COVID19 Updates and FAQs

Updates by date of release

March 19, 2020.

To whom it may concern:

Greetings from Simon Fraser University and Fraser International College. We hope this message finds you well.

At SFU and FIC, nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our students. Although to our knowledge, we are not currently aware of any cases of COVID 19 within our university community, as part of our ongoing commitment to educating our students, we are writing to provide you with some additional information in relation to the COVID-19 virus.

We know you may have questions about actions we're taking to help protect our students, staff, and faculty. We wanted to provide you with an update on the initiatives that are currently in place at SFU/FIC. These initiatives include:

  • Closely monitoring the situation. We're following updates on COVID-19, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( as well as local and global health Simon Fraser University and Fraser International College continue to work very closely to monitor the situation. We will continue to take actions necessary to help protect the community.
  • Helping with prevention. Additional sanitizing stations have been installed in student areas, and there have been measures taken to ensure increased sanitization of classrooms and public spaces. We continue to educate the community about resources and best practices to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses and where they can find essential information to contact local health authorities for advice
  • Supporting students. We are continually working to support students by providing information on how to access resources and services. Support services are available in-person, by phone, or email for students who have concerns regarding their health.

In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, we also have trained counselling staff and case managers available, who can assist in dealing with critical incidents should this become necessary or should students require additional support. In the event that a student lives in on-campus housing, we will ensure students are properly attended to and supports will be available.

Should you have any questions in relation to the COVID-19 virus or wish to follow-up in relation to one or more of the students or families with whom you interact, please feel free to contact us directly.

Download the full statement in PDF format.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  • What is COVID-19

    • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.
  • What are the symptoms?
    • Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19 and include:

      • fever
      • cough
      • difficulty breathing
      • pneumonia in both lungs
  • How is it spread?
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 2 metres/6.5 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or in saliva when speaking in close proximity.

      According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Touching an object that has the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, eyes before washing your hands. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • Identifying COVID-19 symptoms can be difficult as they are like those of a common cold or flu:

    Allergies Cold Flu Coronavirus









    Itchy, runny, stuffy nose



    Shortness of breath

    Itchy, red, watering eyes

    Sore throat

    Sore throat

    Symptoms appearing 2-14 days after exposure


    Watery eyes

    Fatigue (tiredness)


    Muscle or body aches

    Muscle or body aches


    Runny or stuffy nose

    Runny or stuffy nose

  • How can I prevent to get sick
    • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds.
    • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Practice social distancing.
  • What should I do if I am sick
  • If you are sick, you should take the following CDC’s Recommendations for Prevention to protect yourself and the community:
    • Stay home except to get medical care.
    • Contact your instructors and to let us know you are unwell.
    • Avoid public areas and public transportation.
    • Separate yourself from others in your home.
    • Use Mobile Doctor or call ahead before visiting your doctor in person.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with elbow.
    • Wear a face mask if you are sick.
    • Clean your hands often for 20+ seconds.
    • Avoid sharing personal items.
    • Clean all surfaces that you touch.
    • Monitor your symptoms and stay at home until you are instructed to leave.
  • What is Social Distancing?
    • According to the CDC, social distancing involves “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance” whenever possible to limit the ability of the virus to spread.
    • This means avoiding concerts, restaurants, bars or clubs, malls, conferences, and any non-essential locations where there are large groups of people who may not know they are sick yet.
  • How will Social Distancing save lives?
    • While the same number of people will still get the virus, social distancing slows down the rate at which people get sick.
    • This gives hospitals and the health care system a chance to help the most severe cases to recover
    • This also protects doctors, nurses, and health care workers as well as other patients in hospitals from spreading the virus.
    • This concept is called “Flattening the Curve”. If you want to understand more about how viruses spread and how social distancing can help save lives click here.
  • Should I wear a face mask?
    • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection.
    • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
    • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
  • For more information please see the World Health Organization (WHO) guide for how and when to use face masks.

