Message to our university community regarding COVID-19

Last updated: Mon, 16 Mar 2020 12:05 PM

The University has received many questions regarding COVID-19 (formerly known as the Novel Coronavirus) from students, faculty and staff. SFU is following 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. According to the BCCDC, the risk of the virus spreading remains low.

Following information and advice about COVID-19 from regional and provincial health officers, SFU will be moving away from in-person instruction beginning next week for the remainder of the term. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, we will discontinue any in-person teaching, including in-person exams. Although the risk in BC remains low, we are taking appropriate steps to ensure continuity for students in a manner consistent with the advice of the Provincial Health Officer to maximize social distancing. All SFU campuses will remain open.

  • Students: please check your SFU email accounts and CANVAS course pages for information from your instructors about how your individual classes will be proceeding.
  • Staff: unless your supervisor has told you otherwise, please report to work on Monday, March 16th as you normally would.

The university is following infectious disease protocols and regularly meeting with key stakeholders to ensure our three campuses are prepared and able to respond as needed.

SFU is also taking precautions to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses on our campuses including:

  • Reviewing upcoming events and canceling those that are over 250 people.
  • Notifying our community of the recommendation against travel outside of Canada at this time, and to stay away from school/work for 14 days from your return.
  • Promoting good hygiene practices among members of the university community (e.g., handwashing) and providing appropriate hand-cleaning facilities and/or alternatives like alcohol hand rubs;
  • Ensuring SFU premises are appropriately cleaned and maintained to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses, and informing members of the university community in the use of appropriate disinfecting materials.

Along with our faculty and staff, the safety of our students is SFU’s number-one priority and we have contacted our students on international co-ops and exchanges in affected regions, to check on their well-being, and to provide support as well as the latest travel advisories and guidance. SFU is also working to ensure this disruption does not negatively impact any program requirements and graduation timelines.

Student exchanges to all countries that have a Government of Canada level 3 (avoid non-essential travel) or level 4 (avoid all travel) for Spring and Summer 2020 have been cancelled and future exchange and co-op placements in all countries where there are active travel health notices are on hold or under review. We are in touch with all students whose international exchanges may be further impacted by travel restrictions in other parts of the world to offer support and alternatives.

If any SFU co-op student has questions, contact your program coordinator to discuss your specific situation. SFU's study abroad program updates are available here.

Cold and flu season is upon us (typically October to March every year), so it is not unusual for people to get the cold and flu during this time. Please follow the usual health precautions such as:

  • Washing your hands often
  • Staying home when sick
  • Practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of illness

For more information about cold and flu signs, symptoms and precautions please go to HealthLink BC.

Travel precautions

New recommendations from the provincial health officer advise against all travel outside of Canada, including the US (and our neighbour of Washington state) at this time.

For those who do travel outside of Canada, you are advised to stay home from school and work for 14 days upon return. If you do have upcoming travel plans out of the country, please speak to your instructor/supervisor about how you can be accommodated from home for 14 days after your return.

If Canada is your home at this time, we recommend against booking any international travel in the near future. Students, faculty and staff are reminded to register international trips in the SFU Travel registry.

Please also check with your travel insurance provider about coverage. Providers may not provide coverage for issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact your provider about the areas you are traveling to before your trip. More information on travel insurance is available from the Government of Canada.

Anyone returning to BC from China’s Hubei province, Iran, or Italy should self-isolate in their home/residence/room alone for 14 days upon arriving. In addition, they should contact the BC public health authority within 24 hours of arriving in Canada by calling 8-1-1, and monitor themselves daily for symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, difficulty breathing).

Anyone who is concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 8-1-1.

More information on self-isolation is available from the BCCDC.  

More info about the COVID-19: