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Thompson Rivers University 50th Anniversary
Thompson Rivers University 50th Anniversary

COVID-19: Updates

COVID-19 Update for April 3, 2020

Emergency Financial Assistance & Flexibility on Withdrawals

April 3, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Given the difficult circumstances some students are finding themselves in as a result of COVID-19, in a crisis that is rapidly changing, TRU has made further changes to provide support during this time. Please note the following updates and reminders of available supports.

Withdrawals during the COVID-19 crisis

Given the difficult circumstances some students are finding themselves in as a result of COVID-19, we are extending the option to withdraw from courses with no academic penalty to include after students have received their final grades. Students can elect to receive a W (Withdrawal) in place of final grades they feel have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation. Please note this withdrawal provision does not apply to any students who receive a final grade of F due to a finding under the Student Academic Integrity Policy.

Please visit Withdrawals for more information. The option to withdraw during the COVID-19 crisis applies to on-campus courses for the 2020 winter semester as well as Open Learning courses started between Aug. 15, 2019 and March 31, 2020, that were not completed as of March 15, 2020.

Withdrawal request forms will be made available within students' myTRU accounts in the coming days.

Emergency financial assistance

Any TRU student can apply to receive TRU emergency financial assistance. Funds are allocated according to need and urgency, with priority given to students most in need of basic necessities like food or medications.

Students seeking emergency funds are encouraged to visit our Emergency Funding page and review the instructions to apply. A single application is all that is required to be considered for all funding sources available.

TRU administers a variety of funds for emergency financial assistance, and these have recently been expanded thanks to the generosity of the TRU Students’ Union, the provincial government (which has allocated funding both for BC students in general and for Indigenous learners specifically), the federal government, TRU and the TRU Foundation. Please keep in mind this funding is reserved for helping students get through an immediate and unexpected crisis, and is not for general shortfalls over the coming semester.

The TRU Students’ Union has a Food Bank where members can access groceries if they are in need.

Students can also contact Career and Experiential Learning. CEL is offering assistance with filling out Employment Insurance application forms.

Mental health supports for students

We encourage students experiencing stress to access the resources we have available. Counselling Services are available virtually by appointment, by calling 250-828-5023 or emailing studentservices@tru.ca. Other resources for specific needs:

COVID-19 Update for March 31, 2020

End-of-Term Supports

March 31, 2020

Dear TRU Students,

I hope this letter finds you safe and well. I know that current circumstances related to COVID-19 have created uncertainty for many students. Amidst having to quickly transition to new ways of learning and studying, many of you may be wondering how these changes could affect your academic performance, worried about your health and well-being or that of family members, perhaps even concerned about finances. I am sorry that these challenges have come to you and to so many others at this time in history.

I want to reassure you that you do not have to carry any of this alone. We are here for you, and every area of TRU is firmly focused on helping you complete your winter term successfully. I want to tell you about several provisions you can take full advantage of immediately, to alleviate some of the pressures you may be feeling and effectively navigate these extenuating circumstances.

Academic Help
Temporary permission for course withdrawals after assignment of final grades

To prevent lasting impacts on academic progress and success, TRU has made a policy change as follows: students who receive a final grade of “D” or “F” and feel that their achievement was affected by the COVID-19 situation may elect to withdraw from the course. This would result in a grade of “W” with no academic penalty or impact on their grade-point average (GPA).

Extended timelines for final grade deferrals at the discretion of instructors

TRU has empowered faculty members to extend the standard six-week timing for deferred final grades, for a period up to one academic term, to allow students extra time to complete course work. If an instructor does not grant the requested extension, a student may appeal directly to their dean.

Note: pass-fail (credit/non-credit) grading will not be offered across TRU

I also want you to know that TRU cannot offer a credit/non-credit (sometimes referred to as pass-fail) grading option at our institution. I carefully considered input from students, faculty members, deans, the Provost and colleagues at universities across Canada before deciding that making such a change would be untenable. Having different students or courses within the same program subject to different systems of grading would require software re-coding and manual entry into official university records—essentially, the redesign of existing information technology, academic processes and policies. Such complicated changes under time pressure, with COVID-19 and related demands already stretching our university systems, would risk damaging the very systems on which all of our students and faculty rely at this critical time of year.

