COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Classes are currently being delivered in an alternative model. More information about COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates for Researchers

News for Researchers:

March 30, 2020 Hazard Assessment training and forms
March 27, 2020 Science Stores Update
March 27, 2020 Critical Research Application Procedure
March 24, 2020 Update from Animal Care Services
March 20, 2020 Directive to work remotely
March 19, 2020 Memo from Animal Care Services
March 18, 2020 Impact of COVID-19 on research activities

Hazard Assessment training

March 30, 2020

Here is the link to the zoom recording of the training required for those remaining on-campus for critical continuing research:

https://uleth.zoom.us/rec/share/-utLKpLQ0k5IX8_35HPDSPYfT8P9X6a8hyYZ_vNbykochQUBN_gNIXT7llr5K1q5?startTime=1585534129000

The powerpoint presentation, and the hazard assessments (one updated for research, while the other covers other areas in the university) are also linked below.

Science Stores Update

March 27, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 situation, faculty and staff are required to work remotely and Science Stores expects reduced traffic and order requests. We understand that research continuity under specific circumstances is unavoidable and so is the need for ordering scientific supplies. We want to assure you that the Science Stores is operational and is still processing order requests for research supplies. Science stores will remain open Monday-Friday with reduced hours from 10:00AM-12:00 P.M and 1:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. However, at this time, we are entertaining orders only from those research programs that are approved for continuity by the Associate Vice President of Research (AVPR). Please note that this measure is being implemented in order to reduce the health and safety risk, and to minimize work-related interpersonal contact for our staff.

We understand that many of you have cryogen and compressed gas needs to maintain your research programs. Compressed gas requests will be filled based on availability. For smaller liquid nitrogen needs (<50 L), a pressurized dewar is stationed within the Stores area that will provide liquid nitrogen to users. This dewar would be refilled as needed. For larger needs and to fill pressurized dewars, if possible, please provide a 1-day notice by emailing your request to science.stores@uleth.ca. As of now, the sole way to fill a pressurized dewar from the U-Hall fill station is by obtaining the access key from the Stores personnel. Similarly, please provide a 1-day notice for any dry-ice and compressed gas requests. The stores will make a reasonable attempt to stock enough dry-ice for approved continuing research needs; however, this situation may change based on the availability from our dry-ice vendor. Currently, our vendor does not expect any shortage of dry-ice, liquid nitrogen, or compressed gases. Should the availability of any of these items change, an update from stores will be provided.

All incoming packages for the Science Commons will be dropped off within the Stores area (SA7414) by Materials Management. We will store any perishable shipments under proper conditions for the time being; however, our storage capacity for perishables is limited. With that in mind, a notification email will be sent to the recipient of perishable items so that arrangements can be made to transfer these packages to their lab as soon as possible. All other packages received will only be delivered to research labs if they have received prior approval for research continuity from the AVPR.

At this time, access to the Stores area is being restricted to Stores personnel and Materials Management staff. As mentioned previously, this change is being put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and to promote social distancing. All transactions with Stores should be carried out through the stores window and a hand sanitizer unit has been installed beside this window. Please do not hesitate to contact Govi (science.stores@uleth.ca) if you have any further questions or concerns.

Critical Research Application Procedure

March 27, 2020

The situation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the operation of the University of Lethbridge remains fluid, and our response evolves on a day-to-day basis.  As of March 23, the University of Lethbridge issued a directive for faculty, staff, postdocs and students to work from home. As was recently communicated, we are moving to a model of “Restricted Access” to campus buildings. Accordingly, all research teams and units must follow this directive to work remotely. We suggest that in your move to a work-from-home environment, you plan for the possibility of an extended period of remote work.  Allowances may be made for continuing critical in-progress research, scholarship and creative activities to continue on site, and most who are impacted have already been working with the Critical Continuity Research Committee in preparation for this shift. For selected research activities to proceed on campus, they must be registered and approved by the University. The process for this is detailed below.

As research, scholarship, and creative work are key components of the University, we must ensure that critical in-progress research (this term includes scholarly and creative work) is maintained as long as it is safe and reasonable to do so.  All researchers are asked to continue as much of their work as is feasible in a virtual or work-from-home setting. If you are able to do all of your work in this manner, only requiring access to online systems, you do not need to take further action.

Please evaluate whether you are able to shut down the on-campus portion of your work and focus on work that can be done from home. However, if your work depends on having you and other individuals work on campus or accessing on-campus infrastructure (either in your own on-campus workspace or shared facilities), then please carefully read the rest of this message.  If you have critical on-campus research, scholarship or creative work requiring access to on-campus facilities or infrastructure, then you must take action now so the University can review and approve your access to campus.  Similarly, if you are reducing or shutting down your work on campus, but must continue the operation of infrastructure on campus that requires maintenance or attention (e.g. sample storage system that requires regular liquid nitrogen refills or an experimental apparatus that cannot be easily shut down), you must take action to maintain your access to campus in the event of wider access restriction.

