This message was originally sent to research graduate students by Jeff Casello, Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA).
As a follow-up to the messages from the President and Provost regarding campus activities sent earlier this week, the Office of Research has reviewed research protocols to ensure research can continue, while keeping our communities safe. Earlier today, all faculty members received a message from the Vice President Research and International providing direction on research activities and international travel in light of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 – Global Travel Advisory. I am sharing the key messages from the Office of Research as these changes may influence your research activities.
The University of Waterloo will continue to monitor and adjust our approach to research activities and international outbound research travel as the Omicron situation evolves and as we receive updated guidance from public health and the Government of Canada.
Effective today, the following changes apply:
- Travel outside of Canada, including forthcoming international travel already approved, is not permitted until at least January 12, 2022. Exemptions to this are considered using the existing processes. For those currently registered with Safety Abroad at Waterloo International (i.e., currently abroad or with forthcoming travel), institutional offices will be in contact to support and advise.
- All human participant research with vulnerable populations is to be paused at least until Jan. 24, 2022. With approval, rare exceptions may be made, for example, for those studies that are almost at completion. The Office of Research will be in contact with Principal Investigators – typically your supervisors – in this regard.
- All other human participant research may continue.
- Occupancy limits: All research labs shall follow these occupancy limits until at least Jan. 24, 2022:
- Everyone will maintain two-metre distancing from others in labs.
- Spaces that primarily consist of seated work may base occupancy on a two-metre separation.
- Principal Investigators are accountable for scheduling in the lab to ensure adherence to occupancy limits. You should talk with your supervisor to determine strategies to allow your research work to continue in ways that ensure your and others’ safety.
- We encourage community members, where possible, to revisit approved domestic travel that has not yet occurred, to determine the possibility of changing to remote interactions. We caution the community not to make commitments for domestic travel for the first few months of 2022 as provincial guidelines may change in the next few weeks. We need to understand the impact of the Omicron variant during and shortly after the holiday break to be able to make decisions on travel during the winter term.
- Domestic field work continues to be permitted.
If you have questions related to your research or travel activities, please speak with your supervisor.
As I wrote to you earlier, we all share the responsibility of keeping our community safe. I understand the frustration you must be feeling as we are forced once again to navigate the challenges of the pandemic. I sincerely hope that the upcoming break allows you the opportunity to rest and create special moments with your families.