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COVID-19 information and screening Learn how we’re keeping our campus community safe, healthy and engaged during our gradual return to campus.
Note: Faculty, staff, students and visitors must complete the mandatory screening questionnaire before coming to campus.
Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Research-related questions

The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation and the Office of Research Services will share information related to COVID-19 that may impact Ontario Tech University’s scholarly, research and creative community.

All research-related updates will be added to the university's Ready for you website and shared through:

  • Ontario Tech Mobile App
  • Official Ontario Tech social media channels

The university will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of public health agencies. The university has transitioned to essential research and lab activities only on campus.  

 

Research proposal submission and award management

Expenses, financial reporting deadlines and invoicing related to research grants and contracts

  • What happens if I need to cancel travel plans paid for by Tri-Agency funding?

    The three federal granting agencies are aware that the rapidly changing situation involving COVID-19 may have an impact on researchers with plans to travel for meetings or other research-related activities. Individuals may decide to cancel trips as a result of various considerations and factors such as cancelled conferences, travel advisories (including those from Health Canada and Global Affairs Canada), or personal choice due to health or other concerns.

    The agencies confirm that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel, when cancellation occurs as described above.

    Note: Given the uncertainty of the situation with COVID-19, the agencies suggest that those travelling for agency-funded research consider purchasing either cancellation insurance, or tickets that are at least partially refundable. In this specific situation, some additional cost could still be viewed as economical if it allows for partial or full reimbursement/credit in the event of cancellation.

  • What will happen regarding travel cancellation expenses related to COVID-19 for other university funds?

    The university recognizes that the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation may have an impact on researchers, faculty and staff with plans to travel for meetings, or other research or business-related activities. Individuals may decide to cancel trips as a result of various considerations and factors such as cancelled conferences, travel notices (including those from the Government of Canada) or personal choice due to health or other concerns.

    The three federal granting agencies have confirmed that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel, when cancellation occurs as described above. The university has adopted a similar approach for all non-research faculty and staff as well.

    Given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, the agencies suggest that those travelling for agency-funded research purchase either cancellation insurance, or tickets that are at least partially refundable. In this specific situation, some additional costs could still be viewed as economical if it allows for partial or full reimbursement/credit in the event of cancellation. This also applies to non-research related travel.

    The university also encourages faculty and staff to avoid booking all non-essential travel until such time as there is better clarity around the impacts of COVID-19 on their travel plans.

    Faculty and staff are reminded that travel insurance coverage provided by BMO Corporate MasterCard does not include travel insurance, ticket cancellation or reimbursement of travel-related costs.

    When cancelling travel arrangements, all travellers should inquire about available refunds, credits or amounts covered through previously purchased travel insurance.

    When seeking reimbursement for travel-related costs, including cancellation or change fees, please provide the Finance department with all documentation supporting these amounts including:

    • Cancellation confirmations for conferences and airfare.
    • Credits issued by hotels or airlines.
    • Original receipts (if not previously submitted), invoices for change fees, etc.
  • What happens if I have financial reporting deadlines and invoicing related to my research funding – how will I be supported?

    Research Finance will continue to support the research community regarding post-award financial matters remotely. Please contact your research analyst via email to co-ordinate any reports or invoices. Also, please allow for a little more time than usual for the processing of any requests regarding Research Finance.

  • What will happen if my Professional Development Allowance expired at the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year?

    The collective agreement provides for a Professional Development Allowance (PD), noting that such funds expire after four years. Several faculty members have asked whether their PD funds will be extended given the situation with COVID-19. No PD funds will be ‘clawed back’ at this time. Subsequent to the resolution of COVID-19, this issue will be assessed, and there will be a minimum six-month extension.

Research partnerships, Teaching City and City Idea Lab

  • What happens to ongoing research partnership support and contract negotiation/execution?

    The Research Partnerships team will continue to be accessible remotely via email. We will do our best to respond to you as quickly as possible. If you require assistance, please contact Aisha Greene, Manager, Research Partnerships and Innovation, or Julia Armstrong, Research Partnerships Officer.

  • What about my current research contracts? What do I do if I can’t perform the work required under the contract?