There may be one exception to this ruling specifically for the Faculty of Law, which already has special grading arrangements whereby students’ final grades are 85% to 100% based on their performance in a single, final exam. I have empowered the faculty in Law to decide whether all courses this term will either all be under the current letter grading policy, or all changed uniformly to credit/non-credit grading.

Please talk to your instructors or your dean about the options that are available to you.

Financial Help
Provincial confirmation of protection for student financial aid

While we are working hard to expand one-time financial assistance options for students who may have been laid off from jobs or experiencing other financial pressures, we are encouraged by Student Aid BC’s assurance that students in receipt of student loan and grant funding won’t be disadvantaged due to interruptions in their studies caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that if you choose to withdraw from a TRU course, even after you see your final grades, this won’t impact your financial aid.

Financial support

We are working with Student Awards and Financial Aid and the Office of Advancement to explore one-time financial assistance options for those students who may have been laid off from jobs and are experiencing financial pressures. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the generous allocation of $100,000 by the TRU Students’ Union for emergency student financial assistance.

Student Services
Student Services on call for you

I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the extensive support you can access through TRU Student Services, where specialists are available to help with everything from writing, studying, time management and learning effectively at a distance, to looking after your emotional, mental and physical health and well-being, to exploring special accommodations through Accessibility Services.

If you have any such concerns, I encourage you to reach out. Help is available. For Accessibility Services, email as@tru.ca to book appointments and ask questions. For Counselling Services, email studentservices@tru.ca to book appointments and ask questions. You can also call 250-828-5023. Leave a voicemail and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Update for Graduating Students

In compliance with current provincial health regulations, TRU is cancelling the Convocation and Commencement ceremonies that would normally take place in spring. That said, it is perhaps more important now than ever to recognize and celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of all our graduates.

We plan to do just that, as we always do—with passion and joy—but in a slightly different way this year. Every graduate will receive their parchment and a commemorative booklet featuring graduate names from every school and faculty, inspiring messages from valedictorians, Chancellor Nathan Matthew and myself as president, acknowledgements of the distinguished recipients of TRU honorary doctorates, and images and information befitting of this milestone. These will be sent in the mail. We are also exploring the possibility of creating a virtual space where graduates, family and friends as well as TRU faculty and leaders, can share congratulatory messages, photos, videos and well wishes. I’ll provide further details on whether and when this is happening in an upcoming communication to you.

But for now, I’d like to close with a reminder: please, through this period, stay in touch with your instructors. Contact them directly with any concerns you may have about course content, assignments or performance. They are as dedicated as ever to doing whatever they can to support your success.

I also encourage you to check our website — tru.ca/covid19 — often, as we continue to update it frequently. As well, please do not hesitate to email covid19info@tru.ca with any other questions you may have. Please keep us aware of how things are going and whether new issues are coming up. Take care and be well—and remember: we may be physically distant, but we are all in this together.

Sincerely,
Brett Fairbairn
President and Vice-Chancellor

COVID-19 Update for March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020

Dear TRU community,

The past few days have brought more change as the impact of COVID-19 is felt in our communities. I want to thank all of the faculty and staff who have been putting in extra effort this week as TRU goes through a transition to greater learning and working at a distance. Our university remains open, albeit we are working in new ways.

The following represent updates of note for students, staff and faculty since our update of March 15.

Completion of the current winter term and other academic programming:

Monday, March 23rd will see the resumption of courses with students connecting with their instructors virtually. What this looks like will differ depending on the plan developed—some instructors may email students with course content, or post slides or lecture notes online, upload video content and/or use online learning platforms.

For students awaiting information from instructors, know they will be reaching out by Sunday, March 22 with specific plans on course completion, as well as how final assessments will be determined. Final exams will not be conducted in person.

Campus services:

As delivery of courses and programs have moved off campus and into virtual methods of delivery, so too have many of our services. Some of our staff are working remotely while others are at the university. TRU staff remain available to provide assistance, but in many cases, this will be done by phone or email. This is our way of doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 using social distancing measures.

As examples, the TRU Library is now supporting students and faculty fully online, and student counselling has moved to virtual appointments. Please check individual department webpages or call ahead to find out how service is offered. We will regularly update the status of services through the COVID-19 Campus Services page and ask for your patience as we determine how best to deliver services in the current environment.

