and if your organization is able to offer sick pay, we encourage that communication.

Q: Is there funding available for co-op student work terms impacted by COVID-19 at this time?

A: The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak through the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html.

SFU Co-op is working hard to ensure our employers are being supported.  We worked with our provincial and federal governments to develop additional funding for employers hiring co-op students which may be found here: https://www.sfu.ca/hire/summer/funding.html.

Q: Should co-op students work remotely during this time?

A: We’ve heard from several of our students and employers that they have moved to a remote work environment. If this is an option for you/for co-op students, we are in full support. If you are unable to offer a remote environment, we ask that you provide as much support as possible to any students who are feeling uncomfortable in the work place – including soap and water and hand sanitizer, social-distancing (i.e. not sitting side-by-side with coworkers, maintaining 2 metres space, providing barriers) or alternate working times, for example.

Please refer to the WorkSafeBC guidelines for a safe and healthy work environment.

Q: What is the process if we choose to end a co-op student's work term early due to COVID-19?

A: In the case that a student is either home ill or has decided to stay home to self-isolate, is uncomfortable working in-person, or if your business is unable to continue to operate, ending a work term early is an option. From the SFU perspective, we understand this situation and we ask that if you need to end a work term early, to please contact the Co-op Office to discuss the logistics and see how we can best support you and our student(s). For our students in this situation, there will be no academic penalties or negative impact on their co-op work term grade.

Q: What is happening with Fall 2020 work terms due to COVID-19?

A: Whether you already have a student working with you this Summer 2020 or you are hiring for the upcoming semester, Fall 2020 Co-op work terms are proceeding with employers following the guidelines for work safety within their regions. If located in BC, this will be WorksafeBC and BC’s ReStart Plan. Students are applying to jobs beginning in September and are keen to secure a co-op work term. Students that are currently working on a Summer 2020 work term are extending into the Fall 2020 semester.

Q: What are some recommendations if we choose to move ahead with our Fall 2020 work term?

A: We are recommending following the guidelines for your region and country on workplace safety measures for reducing COVID-19.  If located in BC, this will be WorksafeBC and BC’s ReStart Plan. We also recommend contingency plans for students to transition to working remotely should the guidelines for your region change for work safety.

Our Co-op programs are recommending students create their own contingency plans such as register for courses. We have also reduced the number of hours required for students to meet their work terms requirements.

NOTE: Due to the Government of Canada global travel restrictions, SFU has suspended all new international work terms until further notice.  At this time, the Co-op office can only approve any new international Co-op work terms if students are able to work remotely from within Canada.

Q: Is there any flexibility on the number of hours required for Co-op work terms for the Fall 2020 semester (Sept - Dec)?

A: The minimum number of hours required for a SFU Co-operative Education work term has been reduced to 280 hours from 420 hours, if needed, to accommodate reduced operating hours for some employers. In addition co-op work terms may have a delayed start date or be conducted on a part time basis for Summer and Fall 2020. However, we recommend continuing students for their full-time work term if your organization has returned to full operations.

Q: What if I have more questions?

A: If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone at https://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html.