Despite COVID-19 concerns, Douglas College will not be shutting its Coquitlam and New Westminster campuses and in-person classes and most other activities will continue as scheduled, according to college president Kathy Denton.
In a message to students posted online Friday, Denton said based on Ministry of Health advice that the risk remains low and the best way to fight the virus is to be vigilant about proper hand washing and social distancing measures if sick, programs will remain running as usual.
“The ministry does not recommend that we suspend in-person classes," Denton said in her statement, noting that Douglas College, along with other public universities, colleges and institutes in B.C. will continue as usual unless things change. “Should this recommendation change, public post-secondary institutions will work together to suspend activities as necessary in a coordinated manner."
In future, programs could be delivered online, the statement notes.
“Douglas College will continue to ramp up our capability to deliver course work online, so we are prepared should we ever need to suspend in-person classes, and look at ways to deliver alternatives to in-person exams should that become necessary.
"In the meantime, we have enhanced our cleaning regimens, curtailed non-essential international travel, and are working across the institution to maintain a healthy, safe and engaging learning and working environment.
According to a college FAQ, work has been ongoing to prepare for COVID-19.
"Since January, a cross-college Pandemic Preparedness Response Team has met twice weekly at the college to actively monitor the situation and put plans in place for timely response, as needed. This includes updating and enacting business continuity plans should the situation escalate. As always, the health and safety of Douglas College staff, faculty and students is our priority.”
The college recommends checking its website frequently for updates and its FAQ states there are no cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Douglas College campuses.
Earlier this year, as COVID-19 spread in Wuhan, China, some Douglas College students said they were taking precautions just to be safe.
At Coquitlam Centre in early February, two international students from Vietnam who are studying hospitality at Douglas told The Tri-City News they were wearing facemarks while shopping “just to be safe,” although they don’t wear them on campus.