CRITICAL RESEARCH

The University of Lethbridge considers critical research to be research, scholarship or creative work that satisfies one or more of the following criteria:

  • COVID-19 related research that is vital to dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Clinical Research in which participant health might be put at risk if the program is suspended.
  • Ongoing research in which significant amounts of data would be completely lost or compromised if the experiment or project was terminated early/suddenly.
  • Research contract work that can be undertaken while meeting COVID-19 safety principles and in which contract deliverables must be met in order to continue funding.

CRITICAL RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES

The University of Lethbridge currently considers critical research infrastructure and services to be those that satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

  • Maintenance of research infrastructure or services identified as required in support of critical research.
  • Research infrastructure or services required to ensure human health and safety.
  • Research infrastructure or services required to ensure animal health and safety.
  • Research infrastructure that cannot be shut down in a timely manner (less than one day) without significant risk of damage or destruction of the infrastructure in question. This includes sample/material storage infrastructure requiring regular maintenance or consumable replenishment.
  • Research in progress that, if ended, would result in significant loss of research dollars, data or findings.
  • Need for resources, including computers or other equipment, that cannot be accessed off campus.

NEXT STEPS

If your critical on-campus, in-progress work must continue and it meets the criteria outlined above, then you must complete the following approval process and form.  Approval from the Associate Vice-President (AVP) Research (Dr. Jackie Rice) is required to ensure that you and your team can access campus during this time.

Principal Investigator (or their designate) should initiate the following process:

  • Step 1: Complete and submit the Continuing Critical Research Form.
  • Step 2: The AVP Research will review your Continuing Critical Research Form in consultation with Risk and Safety.
  • Step 3: You will normally receive a notification from the Office of Research and Innovation Services within two working days. Approval means that your work and the other individuals identified as being involved in that work will be registered with the University of Lethbridge.

Important:  Approval from the AVP Research is required if you wish to continue your research work on campus when access is restricted.

Notes: No member of the University community should feel pressured to work on campus if they are not comfortable to do so. If any individual is feeling inappropriately pressured to carry out on-campus research, scholarship, or creative work, they should contact Suzanne McIntosh in the Wellness and Recognition office at the University of Lethbridge.

The University of Lethbridge may withdraw your Continuing Critical Research Designation if conditions change.

We understand that limiting access to campus is disruptive to the work of faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. The University of Lethbridge will continue to support your efforts, and we deeply appreciate your perseverance through this difficult situation.

Additional Information from Animal Care Services:

March 24, 2020

  • Everyone accessing the Rodent Research Facility must complete the “Working on Campus Registry” everyday https://uleth.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_25pgyMPThLwWGBT
  • Due to the global shortage of mask, surgical mask should only be used to support surgical procedures at this time and fit tested N95 mask to reduce allergen exposure in individuals with allergies.  
  • To conserve consumables, it is required that laboratory members planning euthanasia, tissue collection and perfusion identify their animal cages with appropriate laminated cards a minimum of a week in advance. 
  • Please continue to be diligent in following Alberta Health protocols of hand washing and social distancing as we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Laboratories with multiple members required to support their research studies in progress should schedule the work in a way that reduce social contact.

hank you for your understanding in this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to contact Isabelle if you have any question or concern.

Directive to work remotely

March 20, 2020

The University of Lethbridge is committed to helping attenuate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. To that end, any employee or student of the U of L who is able to work remotely must do so, which will help us minimize interpersonal contact on campus. We recognize that some faculty may have research projects or experiments in progress that require resources that cannot be accessed off campus. A committee has been established to assist the Emergency Operations Centre with developing a plan for how and when to allow people to safely access campus resources when absolutely necessary for them to continue their work.

The Research Continuity Committee (RCC) includes Jennifer Copeland (Acting Associate Dean, Arts & Science); Isabelle Gauthier (University Veterinarian/Director, Animal Care Services), Tony Montina (Interim Director Science Commons Academic Operations), Gene Lublinkhof (Director of Science Facilities), Jim Vanderzee (Project Management Office), Kelly Williams-Whitt (Associate Dean, Dhillon School of Business), and Lorna Selinger (Biosafety Officer). The safety of our campus community is our top priority. Second to that, the RCC is committed to trying to enable some continuity of research that requires campus access, barring things beyond our control. We are considering processes for safely accessing campus in the short (March), medium (May), and long term (September).

Currently, anyone who is able to work remotely must do so. If you need documents or equipment from campus in order to work remotely, please retrieve it before March 23rd.

The RCC is now gathering information from faculty who require ongoing campus access for one of the following reasons:

  • need for resources, including computers or other equipment, that cannot be accessed off campus;
  • research in progress that, if ended, would result in loss of animals’ life;
  • research in progress that, if ended, would result in significant loss of research dollars or findings; or
  • maintenance of critical infrastructure.

