This update is provided for archival purposes only.

Public Health guidance and University of Waterloo operations may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

Phase 2 of Laboratory and Research Facilities Restart Plan

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

This message was originally sent to graduate student by Jeffrey Casello, associate vice-president, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Key messages

  • Phase 2 of the research restart has been expanded with greater opportunities to resume on campus research
  • Safety, well-being and academic progression remain the University’s priorities for graduate students.

The Office of Research, the Safety Office and the Faculties are actively implementing a phased approach to restarting research on campus. In a memo released to faculty members on Monday, July 13, the Vice President Research and International expanded the criteria to restart research.  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;
  • Researchers currently hindered by restrictions due to COVID-19, where ongoing access to research laboratory and specialized facilities would be required for the continuation of their research.

If you wish to resume on-campus research activity, you and your supervisor are encouraged to assess whether the planned research meets the return to campus criteria.  If so, your supervisor can submit a request to the Office of Research that contains a detailed safety plan outlining how you will resume activities while following social distancing and other public health authority guidelines. You and your supervisor will both be asked to sign the form indicating that you have discussed the safety plan, and both are comfortable with its contents.  

Upon confirmation that you are returning to campus, you will be required to complete the Returning to Campus Safely During COVID-19 (SO2036) online training module, available on LEARN. The training module takes about 30 minutes to complete and provides guidance on how to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for everyone. This training is mandatory and you must complete it before returning to campus.  Supervisors will ask for a confirmation from you that you have completed the training – typically by requesting a screenshot from LEARN showing the completion of the training.  For more information and help with registration, go to the Returning to Campus Safely During COVID-19 Safety Office training page.

If you are uncomfortable resuming on campus research, you should discuss your concerns with your supervisor, your Associate Chair Graduate Studies in your Department, or your Faculty Associate Dean.  No student will be required to return to on campus research activity if they do not wish to do so.

I encourage you to review the request form, an updated safety plan template and detailed instructions on the University of Waterloo COVID-19 research information webpage.

Phase 2 applications include on campus research labs and facilities with unique attributes such as specialized equipment or software without which the research cannot proceed.  Anyone who can effectively continue their research and other work activities from home should continue to do so until further notice. For those granted access to on campus research activities, these activities should be limited to activities that require such access. Other activities such as lab meetings should continue to be held remotely.  Research using animals will be initiated in Phase 3 with an anticipated start at the end of July. Face-to-face research with human participants will also be initiated in Phase 3 with an anticipated start in mid-August. Further information and guidance to follow.

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.

A careful review of the request form and safety plan will be required by both the Office of Research and the Safety Office, in consultation with the Faculty Deans. Safety remains our primary concern and I am grateful to you for your patience as these requests are being reviewed and processed.

As the next phases of access to university research facilities access evolve, I will be sending along further email updates and you can continue to visit the central University of Waterloo COVID-19 website. If you have any concerns that relate to access to research facilities that your supervisor or faculty associate dean is not able to resolve, please send me an email.

Thank you for your ongoing resilience as, together, we map out the most viable and safe plan for us to resume on-campus research activities.