Frequently Asked Questions for Researchers

Posted: March 19, 5:30 p.m.

Frequently asked questions and answers for U of A researchers.

More information will be added as it becomes available. Check back regularly for updates.

Are university campuses closing on Friday, March 20?

The university is currently open and providing all services despite classes moving online; however, we are encouraging all members of the university community to be prepared should a closure become necessary. The situation is very fluid and changes could come with little or no advance notice. Our goal is to preserve the health and continuity of our community and operations to our best ability and minimize any catastrophic research loss.

As part of emergency preparedness protocols, researchers are asked to immediately assess their current research situation and, as of March 20, 2020, prepare their labs, work stations and equipment for a potential closure at the end of every workday.

What is considered “essential” research?

Per the University Research Directives, essential research is being defined as:

  • Research related to COVID-19
  • Research involving animal care and maintenance of breeding colonies
  • Research that’s part of essential clinical care activities
  • Research items that have been approved by your dean and registered with EHS 

In the event of a university closure, we must be able to dedicate our resources to support essential research functions. If you are conducting essential research as defined above, you must register research activities continuing past March 20, 2020.

Managers should refer to their Operational Continuity Plans for guidance in determining critical functions to support essential research.

If my research continues, what supports will be available?

If you are conducting essential research as defined above, you must register research activities continuing past March 20, 2020. Researchers should be aware that as this situation evolves, access to supplies may not be guaranteed. Currently, EHS has a small number of personnel on campus to pick up hazardous waste, and Supply Management Services (SMS) is still able to deliver cryogens and supplies to campus.

Please review your current supply of these goods and your ongoing requirements in order to assess whether sufficient supplies are available from suppliers. If you are expecting time-sensitive items and will not be available for receipt, please contact SMS to provide instructions.  

Emergency moves of equipment, which could include fridges, freezers and other equipment, are available on short notice. Any questions relating to shipping and receiving, delivery and pickup should be sent to: or 780-492-4122.
I have experiments that are long term and have upcoming endpoints. Do I have to stop these?

No, we recognize that some experiments may not easily be shut down. Please register these with EHS by completing the Research Work continuing after March 20 registration form. All researchers must be able to safely shut down experiments in a safe state with little to no notice.

How do I know if I have to suspend or stop my research?

Research is specific to each individual and each project. Many research projects are able to continue in a remote location or to shift into a different phase to align with current work environment restrictions. Many U of A researchers have already made this shift. Every effort should be made to continue your research remotely as possible. Discuss your options with your dean, associate dean or primary investigator.

Will I still be paid if I can’t do my research or if I have to suspend it?

Guidance on working remotely and pay continuity for those who cannot work remotely can be found in the Employee section of the COVID-19 website. 

How can I stay up-to-date on funder COVID-19 accommodations?

Funder websites are the best source for the latest information on COVID-19 related accommodations, and most have a dedicated COVID-19 section. Funders are reviewing information program by program, and posting information as it becomes available. Please check these sites regularly, and information can change. ​We have provided links to some of our key funders​​ below:

Do we have enough supplies or gases to maintain research activities?
Currently, our supply of cryogens and compressed gases are stable, and Supply Management Services (SMS) is able to deliver these products. As this situation is very fluid, access to supplies may not be guaranteed. In the event of shortages, priority will be given to COVID-19 research and maintenance of animal facilities. Please register your maintenance activities, such as periodic inspection of compressed gas inventories with EHS. This may allow EHS to notify you if there is a pending shortage of materials.
Can I submit hazardous waste for pickup?
EHS staff will continue to pick up hazardous waste using existing protocols. Please ensure that waste is well labelled and appropriately stored (i.e. in a fume hood or temperature-controlled if necessary). EHS is currently picking up hazardous waste from labs that have registered that they are continuing operations.