Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Message from the Principal: COVID-19


Updated: July 31, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Columbia College is open September 2020 to both new and continuing students. Applications are being accepted from new students currently in Canada. Apply here.

Message from the Principal:

I am pleased to confirm the approach that Columbia College is going to take in Fall 2020 as we positively address the uncertainty created by Covid-19.   

While Covid-19 has created many challenges for all of us, Columbia College is committed to working with all members of our College community to ensure that our students receive high quality courses in a supported academic environmentregardless of whether courses are taken remotely or face-to-face. 

The College is collaborating with the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training,  the BC Ministry of Educationthe Federation of Independent Schools of BC,  and secondary and post-secondary institutions across British Columbia to ensure our programs follow provincial and federal health and safety guidelines. 

For Fall 2020 Columbia College’s top priorities are:

  • ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our students, instructors and staff,
  • a commitment to delivering a high quality, engaging educational experience, face-to-face where possible,
  • collaborating with the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, BC Council on Admissions and Transfers (BCCAT), the Ministry of Education and other post-secondary institutions to ensure seamless course transfer to university,
  • the adoption of a phased-in measured approach to face-to-face learning (under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafe BC), 
  • to continue to provide all academic supports to students remotely, and face-to-face where possible, including career counselling, academic advising, library services, homestay, health services and student activities.

Columbia College’s approach to Fall 2020 

During Fall 2020, Columbia College will conduct classes in three ways i) remotely, combined with select ii) face-to-face, and iii) hybrid classes (a combination of remote and face-to-face delivery).  To adhere to anticipated physical distancing requirements the College is preparing to offer small face-to-face classes in select courses subject to Ministry of Health guidelines.  

Remote classes will not exceed the College’s normal class size maximum of 35 (University Transfer), 30 (Secondary) and 25 (English Composition and English preparation).   

The government of Canada announced this week that college and university students may study online in the Fall 2020 semester and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning. Icollege and university students cannot travel to Canada soonernew students may begin their classes online while outside Canada, and there will be no impact to the PGWP (Post Graduation Work Permit). At the time of writing, students must have an approved student permit application for studies to count towards the PGWP. 

At this time, select Science labs will be delivered in person in the Fall 2020 semester subject to Ministry guidelines. For this reason, students who wish to enroll in Science courses with in-person labs in the Fall semester, must be in the Vancouver area and must come to the College. If a student is planning to complete an Associate of Science degree, and will not be in Vancouver in Fall 2020, we are encouraging our students to choose from a long list of other courses required to complete their degree. 

On Friday, May 15, the Ministry of Education announced that as of September 1, 2020, Secondary students will be able to school return to school full-time in September provided it is safe to do so and COVID-19 measures are in place. The College will monitor this situationact as directed by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, and keep you informed on an ongoing basis. 

I am pleased to see positive signs of ‘flattening of the curve’ in BC, but know that the College must take care and proceed cautiously. Given the unique situation we find ourselves facing, the College’s planning for Fall 2020 will be both robust and nimble.  

Thank you for your patience and commitment during recent weeksThe last few months have shown what we can achieve together, as a College. Looking ahead, I am excited to see how Columbia College can continue to create enriching experiences for our students – I look forward to engaging with you in Fall 2020. 

Robin Hemmingsen 

Principal, Columbia College 

Please contact us as follows and we will do our best to support you:

For Academic questions email: your instructor 
For Student Services email: [email protected] 
For Administration questions email: [email protected] 
For IT help: [email protected]

Online Class Information

All students have been asked to ensure they have Internet access from home, the application software needed to complete their course, to communicate to their instructor and their class, and access from home to an electronic device that enables use of the required software. IT Services will be available during office hours for the rest of the semester. For IT help please email: [email protected].

Each student has been asked to check their College email and student portal constantly. We will not be communicating to home emails as we move to an online class delivery.

Instructors will be available during regular class time and during communicated office hours. Flexibility will be required during this difficult time and patience too, as all of us adjust to a new learning experience. However, we remain committed to providing excellent instruction and supports to our students.

*Please note when using Zoom:

  • Zoom servers may be located outside of Canada
  • First name/nickname should be used to maintain privacy
  • Mute microphone when not talking to eliminate background noise
  • Use background function if you would like privacy in terms of others seeing your home environment.

All students agree to using the following supporting Columbia College platforms: Zoom, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Moodle and CAMS, as well as specialized software required for individual classes. 

Student Services Continue to be Available

As it is the College’s intention to continue to provide students with a supportive and engaging online learning environment, students will have the opportunity to complete their semester as planned. Our extensive Student Services will continue and students will have access to Academic/Immigration Counselling, Career Services, the Learning Centre, Nursing Consultation and Homestay support. To access these services students are asked to email: [email protected] to schedule a virtual appointment. Library Services are available through AskAway, the online chat platform.

