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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: September 9, 2021, 12 p.m.

Recent Updates

As announced on August 27, all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors accessing campus or in-person university activities off campus must be fully vaccinated.

Only those who anticipate accessing campus or in-person activities during the fall semester are required to submit their vaccination status at this time.

(Updated September 9, 2021)

The Ontario provincial government has moved to Step 3 of its Roadmap to Reopen effective July 16, 2021. 

All current SRC Safe Activity guidelines and protocols remain in place until further notice.

The Ontario provincial government has moved to Step 3 of its Roadmap to Reopen effective July 16, 2021, external link, opens in new window

All current SRC Safe Activity guidelines and protocols remain in place until further notice.

We remind individuals involved in SRC activity to stay up to date on the latest information and guidance from OVPRI and the government. 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.

(Updated September 3, 2021)

A message from Steven N. Liss, Vice-President, Research and Innovation - September 3, 2021

With the recent changes to the public health guidelines for post-secondary institutions, I would like to confirm that in alignment with Ryerson’s access to campus guidance, all current safety guidelines and protocols remain in effect for research laboratories and on-campus research spaces approved for occupancy and activity, until further notice. This includes safety protocols (PPE, social distancing) and any occupancy restrictions outlined in approved Safe SRC Plans.

For more than a year, our Safe SRC Guidelines have allowed for continuity of the SRC enterprise. Labs and other SRC spaces have safely reopened to meet the operational needs of researchers, trainees and students (undergraduate and graduate). 

The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation recognizes that this is an evolving situation and will update the community should there be any changes to our Safe SRC Guidelines with respect to physical distancing, capacity limits or PPE usage in SRC spaces.

Details and future SRC updates can be found on Ryerson’s COVID-19 pages.

General Information

With the recent changes to the public health guidelines for post-secondary institutions, I would like to confirm that in alignment with Ryerson’s access to campus guidance, all current safety guidelines and protocols remain in effect for research laboratories and on-campus research spaces approved for occupancy and activity, until further notice. This includes safety protocols (PPE, social distancing) and any occupancy restrictions outlined in approved Safe SRC Plans.

For more than a year, our Safe SRC Guidelines have allowed for continuity of the SRC enterprise. Labs and other SRC spaces have safely reopened to meet the operational needs of researchers, trainees and students (undergraduate and graduate). 

The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation recognizes that this is an evolving situation and will update the community should there be any changes to our Safe SRC Guidelines with respect to physical distancing, capacity limits or PPE usage in SRC spaces.

Details and future SRC updates can be found on Ryerson’s COVID-19 pages.

In-person human participant SRC activities conducted on campus and in regions of the province that are moving to Stage 2 can resume on June 30, 2021, external link, opens in new window.

Researchers who have previously approved Safe Human Participant / Field SRC Plan Forms may resume these activities on June 30, 2021 in line with the safety precautions and risk mitigation measures previously developed. New guidance regarding the appropriate use of PPE is as follows:

  • For any human participant work where physical distancing of 2 metres cannot be consistently maintained, it is recommended that the use of PPE with surgical/medical mask and eye protection (goggles, face shield or safety glasses) be worn at all times during the interaction. Eye protection must be cleaned and disinfected after each participant visit.

Researchers who wish to commence in-person human participant SRC activities in Stage 2 regions (or comparable standards outside Ontario) should follow the instructions on our OVPRI COVID-19 Safe SRC website. For any questions or consultations regarding COVID-19 safety measures while developing in-person human participant Safe SRC plans, please reach out to your local Environmental Health and Safety representative.

If you have any questions about this message or the Safe SRC Planning process, please reach out to Richard McCulloch at richard.mcculloch@ryerson.ca.

On Friday, April 17, 2021, the provincial government extended the stay-at-home order for Ontario until at least May 20, 2021.