    It is also important to recognize the cultural practice of wearing face masks across the world. In several countries across Asia, wearing face masks is often seen as an act of solidarity and collective responsibility to minimize the transmission of diseases. It is also believed that wearing a mask prompts people to not touch their face or eyes.

    This understanding is crucial to reducing the social stigma and discrimination that can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone is specifically at risk for the disease.
  • Can I return to my home country and study online?
    • Starting Monday, March 16th, 2020 all classes will be delivered online for the remainder of the semester, including final exams.

      Given this, some of you may now be considering whether or not you wish to leave the Lower Mainland or Canada, if your family or other supports are elsewhere. We understand that these decisions can be difficult to make, particularly in the face of a global situation that is evolving rapidly. Every situation is unique, and we are here to support you as you consider your choices. 

      We understand that it can feel lonely when you have loved ones around the world. While this is a challenging time around the world, the best thing we can do to stop the spread of the virus and keep everyone we care about safe, is to stop travelling. 

      We want you to know that FIC will be here for you through the semester, the semester break, and the coming years of your studies in Canada. There is a lot of uncertainty now, but you are not alone in Canada and we are going to be here with you every step of the way. We want to reassure you that you continue to be welcome and supported here.

      However, it is your family’s decision to make with you about what actions you will take during the coming weeks. Please be sure to follow government advisories both in BC and abroad. The current recommendation for people in BC is to not travel outside of the country.
  • How can I stay connected while practicing social distancing?
    • During these times it is important to take care of ourselves. If you are feeling disconnected you can also try to video chat with your friends and family, call them on the phone, or send them messages and chat online. Make sure you are eating well and stay healthy and hydrated. I recommend you take a break from reading the news, watch some funny videos, try to relax a little bit and get a good night’s sleep.

      If you would like to speak with someone about how you are feeling we would also encourage you to connect with MySSP which is a 24/7 online counselling service available in over 60 different languages, where you can call, text, and video chat depending on your preference.  

      Advising is also available by drop-in, phone, email, and live chat if you would like to connect with a Student Success Advisor to discuss any concerns that you have.
  • How can we support each other through this difficult time?
    • Express empathy to each other - it’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during an outbreak.
    • Help each to make connections with friends, family, and others to talk about how they feel.
    • If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed, help them seek support from a healthcare professional.
    • Talk to people about how it is important, in general, but especially now, to keep the body as healthy as possible by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
    • Discuss how often you’re checking social media. In order to limit worry, one can limit their media exposure to a few trusted sources and try to access it less frequently. Help people understand that there is a lot of misinformation out there.
  • Will there be impacts to Residence and Housing?
    • Residence and Housing will continue to remain open in some capacity, even while classes have moved to online instruction. There are currently no plans to shut down all of residences or ask residents to leave or move out.
    • Due to the BC travel advisory recommendation to stay home for 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada, including travel to the United States, Residence and Housing can arrange meal delivery for any student resident who has returned to Canada after the announcement on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
    • Please contact our front desk immediately via email at or by phone at 778-782-4201 so that Residence and Housing can help assist you during this time.
    • Should any current residence student choose to move out of their residence room between now and March 31, 2020 their residence fees will be prorated for the remainder of the term. Refunds for remaining residence fees will be uploaded to student’s accounts over the next few weeks. If you are on a meal plan, this will also be prorated for those who choose to leave residence. No refunds of spring term fees will be available for students who move out of Residence on or after April 1, 2020.
  • What are the most recent updates from March 16th?
    • Health officials in British Columbia are restricting events with more than 50 people while the Federal Government is putting in travel restrictions.
    • Borders will be closing to those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, except for flight crews, diplomats and US citizens, but this does not impact those already in Canada.
    • Four airports in Canada will receive international flights including Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Toronto Pearson (YYZ), Montreal (YUL).
    • More information will be presented daily to keep everyone informed.
    • The transportation of goods will not be affected, and Canada is not running out of supplies.
    • Public Health Agency of Canada has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 or by text message at 604-630-0300.
    • Not everyone needs a test for COVID/health care treatment; if you are sick, stay home and away from others and recover.
    • Everyone should stay home as much as possible, avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
  • How will we support current international Covid-19 infected students who are studying at our colleges?
    • Academic: We have quickly moved to remote delivery of instruction in tandem with our university partners to minimize disruption to studies.  Our instructors are available for online meetings with students and we are working to move our peer-led programming (e.g. peer tutoring) to online platforms.