All students have been asked not to go to their home countries until further notice as the federal government has shut the border to non-citizens. In addition, some countries will not support use of the application software needed to complete a course.

Anyone looking for non-medical information about COVID-19, including the latest information on travel recommendations, can call or text the provincial government through a newly created hotline at 1-888-268-4319 (1-888-COVID19) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

English Language Centre (ELC)

Starting March 16, 2020, all classes in the English Language Centre have been moved online. We understand that this may initially appear challenging for the students in our program because of the additional language barrier.

We would like the parents and custodians to know that the ELC students have regularly engaged in online or technology-related activities throughout the semester, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, because we believe that these are important skills the student should start acquiring as early as possible. All the instructors in our program have also chosen to use the same online platform (Microsoft Team) to connect with the students so that they can more easily adapt to the new system. Students will continue learning English through virtual face-to-face sessions with their instructors and classmates, collaborative tools, as well as a combination of physical and digital textbooks and resources. Instructors will monitor each student’s online attendance and participation and respond to any learning needs as they see fit. As a member of

Languages Canada, we are in close contact with the association on resources and protocols taken by other accredited institutions to ensure that we adhere to the highest standards possible for an academic language program.

If you or your child have any questions or concerns about our program, including the digital grade card reports, please contact Ginny Chien, The Dean of English Language Centre, at [email protected].

Current ELC students can also reach Ginny via Microsoft Team private chat during her regular office hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Columbia College Secondary, Grades 10-12

As with all Columbia College Programs, starting March 16, 2020, all Secondary classes have been moved to an online format to ensure that students are able to continue and complete their courses this semester. Secondary instructors are using a variety of interactive, online educational tools to ensure that students continue to receive quality education.

The Columbia College Secondary Program adheres to the guidelines of the BC Ministry of Education. Please see the update from Rob Flemming, the Minister of Education for British Columbia here.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress and progression in their online courses, please contact the Head of Secondary, Sarah Scali at [email protected].

Current Secondary students can also reach Sarah via Microsoft Team private chat during regular office hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm.

Homestay students who are enrolled in the January and future semesters are welcome to continue living with their host families during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the host family will continue caring for the safety and well-being of the student.

Students should remain in Canada and are not recommended to return to their home country. On-line classes can be accessed while living in homestay. Students will be required to have their own computer and avoid using their host family’s devices.

Students and host families will adhere to the updated guidelines set by Vancouver Coastal Health to avoid the spread of the virus. This includes the revised 8 pm curfew effectively immediately to all students.

The Homestay department will continue to monitor the student while in homestay and are available M-F 7:30–3 pm or by email [email protected].

New students starting in September 2020:

  • After careful consideration, the college has made a decision to deliver majority of classes online in Fall 2020. Select Science classes with labs will be delivered in person, subject to Ministry’s guidelines. 
  • The College will be delivering a variety of FLEX online courses available to our students. Flex courses will enable students to complete their work on their own time, not dependent on time zones. Students are given a timeframe during which they need to connect to their class at least once or twice. 
  • The government of Canada announced recently that college and university students may study online in the Fall 2020 semester and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning. If college and university students cannot travel to Canada sooner, new students may begin their classes online while outside Canada, and there will be no impact to the PGWP (Post Graduation Work Permit). At the time of writing, students must have an approved student permit application for studies to count towards the PGWP.
  • Tuition fees have also been frozen for the period of September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. Tuition per credit is C$535.
  • With travel restriction in place and the Canadian borders being closed, international students are still unable to enter Canada. We are seeing positive signs of ‘flatening the curve’ in BC and Canada and are hopeful that travel restrictions will gradually be relaxed.  We will continue to provide updated information based on guidelines from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Please email [email protected] for more information on Fall 2020 semester.

What to Do if You Think You Have COVID-19

If a student has a respiratory infection, they are asked to contact a clinic for direction (811). Students who are ill and not able to attend or participate in online classes, are to  fill out a self-declaration form at and contact their Instructor. Staff from the College will be in touch with each student once the self-declaration form is submitted. 

The BC Ministry of Health has developed a self assessment tool that will help determine whether a student may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. Students can complete this assessment for themselves, or on behalf of someone else. Please visit:  

We are in constant contact with health professionals and we are doing everything we can to keep the community safe, including homestay families who are in close contact with our students. Please visit: 

The province has a launched a new non-medical information line for British Columbians who have questions about COVID-19: 1-888-COVID19. Phone lines are open 7 days a week from 7:30 AM to 8 PM, and information is available in more than 110 languages. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Inbound Students on

For students who are on, be assured that all the provisions of policies for inbound (to Canada) coverage remain in force and there are no special conditions or exclusions due to the prevalence of the virus. More information about coverage during this time can be found at’s Travelling to Canada FAQs.