The current stay-at-home order and restrictions do not directly change the university’s guidelines for Safe SRC activities, but they do warrant principal investigators and supervisors carefully assessing their SRC activities and timelines to determine whether they can be modified to reduce the need for students or other researchers to leave their homes.

Due to the rise in case counts in Toronto and recent changes in how we are assessing high-risk exposures, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is recommending that researchers review their control measures for indoor SRC activities to ensure that they are applicable and effective. In instances where 2 metres of physical distancing between research personnel cannot be achieved at all times, PPE should be reviewed and upgraded to also include the use of eye protection (goggles/face shields).

We also want to take this opportunity to remind all researchers and their staff that Safe SRC Plans and their guiding practices must be strictly followed and enforced. Constant vigilance by all researchers undertaking in-person SRC activities is critical.

Only through strict adherence to our PDF fileSafe SRC guidelines can we ensure the continuity of our in-person SRC activities. Failure to comply with these set guidelines could result in individual researchers being removed from the Safe SRC list, or entire research groups being shut down, as appropriate to the non-compliance.

Safe SRC Activity

  • Individuals should stay at home and only travel for essential work.
  • Only research personnel who cannot accomplish their required SRC activities remotely should be accessing SRC facilities on or off campus.
  • Principal investigators (PIs) should carefully assess their approved Safe SRC activities and determine if they are absolutely necessary, or if more effective scheduling can be implemented to reduce travel and personnel density in our SRC spaces.
  • PIs and supervisors should revisit timelines and prioritize accordingly to reduce the number of individuals leaving home and working in shared spaces.
  • If a researcher must consume food and/or beverages on campus, it should be done in isolation in a safe, secluded area, or preferentially, outdoors, if possible. Researchers and their teams must refrain from eating together or in groups while indoors.
  • PIs and supervisors are also reminded that no student or staff should be forced to come to campus and that all in-person SRC activities should be voluntary.
  • All in-person SRC activity involving human research participants remains suspended.

On-Campus SRC Activity

  • Individuals coming to campus to undertake SRC activities must diligently follow their approved Safe SRC Plans and public health guidance at all times. This includes wearing PPE such as face masks and eye protection and maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres.
  • If physical distancing cannot be achieved at all times, the additional requirements/actions outlined in the Safe SRC Plan, such as supplementary PPE, must be strictly followed. Failure to comply with the approved SRC Plan will be considered non-compliance.
  • PIs should review their Safe SRC Plans, schedules, logging/tracking systems and safety protocols with their research personnel on an ongoing basis, and 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 not only Ryerson’s guidance for Safe SRC activities, but also all COVID-19 policies, protocols and procedures connected to the facility or location where the research is being undertaken. This includes requirements and responsibilities of research personnel accessing and conducting research on the premises.
  • Please continue to check for updates from the institution involved.

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.

On Friday, March 5, the Province of Ontario announced that Toronto and Peel regions would return to Grey-Lockdown restrictions beginning Monday, March 8.

When Toronto originally moved into Grey-Lockdown restrictions on December 3, 2020, Ryerson paused all Safe Human Participant SRC Plan approved face-to-face (in-person) SRC activities involving human participants. Exceptions to this order were for:

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

REB-approved, face-to-face (in-person) human participant SRC activities taking place on campus or in other locations within Grey-Lockdown regions (including Toronto and Peel) remain on pause. We continue to monitor local conditions and, moving forward, will update this guidance as appropriate and share this information via OVPRInet and by posting to the OVPRI COVID-19 webpage.

We are taking this opportunity to also provide further clarity on face-to-face human participant research that is taking place or is planned to take place in non-lockdown zones of Ontario or outside of Ontario.

Researchers who currently have an approved Safe Human Participant SRC Plan that involves face-to-face (in-person) human participant SRC activities in a location(s) in Ontario that is not in a Grey-Lockdown region (or comparable standard in other jurisdictions outside Ontario), and where the research personnel and human participants involved would not be travelling from or to Grey zones, can resume their REB and SRC plan-approved studies.

