General

Approach for Research Recovery & Adaptation

Last updated Monday, July 5, 2021 at 12:30 PM EDT

I. Overview

The University of Toronto (U of T) Principles for Research Recovery and Adaptation (the Principles) articulate the overarching implementation principles for a phased resumption of university research activities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This document (the Approach) outlines the process for gradual and controlled research recovery and adaptation on- and off-campus. The Approach is a companion document to the Principles, and the COVID-19 General Workplace Guidelines (GWG) and these should be considered together.

All research conducted at or under the auspices of the university must follow all applicable policies, including the university’s policy on the Ethical Conduct of Research and Health & Safety Policy. Research recovery relies on many institutional resources and these have their own recovery plans. Institutional resources include such divisions as University Operations, which provides cleaning and waste management and Environmental Health & Safety, which provides lab permits and advice on lab safety and occupational health.

The university is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of all community members. We appreciate how our academic community continues to adapt to new circumstances in these unprecedented times.

This document provides an institutional perspective for research recovery while also offering flexibility and adaptability for divisions and units to determine their research activities based on their capacity and needs. Research recovery is based on Ontario Government’s the Roadmap to Reopen and the capacity and readiness assessments at the divisional level. The university may revise or update this document as necessary in response to public health or institutional directions.

II. Research Recovery & Adaptation Plan Assessments

On-Campus Research

The Ontario Government’s Roadmap to Reopen outlines three phases of return, and the University of Toronto is following the stages set out in this roadmap, implemented to our institutional circumstances.

For those that need or prefer/want to return to on-campus research, a research restart request must be submitted following the process in Section III, below. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scholarly merit and integrity.

The university is committed to ensuring a safe work and study environment, and to implementing measures that take into account public health advice and operational considerations. Academic divisions will approve on-campus recovery plans based on the capacity of buildings and research spaces to accommodate increased occupancy based on public health guidance.
 

Capacity assessment: In the recovery and adaptation period, both buildings and individual research spaces will have restrictions on the number of people allowed in accordance with public health directives and university guidance. Divisional research recovery plans must ensure the ability to maintain physical distancing more generally in the building based on overall building occupancy. In this consideration, buildings include individual office space, research space, graduate rooms, classrooms, leased space and common areas (see Table 1A and 1B, below). University Operations will oversee building readiness, including caretaking, reminders and postings on physical distancing and entrance signage.

Divisions need to be mindful of the number of people allowed in research spaces to ensure that physical distancing measures are followed.

  • Those who need to come to campus for research and are given divisional permission to do so, are expected to return home upon completion of their research task or activity (e.g., come to the lab to run an experiment and then return home to continue with other aspects of the research that can be performed remotely).
  • It is possible that individuals will be given specific times when they are allowed on campus so that numbers are limited to the same cohort. Scheduling regular research cohorts between midnight and 7 a.m. as a way to increase capacity is not allowed as we do not have the full complement of institutional safety resources available during this time.
     

Table 1A: Modelling of anticipated on-campus research activities for Integrated Research and Teaching Spaces through the 3-Step Roadmap to Reopen framework

This is for U of T research. Other institutions, including the TAHSN hospitals may have different modelling.

  Closed Model A Model B Model C Normal Operations
Criteria Fully closed to in-person activities Step 1: 60% one dose of vaccine
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 10 person limit
Step 2: 70% one dose/20% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 25 person limit
Indoors: 5 person limit
Step 3: 70-80% one dose/25% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: >25 person limit
Indoors: >5 person limit
Fully open for in-person activities, with full on-campus faculty and staff complement
Campus Access Essential exempted research only Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. No additional impacts from students since there are minimal classes being held Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. Possible additional impacts from students as some in-person classes may be held, which may affect access to certain facilities Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. Additional impacts from student presence as in-person classes will be held, which will affect access to certain facilities Full access to all buildings
Space Capacities Essential exempted research only Capacity determined by physical distancing requirements (no teaching taking place) Possible impact on the capacity for research (which is driven by physical distancing requirements) due to the presence of a some classes in the building Capacity may need to be decreased from normal due to the need for physical distancing plus an additional capacity decrease due to the presence of a large number of students in the building for classes No space capacity restrictions
Signage & Communications Signage should indicate that the building is closed to general occupancy. Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar. Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar. Additional signage required to minimize as much as possible the entry of students in the building for classes into research areas Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar. Additional signage required to minimize as much as possible the entry of students in the building for classes into research areas Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar. Additional signage required to minimize as much as possible the entry of students in the building for classes into research areas No signage or special communications required

NOTE:

  • Those who have been vaccinated must continue to follow the public health guidance, including wearing a non-medical mask / face covering and PPE (where applicable) and maintaining physical distancing per public health requirements.
     

