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Limited Resumption of Human Participant SRC Activity

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

Safe Human Participant SRC Plans approved for face-to-face (in-person) SRC activities involving human participants can be resumed in accordance with local public health guidelines.

This includes all in-person recruitment of human participants, in-person data collection involving human participants for ongoing research, as well as studies involving human participants that have received Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. If you have questions regarding your REB approvals, please connect with the REB directly.

Note: If the region where the in-person SRC activity involving human participants has not moved into Stage 2 (or regional equivalent), the SRC activity must remain paused in accordance with local public health guidelines.

Researchers wishing to submit a new Safe Human Participant SRC Plan can do so, along with the associated REB study protocol submission.

The OVPRI will continue to monitor the situation. Updates will be shared via OVPRInet and posted to the OVPRI COVID-19 webpage as changes occur in our region.

 Recommended Procedures for On-Campus SRC Activity with Human Participants

Restrict Study Visits to Essential Individuals

Legal guardians, or others who must be present with the participant for health care, research-related decisions, or to provide support to the individual.

Limit Number of People Present in an Area at Any Given Time

  • Create a schedule and use separate rooms for study visits.
  • Clearly identify circulation paths to maintain 2-metre physical distancing.
  • Minimize the use of waiting rooms.
  • Establish a disinfection area for participants where they can obtain PPE (if required) and leave their belongings.
  • Select locations with greater airflow and physical distancing feasibility.
  • Use video conversations to limit face-to-face interactions.
  • Employ virtual approaches to train personnel on study procedures.
  • Note: Researchers should only be present when they are required to work or completing necessary training.

Use a Schedule to Ensure Sufficient Time between Visits

  • Ensure sufficient time between participant visits for proper sanitation of materials or equipment and turnover of air.
  • Have a schedule for groups sharing spaces to enable cleaning to be coordinated across groups and studies.

Study Team

All study team members who will be present in the Ryerson lab space and/or who may come in contact with study participants are required to self-screen prior to coming to the lab each day using the RyersonSafe Mobile App.

Study Participants

Study participants should be contacted and screened on the day before the visit and immediately upon arrival using the PDF fileOntario Ministry of Health Patient Screening Guidance, external link, opens in new window or the PDF fileCity of Toronto Screening Tool, external link, opens in new window. Any participants who do not feel well will have their visit cancelled or rescheduled.

If the participant is unable to be reached the day before, the visit screening should be attempted the morning of the study visit in addition to the required screening immediately upon arrival.

Participants must be symptom-free to participate in “in-person” SRC activity.

It is the responsibility of all researchers, their personnel and students who are undertaking research off campus, in buildings where access is not controlled by Ryerson to follow any policies, protocols and procedures relating to COVID-19 belonging to the facility or location where they are undertaking the research.  

Communicate with Participants

Research teams should communicate with participants before their study visit.

Develop an informational sheet that can be provided to all participants, outlining the following information:

  • Safe environment, what measures are in place and what participants can expect when they come in for their visit. Describe any special procedures for participants (e.g., parking, building access/which entry to use or location change).
  • Instruct participants to bring water and food, if applicable.
  • Advise participants that they should follow public health guidelines, external link, opens in new window for safe practices when leaving their home.
  • Inform participants of transportation options. A risk-based approach is recommended. Consider if participants can safely walk to the lab or other SRC data collection location, do they have their own transportation, or will they use ridesharing or a taxi.
  • Have participants visit Ryerson’s plan your commute, opens in new window web page.
  • Public transportation is strongly discouraged.

Adapt Cultural Practices

If cultural practices are a part of the in-person protocol (such as smudging) for your SRC activity, work with the community to adapt the practice to allow for appropriate safety precautions while engaging in cultural practices.

Prepare the Study Visit Area

  • Clean and disinfect the entire study lab/visit space, opens in new window.
  • Employ physical distancing practices, opens in new window.
  • Clean and disinfect study spaces between each participant study visit and after all visits are completed for the day.
  • Designate experiment/data collection areas and areas for guardians/other visitors and their belongings.
  • Prepare the space before the participant arrives (e.g., propping open doors, calibrating all equipment, etc.).
  • Have PPE available for study participants, including face masks and hand sanitizer.
  • In spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, determine if additional engineering controls such as the installation of plexiglass is required. Please contact the Facilities Management and Development (FMD) Help Desk by email at fixit@ryerson.ca or call 416-970-5091. FMD will work with departments on an assessment and installation strategy and will prioritize public-facing spaces first.

Training

All essential personnel should review proper PPE use, opens in new window prior to interaction with participants and have completed all university training modules related to restarting SRC activity with human participants.

Study visits will be planned in such a way as to emphasize participant, staff and trainee safety and make sure that all participants feel comfortable.

Early communication with participants should give them an overview of policies and practices, as well as give them the opportunity to ask questions so that they feel comfortable coming on-site.

Study-specific activities may require specific customizations to this plan, but the following principles will govern in-person human participant SRC activity:

  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Maintain the highest standard of cleanliness, including regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces, cleaning exam/procedure/study rooms between each participant, and good hand hygiene.
  • Use appropriate PPE and follow screening procedures.