Researchers wishing to submit a new PDF fileSafe Human Participant SRC Plan for activities that would take place in a permitted zone (i.e., not Grey within Ontario) can now do so, along with the associated REB study protocol submission process.

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).

The Government of Ontario has announced additional measures, external link, opens in new window, external link 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, 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.

Recently, the Ontario government provided further guidance on the reopening of the province, 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.

As announced on August 27, all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors accessing campus or in-person university activities off campus must be fully vaccinated. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated yet or who will be seeking an exemption for reasons recognized under Ontario’s Human Rights Code are required to participate in the Rapid Antigen Testing Program, subject to the conditions and processes outlined here.

Only those who anticipate accessing campus or in-person activities during the fall semester are required to submit their vaccination status at this time.

Community members accessing campus or in-person university activities off campus are required to submit proof of vaccination status or apply for an exemption by September 20.

As of October 18, 2021 individuals who are not fully vaccinated or who have not received an approved exemption from the university related to medical, creed, or other protected grounds under Ontario’s Human Rights Code will no longer be able to access campus or in-person university activities off campus by participating in the Rapid Antigen Testing Program. Individuals who have received an approved exemption from the university will continue to be required to participate in the Rapid Antigen Testing Program after October 18, 2021.

  1. Download the RyersonSafe App if you do not already have it.
  2. Open the RyersonSafe app on your mobile device.
  3. If you already have the RyersonSafe app downloaded, you may need to update your settings to view the new option. To update your settings, tap the Ryerson logo at the top of your screen.
  4. Select “COVID-19” > “Submit Proof of Vaccination”
  5. Students, faculty and staff will be required to enter their Ryerson credentials.
  6. Complete the vaccine disclosure process by submitting your vaccine dose administration receipt or equivalent document.
  7. Once complete, you will receive a badge which will reflect your vaccination status and a confirmation email.

Faculty, staff and visitors are required to forward proof of completion to their direct supervisor/Ryerson contact.

If you do not wish to download the app, you can also access the required vaccine disclosure via desktop.

  1. Visit the RyersonSafe COVID-19 Submit Proof of Vaccination webpage, external link, opens in new window.
  2. Complete the vaccine disclosure process by following the prompts and submitting your vaccine dose administration receipt or equivalent document.
  3. Once complete, you will receive a badge which will reflect your vaccination status and a confirmation email.

Faculty, staff and visitors are required to forward proof of completion to their direct supervisor/Ryerson contact.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated yet or who are seeking an exemption/have been approved for an exemption for reasons recognized under Ontario’s Human Rights Code are required to participate in the Rapid Antigen Testing Program, in order to access campus.

You will also be required to complete testing twice per week on Mondays and Thursdays, regardless of when you are planning to access campus or in-person university activities off campus. To learn more, including how to complete testing and submit your results, visit the Rapid Antigen Testing Program webpage.

If applicable, individuals may apply for an exemption related to medical, creed or other protected grounds recognized by Ontario's Human Rights Code.

The deadline to submit an exemption request is September 20, 2021. If an exemption is not submitted by this date, there is a greater chance that your request will not be reviewed by the October 18, 2021 deadline and your access to campus or in-person university activities may be impacted. Learn how to apply for an exemption.

The university has developed comprehensive COVID-19 training which outlines COVID-19 risks, how to prevent transmission and vaccination information.

Ryerson University encourages those who will be working and studying on campus to complete the training, particularly those who are not fully vaccinated. Access the google slideCOVID-19 eLearning online, external link, opens in new window.

A series of frequently asked questions has been posted online with information such as:

  • What does fully vaccinated mean?
  • Who can ask to see my proof of vaccination?
  • I’m coming to campus and am not yet fully vaccinated. How do I complete testing?

We encourage all community members to review the full list of vaccination frequently asked questions available online.

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).