Table 1B: Modelling of anticipated on-campus research activities for Separated Research and Teaching Spaces through the 3-Step Roadmap to Reopen framework

This is for U of T research. Other institutions, including the TAHSN hospitals may have different modelling.

  Closed Model A Model B Model C Normal Operations
Criteria Fully closed to in-person activities Step 1: 60% one dose of vaccine
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 10 person limit
Step 2: 70% one dose/20% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 25 person limit
Indoors: 5 person limit
Step 3: 70-80% one dose/25% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: >25 person limit
Indoors: >5 person limit
Fully open for in-person activities, with full on-campus faculty and staff complement
Campus Access Essential exempted research only Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. Access to those who have received permission to be in the building. Full access to all buildings
Space Capacities Essential exempted research only Capacity determined by physical distancing requirements Capacity determined by physical distancing requirements Capacity determined by physical distancing requirements No space capacity restrictions
Signage & Communications Signage should indicate that the building is closed to general occupancy. Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar. Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar Signage needed to ensure that Ucheck is completed, and occupancy is logged via QR code or similar No signage or special communications required

NOTE:

  • Those who have been vaccinated must continue to follow the public health guidance, including wearing a non-medical mask / face covering and PPE (where applicable) and maintaining physical distancing per public health requirements.
     

Research readiness:

Any restart of research will also depend on the readiness of divisions, units and researchers to ramp up their research activities. Divisions are responsible for considering, in their own research recovery plans, issues such as the availability of research supplies and equipment, related supply chain considerations (e.g. computing equipment, personal protective equipment) and availability of qualified trainees and staff.
 

Face-to-Face (F2F) Human Participant Research

For details on F2F human participant research, please see U of T Guidance for the Recovery of Human Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Table 2 below lists the types of F2F research that are anticipated to be approvable during each step of the Roadmap to Reopen framework.
 

Table 2: Modelling of anticipated face-to-face research activities through the 3-Step Roadmap to Reopen framework

This is for U of T research. Other institutions, including the TAHSN hospitals may have different modelling.

  Closed Model A Model B Model C Normal Operations
Criteria Fully closed to in-person activities Step 1: 60% one dose of vaccine
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 10 person limit
Step 2: 70% one dose/20% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 25 person limit
Indoors: 5 person limit
Step 3: 70-80% one dose/25% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: >25 person limit
Indoors: >5 person limit
Fully open for in-person activities, with full on-campus faculty and staff complement
Space Capacities (designated shared research spaces, on-campus indoor laboratory or research space, off-campus indoor laboratory or research space, outdoor research space) No F2F research Ability to maintain public health measures, social distancing, PPE availabilty, limits to number of people in given research space Ability to maintain public health measures, PPE availability, EHS-approved safe research spaces Limit to how many rooms and people can maintain physical distancing No restraints on space usage
Level 1 Research (Interaction/Observation) No F2F research Level 1 F2F research will be permitted Level 1 F2F research will be permitted Level 1 F2F research will be permitted Permitted with no restrictions
Level 2 Research (Intervention) No F2F research Level 2 F2F research will be permitted if it adheres to set guidelines (the researcher must ensure compensatory use of PPE, and/or use of a designated safe research space approved by EHS) Level 2 F2F research will be permitted if it adheres to set guidelines (the researcher must ensure compensatory use of PPE, and/or use of a designated safe research space approved by EHS) Level 2 F2F research will be permitted and may have to adhere to set guidelines (the researcher must ensure compensatory use of PPE, and/or use of a designated safe research space approved by EHS) Permitted with no restrictions
Level 3 Research (Physical Treatment/Manipulation) No F2F research Only Level 3 F2F research where the participant is receiving a service that would be delivered/received regardless of the research (e.g. clinical care) and researchers currently in other regions or countries where public health directives may allow for F2F research will be permitted Certain Level 3 F2F research may be permitted if it adheres to set guidelines (the researcher must ensure compensatory use of PPE, and/or use of a designated safe research space approved by EHS) Level 3 F2F research may be permitted if it adheres to set guidelines (the researcher must ensure compensatory use of PPE, and/or use of a designated safe research space approved by EHS) Permitted with no restrictions

