General

Previous VPRI Messages Regarding COVID-19

2020-July-29

The University launched UTogether2020: A Roadmap for the University of Toronto. It serves as a guide to the community as we undertake the process of returning to research, course instruction and other activities on our campuses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular updates will be made to the roadmap as new guidance, strategies, and related materials become available.

As part of this roadmap, the Division of the Vice-President Research and Innovation has released two documents to guide the recovery and adaptation of research. The Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation outlines the process and risk assessment considerations for gradual and controlled research recovery and adaption on and off campus. The COVID-19 Guideline for Reopening Research provides strategies and the University’s requirements for making research spaces ready for re-entry or increased occupancy.

We encourage everyone to review these materials. Academic divisions, UTM and UTSC, and their units must follow the Principles, processes and guidelines that are articulated in these documents.

The University of Toronto is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our community members and to the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses, which includes current COVID-19 measures. We recognize that researchers want to begin or resume their research activities as soon as possible. However, not everyone will be able to return at the same time, and decisions will need to be made in accordance with a set of principles for priority setting. We appreciate how our academic community continues to adapt to new circumstances in these unprecedented times.
 

Status of On-Campus Research

Academic divisions, UTM and UTSC have begun planning a phased approach to the recovery and adaptation of research including on-campus research and off-campus sites. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).
 

Stay Informed

  • Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants by staying informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance. Please ensure that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research team members and that the University’s guidance is followed.
  • Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS) website which has curated a set of resources for researchers. These new Spotlight pages will be updated regularly to respond to the needs of our community.
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • This page is frequently updated with the latest relevant information on how to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and innovation operations across the University. If your question was not answered in any of the resources below, please email roco@utoronto.ca.

2020-May-19

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Government of Ontario has announced that the province will be entering Stage 1 of reopening. The Framework and list of Stage 1 businesses includes research. The province’s document also lays out a number of conditions related to health and safety that have to be met. While we are permitted to open research at the University, we will continue with current plans to establish protocols for physical distancing and other health and safety measures in each research space. There is no change to the status of on-campus research.

As per the Framework for Reopening our Province, the University will institute a phased approach to restarting suspended activities while mitigating the threat of resurgence and future waves of COVID-19. For research activities, this means instituting measures with the understanding that the recovery and adaptation of research is a complex, interconnected process. This resumption of all research activities will be undertaken in coordination with the academic divisions and institution-wide portfolios such as the School of Graduate Studies, Environmental Health & Safety, Facilities & Services, Human Resources & Equity, the University of Toronto Libraries, and Information Technology Services.

The purpose of the Principles for Research Recovery and Adaptation is to articulate overarching implementation principles for a phased resumption of University research activities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is meant to inform and guide divisional and unit preparedness and planning efforts. Based on government guidance, the University will determine when the restart shall begin and this document should be seen as complementary to any other University guidance that may be issued.

We have formed the University’s Research Restart Steering Committee, chaired by the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance and including vice-deans/associate deans, vice-principals research, and senior staff from the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and other University-wide shared services. Academic divisions are developing divisional research recovery advisory committees; for UTM, UTSC and the multi-department academic divisions, Chairs and Director input is sought via campus and divisional committees. These divisional committees will consider local processes within their divisions guided by these Principles and other guidance developed by the Steering Committee.

Reopening will take time and our plans will need to be flexible. In collaboration with the academic divisions and operational units, the institution is preparing guidance documents in the areas of research, environmental health and safety, academic continuity, student experience, residences, and more. These guides will be broadly shared with the U of T community. Divisions and departments are also developing plans to respond to a range of scenarios for a return to our campuses.
 

Status of On-Campus Research

Only research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research or other time-sensitive critical projects that have been exempted by the University are permitted to operate. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).
 

Funding Agency Changes

  • Funding agencies are making changes to their programs and we are endeavouring to address these as quickly as possible. This is a dynamic situation and we may not have all of the answers right away. We appreciate your patience as we work to address and communicate these changes. We have compiled links to key messages here.
     

Stay Informed

  • Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants by staying informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance. Please ensure that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is followed.
  • Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS) website which has curated a set of resources for researchers. These new Spotlight pages will be updated regularly to respond to the needs of our community.
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • This page is frequently updated with the latest relevant information on how to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and innovation operations across the University. If your question was not answered in any of the resources below, please email roco@utoronto.ca.
     

The past few weeks have been difficult for the University community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the many changes to the research and innovation landscape brought about by the present crisis.

2020-May-15

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Ontario Government has announced that the province will be entering Stage 1 of reopening. The Framework and list of Stage 1 businesses includes research. The Province’s document also lays out a number of conditions related to health and safety that have to be met. While we are permitted to open research at the University, we will continue with current plans to establish protocols for physical distancing and other health and safety measures in each research space. There is no change to the status of on-campus research. We are preparing guidance documents for research recovery and adaption, in collaboration with the academic divisions to consider approaches, phases and procedures for the gradual and careful resumption of our research activities.

