New Temporary Safety Measures for U of A On-campus Research

26 November 2020

Posted: November 26, 1:55 p.m.

University of Alberta researchers, staff, and students have adapted to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with remarkable resilience and ingenuity. We have also limited in-person presence and activities on our campuses to help ensure physical distancing, minimize stresses on in-demand resources and supplies, safely manage our workspaces and building spaces, and prevent any spread on our own campuses — and we must continue to do so. 

The situation around us, in the city, in the province, and on our campuses, has changed. We have collectively reached a critical point in this pandemic, one that requires timely, stricter action to obtain longer-term successes. On November 24, the university indicated how enhanced provincial actions will affect our overall university community. Today, to further respond to the current COVID-19 situation, the U of A is implementing two temporary enhanced safety measures for our on-campus research community, and emphasizing critical safety measures already in place for U of A research during COVID-19. The temporary measures will be effective November 26 until January 11, 2021, when the Public Health Response Team will evaluate their effectiveness.

Temporary enhanced safety measures for U of A on-campus research:

  • Approved on-campus research must temporarily shift to remote work wherever possible. 
  • A maximum of 30% of COVID-19 previously approved occupancy levels in on-campus research spaces as indicated in Return to Campus work plans. 
    • This measure does not apply to COVID-19 research (including clinical trials).
    • Research work that cannot be conducted while working alone, as described on a hazard assessment, can continue to be undertaken by two people.

Safety measures and practices for U of A research that continue to be in effect:

  • Continuity plans: All on-campus research groups must have current continuity plans that are ready to be implemented. 
  • Animal and plant care: Continues, with efforts to minimize the number of employees and students required to maintain these functions. 
  • Human participant research: No new restrictions. If researchers have questions about whether the public health emergency or increased numbers of COVID-19 cases present a new hazard to their participants, they should contact the Research Ethics Office for advice. 
  • Field research: No new restrictions; requests will be reviewed as usual. Researchers are encouraged to review their protocols given the increased case numbers in the province. 
  • Occasional and ad hoc campus visits: All visits to labs, other research spaces and campus in general must be approved by supervisors/teams leads, and allowed only when critical.
  • Independent research courses: Those that are required for course progression or completion (including undergraduate thesis projects) may continue with adherence to all of the above criteria.

Safety measures are serious and restrictive, but they are necessary to keep our community and campuses safe and healthy—and minimize the possibility of more severe restrictions in future. On-campus researchers can consult their associate or vice-dean research with questions particular to their respective area. Thank you in advance for acting on these enhanced measures as soon as possible.