Registration for future semesters:

Spring and summer courses

Registration for the spring and summer terms (May 4 to June 19 and June 22 to Aug. 7) is proceeding. TRU is pursuing alternate modes of program delivery for these sessions, away from face-to-face classroom instruction.

Fall semester

Applications are open for the fall term and student advisors are available to answer your questions. Please contact Future Students.

Note: face-to-face classroom instruction will remain suspended until health officials advise social distancing measures are no longer required.

Trades programming:

Face-to-face instruction for all trades programs is suspended until June 26, 2020. The exception to this will be apprentices in certain programs who have nearly completed their programs. For these apprentices, small class sizes will commence as directed by their instructors starting March 23 for a period of three weeks, to allow students to complete practical aspects of their programs. Strict social distancing will be implemented and class sizes will be reduced. Students, please know your instructors and program areas will be contacting you directly.

Open Learning:

Recognizing that OL students have different needs than campus-based students, we have now added FAQs specific to your concerns on the COVID-19 FAQ page. We encourage OL students to review this information and connect with OL directly if additional information is needed.

As we prepare for a new week ahead of us, I see examples every day of how our students, faculty, and staff are coping with the unfamiliar circumstances surrounding us. Please continue to be patient, kind, and respectful with one another, reflecting the values of our university community.

Sincerely,
Brett Fairbairn
President and Vice-Chancellor


Transitioning away from face-to-face classes

March 15, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The events of the past weeks have been challenging as we all adjust to the realities of COVID-19 and its impact on our communities. Many of our TRU family have expressed concern about the current situation, and as a university, we have actively been monitoring and making decisions based on evidence-based information, including the expert guidance provided by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. Of primary importance is the safety and well-being of our university community.

In alignment with other public Post-Secondary Institutions across the province, TRU has decided to move away from face-to-face classroom instruction and transition to alternative methods of instruction. As a result, please be advised of the following:

  • Effective Monday, March 16, TRU is temporarily suspending all face-to-face classes, meaning there will be no classes in session. This includes lectures, seminars, labs, studios, field school and field trips at our Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses, and our regional centres.
  • For students, the week of March 16th will be a study and catch-up week; for faculty, it will provide needed time to make arrangements for virtual or alternate forms of delivery of their courses, including final exams. Students, your instructors will connect with you directly as arrangements are made, so we ask for your patience during this time of change.
  • The week commencing Monday, March 23, courses will resume for most programs in alternate formats. For trades, given the extensive shop time required for learning, more discussions are required. Students will be informed as soon as possible on how these programs will resume.
  • Internships, placements and practica are not affected at this time and will continue as normally scheduled
  • TRU Open learning is still operating with registration open for courses. However, some face-to-face labs may be affected and students will be notified directly.

While TRU is moving away from face-to-face classes for the time being, our campuses and regional centres remain open. Services such as libraries, student supports, administrative offices, and study areas will be open. However, there may be some modification to hours, or how service is delivered to support the health and wellbeing of all members of our university community.

These are unprecedented times at TRU, and for our society. The measures above are our way of helping to contain the spread of the coronavirus, while at the same time, supporting students in their continued studies.

Looking ahead, TRU is planning for how courses will be delivered in our spring and summer semesters in light of our current reality. I encourage you to visit the university’s website tru.ca/covid19, where we will post regular updates, including answers to your frequently asked questions.

Sincerely,
Brett Fairbairn
President and Vice-Chancellor


Responses to travel and gathering advisory

March 13, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Yesterday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an update on COVID-19, which requires immediate action on the part of all British Columbians.

These actions include:

  • Avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including the U.S.
  • Limiting large gatherings to no more than 250 people

As a result, TRU is suspending all non-essential university-sponsored travel outside of Canada. This includes activities such as attendance at conferences, meetings or participation in field schools. For individuals who do choose to travel, Dr. Henry is advising individuals not return to work or school for 14 days upon return to the province to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

TRU will either be cancelling or postponing larger events. Imminently affected are Spring Open House and Long Night Against Procrastination. Prior to Dr. Henry’s update, TRU had already postponed two of our biggest IDays events (today’s Showcase and Saturday’s Wrap Party) using federal guidelines for large gatherings in making this decision.