As noted in yesterday’s PDAD&C memo the University of Toronto is preparing for a gradual safe return to our campuses for faculty, librarians, staff and students. As an institution, we are following the advice of public health authorities as we develop a range of options in the face of incredible complexity and a constantly evolving situation. We are guided by a commitment to the health and safety of our community, to maintaining academic excellence, and to ensuring that our students feel a part of U of T’s caring community.

Reopening will take time and our plans will need to be flexible. In collaboration with the academic divisions and operational units, the institution is preparing guidance documents in the areas of research, environmental health and safety, academic continuity, student experience, residences, and more. These guides will be broadly shared with the U of T community. Divisions and departments are also developing plans to respond to a range of scenarios for a return to our campuses.
 

Status of On-Campus Research

Only research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research or other time-sensitive critical projects that have been exempted by the University are permitted to operate. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).

The University is developing a restart framework, with details to follow shortly. The restart will be in gradual phases with the health, safety and protection of our community (faculty, staff, students, post-doctoral fellows, and visitors) being a key consideration as we return to in-person research activities.

In collaboration with the academic divisions and operational units, we are preparing guidance documents in the areas of research, environmental health and safety, academic continuity, student experience, residences, and more. These guides will be broadly shared with the U of T community. Divisions and departments are also developing plans to respond to a range of scenarios for a return to our campuses.
 

Funding Agency Changes

  • Funding agencies are making changes to their programs and we are endeavouring to address these as quickly as possible. This is a dynamic situation and we may not have all of the answers right away. We appreciate your patience as we work to address and communicate these changes. We have compiled links to key messages here.
     

Stay Informed

  • Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants by staying informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance. Please ensure that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is followed.
  • Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS) website which has curated a set of resources for researchers. These new Spotlight pages will be updated regularly to respond to the needs of our community.
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • This page is frequently updated with the latest relevant information on how to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and innovation operations across the University. If your question was not answered in any of the resources below, please email roco@utoronto.ca.
     

The past few weeks have been difficult for the University community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the many changes to the research and innovation landscape brought about by the present crisis.

2020-April-21

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI) is continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and will continue to provide updates regarding impacts on the University’s research operations. We want to assure you that the University’s response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community and, as much as possible, the continuity of critical research and innovation activities.
 

Research Operations - Pay Continuity

  • Most externally funded research personnel continue to be engaged in work remotely, or on campus for those in essential programs. All these individuals have continued to be paid and the University expects that this will continue to be the case for research personnel. Additional details may be found here.
  • The University also expects that funding commitments for trainees such as graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will be met and that supervisors will ensure that they are able to maintain their academic progress. The School of Graduate Studies has issued guidance for Chairs and Supervisors.
  • The University has engaged both levels of government and funding agencies to address concerns about continuity of research funding. At present, public sector institutions are not eligible for the federal Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Significant work, in partnership with other universities and research hospitals, continues to make the case for support of our country’s research personnel. We know that researchers have many questions about their funding, and we continue to work to get them answers.
  • Unfortunately, some research programs will require difficult decisions, if we are not able to restart them in the coming weeks and if there is no external funding support to maintain wage continuity. There is no institutional fund to bridge lost or interrupted research funding. As noted in [COVID-19] Research Operations (PDAD&C #66) Academic administrators will need to work with their PIs and divisional leaders to address financial challenges to research programs, ensuring that plans take appropriate account of the University’s collective agreements and employment policies.
     

Funding Agency Changes

  • Funding agencies are making changes to their programs and we are endeavouring to address these as quickly as possible. This is a dynamic situation and we may not have all of the answers right away. We appreciate your patience as we work to address and communicate these changes. We have compiled links to key messages here.
     

Status of On-Campus Research

  • Only research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research or other time-sensitive critical projects that have been exempted by the University are permitted to operate. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).
     

Stay Informed

  • Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants by staying informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance. Please ensure that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is followed.
  • Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS) website which has curated a set of resources for researchers. These new Spotlight pages will be updated regularly to respond to the needs of our community.
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • This page is frequently updated with the latest relevant information on how to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and innovation operations across the University. If your question was not answered in any of the resources below, please emailroco@utoronto.ca.
     

The past few weeks have been difficult for the University community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the many changes to the research and innovation landscape brought about by the present crisis.

2020-April-13

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI) is continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and will continue to provide updates regarding impacts on the University’s research operations. We want to assure you that the University’s response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community and, as much as possible, the continuity of critical research and innovation activities.
 

Funding Agency Changes

  • Funding agencies are making changes to their programs and we are endeavouring to address these as quickly as possible. This is a dynamic situation and we may not have all of the answers right away. We appreciate your patience as we work to address and communicate these changes. We have compiled links to key messages here.
     

