Information for all Employees

Publish date: August 28, 2020

This page will be updated as more information become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Safety on Campus

As North Island College students and employees gradually return to campus, please review the COVID 19 Safety Plan, created to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

To ensure and safe and healthy return to on-campus operations for everyone these protocols will accompany specific program, cohort and campus safety plans that are currently being developed in consultation with public health guidance. Please watch this page for the latest updates.

Read the pre-screening questions in NIC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan (Attachment A, pg. 21) and posted at the entrance to each building. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, please stay home. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact 8-1-1 and follow their guidance.

Please bring your own mask to campus. Non-medical masks are strongly recommended when it is not possible to consistently maintain a two-metre distance from others, including common areas or whenever safety plans require them. If you do not have one, NIC will have a limited number of masks available for students at hand sanitization stations, located near the entrance to NIC buildings. Supervisors will be provided a mask for employees in the coming weeks.

Remember, wearing a mask alone does not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must consistently and strictly adhere to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing, physical distancing and staying at home when sick.

It is also important not to stigmatize people for their ability or choice to wear a mask. Health experts advise masks may be problematic for some people, such as those with asthma, autism or hearing impairments, making hygiene and public health measures more important. Where physical distancing is provided, the use of non-medical masks is a personal choice.

Learn more about how to safely and effectively wear a mask.

NIC’s COVID 19 Safety Plan also has more information on administrative controls and a table showing various risk situations and responses, including the use of PPE (pg. 8-9).

Yes. NIC has increased cleaning frequency as well as the strength of cleaning products they are using. Our cleaning team frequently cleans touched surfaces twice per day, including washrooms, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, etc. In addition, chairs, tables, floors, hallways and other areas are cleaned daily.  Cleaning materials and instructions are provided near copiers and other shared electronic equipment.

You will know if an office, classroom or other workspace has been cleaned by use of a card system located on room entry doors. The last user in a space will turn the card to “needs cleaning” and the cleaners will turn the card to “cleaned” after cleaning the space.

Cleaning standards are available with each safety plan and through a Facilities page, being developed on myNIC.

Please see the NIC COVID 19 Safety Plan for more information on cleaning surfaces and frequency.

Deans, directors and managers have been asked to work with the Health and Safety team to develop and communicate safety and staffing plans for every NIC program, service and operational area. This includes work spaces, classrooms, shops, labs, shared common areas and public spaces.

If you are a faculty member concerned about safe office, lab, studio, or workspace, please refer to the Classroom and Work Space Questions on the Information for Teaching Faculty page.

These plans and safety protocols will be communicated directly by your direct supervisor. General safety protocols may also be shared through various communication channels, including the NIC website or portal, as well as through standardized signage at each location.  If you have any specific concerns, please talk to your supervisor.

Physical access to NIC facilities has been restricted in order to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission.  The following measures have been put in place:

  • NIC buildings are closed to the general public. Visitors to campus should be on college business only. Employees should not bring guests onsite at this time;
  • While a few buildings are open to provide access to services, most buildings are locked.
  • In the first few weeks of fall, each campus will have an NIC ambassador available near key entrance points to direct and assist students;
  • Employees can access buildings through key fobs and physical office keys.
  • In all other cases, Facilities and the Health and Safety Office will determine how best to manage student access, on a case by case basis. These specific access controls are included in the safety plans, as needed.

All washrooms are open with signs limiting the number of occupants. The air does not need to be replaced.

During the first few weeks of fall, NIC will have ambassadors available near key building entrances at campuses in Campbell River, Comox Valley and Port Alberni to assist students.

Wherever possible, food services will be available with a limited menu and takeout only.

Please see the full list of campus services and spaces for hours and delivery methods.

Wherever possible, all NIC HVAC systems are programmed to circulate 100% outdoor air. All incoming air is taken from outside and all return air is vented out. There is little or no indoor air circulation.

