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Critical continuity

Vice-president (research) enabling some additional on-campus research activities


By Dr. Neil Bose

While the St. John’s metro region remains at Level 5 of the N.L. COVID-19 Alert Level System, the St. John’s campus will continue to operate at the RED level of the COVID-19 Research Working Group (CRWG) Framework.

Following discussion with the Research Pandemic Planning Subcommittee, I am enabling some additional on-campus research activities to resume in a safe manner under the RED level category of critical continuity research activities.

Researchers on the St. John’s campus whose activities meet all of the following criteria can apply to their deans to resume on-campus research activities as follows:

(1)   on-campus research activities that cannot remain paused for the next two weeks without incurring a disproportionate delay or other catastrophic loss in research projects (e.g. irrecoverable loss of research materials);

(2)   on-campus research that can be done by an individual researcher in a workspace that is not shared with other individuals, subject to clear working alone health and safety procedures; and

(3)   on-campus research that does not require the individuals involved to take unreasonable personal risks in coming to and going from campus (e.g. driving in shared vehicles with others outside of their household).

The process follows the CRWG Framework and the request form for the St. John’s campus, which is available here.

In all cases where graduate students or post-doctoral fellows are to be involved in on-campus research activities, the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies (deansgs@mun.ca) is required prior to submission of the request to Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) by the dean.

Deans should only seek the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for requests that they feel meet the three criteria noted above. At this time, undergraduate students may not resume on-campus research activities.

Deans, or delegates, will review requests and submit those that fit the criteria (RED level currently) to EHS with a copy to research.requests@mun.ca. When EHS has advised deans of their approval of the activity-specific Health and Safety Plans or any required changes, final approvals will be communicated to researchers by their deans, or delegates, along with any changes to the scope of approved activities or to the activity-specific Health and Safety Plans.

In view of the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation in the province, before approving a request for access for research continuity activities, please discuss with researchers whether this activity could reasonably be delayed for a couple of weeks. Before making a request, please convince yourself that the answer to this question is “No.”

Where a request is going to be made, please ensure that full details regarding the three criteria noted above are clearly addressed on the request forms and the activity-specific Health and Safety Plans. Vague or incomplete requests will not be processed.

With respect to requests where researchers need to access the same on-campus research space, ensure that the request clearly describes how scheduling of the space will be carried out to ensure that only one researcher uses the space at any one time and how cleaning of spaces/equipment will be carried out between users.

If you are making a request that requires support from other units (e.g. CREAIT, Animal Care, Technical Services, Library, etc.), please confirm such support is available from those units prior to submitting a request and copy the appropriate person in the support unit on the request.  Please note that support units are also all impacted by the immediate COVID-19 situation. In terms of Animal Care Services, animal orders are currently suspended.

We are anxious to move ahead with time-critical research that must go ahead, but need to do that with respect for the uncertain situation in the region given community transmission of COVID-19 and the B.1.1.7 variant. As the public health situation in the region permits, we will continue to revise the criteria for approving requests so as to facilitate additional research activities.

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