    In general, there are three ways to address the inability to meet your obligations under a research contract because of the pandemic:

    Negotiation

    Most, if not all, of the contract issues that arise during the pandemic will be addressed by negotiating alternative arrangements with the partner or funder. This is a business solution that affords the parties the most flexibility to continue the research in a way that works for both parties. Negotiation can mean amending items such as the term of the agreement, deliverables, due dates, etc. You should be aware of what your current research contract says about how to amend the terms of the contract. It may require a written document signed by authorized signatories of both parties.

    Delay

    You can also delay the performance of your obligations under the contract by relying on the “force majeure” clause, or if there is no such clause, the doctrine of frustration. Both of these relieve an affected party from performing certain contractual obligations when circumstances beyond his/her control arise, making performance impossible. However, relying on this clause depends on different factors such as: wording in the agreement, the nature of your obligation, and the actual impact of the pandemic. It is not an ideal solution because it may result in a dispute between the parties (they may not agree whether the pandemic actually prevents performance) and litigation. However, if you do want to rely on this solution, it’s important to note any notice requirements in the contract and that you take steps to avoid and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on your performance. Usually, once circumstances return to normal, you will be required to continue the contract and perform your obligations (with a reasonable extension of time for performance).

    Termination

    Lastly, you may have the ability to terminate the agreement. This will bring the contract to an end and none of the parties will have any further obligations under the agreement, save those that survive termination (i.e. payment of non-cancellable expenses, if such language is included in your agreement). However, whether you have the right to terminate, and under what circumstances you can terminate, will depend on the wording in the agreement. If the research contract is silent as to termination, you can ask the partner or funder if they will agree to the termination of the research contract.  You will want to have a termination notice or agreement in place to evidence the termination.

    Please contact Research Legal if you have any questions about the above solutions.

  • What should I do if my partner or funder wants to discuss the possible shut down of my project?

    It’s important to go into any such discussion understanding your rights and obligations as they exist in your research contract. This will help you to strategize next steps with the partner, especially each party’s expectation of payments and deliverables. If you need assistance in developing a negotiation strategy or to understand the terms of your research contract, please contact a member of the Research Partnerships team or the Research Legal team.

  • Are there any proactive steps I can take to address any issues that may arise in my research contracts?

    It’s a good idea to take an inventory of your current research contracts and determine whether the ability to meet your obligations under any one of them will be impacted by the pandemic. If so, you will want to understand your rights and obligations and options under each research contract. It may be better to initiate discussions with the partner or funder before you miss any deadlines or deliverables.

  • Whom should I contact if I need assistance with Teaching City Projects or City Idea Lab?

    The Office of Research Services team will continue to be accessible via email. The team will do its best to respond to you as quickly as possible. If you require assistance, contact Aisha Greene, Manager, Research Partnerships and Innovation.

  • Will City Idea Lab courses continue to be offered?

    All face-to-face courses have been postponed at this time. We are working with our partners at the City of Oshawa, Durham College and Trent University to identify a modified course schedule and will be reaching out to individual instructors. For additional information please contact Aisha Greene, Manager, Research Partnerships and Innovation.

Intellectual property: technology transfer and commercialization

Research involving human subjects

  • Will research involving human ethics at the university be affected by the COVID-19 situation?

    In response to the provincial announcement, along with guidance from the Panel on Research Ethics, the REB is temporarily suspending all research involving in-person contact with human participants as of December 26 at 12:01 a.m.  Additionally, all on site research that is being conducted at hospitals or other in person facilities must adhere to the policies of those facilities.

     

    Researchers must ensure that there is a plan in place to ramp down or discontinue in-person research activities without compromising the safety of study participants while maintaining the principles of the Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 (TCPS 2). As part of the ramp down/discontinuation of research, researchers must conduct the following:

     

    1. Research protocols must be modified or delayed to limit unnecessary personal contacts;
    2. Reduce in-person participant interactions and replace with telephone or online communication;
    3. Postpones in-person study visits, focus groups, interviews, and/or conducted on-line/virtual format.
    4. Ensure data and files are accessible remotely while respecting privacy legislations, requirements of the TCPS 2 and data management plan as outlined in the REB application. 
    5. Arrange installation of any specific computer applications required to complete work remotely. 
    6. Inform the REB of any changes that have been made to the protocol and revisions to the informed consent form that may impact a participant’s decision to continue with the research.  This must be submitted to the REB through a change request application.  The change request submission must include a completed copy of the University’s Ramp Down Closure checklist which can be accessed here.
  • Will the REB accept new reviews during the COVID-19 situation?

