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Statement on public post-secondary back-to-school gatherings

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, has issued the following statement on the excessive number of students gathering publicly at the University of Victoria (UVic) outside of educational activities:

“Last week, half a million students returned to post-secondary education in B.C. through both in-person and online instruction. This was made possible by the herculean efforts of staff, faculty, administrators, parents and students themselves, whose sole focus has been on mitigating COVID-19 health risks.

“The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has been very clear about the need for individuals, organizations, communities and our province to work together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and follow orders and guidelines around social gatherings.

“To learn that some students are blatantly ignoring the advice and orders of Dr. Henry and gathering in large numbers is unacceptable, completely irresponsible and could lead to enforcement measures.

“I expect better from all of our students in the post-secondary system. I hope that this behaviour is not replicated going forward at UVic or any other post-secondary institution in the province. It undermines the efforts of so many other students and staff who are working to keep campuses open and safe.

“I understand that returning to campus this fall is an exciting time after months of physically distancing and limiting our social activities, but no one wants to contract or unintentionally spread COVID-19 to our friends and family.

“I appreciate that most students are following Dr. Henry’s direction and that staff are working hard to provide safe campuses and learning environments.

“We are all in this together, and we all need to do our part to hold the line against COVID-19.”

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