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COVID-19: SRC-Related Updates

The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation will be sharing information relating to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus / 2019-nCov) that may impact the Ryerson scholarly, research and creative community.

Last Updated: January 13, 2021, 12:30pm

Recent Updates

We remind individuals involved in SRC activity to stay up to date on the latest information and guidance from OVPRI and the government in light of the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home order. This includes Principal Investigators (PIs) reviewing Safe SRC Plans and safety protocols with their research personnel on an ongoing basis. Please refer to our current guidance for SRC activities as announced by OVPRI on November 30, 2020:

(Updated January 13, 2021)

The Government of Ontario has announced additional measures, external link, opens in new window that will come into effect on January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. as part of its efforts to address COVID-19.

There have been no changes to the current order with respect to research activities, and research remains an essential activity. As such, the latest guidance does not directly impact our Safe SRC Plan guidance or protocols.

SRC Activity

The latest guidance does require individuals to stay at home and to only travel for essential work. Only research personnel who cannot accomplish their required SRC activities remotely should be accessing SRC facilities on campus.

All in-person human participant SRC activity involving human research subjects remains suspended.

On-Campus SRC Activity

Individuals coming to campus to undertake SRC activities must at all times diligently follow their approved Safe SRC plans and public health guidance, including the requirements for physical distancing and the need for appropriate PPE, including wearing face masks indoors.

We remind Principal Investigators to review their Safe SRC Plans, schedules, logging/tracking systems and safety protocols with their research personnel on an ongoing basis, and to stay up to date on the latest information and guidance from OVPRI, as found here on the OVPRI COVID-19 website.

Off-Campus SRC Activity

It is the responsibility of all researchers and their personnel who are undertaking research off campus in buildings where access is not controlled by Ryerson to follow all policies, protocols and procedures relating to COVID-19. Please continue to check for updates from the institutions.

If you have any questions or require clarification regarding your ongoing SRC activity with respect to these new government guidelines, please contact Richard McCulloch, Executive Director, Research Services at richard.mcculloch@ryerson.ca.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to ensuring the safety of our Ryerson community.

Following the Provincial announcement that Toronto would enter (grey zone) lockdown for at minimum 28 days, external link, opens in new window, effective November 23, 2020, OVPRI’s COVID-19 Scenario Planning Committee, together with Ryerson's Research Ethics Board (REB) and Environmental Health and Safety team, have reviewed our COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the continued safety of our SRC enterprise. This was done in consultation with other Toronto-based institutions to ensure alignment between our organizations.

Effective Thursday, December 3, 12:01 a.m. all  Safe Human Participant SRC Plan approved face-to-face (in-person) SRC activities involving human participants must pause until further notice. This includes all in-person recruitment of human participants, in-person data collection involving human participants for on-going research, as well as studies involving human participants that have recently received REB approval. Exceptions to this order are noted below:

Exceptions:

  • COVID-19-related in-person SRC involving human participants approved by the REB and Safe Human Participant SRC Plan may continue under the current lockdown. 
  • Researchers currently conducting REB-approved in-person research in a non-lockdown zone of Ontario or other province/territories or countries may continue if permitted locally, and as long as they follow all applicable local public health directives and safety measures.
  • All online and virtual SRC may continue as usual.

Until further notice, the REB will not approve new protocols or amendments that involve face-to-face in-person human participant research that is not COVID-19-related. Amendments to pivot to online or virtual methodologies should be submitted via the Ethics portal and will be reviewed by the REB. Renewals and protocol completion reports will continue to be reviewed to ensure that protocols remain in good standing.

The OVPRI will continue to monitor the situation. Updates will be shared via OVPRInet and posted to the OVPRI COVID-19 webpage when there is a change in our region’s lockdown status. The SRC community will be notified once face-to-face (in-person) SRC activities involving human participants can resume. 

Please direct all questions regarding the Safe Human Participant SRC Plan to Richard McCulloch (richard.mcculloch@ryerson.ca) and all REB-related questions to Zakiya Atcha in Research Ethics (zakiya.atcha@ryerson.ca).

In light of the recent announcement, external link from the Province of Ontario, we want to confirm that Ryerson continues to observe our guidance and processes for approving SRC activities on campus and the preventative measures that are in place to keep our community safe. Provided that approved Safe SRC Plans are strictly adhered to, SRC spaces and activities that have been previously approved will be able to continue at this time.

Adhere to Your Safe SRC Plan

By strictly adhering to Safe SRC Plans and maintaining a culture of compliance, we can maintain everyone’s safety and the continuity of our SRC enterprise. We encourage PIs to review your Safe SRC Plans with your teams and to diligently enforce safety protocols, including:

1) Proper physical distancing

2) Reducing the number of people present

3) Wearing masks at all times

4) Strict cleaning/disinfection protocols

5) Active employee screening

6) Keeping a detailed attendance log

Another important step in this process is for PIs to review with your teams the action plan required should there be a suspected or confirmed positive COVID-19 case amongst your team members. Should it be required, case reporting and contact tracing processes are in place.

Stay Informed

The OVPRI actively monitors announcements from the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto with regards to health measures to combat COVID-19.

If public health directives change, we will update the guidance on the COVID-19: SRC-Related Updates website and also provide notification via OVPRINet (learn how to subscribe to OVPRInet here).