    • Student Support: While we cannot continue in-person group activities, we are offering programming and student services online to ensure students remain engaged, connected, and supported (online chat/activities, games, peer support, etc.).  We will also continue our proactive support to students, reaching out to them electronically to ensure they are safe and secure.

    • Health and well-being: We will be conducting health checks with students to ensure they have the supports they require to be healthy in mind and body.  Our university partners have committed to continue providing essential services to students including on-campus dining (for those living on campus).  Our staff stand ready to assist and support students during urgent circumstances.

  • What aspect of Covid-19 diagnoses and treatments are covered by the students’ health insurance?
    • Students are covered by health insurance. Note that tests are available based on screening measures (i.e. you must have symptoms or demonstrated risk of exposure), but there is no charge for testing or treatment. Students diagnosed with an illness when they are in Canada, including COVID-19, are eligible for medically necessary treatment as per the normal terms and conditions of their policy. If, for any reason, a student returns to their home country they are subject to the “home country exclusion” and will not be eligible for reimbursement under the terms and conditions of the policy. COVID-19 will be treated like any other illness in this situation.
  • How do we support newly arrived students during the 14 days of isolation regarding finding accommodation, food, and other necessities?
    • We are prepared to help identify temporary accommodation which will support their immediate shelter and dietary needs during isolation. In addition, we will design virtual orientation activities to help students engage with peers and adjust – as best as possible – to university life in Canada.  This is in addition to the measures noted above.
  • How will we support students who want to stay on-campus during closures/Easter holidays?

    • We have worked with our university partners to ensure that our students currently in residence may remain through to the close of the current term and be provided essential services including food, security, and the like.  While it will be a quiet time as there will be no formal on-campus programming, we will ensure they are able to reach out online to peer networks and supports. Additional housing support during the summer can be coordinated through our student services teams. The UM residences will close for the Summer 2020 term.
  • What do we do with students who want to return home during the closure? What happens if they cancel/defer?
    • Students will be allowed to defer their study for a term with no academic penalty and may return for the next term when travel restrictions are lifted.  We are offering remote study options for students who wish to remain engaged in their studies, including for those who are away from Canada.  Students wishing to withdraw from the program completely will be handled through our refund policy.
  • Will there be a summer semester at FIC?
    • Thank you for your patience and understanding while determined the best way to offer our Summer course offerings to every student at FIC.

    • We are pleased to announce that courses will be offered in a variety of delivery methods in Summer 2020.  In response to COVID-19 Coronavirus global pandemic, FIC has options for both in-person and remote delivery for our May 2020 intake.  The intake was originally scheduled to start on May 8 but will now commence on May 14 to ensure our instructors and students are fully prepared to teach and learn in this combined digital and in-person environment.

    • Please note that the in-person delivery is subject to the rules and regulations at the start of the term. If in-person delivery is not possible we will deliver the courses fully on-line through remote delivery until such time that in-person delivery is available. Also, if you are unable or unwilling to travel this term, you will still be able to complete your entire term through remote instruction over the internet.

    • To increase flexibility we are offering our standard four-month semester (May-August) and adding two additional two-month sessions - Intersession (May-June) and Summer session (July-August).  Students may enrol in any combination of these offerings.

      Full Summer Term:

      May 14th - August 23rd


      May 14th - June 30th

      Summer Session:

      July 6th - August 23rd


      The Full Summer Term is the standard 15-week semester, which will be running as scheduled with in-person or remote options. If for any reason institutions are not able to hold classes in-person, the semester will run remotely. An Intersession course will be an intensive 7-week course with the same number of credits and value as the Full Summer Term course offerings. It is double the number of hours per week and available in-person or remotely. A Summer Session course is the same as an intersession course, however it runs in the 2nd half of the summer allowing students flexibility in their academic planning. Available in-person or remotely.
      • A few other items of note include:

        • You can complete your courses from wherever you are in the world.

