Continuity planning

Updated: December 21, 2021

The U of A relies on continuity planning to protect institutional activities such as research and learning that could be affected by an emergency. Following the procedures in your prepared continuity plan will decrease the stress of managing an incident and ensure that your team is accessing replacement resources in the safest and most efficient way. Remember to revisit and refresh your operational continuity plans regularly.

Continuity Planning During COVID-19

To prepare for extended building closures or additional disruptions related to COVID-19, all U of A units should conduct continuity planning as described below. Units should be prepared for possible building closures, extended absences, outbreak scenarios, shifts to remote work, or additional disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, all university activities and spaces must be able to shut down, suspend, delegate, or shift operations within 24-48 hours, regardless of whether they are located on or off-campus. Note that a continuity plan is a requirement of all U of A teams returning to on-campus activities.

While the instructions below have been customized for COVID-19, a complete operational continuity plan should account for any emergency scenario.

Instructions for Preparing a Continuity Plan

Step 1: Plan 

Identify the critical functions of your unit
  • Which activities must be prioritized in the event that you cannot perform all your usual functions?
  • Are there key deadlines in the future that you must meet?
  • Are you planning any large gatherings or events that could be affected by travel bans or by guidance from the province and/or university?
  • Be prepared to deliver instruction and examinations online.
Identify critical staff
  • Are there critical functions that can only be carried out by specific staff?
  • Should you consider cross-training to minimize the impact of absences?
  • Are there alternate ways for those staff to perform their function, such as by working remotely if the need should arise?
  • Do you have an up-to-date task list or job fact sheet for them?
Identify critical supplies and services
  • Are there materials that you cannot afford to do without? (This is especially important in research environments where a shortage could result in the loss of invaluable research.)
  • Are there vital products or materials you should order now to minimize the likelihood of being without in an emergency?
Ensure you are set up to work remotely
  • Update your contact information in Bear Tracks and the staff directory.
  • Ensure you know your voicemail password.
    • Consider forwarding your work phone to your cell phone.
  • Personal phone numbers may be shared with colleagues and clients in order to continue operations at home. Alternatively, use Google Meet for calls. Learn how »
  • Review How to call voicemail from home. From off-campus, dial 780-492-2000. When answered, press # key then your 5-digit ID (last 5 digits of your phone number). You will then be prompted for your PIN (password).
  • If needed, download Microsoft Office products for free from OnTheHub on your home computer.

Read more about working remotely

Evaluate your workplace hygiene practices
  • As supervisors and leaders, continue to practice good workplace hygiene practices to minimize the potential spread of disease.
  • Educate employees on the virus and transmission. Ensure they are aware of all hygiene protocols contained in the prevention section of the Health Recommendations & Services page.
  • Ensure your worksite has the supplies necessary to ensure cleanliness and hygiene; this includes tissues, hand sanitizers, soap, surface cleaners, and proper trash receptacles.
  • Insist on evidence-based procedures and help manage anxiety caused by rumours and unproven practices.
  • Encourage employees to stay home if they are ill and call 8-1-1 Alberta Health Link for medical advice.

Step 2: Document

To document your operational continuity plan:

  1. Update an existing plan (check with your unit or department planner for access) OR
  2. Start a new one: Complete the Operational Continuity Plan template to generate a plan.
Instructions are on the templates. For assistance, contact

If you are having a continuity incident right now...

... and don't have a plan, here's what to do:

1. Determine which essential assets you have lost and must replace immediately. Consult the table for strategies, in order of precedence, for fixing these issues:

Office space

To find new office space, contact:

  • Your faculty and department to see if there is space available.
  • On-campus space - U of A Architect: 780-248-1434
  • Off-campus space - Real Estate Services: 780-492-4164
Classroom or laboratory space To find new classroom or laboratory space, contact:
  • Your faculty and department to see if there is space available.
  • On-campus space - U of A Architect: 780-248-1434 and Exams and Time Tabling at 780-492-5221
  • Off-campus space - Real Estate Services: 780-492-4164
Clinic space To find new clinic space, contact:
  • Off-campus space - Real Estate Services: 780-492-4164
Phone service To restore phone service, contact:
  • On-campus: Telecom at 780-492-3422
  • Off-campus: 611
Computers and network access
  • IST 780-492-9400 (after-hours 780-492-3982)
Equipment & vehicles To procure vehicles, contact:
  • Transportation Services at 780.492.1920
To procure equipment, contact:
  • U of A Supply Management Services 780.492.4668
  • Facilities and Operations at Control Centre: 780 492-4855
  • Faculty and Department administration
  • HR consultant 780-492-4555


2. If you require additional support, contact Emergency Management at 780-498-2663 or