If these can be achieved while still adhering to social distance and all required safety practices, then access may be granted on a limited and monitored basis, with a maximum of 3 people in a lab at one time (including the PI). All researchers granted permission to work on campus must be prepared and have a plan in place to immediately shut down research, should the need arise.

Undergraduate students who are completing their spring term work, or graduate students who are supporting experiments in progress, may continue to work either remotely or onsite if the appropriate precautions are in place and if the student feels safe in continuing their work. It is imperative that no students be mandated to attend campus during this crisis for any reason. All faculty must offer all students and trainees the option to work remotely, without penalty. Students will be informed of their right to work remotely.

Our goal is to ensure that major losses of work already underway are minimized as much as possible, but this does not mean it will be business as usual. We encourage you to consider your research program, both in terms of the present and the future.  Given continuing uncertainty you should refrain from starting new projects that will require:

  • extensive campus access in the next few months,
  • purchasing/ordering new chemicals, equipment, or ordering/transferring animals
  • interpersonal contact with participants.

The Tri-Council has already communicated their awareness and understanding of the ongoing interruptions to research productivity; stay tuned for further information on how they will adjust and adapt to support the research community. This should allow you to focus on your most emergent research priorities in the short term.

If you have not already replied to the request for details about your requirements for campus access please do so immediately by sending it to Jennifer Copeland. By Monday we expect to have a process in place for requesting, approving, and monitoring access to any spaces on campus. You will need to confirm that you have processes in place to maintain social distance and all other precautions while on campus. We will revisit this plan in the coming weeks as the spring terms draws to a close and a we all gain a better picture of the coming months.

Should you have any questions for the RCC please contact Dr. Jennifer Copeland (jennifer.copeland@uleth.ca). We greatly appreciate all of your efforts to keep our community safe and healthy.

Memo from Animal Care Services

March 19, 2020

Animal Care Services will continue to care for the research animals and maintain the operation of the animal facilities to support only the present research studies at this time. We ask for your collaboration to keep your research activities to as tatus quo until further notice. The uncertainty surrounding supply of necessary consumables as well as the health of employees and students requires utmost consideration at this time.

Only essential laboratory members involved in present studies can access the animal facilities. It is requested that individuals accessing the animal facilities reduce their numbers of entries and exits to a minimum to reduce strain on resources and to promote social distancing. Also, please make sure to maintain good communication regarding your present research study with your supervisor and Animal Care Services staff if you are unable to come to campus or if your research plans are changing.

Animal Care Services is suspending the following services until further notice (this list may evolve as the situation progresses):

  • Animal Training Wet Labs
  • Facility Orientations
  • Animal orders, importations and exportations
  • No animal transfers will be completed

Anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing and/or have travelled outside Canada and/or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 must stay home. Moreover, if you have chronic conditions, or a compromised immune system, please stay home as well.  Additional information will be provided shortly.

Thank you for your understanding and collaboration. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any question or concern. It is important to support each other during difficult times.

University of Lethbridge Human Participant Research during COVID-19 Outbreak 

In light of the COVID 19 outbreak, research and recruitment involving in-person contact with participants must be suspended, delayed or modified to minimize or eliminate risks to participants and the public. Due to the current, and quickly evolving, COVID-19 situation, all human participants researchers should have stopped any in-person interactions with participants unless doing so presents more danger to the participant than continuing the research. If you are in this unlikely situation please let the Human Participant Research Committee (HPRC) know immediately. 

Please consult this file for additional information:

Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activities

March 18, 2020

As a follow up to the President’s announcement on March 18th we offer the following as we anticipate your shift from working on campus to working at home.  In terms of your responsibility as a researcher we would like you to consider the following: 

  • Take care -- of yourself; take care of your students; take care of your workspaces & labs, considering your impact on your colleagues & the community.  Be safe. 
  • Anticipate change -- we have seen mandated changes daily and we continue to respond accordingly. Researchers, as well as the students and staff working with you have been asked to shift their work and their workplace from the university campus to home, unless you have discussed this with the Risk and Safety office and have secured permission from the AVPR.   We ask you to make this shift in the next 24 hours.  If you have questions about transitioning your research please reach out to the individuals below, or to your grant facilitator for grant-related questions. 

Please note: currently and for the foreseeable future, individuals must suspend face-to-face research.  We understand the impact that this has on ongoing research programs. 

No travel, research or otherwise, can be taken at this time.   

No new animals will be ordered, and no new lab experiments will be started.  We are looking at closure procedures and will communicate further with researchers who are impacted by this.  We will continue to provide useful supports and information.  

As we move through this change, and eventually return back to some level of normalcy, the university is committed to support you in all of your research activities.   

We will continue to communicate and share resources as they become available; for example protocols for human participant research, information about liquid nitrogen dewar maintenance, shut down of some wet labs, and identification/cross training of personnel who will be required to work on-campus.  Please stay tuned! 

Contacts: