Worried about returning to SFU and what to do about COVID 19 this school year?
So is everybody!

There is no doubt that returning to SFU this year feels more different than ever. You are not alone in having questions and concerns. The following is an assortment of information put out by SFU, the SFSS, and the Provincial Health Office regarding what to expect in 2021/2022. It is my hope that this will offer some peace of mind and a centralized location for information for students.

ALL OF THIS INFORMATION IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE, but is current, to the best of my knowledge, as of March 24, 2022, and will be updated as frequently as necessary/possible. -Trish

How is it going at SFU so far?

In a Letter from Dr. Bonnie Henry, to the Presidents of BC Universities dated January 21, 2022, Dr.  Henry reported: “We continue to see lower rates of COVID-19 incidence in the post-secondary population, and this reflects the high vaccination rates and comprehensive safety measures in place. In contrast to the controlled nature of classrooms and offices, SARS-CoV-2 transmits most efficiently in homes and unstructured or informal social settings. Public Health investigation has found that when a post-secondary student or employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the exposure was most often associated with their home or social setting, and they have not generated forward transmission in the classroom or office environment.”

In a November 12, 2021 update to Faculty and Staff, SFU announced “While there have been COVID-19 cases in individuals on our campuses, SFU has not been made aware by the health authorities of any transmission events on any of the three campuses. The majority of COVID-19 cases among faculty, staff and students were acquired outside of the academic environment, within their households and social networks, according to public health.” Additionally, they revealed that “Of the 93 per cent of SFU students, faculty and staff who submitted their SFU vaccine declarations, more than 97 per cent reported that they were vaccinated.” To read the full statement, click here.

Face Masks STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: Masks should be worn in ALL public indoor areas, including: the SUB, classrooms, labs, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and elevators. They may be removed briefly to eat or drink. Children 12 and under are strongly advised to wear masks.

The Public Health Order exempts instructors from wearing a mask when they are lecturing (if there is a  distance of 2 m between the instructor and students or if there is a physical barrier in between). Here is a link to the relevant Public Health Order: (see section 8.i). Students should wear masks in class at all times with the possible exception of a class presentation where they meet the same criteria as a lecturing instructor (see above) or class is outdoors.

Community members can pick up masks at Student Central in Burnaby and at the information desks in Vancouver and Surrey.


REQUIRED FOR MOST FOLKS: Vaccines are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for anyone and everyone who is able to receive full vaccination and they are REQUIRED for many students, staff and faculty (see below).

Vaccination clinics will be available on campus. The clinics are operating on a drop-in basis, with no appointments necessary to receive a free immunization. Medical Services Plan or personal health coverage is also not required, which means students who have not yet received B.C. health documentation are still eligible. For a full list of dates and times visit the pop-up vaccination clinic website. The list will be updated if additional clinic dates or locations are added.

Starting August 30, Nester’s pharmacy in UniverCity will also be providing mRNA vaccines to anyone 12 and up, providing students an alternative option for anyone unable to attend a Burnaby campus clinic.

PROOF of Vaccination REQUIRED for most (but not all) students.
Mandatory vaccination is not currently a policy in B.C. so it is not required at SFU. However, SFU will use the BC Vaccine Card on our campuses. By September 7, you will need to prove vaccination in order to live in student housing.  SFU is currently working with the Provincial Health Office to determine how students living in residence can prove their vaccination status and to gain clarification on medical exemption status options. As we confirm this information in the days ahead, Residence and Housing will continue to update students living in residence through their SFU e-mail.  For any urgent questions or support needed, please contact housing@sfu.ca.By September 13, you will need to prove vaccination in order to participate in varsity and intramural athletics, use gyms or recreation facilities, attend student clubs, sports, theatre, performances and other events, and dine indoors or on patios. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated.BUT, proof of vaccination is NOT required to attend in-person classes, seminars or tutorials. By order of the PHO, students participating in health science programs must be fully immunized to participate in student practicums and clinical placements in long-term care or extended care facilities.Register for a BC Vaccine Card!
You will need your name, date of birth, and Personal Health Number (PHN). You can find your PHN on the back of your BC driver’s licence, BC Services Card or CareCard. If you do not have a PHN, please call 1-833-838-2323.
Find out more information about the BC Vaccine Card.For out-of-province/international students: You can use your provincial/territorial or international proof of vaccination. Health BC recommends you also get a BC Vaccine Card. To get a card, you have to get your immunization record added to the provincial system. Submit your information as soon as you arrive in B.C.Review COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures Order – August 20, 2021 (PDF, 513KB)

Social Distancing

Strongly recommended wherever possible, may be required in some locations.

Hand Washing and Sanitizing

Strongly recommended to be done frequently and thoroughly. May be required in some locations.

I think I am sick. Should I come to Campus? What do I do?