Best Practices when 2-metre Physical Distancing Can be Maintained

  • Follow recommended physical distancing practices, opens in new window.
  • Designate an entrance and route of travel to limit participant access in buildings. If possible, designate a bathroom for participant use.
  • Keep a daily record, opens in new window (electronic format preferred) of who is in the space and at what time for contact tracing purposes.
  • Study staff should be wearing PPE and have all materials, equipment and other items ready for the study visit.
  • Screen all study participants and family members, caretakers, legal representatives, etc. before they enter the lab/building.
  • Study staff should wash or sanitize their hands just before the study visit begins, and throughout the study visit.
  • Provide all study participants with PPE to wear during the visit in accordance with university guidelines.
  • If and when possible, study staff should maintain 2-metre physical distancing from the participant. The use of plexiglass barrier(s) to separate study staff and the participant is encouraged. People should announce movements in the space to avoid accidental broaching of the 2-metre distance.
  • If study protocol prevents safe distancing, additional PPE measures should be taken (e.g., a face mask, and/or a face shield or goggles). Ensure that PPE is being used by all for the duration of the study visit. If possible, have the study team member and participant face in opposite directions.
  • Disinfect rooms between each participant. Regularly disinfect additional high-touch surfaces, including door handles and light switches.
  • Staff breaks should be taken 2 metres away from others. Staff should notify all other individuals present in the testing location before the break to ensure adequate distancing.

Sample collection, handling and processing:

  • Biological samples will be collected by study technicians, nurses and/or physicians, as appropriate.
  • Biological samples collected during study visits will always be handled, processed, and/or shipped only by qualified team members with the highest regard for safety.

Best Practices When 2-metre Physical Distancing Cannot Be Maintained

Restarting SRC activity where 2-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained requires thorough procedures to ensure the safety of both the participant and the researcher.

The following attempts to anticipate issues that may arise for in-person research where physical distancing is unlikely to be possible, but it cannot anticipate all scenarios.

These best practices should be considered in addition to the best practices when physical distancing can be maintained, opens in new window.

  • Research with children often requires careful attention to environmental controls. Ensure all toys or other shared objects used in your research are made of materials that can be cleaned and disinfected easily (e.g., avoid plush toys, porous materials, books). Carpets or floors where young children may sit or crawl should be covered with a cleanable (non-porous) mat that is disinfected or replaced after each use.
  • Towels or other materials that may be required for use by participants (e.g., for an electroencephalogram/EEG) must be placed into a closed plastic bag until they are laundered (after each use). Sinks used for hair washing must be disinfected after each use, along with any shared bottles (single-use supplies are preferred).
  • As a first-priority, reorganization of spaces to respect 2-metre physical distancing between all members of the research team and all participants should be considered, opens in new window.
  • If this is not possible, determine additional engineering controls such as the installation of plexiglass or partitions. Please contact the Facilities Management and Development (FMD) Help Desk by email at fixit@ryerson.ca or call 416-970-5091. FMD will work with departments on an assessment and installation strategy and will prioritize public-facing spaces first.
  • Minimize the duration of live interaction by prioritizing remote communication.
  • All research that involves physical contact with participants requires PPE.
  • Ensure that all research staff, students and participants are provided with necessary PPE and training as to its proper use (e.g., procedure masks and protective eyewear).
  • Before putting on a mask and other PPE such as gloves, safety glasses/visor (and after its removal), research staff should wash their hands according to best practices.
  • When working with equipment, research staff should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or with alcohol hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds before commencing work and when they have finished.
  • Research staff should keep a container of hand sanitizer with them for intermittent sanitization when soap and water are not available.
  • Don single use gloves only when you begin close interaction with a participant if the interaction requires touching, and discard them immediately after use. Hands must be washed immediately before donning and immediately after the removal and safe disposal of gloves.
  • Research staff should be careful not to touch personal items (e.g., phone) while wearing gloves. If touching a personal item is necessary, the personal item must be cleaned.
  • Do not cross-contaminate surfaces and working areas – when you move from one area to another, when a touch-area changes, wash your hands.

If a study team member or study participant has contracted COVID-19 following a study visit:

  • Notify Ryerson’s biosafety officer at ehs@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000, ext. 554212 as soon as you become aware. By doing so, you can help to minimize the spread of illness amongst the community.
  • If the case is deemed to be communicable, the biosafety officer will work under the direction of Toronto Public Health to implement their directives in preventing further spread of the disease.
  • Determine when others (study team members and study participants) may have been exposed. Collect information on persons who had contact with the individual during the time they had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms.
  • Follow any additional guidelines for cleaning and isolation based on the most up-to-date university guidelines and policies at the time.
  • Submit an PDF fileREB adverse events report, opens in new window within 48 hours if the researcher/study staff/participants have come into contact with anyone infected with COVID-19. The REB report should outline all direction received along with any/all mitigation strategies.