We are currently assessing the impact of the province’s direction on large gatherings as it relates to class size. Dr. Henry’s message included the following statement:

“Some post-secondary institutions have classes with more than 250 students, and we are working with them to take measures to address this situation.”

We are hopeful this will be minimal as the majority of classes at TRU have fewer than 250 students. The Registrar is working through this and any alternative arrangements, including how we run our final exams. This will be communicated to you as soon as possible. On questions about whether classes will continue to the end of the term, TRU is following the guidance of our top health officials on such matters and Dr. Henry has not indicated a need to close schools at this time.

Recognizing, however, that the situation around COVID-19 is rapidly changing, we are actively monitoring the situation. This includes conversations with our regional health authority, with the Ministry of Advanced Education Skills and Training, and with leaders of other universities.

We will continue to provide updates to our university community, and encourage you to visit www.tru.ca/covid19 regularly for information.

I appreciate the global pandemic we find ourselves facing is troubling. We are anxious, worried for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities. I remind myself what health officials are telling us—this will take an “all-of-society” approach to combat. With that in mind, think about what each of us can do to safeguard the health of one another as we come to school, go to work and meet with friends and family. Continue to practice good hand hygiene, proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, forego the handshake, stay home when ill, and above all, care for each other.

Sincerely,
Brett Fairbairn
President and Vice-Chancellor


Postponement of two IDays events

March 12, 2020

In light of the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19, TRU has made the decision to postpone two upcoming IDays events. This decision is out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of our campus community.

The IDays 2020 Showcase scheduled for Friday, March 13 at 3 p.m., as well as the IDays 2020 Wrap Party scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m., have been postponed to future dates to be determined.

TRU will continue to refer to the federal government guidelines for mass gatherings to inform decisions on events hosted on campus.


Dear students, staff and faculty:

March 11, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to affect more countries and places closer to home, and with today’s World Health Organization announcement of a pandemic, I know, for many individuals, our personal level of concern is growing.

As health officials continue to stress, there are steps we can take to minimize the impact of this virus, the most basic of which is washing our hands regularly.

In addition, as a university we are taking action. Through our pandemic planning committee, we are monitoring daily the impact of COVID-19 globally, and with a particular focus on BC. We are in regular contact with the provincial emergency planning group, Interior Health, and other universities, both in Canada and partner universities overseas recognizing TRU’s international reach. We are monitoring activities in the university sector, addressing TRU-specific questions and issues as they arise, and are proactively planning should COVID-19 affect our local community.

Through all of this, we have looked to the latest direction provided by health agencies, namely the Provincial Health Officer, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Our efforts to date have included a focus on prevention to minimize the risk to students, staff, and faculty on our campuses. We have increased cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas, added more hand sanitizer stations across campus, posted more hand hygiene reminders, and provided guidance on travel. Most recently, with yesterday’s announcement of federal guidelines for large gatherings, we are turning our attention to upcoming events such as Open House and iDays to consider what additional safety measures we can put in place.

I assure you that TRU will post more information as relevant new guidance becomes available. The most up-to-date information specific to our university will always be available on our website. TRU has posted “frequently asked questions” to address some of the questions you may have and additional information will be added as the situation evolves. The direct link is www. tru.ca/covid19.

Many of our staff have been working for weeks to ensure TRU is well-prepared. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have been working hard since the middle of January to implement preventative measures on campus, to respond as questions arise, and to plan ahead.

This is an unprecedented situation affecting us all. How we respond in the days ahead and weeks ahead, both individually and as a university community, will be important as health officials have stressed the important role we all play in minimizing the impact of this virus.

Sincerely,
Brett Fairbairn
President and Vice-Chancellor


An update on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Feb. 25, 2020

The Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control have provided information to post-secondary institutions across the province regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The information includes recommendations for students, faculty and staff.

Download PDF

Previous Updates


Health advisory: Coronavirus

Jan. 30, 2020

Thompson Rivers University is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, and is following the lead of public health officials. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control have assessed the current risk for Canadians as low.

An advisory team from key campus areas is meeting regularly to assess and prepare for any possible impacts at TRU and for students, staff or faculty travelling internationally.

Current precautions for coronavirus are the same as for influenza (the flu) and other common respiratory infections.

For additional information on coronavirus, health and prevention, and travel, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

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