Public health authorities manage COVID-19 case notifications within our community, lead contact tracing and alert individuals that may have been exposed to the illness. NIC does not notify community members unless public health authorities ask us to do so.

If an employee or student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to follow public health directions for testing and self-isolation.  Health authorities will contact any individuals at risk directly and NIC will provide assistance, when asked.

Public health does not expect NIC to trace contacts and supervisors should not disclose health information of employees. An employee with symptoms, or those who feel they have been exposed to someone with a known case, should inform their supervisor, call 8-1-1 and follow public health advice.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is closed to the general public, while remaining open to students. Students are following program-specific safety plans, as well as campus-wide safety protocols.

Staff that are welcoming visitors to campus will need to ensure they are following NIC’s COVID-19 general safety protocols. The following procedure summarizes how those key protocols can be adhered to when inviting visitors to campus.

  1. All visitors should be by appointment only to limit the uncertainty of drop-in visitors. The College has limited entry points during the pandemic. Visitors are restricted to those coming to campus for College business.
  2. A staff member will meet the visitor outside and bring them into the building. Ensure the visitor has reviewed the COVID-19 screening questions and can answer “no” to all the questions.
  3. Ensure the visitor has a mask when 6 feet of distance can’t be maintained.
  4. The visitor will be asked to sanitize hands using the foot pump station.
  5. Once the appointment is complete the visitor will be asked to leave the space through the entrance door.

BC’s public post-secondary institutions, have been declared a non-health essential service by the Province for the purposes of facilitating remote learning or performing essential functions. At NIC, many courses are being delivered digitally or through blended delivery, with safe distancing protocols in place.

Working from Home

NIC has a legal obligation of a duty to accommodation to employees. Workplace accommodation guidelines (including medical/family status) information are available to all employees regarding the accommodation process on the Human Resources portal page.

The BC Human Rights Commissioner provides detailed information with respect to COVID-19 and the impacts on individuals.

Through consultation and discussion your manager/supervisor, the Health and Safety Office, Occupational Health and Safety Committees, Human Resources and unions where applicable.

Employees are not expected to return to work without NIC ensuring appropriate safety measures/plans are provided.  Any requested absences or leaves must be reviewed and have manager approval. Not attending work without permission may be determined as being absent without approval of leave.

If an employee has concerns regarding safe workplace there are appropriate steps that must be followed prior to refusing to attend work. Steps provided by WorksafeBC for refusal of unsafe work are provided below:

WorksafeBC Steps to follow when work might be unsafe:

  1. Report the unsafe condition or procedure.
    1. As a worker, you must immediately report the unsafe condition to a supervisor or employer.
    2. As a supervisor or employer, you must investigate the matter and fix it if possible. If you decide the worker's concern is not valid, report back to the worker.
  2. If a worker still views work as unsafe after a supervisor or employer has said it is safe to perform a job or task
    1. As a supervisor or employer, you must investigate the problem and ensure any unsafe condition is fixed.
    2. This investigation must take place in the presence of the worker and a worker representative of the joint health and safety committee or a worker chosen by the worker's trade union. If there is no safety committee or representing trade union at the workplace, the worker who first reported the unsafe condition can choose to have another worker present at the investigation.
  3. If a worker still views work as unsafe, notify WorkSafeBC
    1. If the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact WorkSafeBC. A prevention officer will then investigate and take steps to find a workable solution.

Sickness and Isolation

All staff and faculty are urged to stay home if they are ill. In order to avoid undue utilization of health care resources during this pandemic, NIC does not require a medical certificate to substantiate absences greater than five days (as is the normal practice). Instead, if your are absent from work for more than five days due to illness (COVID-19 related or otherwise) or medically-recommended self-isolation, you will be asked by your supervisor to complete an Employee Declaration Form and submit it to Human Resources in order to make sure your absence is appropriately managed and supported.

Anyone who is concerned they, or someone they have been exposed to, may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health-care provider or call public health at 8-1-1.