Status of On-Campus Research

  • Only research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research or other time-sensitive critical projects that have been exempted by the University are permitted to operate. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).
     

Stay Informed

  • Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants by staying informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance. Please ensure that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is followed.
  • Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS) website which has curated a set of resources for researchers. These new Spotlight pages  will be updated regularly to respond to the needs of our community.
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • This page is frequently updated with the latest relevant information on how to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and innovation operations across the University. If your question was not answered in any of the resources below, please email roco@utoronto.ca.
     

The past few weeks have been difficult for the University community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the many changes to the research and innovation landscape brought about by the present crisis.

2020-March-25

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI) is continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and will provide updates to the research community regarding impacts on the University’s research operations. We want to assure you that the University’s response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community and, as much as possible, the continuity of critical research activities.

As of Friday, March 20, 2020, only those research labs that are conducting critical COVID-19 related research and time-sensitive critical projects with exemptions may continue.

For any research projects that have received an exemption to continue, the University is requiring social distancing as a measure to help disrupt the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to protect vulnerable individuals and to reduce overburden on our healthcare system. All those in research environments should continue to review the information from the University’s homepage, which is continually updated.

All other research should continue as possible remotely. No other on-campus research (i.e., research activities that have not received exemptions from the University) may be conducted. Consider alternative procedures for ongoing projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).

These FAQs have been created and are being reviewed and updated daily, as necessary, with the latest available information on how to minimize the impact of these extraordinary events on research operations across the University.  If you have  additional  questions after reviewing these  FAQs  please email  roco@utoronto.ca.

Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants to ensure that certain precautions are taken:  

  • Stay informed of current  University-wide  and research-specific guidance, ensuring that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is adhered to

2020-March-17

To all members of the U of T research community: 

The Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI) is continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and will provide updates to the research community regarding impacts on the University’s research operations. We want to assure you that the University’s response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community and, as much as possible, the continuity of critical research activities.

In accordance with guidance from government officials, the University is advising that all lab-based research operations be shut down by Friday, March 20 at 5:00 PM.

We will consider exceptions for critical COVID-19 research and time-sensitive critical projects that are approved by the Incident Management Team based on the University’s protocol for the approval of critical or time-sensitive research. For any critical projects that have received approval to continue, the  University is requiring social distancing as a measure to help disrupt the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to protect vulnerable individuals and to reduce overburden on our health care system. All those in research environments should continue to review the information from the  University’s homepage which is continually updated.

These FAQs have been created and are being reviewed and updated daily, as necessary, with the latest available information on how to minimize the impact of these extraordinary events on research operations across the University.  If you have  additional  questions after reviewing these  FAQs  please email  roco@utoronto.ca.

Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants to ensure that certain precautions are taken:   

  • Stay informed of current  University-wide  and research-specific guidance, ensuring that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is adhered to

No on-campus research, other than critical projects that have received approval to continue may be conducted. Therefore, consider alternative procedures for ongoing projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews  to phone interviews).

2020-March-15

To all members of the U of T research community:
 

The Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) is continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and will provide updates to the research community regarding potential impacts on the University’s research operations. We want to assure you that the University’s response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community and, as much as possible, the continuity of our research activities.
 

The situation can change quickly so researchers need to prepare to delay, scale back or stop research activities. Public health authorities continue to advise that the risk in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes our three campuses, remains low. The University is encouraging social distancing as a measure to help disrupt the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to protect vulnerable individuals and to reduce overburden on our health care system. For many research environments, social distancing is a feasible measure. All those in research environments should continue to review the information from the University’s homepage, which is continually updated.
 

These FAQs have been created and will be reviewed and updated daily, as necessary, with the latest available information on how to minimize the impact on research operations across the University. If you have additional questions after reviewing these FAQs please email roco@utoronto.ca.
 

Faculty members have a responsibility to their staff, students and research participants to ensure that certain precautions are taken:

  • Stay informed of current University-wide and research-specific guidance, ensuring that all relevant information is disseminated to applicable research staff and that the University’s guidance is adhered to
  • Reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 by following all applicable public health precautions
  • Ensure that research is conducted safely and in accordance with applicable requirements and best practices
     

Some research occurring on campus may need special consideration at this time:

  • Consider alternative procedures for ongoing projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews)
  • Clinical research at U of T campuses will require that researchers phone research participants to administer the screening questions below
  • Participants in other interactional research and all individuals that need to be present in our research environments should be asked to self-assess using the screening questions below and notify the research team whether they should not come to campus
     

Screening Questions:

  1. Are you experiencing any flu-like symptoms, including a fever (i.e. temperature > 37.8°C)?
  2. Have you travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, or been in contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19?
  3. Have you been told to self-isolate?

If yes to any of the above, research participants or visitors should notify the researcher and not come to campus.

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