Science Graduate Studies COVID-19 Operating Guidelines

Science Graduate Studies Office closure

The office remains closed as per guidance from the safety office requiring work that can be done remotely to be done from home. Please monitor the University's Coronavirus Information website for more information.

The SGSO staff will continue to work remotely during our office closure. As such, all business will be conducted by email. Should you need to get in contact with a member of the SGSO staff please review our personnel page.

For more information, please also see the COVID-19 updates for graduate students from GSPA (Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs).

Course work

Please consult the University's Keep Learning page for information about continuing course work safely.

Office and campus access

Please refer to the University's COVID-19 Information page for Accessing Campus page, including specific information provided for the Faculty of Science.

Research activities

Laboratory access can now be requested by Principle Investigators (if not already done so).  Graduate students must review and sign their lab safety plan (submitted by the PI), and have completed the COVID-19 awareness training.  Graduate students are expected to comply with all direction relating to sanitation requirements within labs and occupancy limits.  Students who do not follow these procedures may have laboratory access suspended.

Approval to be on campus to conduct research safely requires the following:

  • Physical distancing must be applied, providing a distance of at least two meters between individuals.
  • All on-campus activities must be conducted in accordance with applicable safety requirements and best practices.
  • All students must conduct self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and record their presence via Campus Check-In each day that they attend campus.
  • Working Alone guidelines must be followed. In the case of office space, desk work would fall in to the low risk category, and thus a written plan is not required providing that the following guidelines are followed:
    • periodic check-in (using the online check-in/ out tool);
    • access to phone and security measures to protect against theft, property damage or personal injury due to intruder;
    • compliance with the University Police Personal Safety Guide.
  • A campus safety app is also available for download, which includes emergency tools, notifications, and tips for staying safe. Visit the WatSafe web page for more information.
  • The Health and Safety Guidance During COVID-19 document must be adhered to.
  • Completion of all hazard-specific and mandatory training including the new Returning to Campus Safely during COVID-19 (SO2036).

At all times, anyone on campus must follow Waterloo pandemic response protocols as well as guidelines from the Region of Waterloo Public Health and the Waterloo Safety Office, including for physical distancing.

Thesis defences, funding, comprehensive exams, and time limits

Please see the Graduate Student Information page of the COVID-19 Information website for up to date information about academics, funding, fees, and more. This website is updated frequently with new information and resources, so be sure to visit often.

Records and forms

The SGSO will continue to process forms and records as best we can during the work from home time frame. In order to do this we request that students abide by the following procedures:

  • Students should complete an electronic copy of the required form and obtain approval from their Supervisor(s) via email (preferred over e-signatures).
    • Supervisors should indicate what they are approving in the email (i.e., “I approve John Smith to be inactive for the Spring 2020 term” versus “I approve”).
  • Students should email a copy of the form and approval from their supervisor(s) to their Department Graduate Coordinator.
  • Department Graduate Coordinators will obtain the email approval from the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies and email the request on to the SGSO for processing.


Provided the University is open, TAs are expected to continue to support course delivery. Given that the nature of the courses will change, the activities of the TA may be different from those originally agreed on. TAs should not be having face-to-face contact with students (e.g., office hours can be held – but through on-line means).

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