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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: Thu, 08 Oct 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 Spring term?

As we move into the Spring term, we are able to resume more campus activities. We will continue to expand in-person access as much as possible, while following direction from public health officials. (Read more about the current H2 rating of our COVID-19 Impact Scale.) 

For the Spring term, most courses will be delivered remotely, with increased in-person courses in program areas that require research and experiential learning. Students in those programs will hear directly from their faculties with ample time to make arrangements. We are also able to accommodate more graduate-level courses for in-person learning at this stage as those courses tend to be smaller in size. 
We will have more details later this fall about the process for submitting courses, or portions of courses, for in-person delivery in the spring term and the approval process. 

At the current H2 rating there is also increased flexibility for on-campus activities:

  • Selected academic events with < 20 participants are allowed with restrictions and approved Safety Plans (e.g. thesis defence, research group meeting)
  • For faculty and staff, there are a limited number of employees providing essential and some limited services on campus (staggered shifts in place)
  • Campus Amenities and Service moved to limited on-campus services with restrictions and enhanced online services (e.g. dining, health & counselling, library, etc.)
  • Meetings and Events is allowing limited in-person meetings, events, ceremonies or programs with an approved Safety Plan
  • International travel is only allowed for essential university-sanctioned trips and in accordance with approved guidance for exceptions (safety and risk mitigation plan required).

Building on our experience gained from previous 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 also continue to enhance remote learning support for students and instructors and 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 with public health authorities to ensure the health and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff, and encourage everyone to review this quick guide to staying safe on campus. Please continue to check the COVID-19 FAQs page regularly as more information will be added as it becomes available.

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. Four virtual ceremonies will be hosted by Chancellor Tamara Vrooman and President Joy Johnson on October 22 and 23. More details can be found on the convocation website

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 remote classes be delivered asynchronously (not at set times)?

With most classes currently being delivered through remote means, 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 or spring 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. More information can be found on the Student Services website.

Q: What financial support is available to students?

Any student currently experiencing any food and/or housing insecurity challenges should email student_support@sfu.ca 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.

We 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. For more information, visit the Student Services website.

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

If you live in residence, email Residence and Housing at housing@sfu.ca. 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 student_support@sfu.ca.

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 learn@sfu.ca). 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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