There are a number of guidelines to be aware of when performing routine and more frequent cleaning:

  • Use disinfectant to clean common areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, phones) more frequently, and use disposable cleaning materials such as paper towels.
  • Follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines for hard surface disinfectants, external link, opens in new window to be used for COVID-19.
  • 10% bleach in water is an approved disinfectant.
  • Although 70% ethanol is not recommended for all surfaces, it may be appropriate for electronics and other delicate surfaces.
  • Never mix cleaning chemicals together, especially with bleach.
  • Remember to properly label cleaning supplies and use and store them accordingly.

For additional information, please see Ryerson’s google docGeneral Cleaning Guidelines for Employees, external link, opens in new window.

Additional Cleaning Considerations

  • Locations and equipment with a high frequency of handling and contact represent a higher probability of viral loading in the work area and should be considered as part of more frequent cleaning.
  • Common surfaces and equipment should be wiped down at the beginning of use and before the end of use, or before use by another individual.

Before returning to work, principal investigators and facility managers should identify high-touch locations and equipment specific to each space. Examples include:

  • Benchtops
  • Equipment handles, latches, controls and touchpads
  • Drawer and cabinet handles
  • Bin and water incubator lids
  • Hand tools and other shared tools
  • Faucet handles and sprayer grips
  • Baskets, bins, trays, etc.
  • Exteriors of shared chemical bottles and caps
  • Chair backs and armrests
  • Pens, whiteboard markers, recording devices, etc.

For additional information, please see Ryerson’s google docGeneral Cleaning Guidelines for Employees, external link, opens in new window.

Research personnel are encouraged to review the google docWorking Alone or in Isolation Program, external link, opens in new window materials if they will be on campus during the essential services period.

While working alone or in isolation is not always hazardous, some activities and tasks may present risks when performed alone due to the nature of the work.

You must continue to be aware of the recommendations outlined by Health Canada, external link, opens in new windowOntario Ministry of Health, external link, opens in new window and Toronto Public Health, external link, opens in new window.

It is important that when working in research labs and SRC facilities you adhere to the schedule to access to SRC facilities, shared pieces of equipment or infrastructure.

Online schedules to log and track access are crucial to maintaining orderly access and for contact tracing should there be a positive case of COVID-19 at Ryerson.

You must continue to practice social / physical distancing and be aware of the recommendations outlined by Health Canada, external link, opens in new window, Ontario Ministry of Health, external link, opens in new window and Toronto Public Health, external link, opens in new window.

If you are not feeling well, please do not go into the lab. Refer to Ryerson’s COVID-19 resource page, opens in new window for additional information.

Please review your laboratory safety resources, opens in new window available on the Facilities Management and Development website.

Please ensure your emergency contact information submitted to your department Chair or designate is up to date.

In the event of a major chemical spill, contact the Facilities Help Desk at fixit@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5091 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. They will coordinate response efforts with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).

Outside of hours, contact Ryerson Security at 416-979-5040.

In the case of an emergency, call 911.

Researchers and Principal Investigators (PIs) are asked to re-familiarize themselves with:

We ask all researchers and PIs to review these procedures with their graduate students as the available staff on campus will be limited.

Access and schedules for use or maintenance of equipment should be included in the approved PDF fileSafe SRC Plan Form, opens in new window.

If this was not included in your Form and you require access to continue SRC activity, please (re)submit new Safe SRC Plan and include a detailed request for all critical activities.

During essential services operations, building services will be maintained on a holiday schedule with essential staff only.

Washrooms, garbage pickup and general cleaning in public spaces will be maintained. Cleaning activities within labs will cease, but for general clean-up or maintenance issues, the Facilities Help Desk will continue to accept service requests. 

The Facilities Help Desk will be available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Please contact the Facilities Help Desk at fixit@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5091.

A maintenance and operations on-call supervisor will be available for urgent after-hours concerns and may be reached by contacting Ryerson Security at 416-979-5040.

Shipping and receiving activities will continue with reduced staff on site between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

If you are expecting a delivery, we suggest you advise Shipping and Receiving, opens in new window and arrange for delivery or pickup. Shipping, receiving and mail service requests can be sent to receiving@ryerson.ca. For immediate assistance, please contact the Shipping & Receiving Help Desk at 416-979-5000 ext. 7021.

Laboratories are asked, if possible, to suspend or reduce regularly scheduled deliveries of supplies, compressed gas cylinders, chemicals and biologicals in cases where usage will be reduced.

For any questions about Facilities operations or if you require assistance, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at fixit@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5091.

We recommend using a Ryerson Purchasing Card (P-card) for payment whenever possible while Ryerson is operating essential services only. For additional information please visit the Financial Services Purchasing and Payment, opens in new window webpage.

Biohazardous and chemical waste will continue to be picked up, however there will be a reduction in staff and scheduling.

Please continue to use the online Chemical Waste Disposal Request Form, opens in new window to help schedule pickups.

Researchers working with biohazardous materials are asked to email Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at chemical.inventory@ryerson.ca when they have placed biohazardous waste in the biohazardous waste disposal room on the second floor of Kerr Hall.

If you will be absent from your lab for an extended period, please purge your hazardous waste and schedule a pickup (see above).

Please ensure you have access to the biohazardous waste room in Kerr Hall. If not, please coordinate with Ryerson Security at 416-979-5040 to gain access.