If you are an employee that does not have paid sick leave due to your employment status or have insufficient sick leave to cover the anticipated duration of your absence, please advise your supervisor/manager, who will consult with Human Resources in this circumstance.

You should not attend work if you are sick as this increases the risk of exposure for others. Recent changes to Employment Insurance rules by the federal government may be available to employees without paid sick leave to mitigate wage loss and Human Resources staff can assist with this process and/or identify other alternatives on a case-by-case basis.

If you are advised by a medical professional to self-isolate or required to self-isolate, please notify your immediate manager by phone. Your supervisor will provide you with an Employee Declaration Form to complete and submit to Human Resources (in place of the normal Medical Certificate Form for absences greater than five days). This will ensure your absence from work is appropriately managed and supported.

The BC Centre for Disease Control has clear instructions for self-isolation.

The Province has issued a travel advisory recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States, as of March 12, 2020. If you have chosen to travel outside Canada after this time, we can provide you no assurance that your period of self-isolation will be paid unless you are in an approved work from home situation.

Please review the protocols laid out on the BC Centre for Disease Control website, which are kept updated as direction evolves, and if you have additional questions, call 8-1-1. If you are advised by a medical practitioner or public health official to self-isolate, you should advise your supervisor immediately (via phone or email). Your supervisor will provide you with an Employee Declaration Form to complete and submit to Human Resources (in place of the normal Medical Certificate Form for absences greater than five days). This will ensure your absence from work is appropriately managed and supported.

Guidelines related to travel are evolving, so we recommend that you call your health care provider or 8-1-1- to obtain medical advice for your specific situation.

Generally, in such circumstances you can report to work as normal. However, since your family member will be in self-isolation, we recommend you review the following BCCDC self-isolation protocols. Of course, if you or your family display moderate to severe symptoms (fever, cough, and respiratory problems) you should immediately contact your healthcare provider or call 8-1-1. Additionally, please do not come to work if you become ill.

Yes, Manulife recognizes COVID-19 as an illness and claims will be handled in accordance with the plan. Please visit the Manulife site for specific information.

If you experience illness during the 14-day self-isolation period, you should contact your health care provider or call the Provincial Health Line 8-1-1. The relevant health care professional will make a determination as to whether or not you should be tested for COVID-19.

As you are now ill, you should also contact your supervisor/manager as you would now be considered sick rather than just in self-isolation and this may impact how your further absence from work is treated. Since you are sick, you may be eligible for sick leave benefits depending on your employment status.

At this time self-isolation has not been recommended for those that have travelled within Canada only and self-isolation is not otherwise required unless you have been directed to do so by a Public Health Official due to possible exposure from a confirmed or suspected case. In this circumstance you are expected to report for work. You may request leave (e.g. vacation) and such request will be considered taking into consideration operational requirements.

All COVID-19 cases in BC are being medically followed by Public Health and are self-isolated from others. Once individuals recovering from COVID-19 infection have demonstrated they no longer require self-isolation (two negative test samples), Public Health will advise these individuals they can return to their usual routines and should provide the individual with a letter indicating the employee is medically cleared to return to work. You should provide a copy of this letter to your supervisor/manager in advance of returning to work.

Support

Yes, all employees and their dependents have access to confidential counselling services. Our employee and family assistance provider is Homewood Health and can be accessed 24/7 by calling 1-800-663-1142 or by visiting homeweb.ca.

Please also be aware that we have received communication from Homewood that they are transitioning to telephone-based counselling services only over the coming weeks to mitigate the health risk to service providers and clients. Please read Homewood’s communication regarding telephone-based counselling services.

Also provided is information regarding creating and accessing Homewood Health’s Homeweb services for employees. This is an innovative online platform that offers members access to personalized health and wellness tools, resources and support when you want it, anytime anywhere.

More Questions

If you have any questions with respect to NIC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan or the creation of individual safety plans for your area, contact HealthandSafety@nic.bc.ca.

Additional resources: