Research information

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Return to research information

The Office of Research and the Safety Office have implemented 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. The Research Restart plan now has expanded criteria for on-campus laboratory research activities for those that cannot conduct research remotely or require access to labs or specialized facilities. 

These criteria now include: 

  • 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. 

Applications for return to campus research include on-campus research labs and facilities with unique attributes such as specialized equipment or software without which the research cannot proceed. Applications for Off-Campus Field Work can be submitted as well. However, anyone who can effectively continue their research and other work activities from home should continue to do so until further notice. 
Research using animals will be initiated in a phased approach beginning July 29. Face-to-face research with human participants will be initiated with an anticipated start in mid-August. Further information and guidance to follow. 

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. All new requests must include a completed Safety Plan.  

Process

To submit a Return to Laboratory Research Request: 

To submit a request for Field Work

The Request Form may also be used to submit amendments to existing Safety Plans.

Please check this site for the most up-to-date forms.  

Once approved, the research queries team facilitates formal approval processes including: 

  • Sends a final notification to the PI, including information on safety protocols and processes 
  • Tracks approvals for institutional risk management 

Departments and Faculties must track their own list of researchers and graduate students granted approval to Return to Research (via the above research queries process).

The Addition of individuals to existing safety plans no longer requires going through the above research queries process.

Faculty reviewers have the authority to approve Safety Plans. Based on their review, they may work with PIs to seek clarification or ask for revisions. If necessary, they may request further review or clarification from the Safety Office (this is expected to be infrequent) and make the PI aware when the safety plan review is concluded.

For those granted 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.  

Tools for return to laboratory research planning

Changes in physical spaces 

To allow for appropriate physical distancing, changes to research spaces may be required.

Guidance for adjusting workspaces is included in the Safety Plan template. Some highlights include:

  • Occupancy limits for spaces guided by 12.5 m2 (two metre diameter) space per person   
  • Alternating schedules or staggering start and end times  
  • Virtual meetings   
  • Increased sanitization of high-touch surfaces  
  • Cleaning products available through Plant Operations for employees to clean their own equipment  
  • Physical barriers such as plexiglass screens  

Support for researchers who require assistance in adapting lab space and activities to adhere to social distancing and other health and safety guidelines is available. Contact researchqueries@uwaterloo.ca for assistance. 

Research travel

Travel restrictions remain in effect, as do restrictions on in-person seminars and conferences, which should continue to be held remotely.

Visitors 

For the immediate future, no visitors will be granted access to campus.