        • You do not need to have a confirmed visa in order to start this term, however, you will need a confirmed visa in-hand to arrive for the September term.

        • Course registration will take place online during the week of April 16th for new students.

        • FIC will offer a variety of programming to support your learning. This will include online sessions focused on academics, as well as social events to keep you connected with your classmates. Once circumstances change and it is safe for us to proceed with in-person events, we will resume this type of programming for those students who are in Vancouver.

        • More information and updates will be emailed to you during the coming days and weeks.

          If you have a valid visa, the Canadian government has made exemptions to its travel ban policy for international students. You can read more about it here.

        • You will still need to know and follow the self-quarantine requirements at the time of your travel.

        • Please be sure to also regularly check our COVID-19 FAQ’s and updates at

        • We want to remind you, that we are here to support you every step of the way. Please do not hesitate to get in touch. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to welcoming you either virtually or in-person in May!

  • Should I still apply to FIC?
    • We continue to encourage students to apply to our Canadian colleges. We are hopeful that the travel bans will be lifted shortly. If students are unable to travel, we will have alternative instruction methods available so students can start or continue with their studies uninterrupted.
    • Please note:
      • On March 18 the Government of Canada announced major travel restrictions until June 30th, 2020, allowing only citizens and permanent residents to enter.

      • The Canadian government has indicated that prospective students who were granted a visa/Study Permit to come to Canada prior to March 18 will still be allowed to come to Canada.

      • Students should confirm whether their courses are in-person or being remotely delivered at the time of their travel. If students cannot travel, they can still benefit from remotely delivered courses even if the courses are being delivered in-person. We ask that students reconfirm their accommodations prior to your travel as some accommodation providers will be closed for the summer.  Students will also need to follow Canada’s self-isolation regulations at the time of entry into Canada.

    • We encourage students to apply for permission to come to Canada through regular channels for visas/study permits. When these offices re-open and international travel is permitted, students may avoid further delays by having paperwork submitted in order to start classes
  • What will happen to my deposit if my semester is cancelled because of COVID-19?
    • Students’ deposits are completely safe. In the unlikely event that we will have to cancel a semester because of COVID-19, students will have the option to either defer to a later semester or receive a refund.

    • Please note that the likelihood of this happening is extremely low. We have options available to ensure students still get the education and support they require.

  • What happens if I decide to withdraw?
    • As a first option, we encourage students to remain in the College.  If they wish to defer their studies to a later term, they may do so with no academic penalty.

    • We recognize that this is an uncertain time and that students and their families may make alternate decisions.  Should a student wish to voluntarily withdraw from the College, we will honour the refund policy, which can be found here:

    • If any student has specific questions about how the policy applies to them and their personal circumstances, we would be happy to assist them.
  • What happens if a student wants to join online but is handicapped by connectivity issues, etc?
    • Instructors are working on developing assessments that are conducive to the remote delivery environment and not simply replicating what is being done during in-person classes. These assessments may include longer periods of time to complete and submit assignments/exams to accommodate challenges like slower internet connections.

    • Student Services will be available to students who are unable to fulfill their course obligations. FIC will continue to offer a withdrawal period with no financial penalty following normal procedures.

  • Can student services staff stay in touch with students when they have gone back home?
    • Yes, definitely. Whether we run a term fully remote or both remote and in-person, we will regularly organize interactive events to keep students engaged and part of the community. For example:

      • Counselling and advising services remain available no matter the location of the students;
      • Advisors will continue to practice proactive advising for all students;
      • Instructors are continuing to take attendance for live sessions, as well as through engagement with offline course activities. We are following up on all students; and
      • Our peer programs have moved online as well as activities and they can be found with links to their online location here:
  • What are some resources for more information?