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.

Updates regarding research activities with the lifting of province’s stay-at-home order

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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

  • As the Region of Waterloo moves into the COVID-19 Red – Control zone on February 16, 2021, research activities under approved safety plans may resume, including in person research involving human participants.
  • All on-campus research and all off-campus travel for research and field work still requires approval.
  • Requirements for accessing labs on campus outside regular business hours have changed.

I am writing to clarify our next steps as the province’s stay-at-home order ends on Tuesday February 16 and the Region of Waterloo will be in the Red – Control zone of the province’s revised COVID-19 response framework.

With the Region of Waterloo in a red zone, we will resume research activities that were previously suspended because of the province-wide shutdown.

Please continue to limit your time on campus as much as is feasible, and minimize travel for research. All travel, whether domestic or international, must be approved.

Obtaining approval to conduct research

Research activities (on- and off-campus) require approval. Information about the process to request approval can be found at:

Please refer to that website for the latest information, and for the safety plan templates that must be included with your request. Templates for safety plans are updated from time-to-time; please download the latest version from the website before beginning a request. 

All new research requests must be submitted through the online “Resume Research” portal: 

If you have already obtained safety plan approval from the online “Resume Research” portal (or via the Research Queries email) you do not have to seek a new safety plan approval.

Off campus field research

The suspension of off-campus travel and field research that was put in effect December 26 as a result of the province-wide shutdown is lifted. Off campus field research is permitted with the Region in red zone. However, only essential travel should be undertaken. Also, it strongly recommended that travel between zones with different levels of restriction be avoided.

Human participant research

The suspension of in-person (face-to-face) research involving human participants that was put in effect December 26 as a result of the province-wide shutdown is lifted. Research involving human participants that is being conducted on University of Waterloo campus or an off-campus location in Ontario may resume with research ethics board (REB) and safety plan approvals, including ongoing research, and studies that have recently received REB clearance just prior to the shutdown but not yet begun.

Accessing on-campus labs outside normal business hours

Where possible, research in on-campus laboratories should continue to be scheduled weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. We understand, however, that even in current conditions, access to labs may be required during evening or weekend hours to manage lab work. Evening or weekend access for on-campus research is permitted, subject to safety protocols and restrictions by departments or in some buildings or facilities, in areas where the ventilation system continues to operate at full capacity during evenings and weekends (see for details about which areas have such ventilation capacity). Special permission to access buildings and laboratories outside of normal work hours is no longer required, however this activity must be addressed in lab safety plans (see for details).

Out-of-province and International research travel

Restrictions against travel outside of the province remain in effect. It is strongly recommended that travel be avoided unless it is essential.

Exemptions may be approved with exceptional justification. Requests for exceptional exemptions to conduct research travel and field work are made using the “Resume Research” portal:

Requests for research travel and field work outside Ontario require a strong justification, additional permissions, and take longer for review and approval because of the process required for their assessment.

The safety of our employees and students is paramount, whether you are working on- or off-campus. Travel reimbursement will not be authorized for off-campus field research without approvals.

Prevent the spread of COVID-19

To ensure the health and safety of yourself and your colleagues, the University of Waterloo requires that employees and students monitor themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19. See for information.

The health and wellbeing of our university community, and continued reopening of our campus, depends on each of us taking safety precautions not only in the lab but in our day-to-day activities. The University of Waterloo expects our students and staff to follow all public health and safety guideline when off campus.