As educational institutions around the world pause or limit their operations, Thompson Rivers University – Williams Lake campus is keeping a close eye on the global pandemic in an effort to keep its students safe.
TRU’s interim associate dean Bryan Daly said it’s “business as usual” at TRU and that they’re taking a calm and measured approach to the disease. Daly, administrative co-ordinator Pat Biblow and interim campus co-ordinator Reta Langlands are watching over the safety of the lakecity’s 450 enrolled TRU students.
Part of their response has been to ensure staff and faculty receive daily updates about the situation and disseminate info into a Williams Lake context, Daly said. He feels its important for people to remember COVID-19 cases have yet to be reported in Williams Lake and to take comfort in that.
“Don’t let it occupy your thoughts, focus on your studies,” Daly said.
Langlands said that to combat the potential spread of COVID-19 and pathogens, they’ve distributed more hand sanitizer dispensers across the campus and increased their janitorial services on public spaces by wiping down doorknobs and other places with high public use. They’ve also encouraged students and faculty who are not feeling well to stay at home, she added.
There is a TRU Pandemic committee, Biblow said, which includes members of the lakecity campus who are kept regularly updated by information from Interior Health. To that end, Daly would like to ensure people that members of TRU’s executive are working diligently to stay up-to-date and closely monitor the latest information on the virus and ensure their response is using the best practice.
As of Friday, March 13 TRU has made no announcements indicating classes will be cancelled for the rest of the term, however, in a statement made by vice-chancellor Brett Fairbairn other measures are being taken. Fairbairn said that, based on the recommendations made by yesterday by provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry, all non-essential TRU-sponsored travel outside of Canada is being suspended immediately while large events at the campus will be either postponed or cancelled.
Fairbairn added that Henry has also advised any who do travel outside of Canada at this time refrain from coming to work or school for 14 days after, in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
As for limiting gatherings of more than 250 people, Fairbairn said that as TRU classes tend to be smaller they should hopefully see little impact on student’s education and be able to finish the semester. How TRU will be doing final exams, however, is still being decided at this time.
Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, TRU has set up a COVID-19 focused sidebar on its website to give students, staff and faculty up-to-date 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,” Fairbairn said.
He advises all students and staff to follow proper hygiene rules, wash their hands regularly, refrain from handshaking, stay home if they’re feeling sick and above all else care for one another.