Open Kitchen staff during morning huddle

The Open Kitchen team staying physically distanced during their morning huddle. Photo: Karen Woodford, Orchard Commons Building Service Manager.

While many of us in Student Housing and Community Services (SHCS) are working from home, a number of SHCS staff are on-campus every day to perform work that can’t be done remotely.

There are significant challenges in both scenarios, of course. For those working from home, those challenges might be balancing child care, home school, and finding creative ways to work remotely, all at the same time. For those working on-campus, it’s transportation challenges, staying physically distanced on the job, and, for some, interacting with students, clients, or customers.

While we’re all doing our duty to flatten that curve, we wanted to take a moment to recognize those SHCS staff who are working on campus.

My sincere thanks to every SHCS staff member for their hard work during this challenging time – in particular, to those staff whose roles require them to be on-campus.

Andrew Parr

Associate Vice-President, SHCS

Here’s a round-up of SHCS teams who continue to work on-campus and what their work looks like during COVID-19. Thanks to you all!


With the Bookstore closed to in-store shopping, the business has shifted to online orders for both general merchandise and course materials. Even though teaching has moved online, there are still many textbooks and other course materials that are only available as hard copies. To fulfill these online orders, there’s a small crew of Bookstore staff on-site to collect orders and ship them out.

Although we’re closed to the public, we’ve got roughly a dozen people on the Bookstore floor and another six in the warehouse working hard to fulfill online orders. With the store being so large, it’s pretty easy to keep people separated while they’re working.

Kerry Boultbee

Retail Operations Manager, UBC Bookstore

Campus Mail

The campus mail service has necessarily shifted, with much of the campus community now working remotely. Nevertheless, mail continues to arrive from on- and off-campus locations, and the campus mail team remains on-site to safely handle mail and parcels. But instead of delivery, the team is offering pickup services at their location in the University Services Building.

Child Care Services (CCS)

Since April 1, CCS has necessarily shifted its operations to exclusively provide child care for parents working in provincially-defined COVID-19 essential service roles. With most centres open, our Early Childhood Educators continue to work on-campus, in rotating shifts, to provide critical child care for these families.

Conferences and Accommodation (C&A)

C&A continues to operate the West Coast Suites in the Walter Gage residence complex. This continued service means that a small team of Front Desk staff, House staff, and Housekeeping staff are on-site daily to provide service for hotel guests.

Facilities and Building Services

There are still thousands of students living in residence and, with the transition from the 2019-20 to 2020-21 contract years, there is lots of work to do cleaning, repairing, and maintaining each of our residence buildings. This team of tradespeople, facilities coordinators, Building Service Managers, and Housekeepers is on-site daily to keep on top of the seasonal projects and tasks and to provide support for any emerging needs.

The work of our staff in Facilities and Building Services is so critical during this time. Their exemplary commitment and effort makes a big difference to the UBC communities who rely on SHCS. 

David Kiloh

Director, SHCS Facilities and Building Services

Food Services

Food security remains an important and challenging aspect of the COVID-19 situation. For our students living in first-year residence, that meant continued access to food service throughout the remainder of the Winter Session in the residence dining rooms at Totem Park (Feast), Place Vanier (Gather), and Orchard Commons (Open Kitchen). The teams at these locations, both kitchen and front-of-house, were on-campus daily to ensure continued access to nutritious and delicious food for those who relied on it.

On the retail side, our staff at Picnic (Okanagan) and Harvest (Vancouver) continued to work on-campus, serving up food for the wider campus community. This week we were excited to bring Hedwig in the Okanagan and The Point, Mercante, and Tim Horton’s (Forestry) in Vancouver back online for takeout service!

Parking and Access

Our teams in Parking and Access are entirely working on-campus. Parking and maintenance teams are monitoring parking facilities and keeping them safe and clean.

Access Desk staff are assisting (via email and phone) with UBC card and building key inquiries and issues.

Locksmiths and Access Technicians are currently working on a rotating schedule, with Locksmiths focusing on major re-key projects and Access Technicians upgrading Campus Security cameras.

Student Housing


Thousands of UBC students depend on residence staying open throughout COVID-19. To support our residents, staff in a number of areas continue to work on-campus.

Residence Life Managers, who live in residence, continue to provide crucial support to these communities, as do their student Residence Advisors. Similarly, residence Front Desk staff, who provide round-the-clock support in residence commonsblocks, including mail and parcel handling, answering questions by phone, email, and in-person, and checking students in and out of residence, continue to provide this critical service.

Q&A with Carol

Read a Q&A with Carol Young about how the residence Front Desk team is supporting students during COVID-19.

Residence Administration staff are also at work in the SHCS Main Office to process applications and manage the many inquiries that come in from around the world.

With the end of Winter Session residence contracts on April 30, all of these teams provided key support for residents who were moving out or moving into a Summer or Year Round residence room.

Thanks to the efforts of these on-campus staff, we were not only able to keep our residences open, but we were able to maintain a strong level of service for the residence population.

A huge thank you to everyone in SHCS for your continued efforts, creativity, and adaptability during this time!