NOT ALLOWED! Those experiencing symptoms of illness should NOT come to campus. Students, staff and faculty with flu-like symptoms should stay home. If you have COVID-19 symptoms self-isolate, get tested and follow the instructions from the Public Health Office. Visit the B.C. CDC website for information.
…but what happens to my classes and assignments if I can’t come to class when sick? DO NOT COME TO SCHOOL SICK!
SFU is relaxing requirements for doctors’ notes and providing flexibility to work and study from home for those who are experiencing symptoms or need to self-isolate.Academic concessions may be granted when unexpected situations or circumstances prevent students from participating in course-related activities, such as a minor illness of 1-5 days. Such circumstances could result in students missing a class, or being unable to complete graded work or exams. Academic concessions are normally given at the discretion of individual instructors, so it’s up to them to decide whether or not to grant one (although some departments and faculties have specified procedures). Faculty members should let students know how and when they want to be contacted in the case of an unexpected event interfering with a student’s ability to participate in course-related activities. For the 2021-2022 academic year, faculty who normally require documentation supporting a concession should use the new self-declaration form as SFU will not be requiring medical notes for minor absences during this period.Should a student need to be absent for a longer period, they will normally need to obtain additional documentation, including medical documentation. For example, if a student were to need to apply for a Withdrawal Under Extenuating Circumstances (WE) or an extended deferred grade (DE), documentation will be required. In some cases, an extended injury/illness (eg. Concussion, or fractured writing arm) may qualify a student for a formal accommodation through the Centre for Accessible Learning’s temporary injury process.
International Students International students can enter Canada if their institution has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place (SFU does). International students who are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine are not required to quarantine. However, all incoming students need a quarantine plan, regardless of their vaccination status. A quarantine plan is required in case individuals test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival and need to isolate in accordance with public health requirements.

A self-isolation plan and federal ArriveCAN application must be completed and submitted prior to arrival.

You may have received a COVID-19 vaccine in a different country prior to coming to Canada on a temporary or permanent basis, or returning to Canada from studying, working or traveling abroad. If you are an international student or a student who has been living abroad and you received a COVID-19 vaccination outside of Canada, you may still need to get a vaccine in Canada.

If you received one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in another country, you should: Register with the Get Vaccinated system to get vaccinated in B.C. AND Submit proof of your COVID-19 immunization record to the Provincial Immunization Registry.
B.C. is following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved COVID-19 vaccines list to decide whether or not it is recommended that you receive additional COVID-19 vaccination here.

List of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines:
Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield,
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), SinoPharm (Beijing) / Covilo / BBIBP-CorV, Sinovac/ CoronaVac.

For information on entering Canada and how your vaccination history may impact your entry requirements, check the government’s current travel guidance.

To access your BC vaccine card, you will need to obtain a Personal Health Number and ensure your immunization record is on file with the B.C. provincial government. You will be assigned a Personal Health Number once you have enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP), or when you register by phone with the Get Vaccinated provincial registration system (see below for process).

To update your record and gain access to a BC Vaccine Card if you received one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in another province or country, you must:
Register with the Get Vaccinated provincial registration system (this can be done online if you already have a Personal Health Number, or by phone if you do not), and
Submit proof of an official immunization record.

Please note: If your proof of vaccination documents are not in English or French, they must be accompanied by a certified translation. For information about translators in British Columbia, visit the Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC website.

It will take 2 to 3 weeks for your immunization record to be entered into the Provincial Immunization Registry after submission. For more information on this process, visit the Government of BC’s website and select “I got dose one or two in another province or country”.

Current federal travel guidance and requirements for entering Canada
Federal checklists and exemptions for international students


I need to self isolate…

For Self Isolation Support at SFU (for folks who live on and off campus), go here!
What about mandatory Self-Disclosure of Vaccination Status? Starting September 7, all students, staff and faculty will need to submit a COVID-19 Vaccine Declaration by Sept 20, 2021. Please see https://www.sfu.ca/returntocampus/resources/vaccine-declaration.html for more information.

For those who are not vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status, information will be provided on how to participate in regular rapid COVID-19 testing on or near SFU campuses.

The information will be used to support the application of SFU policies and health and safety plans and procedures. If you have any questions about the collection and use of this information please contact Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Catherine Dauvergne, vpacad@sfu.ca.

I still have questions! If you have a question or concerns that are not covered here, please email it to covid19@sfu.ca and they’ll work to get you an answer as soon as they can.

What else can I do to help myself out this year?

Set yourself up for success!

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com


  • Go in with a plan! If your Instructor/TA doesn’t have much of a plan for assisting students who are ill or must isolate, consider making your own plan. What can you put in place now, while you and everyone else is healthy and well, that will help later on if someone should get sick? Make this specific to your classes and Instructors/TAs.
    • For example: Form a group of 5 or 6 students and share each other’s contact information. Should a member of the group fall ill, or have to isolate at home, someone else from the group can volunteer to share notes, record the lecture, or even bring a device to class and set up a zoom. It is unlikely everyone in the group will be away from class at the same time, so you should be covered! Do this for each of your classes.
    • This gives you, the student, more control over how to manage your time, energy, and get through an illness or mandatory isolation and it removes the burden from your Instructor/TA to find a solution, so they should be supportive too! People LIKE to say yes, and when you make that easy for them to do, your odds are even higher!
  •  Let your instructors/TA know now what your plan is, so nobody is surprised if you put the plan into action and make sure they do not consider anything involved to be an Academic Integrity issue in any way. Note that in the past faculty have been upset about shared note documents and other forms of collaboration (digital or otherwise), so make sure that you have their full understanding and approval; maybe even get that approval in writing if you can.

Ask for help if you need it!

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SFU has SOOOO many resources for students, now more than ever. If you are in need of help or support of any kind, ask for it! See this page for tons of support options available to all students and specific supports for students from Equity Seeking groups. You can always reach out to studentadv.coord@sfss.ca too!

The information on this page is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of March 24, 2022.

Student Advocacy Office Homepage