Back to school in B.C.: Here's the plan for post-secondary students

The University of British Columbia campus is seen in the foreground, with downtown Vancouver in the background, in this photo from June 2019.

After more than a year of non-traditional learning plans, what will the first day of school look like for B.C.'s post-secondary students?

The province said in a news release Monday that the plan is to increase in-person lessons.

The just-released "Return-to-Campus Guidelines" are built around the province's larger four-step restart plan.

  • Looking for the plan for elementary and secondary schoools? Read more here.

The guidelines are meant to help university and college staff prepare to welcome back students and staff at the start of the fall semester. According to a section titled "Getting Back to Normal," the plan is to be either at or near pre-pandemic operating levels before the first day of classes.

The plan includes an expectation that on-campus student housing will be almost at full occupancy.

Schools will no longer need a COVID-specific safety plan, but instead will come up with plans to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses including the novel coronavirus.

Masks will be a "personal choice," the guidelines suggest.

Social contact will no longer be restricted. However, the document also recommends daily health checks, and that staff and students should stay home and get tested if they're sick.

Cleaning, which at previous stages was described as "enhanced," will return to "modified seasonal."

Most learning will be on-campus, though accommodations and support are expected, and there will be maximum capacities for buildings and rooms.

Offices and workspaces are expected to be fully reopened by the fall, as are all common areas.

When it comes to organized gatherings, including those for work, full capacity will be allowed, but virtual options are expected to still be offered.

There should be no limitations on student activities, including at sporting events, bars and nightclubs and parties.

As with everything, the plan hinges on the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

"We will continue to carefully monitor any transmission episodes on campuses, just as we do with influenza or other respiratory illnesses this fall, to keep students, faculty and staff safe. This is something we have shown we can successfully manage in B.C.," provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said in a news release.

Read the full, 18-page document of guidelines on the province's website.