    Yes, the Integrated Research and Innovation System (IRIS) portal will remain accessible and all new submissions and post-approval events may be submitted as usual. 

     

    Due to the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the REB has changed the criteria for rapid reviews related to COVID-19 projects. The REB will conduct rapid reviews for COVID-19-related studies with topics that are necessary and essential to prevent, reduce or mitigate serious harm resulting from the pandemic (e.g. patient care and/or diagnostics; equipment/devices related to personal protective equipment). The REB will review all other studies after the essential COVID-19-related studies. Also, depending upon availability of reviewers, turn-around-times may increase; therefore, researchers must plan accordingly.

     

    The REB’s changes to research review procedures during the pandemic is described in the REB SOP 213 Review Procedures and Research Conduct During Publicly Declared Emergencies.

  • I'm thinking about submitting an application directly related to the COVID-19 crisis - what should I do/consider?

    The Research Ethics Board (REB) is prepared for quick reviews for studies deemed essential and related to the COVID-19 crisis. If you are planning a submission to the REB for COVID-19, the following must occur:

    1. Book a REB consultation with the REB Chair and/or REB Vice-Chair and Research Ethics Officer so they can guide you through the submission process and provide key ethical considerations that will inform your specific project. A REB consultation will facilitate with an expeditious review. Arrange a REB consult by contacting researchethics@ontariotechu.ca.
    2. Use the new REB application form in the IRIS research rortal entitled NEW Application for Ethical Review (v.0.3) PILOT TEST.
    3. Refer to the REB Standard Operating Procedure 213: REB Review Procedures and Research Conduct During Publicly Declared Emergencies.
    4. Your safety and well-being are important; you should follow Health Canada requirements and recommendations, and refer to the university's COVID-19 website for updates.
  • What will happen with any ongoing research that has already received approval from the REB during the COVID-19 situation?

    For research that can feasibly and safely be conducted remotely without significantly compromising the ethical standards and maintenance of confidentiality, should continue to be done remotely.  If there are changes to your previously approved procedures, please submit a change request to the REB for review.  Additionally, all on-site research that is being conducted at hospitals or other in person facilities must adhere to the policies of those facilities.  

     

    Please contact the REB office if you are considering revisions to the approved protocol. For more information, refer to REB SOP 213 Review Procedures and Research Conduct During Publicly Declared Emergencies.

  • What if my research presents risks to the Principal Investigator and any student researchers as a result of the COVID-19 situation?
    If you have concerns about the research team’s health and safety due to the COVID-19 situation, please contact the REB, and they will work with university's Office of Risk Management, the Health and Safety Officer, and the Executive Director of the Office of Research Services, as appropriate. If COVID-19 is known or suspected, Health Canada guidelines should be followed.

Research involving animals

  • What plans are in place to ensure the animals housed on campus will continue to receive care?

    Each animal facility has standard operating procedures, and is responsible for maintaining mechanisms for providing continued daily care to all animals housed on campus in the event of a natural disaster or other events that may interrupt normal business, including the COVID-19 situation. All animal facilities will continue to have on-call veterinarian care, assessment of animal health and well-being, provision of food, water and clean cages, and maintenance of appropriate environmental conditions.

  • How do I request veterinary care?

    If you have an animal in need of immediate attention, the quickest means to get in touch with the consulting veterinarian as per standard operating procedures. If you are unable to contact the veterinarian, please contact the Research Ethics Officer.

  • What can I do now to prepare for the possibility that the COVID-19 virus disrupts my animal experiments?

    Principal investigators (PIs) should carefully plan upcoming animal activities, given the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. For example, PIs may want to consider the timing associated with starting new experiments. They may also want to avoid initiating any long-term animal studies, keep animal breeding to a minimum, prioritize any precious/unique animal lines and cryopreserve these lines.

  • Will there be any disruption to the Institutional Animal Care Committee and the review of protocols during the COVID-19 situation?
    The Animal Care Committee, through the Research Ethics Officer, will continue to review submissions to the committee (e.g. protocols and protocol amendments). Principal investigators can submit by following normal submission processes.
  • Can I still place orders for animals?

    To minimize the number of animals requiring daily care, orders for acquiring additional animals are no longer being accepted effective March 15 and until further notice. We recommend that any study teams with orders currently pending consider canceling or postponing these orders, unless animal welfare will be compromised.

