COVID-19 exposure at UVic School of Music, according to internal notice

Campus News

Only a week after the Sir Arthur Currie exposure was made public, there has been another exposure event in the School of Music

covid-19 update uvic graphic
Graphic by Darian Lee

On Wednesday Apr. 7, students attending in-person classes in the School of Music were notified of a COVID-19 positive case via email. 

“You may be aware that a person in the School of Music has recently tested positive for COVID-19,” the e-mail from the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dr. Allana Lindgren reads. “They are now self-isolating at home and following the guidance of the [B.C. Centre for Disease Control].”

“Island Health has conducted a risk assessment and has traced any contacts that the ill person may have had, on or off campus. Island Health will directly notify those considered to be close contacts and provide them with guidance on whether to self-monitor for symptoms or to self-isolate.”

The internal email was provided to the Martlet. It does not mention how many people may have been affected by this case or cases, and goes further to say that there will be no further information released on the School of Music exposure.

This COVID-19 exposure at the School of Music comes only days after UVic faced an outpouring of criticism for their lack of transparency on campus COVID-19 cases.

Residents of the Sir Arthur Currie (SAC) building were told there was a COVID-19 exposure in late March. The University did not make this exposure public knowledge, despite students’ requests. At the time of the SAC exposure, a spokesperson for UVic told the Martlet that they only release this information if Island Health suggests they do so.

The last COVID-19 exposure that UVic shared in a public notice was on March. 3 and was regarding an entirely off-campus case. The only other confirmed case that has come to light was the SAC exposure in late March, which was not made public by UVic. Like the School of Music exposure notice, the notice of the SAC exposure was leaked to the Martlet. 

During the pandemic, the School of Music has been offering required in-person chamber music courses. There are also masterclasses and performances that have in-person requirements. Chamber music classes can be deferred to a future year if students are not in Victoria. Masterclasses and performances may be in-person at the discretion of individual instructors. 

At the time of the School of Music exposure, UVic released a statement that explained their approach to making information about COVID-19 cases public. The statement did not discuss the two recent cases on campus but explained UVic’s approach to publicly disclosing COVID-19 case information. 

The university’s statement indicates they follow the express guidance of Island Health. They also cited privacy concerns when explaining why they do not publicly announce COVID-19 positive cases on campus.

“Protecting the privacy of COVID-19 positive individuals, while also providing people with the information they need to protect their health, is a top priority,” the statement reads.

“Having individuals identify their symptoms immediately and seek testing is critical to controlling the spread of this virus. If individuals feel their privacy may be unnecessarily violated if they test positive it’s a detriment to everyone and the ability to fight this virus.”

The notice also promised students, staff, and faculty at the university that, although they can not and will not make every positive case on campus public knowledge, everyone will continue to be updated on the notices put forth by the provincial government.

The statement says the university will only share information in public notices is if Island Health is not able to contact trace to the extent they need.

The university’s website has more information about their response to COVID-19.