Phase 2 of our laboratory and research facilities restart plan

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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


Key messages

  • Phase 2 of restarting on-campus research laboratory facilities
  • Expanded criteria for on-campus laboratory research
  • Research using animals and face-to-face human participants
  • Support for Research Workforce

The Office of Research and the Safety Office are actively implementing a phased approach to restarting research on campus. Previously, researchers could request access to continue on-campus research if the research was deemed critical or related to COVID-19. Phase 2 of the Research Restart plan expands criteria for on-campus research activities for those that cannot conduct research remotely or require access to labs or specialized facilities. 

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

The request form, an updated safety plan template and detailed instructions will be available at uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/research-information.

Based on our experience in Phase 1, we have updated the request form and safety plan template for the Phase 2 application process. These new forms provide greater clarity on what is required for an effective safety plan. 
We will continue to 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. 

As a reminder, 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. 

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.

Research using animals and face-to-face with human participants

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.

Support for research workforce

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) has been recently established to help sustain the research enterprise at Canadian universities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to loss of any non-government research support. This is a salary support mechanism for research interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The salary/wage support mechanism for research interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic covers up to 75% of research personnel salary/wages paid (i.e. 25% of salary/wages would need to be covered by another source); over the period March 15, 2020 - August 31, 2020 (max $847 per week); for 12 weeks for eligible personnel.

You will have received detailed information from your Associate Dean Research who, with your Faculty Finance Officer, is collecting information with a deadline for response of Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

Next steps and feedback

We will continue to provide regular updates as we implement the phased approach and adapt 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 send comments or questions to researchqueries@uwaterloo.ca or 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.

Public Health and safety

Prevent the spread of COVID-19

Practice physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and carefully with soap and water, especially before eating, preparing or handling food, and avoid touching your face. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.   

What to do if you are feeling ill

If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, take measures to prevent further transmission of the virus. This includes staying home and contacting your health care provider. Please report any illnesses to Occupational Health through email, occupationalhealth@uwaterloo.ca or extension 30338/36264.