Details on restarting research at the University

Friday, May 22, 2020

This message was originally sent to faculty members by Charmaine Dean, vice-president, research and international.


  • Province announces ability to resume research activities, with safety guidelines implemented   
  • Update on the phased plan for restarting research labs 
  • Expanded criteria for on-campus research 
  • Federal funding support announced on May 15 

The Central Planning Group of the Integrated Co-coordination and Planning Committee, including the President, Vice-Presidents and Deans, has been active in developing a phased plan for restarting research on campus, with support from the Research Restart Working Group. 

Last week, the Province opened the door for institutions to begin to implement phased returns to on-campus research activity by announcing that professional services related to conducting research and experimental development may begin to resume activity. This announcement has moved us into the first Phase of our planned return and as such, we will be expanding the criteria for permission to access to campus to conduct research activities.  

Previously, researchers could request access to continue on-campus research if the research was deemed critical (that is, not continuing it would result in a significant loss of data or equipment) or related to COVID-19. Phase 1 of the Research Restart plan begins with an expansion of criteria for on-campus research activities for those that cannot conduct research remotely or require access to labs. These criteria now include considerations for: 

  • COVID-19 related research 
  • Research that if not continued would result in a significant loss of data or equipment 
  • Grants and contracts with time-sensitive milestones 
  • Graduate students nearing research degree completion 
  • Research with needs for intermittent lab access 
  • Early career researchers 

If you wish to request access to campus to resume research activity based on any of the criteria listed above, you are invited to  submit a request  outlining how your research fits the criteria and how you will resume activities following social distancing and other public authority guidelines. 

For those who are granted access to resume on-campus research activities, on-campus should be limited to activities that require such access. Other activities, for example, lab meetings, should continue to be held remotely.  

For the immediate future, no visitors will be granted access to campus. Travel restrictions remain in effect, as do restrictions on in-person seminars and conferences, which should continue to be held remotely.  

We will provide support for researchers who require assistance in adapting lab space and activities to adhere to social distancing and other health and safety guidelines. Please reach out to researchqueries@uwaterloo.ca for assistance.   

Next Phases to Reopening On-Campus Research Activity 

Over the next six-to-eight weeks, criteria will continue to expand gradually, with the expectation that full access to all on-campus research labs is targeted for mid-July, providing continued approval from health authorities and successful implementation of each phase of reopening labs.

Support for Research Workforce

Last Friday, the Prime Minister announced a new fund to provide wage supports to universities to enable support of research service staff funded industry, or by other sources, and whose work has been temporarily suspended. This fund, totaling $450M, is intended to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis to ramp back up to full operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. It will cover 75% of total eligible costs and be delivered by granting councils.

As soon as we have further details on this program, further information will be provided.

Next Steps and Feedback

We will provide regular updates over the next few weeks as the phased plan is executed, evaluated and continuously adapted according to guidelines from the federal and provincial public health authorities.

As always, we welcome your feedback on any of these processes and encourage you to ask questions or share concerns. You may direct your comments to Bernie Duncker, AVP, Interdisciplinary Research, chair of the Research Restart Working Group, or any other member of that working group as previously listed. You may also send comments or questions directly to my office through vpri@uwaterloo.ca.

Thank you for your patience and efforts in supporting a safe and efficient return to on-campus research.