NOTE:

  • Those who have been vaccinated must continue to follow the public health guidance, including wearing a non-medical mask / face covering and PPE (where applicable) and maintaining physical distancing per public health requirements
  • All F2F research requires approval by both the REB and the Face-to-Face COVID-19 Review Committee
     

Off-Campus Field & Third-Party Site Research

Academic divisions will approve off-campus recovery plans based on the ability of a field site or third-party site to accommodate the increase of occupancy while complying with public health directives. As always, the university is committed to the safety, health, and wellbeing of all members of our community, to the provision of a safe and healthy work and study environment, and to the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses. This commitment includes current COVID-19 measures. Institutional third-party and field sites are similarly dedicated to their communities.

Field Site Capacity Assessment

  • The public health directives of these sites or facilities must be followed and if permission from the site is required, it must be granted before proceeding with research.
  • For University of Toronto research field sites that are used by multiple academic divisions, there will need to be coordination and discussion among the relevant academic divisions.
  • In cases where multiple researchers or teams are going to the same research field site, there will need to be coordination and prioritization to ensure that we can meet the public health requirement of physical distancing. It may be possible to schedule visits to the field site to avoid issues with physical distancing.
  • Table 3 below summarizes the public health requirements and types of research that are anticipated to be permitted during each step of the Roadmap to Reopen framework.
     

Table 3: Modelling of anticipated Canadian field research activities through the 3-Step Roadmap to Reopen framework

This is for U of T research. Other institutions, including the TAHSN hospitals may have different modelling.

  Closed Model A Model B Model C Normal Operations
Criteria Fully closed to in-person activities Step 1: 60% one dose of vaccine
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 10 person limit
Step 2: 70% one dose/20% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: 25 person limit
Indoors: 5 person limit
Step 3: 70-80% one dose/25% fully vaccinated
 
Improvements in key public health and health care indicators
 
Outdoors: >25 person limit
Indoors: >5 person limit
Fully open for in-person activities, with full on-campus faculty and staff complement
Travel to Ontario research/field site (off-campus) completed in one day No travel permitted The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel No restrictions on travel
Travel to Ontario research site requiring overnight acommodation No travel permitted The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel, and all local public health requirements must be followed regarding accommodations The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel, and all local public health requirements must be followed regarding accommodations The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel, and all local public health requirements must be followed regarding accommodations All travel permitted
Travel to Canadian research site by air/train No travel permitted Only essential travel should be undertaken; the highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel. Other restrictions may apply Only essential travel should be undertaken; the highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel The highest public health requirements for the local areas that are traversed must be adhered to during travel All travel permitted

Note:

  • Guidance for international travel is being reviewed and this document will be updated once that guidance is finalized
  • All proposed travel for research purposes including graduate students requires review by the Face-to-Face and Off-Campus (F2FOC) Review Committee
  • Those who have been vaccinated must continue to follow the public health guidance, including wearing a non-medical mask / face covering and PPE (where applicable) and maintaining physical distancing per public health requirements
  • The above is predicated upon adherence to public health requirements and applicable guidance
     

Third-party Capacity Assessment

The public health directives of these sites or institutions must be followed and if permission from the site is required, it must be granted before proceeding with research (e.g., Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network).

III. Process for Approving Research Restart Plans

Each Division will be establishing their own research recovery approval process once we enter the provincial stage.

Individual research spaces in the recovery period may have restricted numbers of people allowed at one time and must follow public health directives. Approvals may be revoked at any time should public health, university or divisional requirements change.

Academic divisions have divisional research recovery committees; for multi-department academic divisions, Chairs and Director input is sought via divisional committees. The divisional committees will consider local processes within their divisions guided by the Research Recovery and Adaptation Principles and other guidance developed by the Research Restart Steering Committee.