Should you have any questions about our Safe SRC Planning process or guidance, please contact Richard McCulloch, Executive Director, Research Services at
richard.mcculloch@ryerson.ca.

General Information

Recently, the Ontario government provided further guidance on thePDF file reopening of the province,, external link which included reference to allowing, in accordance with public health directives, professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in physical, engineering and life sciences; as well as the provision to resume in-person counselling like psychotherapy and other mental health and support services.

To be clear, critical research at Ryerson University has always been permissible as it was an exemption to the emergency orders and deemed as essential.

As the province moves forward with incrementally easing restrictions, I want to assure you that the reopening of Ryerson’s on-campus SRC activities will follow a coordinated, phased-in process. This process will be first and foremost guided by a commitment to the safety and security of our faculty, students, staff, and research infrastructure and facilities.

Ryerson’s buildings remain locked, and access remains restricted, so please continue to refrain from coming to the Ryerson campus unless you have a previously approved exemption to continue critical SRC activities. If you urgently require an exemption for critical SRC activities, please follow the critical exemption process as outlined on the SRC COVID-19 information webpage.

Phased Reopening of Research Spaces

The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (OVPRI) has been working with Facilities Management and Development (FMD) and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) to develop a process, plan and timeline for reopening research spaces. Before research spaces can be reopened, the FMD team needs to undertake inspections of research spaces, a deep cleaning of common areas and inspection/testing of HVAC, water and electrical systems as well as EHS facilities (eye wash/shower stations, etc.).

Part of the reopening process will be the development of detailed plans for how each research space will adhere to public health directives. FMD, EHS and Human Resources are finalizing  guidance documents to aid individual faculty members and research groups in the planning process and development of protocols. Elements of the plans include describing how physical distancing provisions and enhanced cleaning will be maintained. Faculty members are encouraged to think about and begin documenting what would need to be in place to ensure the safety of their research personnel and spaces. As a starting point, current guidelines recommend, in order of priority:

  1. Continuing SRC activities remotely if possible and when there is negligible or little impact on the efficiency or quality of SRC activities and/or outcomes, and no sacrifice or compromise to ethical standards or confidentiality.  
  2. Scheduling research personnel or equipment access to avoid density and respecting principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.
  3. Employing simple engineering solutions to avoid the proximity of personnel and opportunities for virus transmission.
  4. Wearing personal protective equipment.

Support for grant proposals, award submissions, partnership agreements and all other forms of funding applications and reporting will continue.

A list of OVPRI staff can be found on our department directory or you can search Ryerson’s main directory.

Funding questions

OVPRI continues to reach out to SRC funding agencies and sponsors regarding changes to funding and reporting deadlines impacted by COVID-19. We will communicate any new information through this website as it becomes available and connect with researchers individually.  

Should you have questions or concerns regarding a specific funded SRC project, please reach out to your Grants/Contracts Officer or Applied Research & Innovation Advisor.

OVPRI is updating the Funding Opportunities page as updates become available. Please check back frequently as new updates are coming in daily.

A number of funding agencies are releasing statements relating to COVID-19. OVPRI is posting funding agency updates on this page.

If you have any SRC funding-related questions, please contact Richard McCulloch, Executive Director, Research Services at richard.mcculloch@ryerson.ca.

Ryerson has suspended all future university-sanctioned international travel for students and staff until January 1, 2021. Ryerson urges faculty members to carefully consider any upcoming travel plans. When possible, consider cancelling your plans entirely, or postponing to a later date and delaying financial commitments.  

The Research Accounting Team will continue to support the Research Community remotely as Ryerson shifts to essential services only. All information regarding Ryerson Research Accounting can be found on the Financial Services website.

In light of disruptions related to COVID-19, Canada’s federal research grant and funding agencies have extended deadlines for submitting financial reports. Find more on the tri-agency financial reporting extensions.

Policy regarding travel insurance

Information regarding travel cancellations can be found on the Financial Services website under Eligible Research Expenses / Travel Cancellations.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have released a statement on May 1, 2020.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has released a statement on April 21, 2020.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has released a statement on April 9, 2020.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has released a statement on April 9, 2020.

Mitacs has released a statement on March 19, 2020.

The three federal granting agencies (CHIR, NSERC, SSHRC) have released a statement on March 16, 2020.

The Tri-Council has also released a statement regarding travel fees relating to travel disruptions caused by COVID-19 on March 6, 2020. The statement can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Funding Opportunity updates.

Similar to the federal granting agencies advisory of March 6, 2020, regarding COVID-19, Ryerson University will allow eligible reimbursements for cancelled trips in cases such as cancelled conferences, travel advisories, or a personal choice due to health or other concerns.

Non-refundable travel expenses related to research are eligible for reimbursement when purchased through internal research funds or Professional Expense Reimbursement Funds (PERF). Also, academic/pedagogical currency-related travel expenses claimed through (PERF) are also eligible for reimbursement. Travel/conference cancellation insurance is also an eligible expense if paid for through PERF or internal research funds.

To be clear, if someone is not traveling to a conference, the non-refundable expenses are eligible for reimbursement. The individual will not receive any additional funds in their PERF or internal research account. Questions regarding PERF expenses can be directed to vpfa@ryerson.ca.  Questions regarding internal research fund expenses can be directed to Aimee Kozai (akozai@ryerson.ca).