Biosafety and radiation safety

  • What if I have general questions about biosafety and radiation safety?

    Please refer to the Health and Safety Website under your specific safety program for assistance.

  • Will the biosafety and radiation safety programs continue running during COVID-19 disruptions?

    Yes, the Biosafety and Radiation Safety Programs continue under modified operations. Management of the programs under the purview of the Biosafety and Radiation Safety Officer (BRSO) shall continue remotely as feasible.  Please expect delays due to COVID-19 related adjustments. 

  • Can I continue to ship or receive biological samples/radiation sources during the COVID-19 disruption?

    All shipments of biologicals and radioactive sources may continue as normal.  Please keep in mind, however, that any shipments may be delayed due to COVID-19.  Also be aware that any international technicians required to travel into Canada in order to setup new equipment are subjected to a federally mandated 14-day quarantine, unless exempted.  In addition, all visitors on campus require the approval of the University Operations Taskforce (COVIDOTF@ontariotechu.ca).  If Durham Region enters Lockdown (maximum measures) - grey, no visitors will be allowed on campus, including third party contractors.

     

    No biological agents, nor radiological sources, are permitted off campus unless approved by the appropriate Safety Committee.  Please contact the Biosafety and Radiation Safety Officer if there are any issues (i.e. time-sensitive samples/equipment) to discuss further.

  • I have a Biosafety Containment Level 1 or 2 lab. Can I work with COVID-19 samples?

    Propagative and non-propagative in vitro and in vivo activities with SARS-CoV-2 must be manipulated under Containment Level 3 conditions, and as such, is not allowed at Ontario Tech.  Only SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic activities can be manipulated under Containment Level 1 or 2 conditions spending on the work performed.  Public Health Agency of Canada published a SARS-CoV-2 Advisory that details the work allowed with SARS-CoV-2:

    DIagnostic Activities for which Routine practices and Universal precautions are recommended include, but are not limited to the following examples:

    • Clinical chemistry studies, urinalysis, and hematology and serology testing (e.g., analysis with automated platforms)
    • Visual examinations of inactivated specimens or tissues (e.g., formalin-fixed)
    • Visual examination of bacterial and fungal cultures
    • Routine staining and microscopic analysis of heat or chemically-fixed smears
    • Assays with virus-inactivated specimens
    • Sample preparation for nucleic acid extraction
    • Preparation of specimens for packaging and distribution to diagnostic laboratories for additional testing

    Additional biosafety recommendations where aerosols may be produced:

    Where a biological safety cabinet (BSC) or other primary containment device is available, the following biosafety recommendations may be implemented:

    • A lab coat, gloves, and face/eye protection are worn when handling primary specimens 
    • Certified BSC's or another primary containment device (e.g. a closed system, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered isolators), are used for procedures that may produce infectious aerosols or droplets and activities involving open vessels of infectious material (i.e. not yet inactivated)
    • Centrifugation of primary specimens is carried out in sealed safety cups, or rotors, that are loaded/unloaded in a BSC or other primary containment devices (e.g., a closed system, HEPA filtered isolators).

    Where a BSC or other primary containment devices is not available, the following biosafety recommendations may be implemented:

    • A lab coat, gloves, and face/eye protection are worn when handling primary specimens 
    • Unless other appropriate risk mitigation measures have been implemented in the facility (based on the LRA), respiratory protection that provides a level of filtration or 95% or greater (e.g. N95) is worn where activities may potentially generate infectious  aerosols or droplets
    • Centrifugation of primary specimens can be carried out in sealed safety cups or rotors.

    All research projects involving SARS-CoV-2 Must be reviewed by the Ontario Tech Biosafety COmmittee. If you are interested in working with non-propagating SARS-CoV02 samples, please contact the Biosafety Officer.

  • Will the Health and Safety, Biosafety, Radiation Safety, Animal Care, and Human Research Ethics facilities be available if needed?

    All critical functions, such as emergency spill and fire response, hazardous waste collection and supplies, radioactive package delivery, and public health activities, will be maintained. Depending on staffing, non-critical operations may need to be suspended.

  • How can I reach the Biosafety and Radiation Safety Officer?

    Please refer to the Health and Safety Website under your specific safety program for emergency preparedness planning assistance.

Research facilities and laboratory safety

Designing and manufacturing health-care items for the COVID-19 response

Brilliant Catalyst