A Phased Resumption of On-campus Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities

The Office of the VP, Research & Innovation (VPRI) consulted with Faculties and units across our campuses to inform the phased resumption of on-campus research, scholarship and creative activities, in line with public health guidance.  

Faculty plans for the first stage of the resumption of on-campus research followed the on-campus curtailment of research and scholarly activity that was enacted on March 24. The resumption of on-campus research is intended to adopt a gradual approach over the summer months. It is important to recognize that the unpredictability of the COVID-19 outbreak may necessitate a return to stricter curtailment of on-campus research and scholarly activities at any point.

Health and safety remains our first priority. As part of our planning, UBC is working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and post-secondary institutions within BC to ensure we are aligned with health and safety guidelines and WorkSafeBC.

The following information applies to the phased resumption of on-campus research and scholarly activities only. It will be updated on a regular basis. Last Update: July 16.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The development of guiding principles for a phased resumption of on-campus research, scholarship and creative activities was an interactive process shaped by broad consultation, including eight virtual town halls that were attended by over 950 faculty members across our two campuses. 

  • The health and well-being of faculty members, students and staff is paramount 
  • The orders, notices and guidance of the Provincial Health Officer will be followed  
  • Permission to conduct on-campus research and scholarship will be limited to those who require on-site resources. Managed access to offices will be governed by Faculties. 
  • There will be a phased and coordinated approach across each campus 
  • Phased resumption of activity may need to be reversed and stricter curtailment conditions imposed in response to public health guidance or changes to the situation on our campuses 
  • If an employee has a concern about returning to work, they will have an opportunity to discuss with their supervisor, Human Resources and their employee group, as appropriate 
  • Equity will be considered in evaluating how to plan and conduct research resumption 

PHASED APPROACH

The plan for resuming on-campus research consists of several stages, each of which will only be enacted if consistent with public health conditions at that time. Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation, we cannot assume that there will be a linear progression through the stages and a return to curtailment may be required at any time.

The first stage, which began in June, provides only limited access to on-campus facilities and adheres to strict physical distancing protocols. Subsequent stages, which could begin in the summer, will see a gradual increase in on-campus research and scholarship activities in line with public health advice.

 

Research Curtailment

Research Resumption Stage 1

Who can conduct on-campus research?

Those receiving an on-campus research exemption for COVID-19 research and critical research and maintenance activities

Researchers requiring access to on-campus resources and prioritized in Faculty stage 1 plan

Who determines access?

Exemption requests approved by VPRI

Faculties identify priority needs for on-campus access

How many researchers can access on-campus resource?

Only those receiving exemptions

We anticipate approximately 1/3 usual research occupancy overall

Is conducting in-person research with human participants permitted?

Research Ethics Boards provide guidance on protocols with restrictions on in-person human participant research

Additional review and the creation of a safe research plan may now be required prior to submission for ethics approval for both new and resuming studies. Please visit the BREB website for the latest guidance on conducting  behavioural research. For clinical research at any of the UBC affiliated Health Authority sites, please visit the website for the appropriate clinical board

Is conducting fieldwork permitted?

Faculties recommend exemptions to allow fieldwork in accordance with all public safety directives. Approved by VPRI.

Faculties approve specific fieldwork requests in accordance with all public safety directives.

Office access

Individual Faculties have specific procedures in place.

Individual Faculties have specific procedures in place.

When are these phases beginning?

Curtailment started on March 24

Plans can start to be enacted after VPRI/VPA approval starting in early June

 
We anticipate subsequent stages of on-campus research resumption to allow for a gradual increase in on-campus activity. Increased activity is reliant on public health guidelines.

Planning and Process - Stage 1

  • Each Faculty develops a plan for a first stage of resumption, in which limited access is provided to those requiring on-site resources for their research programs. Faculties were asked to target a per-person occupancy of research spaces ~ 1/3 of normal research occupancy. Faculty research resumption plans must address all public health guidelines and directives.
  • Steering committees were formed on each campus. These committees facilitate and review plans for WorkSafe BC compliance in coordination with Safety and Risk Services (SRS) (Vancouver campus) / Campus Operations and Risk Management (CORM) (Okanagan campus).
  • Once a Faculty's research resumption plan is approved, a Faculty can proceed to implementing the plan. Communication of the enactment of this stage of on-campus research resumption is done at the Faculty level.

SUBSEQUENT PHASED EXPANSION OF ON-CAMPUS RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP

Expanding access to a greater number of researchers and scholars in subsequent phases is predicated on the direction and guidance from the Provincial Health Officer.  If conditions allow, subsequent stages may start to occur over the summer.

In subsequent stages, Faculties will plan for an increase in research activity that may include the careful coordination of temporal distancing or shift approaches.  We anticipate that this will allow buildings to remain significantly below full occupancy in order to support required physical distancing protocols as required.

In subsequent stages, Faculties will also be mindful of the potential intersection of access requirements for on-campus teaching and instruction. Faculties will be responsible for the updating and approval of their research resumption plans and for their integration into overall Faculty safety plans covering teaching and research. It is anticipated that as Faculty safety plans are approved, these will supersede existing research resumption plans.

Researcher Agreement & Responsibility

Researchers are required to sign a COVID-19 Access Agreement before accessing their space. Departments and Faculties retain copies of the agreement and researchers must post a copy to the door of their research space. Faculties will make this form available to all research staff and trainees who are granted access.

Supplies Procurement

The university has created a centralized process for ordering and distribution of supplies which are in critical need in the province (e.g., PPE and reagents used for testing); it is possible that lack of availability of these supplies may limit the ability to resume specific research activities. Contact the Critical Supply team at critical.supply@ubc.ca

OVERSIGHT AND MONITORING

Faculties have oversight regarding departmental and building safety plans with guidance from the VPRI, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, and UBC Safety & Risk Services on each campus. Safety & Risk Services will support Faculties in monitoring and ensuring compliance in accordance with University policies, and will offer tools and training materials for use in research labs and facilities.

FAQS

I received an exemption for on-campus research during the curtailment. What happens to that as we move into Stage 1?
Can I still apply for a research curtailment exemption?
Who will get on-campus access in stage 1?
Who determines priorities about who gets access?
What about off-campus fieldwork and in-person research involving human participants?
What about research involving animals?
What should I do if my research uses Plant Care Services?
What happens if public health directives and advice change?
I can keep physical distancing in my research space, what could be stopping me from returning?
Can I access the UBC Library for materials that are not available digitally?
Are units in the VPRI portfolio still offering support to researchers?
How will UBC deal with limited research supplies (e.g., PPE)?
Can I still receive international shipments of research materials and supplies?
How can I securely store and access my data so that I can continue my research remotely?
Is additional software available for me to access remotely?