Considerations for Designing Fieldwork Plans During COVID-19

General considerations

Please consider the following guidelines set by BCCDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they apply to your fieldwork:

  • Daily self-assessment: All students, faculty, staff, and others must assess themselves daily for COVID-19 symptoms prior to engaging in in-person UBC activities.
  • Active Self-Assessment – supervisors are responsible to confirm daily self-assessment with all employees and participants.
  • State explicitly that field team members will stay home in advance of field work when sick and will follow guidance about self-isolation
  • State explicitly that a 14-day self-isolation protocol will be followed for those that report or demonstrate symptoms, or are returning from outside the country
  • Maintain safe physical distance of 2 metres at all times and wherever possible.
  • Wear non-medical masks in transport (where applicable), when indoors or if the 2 metre distance between participants may not be ideally maintained in the field
  • Plan to sanitize frequently touched surfaces and objects and specify the product used, frequency of use, areas where it will be used.
  • Participants will:
    • maintain personal hygiene throughout the day – wash and/or sanitize hands regularly
    • avoid touching their face,
    • cough or sneeze into elbow
    • keep personal items with them at all times
    • abide by all the guidelines in this safety plan

Field team training

Beyond the training that may be required as part of normal field safety plan, PIs will need to ensure that field teams receive appropriate guidance and training in COVID-19 safety protocols. They should plan on discussing this as a team in advance of the field work.  Team members should also confirm in writing that they have received this training.  It would be appropriate to review these protocols daily while in the field. 


The advisability of including undergraduate students in field teams should be considered carefully.  Please consult your Associate Dean Research with any questions.

Please consider how your field team composition relates to your safety planning.  To maintain physical distance while in the field, the size of crew may be lower than in past field seasons because of the need to plan for separate housing and separation in vehicles.  If you plan to form a work pod to carry out your research, including individuals from the same household or from separate households who have self-isolated in advance of fieldwork for two weeks, then this will need to be planned well in advance. 

Location and Evacuation Planning

Safety and evacuation plans will vary depending on the location of the fieldwork.  Projects undertaken in the Greater Vancouver region will have a lower risk threshold.  The same is true for UBC-O researchers conducting work in the Kelowna region.  Projects requiring a return journey over eight hours will need to consider the appropriate course of action if a team member develops COVID-19 symptoms.  In these cases, researchers should both identify a credible evacuation plan as well as provide a list of local hospitals near the field site, should they be instructed by public health authorities to self-isolate in place.  A copy of this plan should be provided to each team member with an additional copy stored in field vehicles. 

In the event of evacuation, team members should maintain physical distance, sanitize vehicles and put on non-medical masks.  Please note, at this time non-medical masks are best acquired at UBC through central procurement.

Local Communities

Public health authorities have identified the potential health and resource burden that a COVID-19 outbreak triggered by visitors could place on remote communities.  Field work plans must carefully explain how interaction with local communities will be avoided and how food, housing and fuel needs will be handled to minimize in-person interactions. When this is not possible, field work should not be conducted.

Travel and Accommodation

Transport to and from the site will vary depending on the project.  One person per vehicle should apply where possible and if the team must be physically distanced.  If the safety plan calls for more than one person per vehicle because of road or remote conditions, then the vehicle must be large enough to accommodate 2m between occupants and team members should employ non-medical masks.  Please see the resources page for further guidance.

Accommodation should be arranged to minimize potential interaction with local communities.

To support physical distancing, team members should have separate accommodation or separate rooms and account for how sanitization of common spaces will be implemented.

Food should be prepared by each individual separately or by one person.  Those preparing foods should wash hands before and after using any equipment.  Each person should bring their own cup and containers from home. No sharing of kitchen dishware/utensils should occur unless an adequate means of sanitization (such as a dishwasher) is available.


Identify all shared equipment.  Identify how equipment (whether shared or not) will be sanitized. If appropriate, identify how physical distancing measures will be implemented when using shared equipment.