• On-campus Science Computing offices are *open* with limited core hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Please contact a Science Computing representative for an appointment.
      • Due to reduced staffing, walk-ins may be disappointed.
      • Virtual support is still available at the above contacts or via Teams.
  • In-person access to the student computing labs (Nexus labs) is not currently available.

Science Computing University Closure/Pandemic Plan

Purpose | Priorities | Science Computing Procedures | General Recommendations for Science Users | Recommended Hardware


To document Science Computing procedures if the University has closed, including if it has activated its overall Pandemic Plan per the University of Waterloo’s Emergency Response Plan and Policy 60.  This plan is guided by the University’s overall Pandemic Plan and Emergency Response Plan.

The plan is intentionally brief as the ability to respond depends on actual situational details and assumptions about available services, utilities, transportation, and communication networks.

Dependency on upstream service providers may limit our abilities to provide essential services.   

This plan cannot foresee all circumstances. The following guidelines should be used together with common sense during an actual closure event.  If the University directly addresses staff with instructions that contradict these guidelines, University directives should take precedence.


  • Protection of life
  • Prevent damage to systems and property
  • Restoration of services
  • Maintaining communications and enabling the exchange of information

Science Computing Procedures

  • Suspend on-premises support and enable staff to work from home, limiting exposure of staff to the pandemic event.
  • Science Computing will only consider reporting to campus in person if it is absolutely necessary for the persistence of essential services.
  • Support for Science Computing applications, storage, and all virtual machines will be handled remotely.  Support requests for IST-related services should be coordinated through Science Computing.
  • Science Computing staff will be available by video, voice, or chat via Microsoft Teams and Email via Connect during core hours (Teams replaces Skype for Business). 
  • Science Computing will meet daily using Teams for status updates and discussion of emerging issues and problems.

General Recommendations for Science Users

These are our general minimum recommendations for departments working remotely.  Test and verify that whatever steps or processes you choose work properly, in advance.  If you have questions or need specific assistance, reach out to us as soon as possible.

  • Compile and distribute a list of essential contact phone numbers and alternate email addresses of staff to be used in case campus communication services fail.
  • Ensure work-related data files are available on a campus network drive or OneDrive.
  • Ensure you have access to a UW laptop/computer that you can work remotely from.  We may not be able to support your home PC if that is what you choose to use. Support is available in advance for setting up your home laptop if desired. Please bring the device to campus for these services.
  • Test campus VPN and connections to work resources (i.e websites, network drives, etc) from home.
  • Teams can be downloaded directly from Microsoft at Download Microsoft Teams Desktop and Mobile Apps and can be used for meetings or discussions involving multiple participants with video, audio, text, and screen sharing. 
    • Note that Science Computing will also be using Teams for remote support of PCs in the event of a University closure.
  • Request a Teams group for your department from IST by completing the form found at Request a Team
    • Note that the Teams requestor is automatically the owner of the Team, so choose this person carefully. Create channels as required.
  • Consider the other collaboration tools for your groups, for example, WebEx, Zoom, or Adobe Connect are some possibilities.  These may require a support ticket with IST for initial setup.

Recommended Hardware

Most laptops will come with an integrated video camera, speaker, and microphone. Audio quality can be massively improved with a headset due to the proximity of the microphone. Science Computing has experience with and recommends the following hardware:

  • Logitech C920 or C922 USB Webcam
  • Any Logitech USB Wired Headset
  • ClearOne Chat 150/160/170 Conference Speaker/Microphone

Other brands and types may also suffice, but we know these work well.

Issues or Concerns?

Please contact the Science Computing Helpdesk.