British Columbia

SFU asks all visitors to wear masks on its campuses

Simon Fraser University is now asking that all visitors to its campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey wear a non-medical mask in indoor public spaces.

Starting Monday, the university requests non-medical masks be worn in all indoor public areas

SFU has requested that students, staff and visitors to its three campuses in the Lower Mainland wear non-medical masks when in indoor public spaces. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Simon Fraser University is now asking that all visitors to its campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey wear a non-medical mask in indoor public spaces.

Effective Monday, the university is requesting that masks be worn in building entryways and atriums, hallways, stairwells, washrooms and study areas.  

"Although remote delivery of fall classes means few [students] will need to visit campus, it's important that we continue our due diligence to ensure that everyone who does need to return to campus during this time remains safe," said  Angela Wilson, senior director at SFU's media relations and public affairs.

"SFU continues to follow the government's recommendations and has put safety plans in place in alignment with WorkSafeBC B.C. guidelines."

Despite limited numbers of people currently on campus and expected in the fall, the school says common areas can be congested and make it difficult to consistently maintain a safe physical distance. 

"Non-medical masks are proven to protect others from the spread of the virus, so we ask everyone to do their part to protect each other," Vice-President Academic and Provost Jonathan Driver said in an email to students. 

People unable to wear a mask for medical or other reasons are being asked to maintain a safe distance from others. 

SFU is planning to make its own branded cloth face mask available soon. 

The university says specific safety plans are still being developed for activities in labs, offices and classrooms. 

In the meantime, SFU is reminding visitors to stay home if they're feeling sick, wash their hands, avoid touching their face, maintain a two-metre distance from others at all times or wear a mask when that's not possible.

No mask mandate at UBC

The University of British Columbia says at the direction of Vancouver Coastal Health it is not mandating mask use in indoor public spaces on their campuses at this time.

However, UBC says it has ordered 25,000 non-medical, reusable cloth masks and will distribute them in the coming weeks for those on campus who wish to use them. 

Matthew Ramsey, the director of university affairs for UBC, says the school advocates for physical distancing as the primary method of prevention for the spread of COVID-19. 

Ramsey says, since January, the school has increased cleaning for high-traffic areas, installed hand sanitizing stations, and put up signs around campus advising people of recommended health protocols. 

UVic

The University of Victoria says it is not requiring non-medical masks to be worn in indoor spaces at this time, unless physical distancing cannot be maintained such as working in close proximity in research labs.  

UVIC says it is following the guidance of the provincial health officer and the Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.'s post-secondary sector, adding that wearing a non-medical mask is a matter of personal choice and may help to protect others.

More of UVIC's safety protocols can be found on its website

Guidelines from the province

In late July, the B.C. government released their COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for post-secondary institutions, which according to Minister of Advanced Education Melanie Mark, offered a "minimum standard" for colleges and universities to follow.

The guidelines encouraged post-secondary institutions to make several accommodations, including setting a limit on the number of people permitted in a space at one time, providing hand sanitizer and PPE when necessary, and requiring masks where social distancing is not possible.  
 

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Cory Correia

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