Update regarding on-campus research and scholarly activities, fieldwork and interaction with research participants from vice-president (research)
The current COVID-19 situation facing our world is extremely challenging. While the situation is unprecedented for Memorial, and is unlike anything most of us have experienced, we are working diligently to provide the support and guidance needed by you, our researchers and graduate students. We continue to look for ways to support you, recognizing that individuals in our research community face unique professional and personal challenges given your individual circumstances. I want to thank you for your patience and support as we try to take care of one another. I encourage those with questions to visit Memorial’s COVID-19 resource page, as there is useful information for our graduate students and our researchers. Please also reach out to your supervisor, department or school heads, dean and my office if we can be of any support.
On March 19, 2020, Memorial suspended on-campus research and scholarly activities in labs across our campuses, including the CREAIT labs. Additionally, all fieldwork was suspended and all activities that would involve face-to-face (in-person) interactions (e.g., surveys or focus groups with research participants) were to be deferred or carried out remotely using a technology solution that allows researchers and participants to be involved from their homes.
Since then, there have been a small number of requests by researchers for exemptions in order to continue specific on-campus research and scholarly activities and in-person interaction with research participants. The suspension of on-campus research and scholarly activities and of in-person interaction with research participants remains in effect. However, Memorial will consider requests for exemptions from deans (in the case of the St. John’s Campus and the Grenfell Campus) or school heads (in the case of the Marine Institute) on behalf of researchers, for on-campus research and scholarly activities that are related to:
(1) critical COVID-19 research;
(2) essential clinical studies; or
(3) critical continuity activities related to research and scholarly activities that cannot be paused for a number of months.
Any exemption request must maintain relevant social distance or room cleaning requirements and must include safety plans to ensure:
(1) at least two members of a research group are present during on-campus research or scholarly activities; or
(2) if a researcher must work alone that there is a documented process in place, that has been shared with anyone who will be working alone, to report and/or monitor their presence and safety on-campus.
Request for exemptions to the suspension of on-campus research and scholarly activities must be made by the relevant dean (in the case of St. John’s Campus or Grenfell Campus) or the school head (in the case of the Marine Institute) by emailing email@example.com, with “EXEMPTION <building name> <room numbers>" as the subject line of your email. This single point email will be used for all applications and approvals for exemptions will be made at vice-president level and involve both the vice-president (research) and the applicable vice-president of the Grenfell Campus or the Marine Institute (or their delegate).
In your email request, please provide providing the following information:
- Location of the research or scholarly activity (building, room number, academic unit);
- Name, email address and telephone number for the principal investigator;
- Names, email addresses, and telephone numbers for individuals to be authorized to enter the rooms under the exemption;
- Description of the research or scholarly activity to be undertaken in the lab (maximum one page);
- Other resources required (e.g. Technical Services, Animal Care Services, CREAIT, departmental or faculty staff, etc.);
- Duration and frequency of the required room access (specify dates and times);
- Description of the safety plan (maximum 1/2 page);
- Identify any critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that would be required in carrying out the research or scholarly activities and confirm whether this is available to the researchers. Note that some PPE at Memorial is being shifted to support health care operations at this time.
- Discussion of why the access is essential or critical (maximum 1/2 page);
- Discussion of the negative impact on research or scholarly activity program if an exemption is not granted (maximum 1/2 page).
In view of the rapidly changing circumstances, requests should made as soon as possible.
Exemption approvals will be sent to the requesting dean or school heads through the appropriate vice-president indicating whether there are any conditions associated with any approval. In the case of requests related to activities on the Grenfell Campus or the Marine Institute, the approval of the respective campus vice-president (or their delegate) and the vice-president (research) will be required.
Note that no on-campus research or scholarly activity is permitted to be undertaken at any campus before receipt of a letter from my office granting an exemption and outlining any conditions associated with the exemption. A copy of the approval letter must be kept in the room(s) approved for the on-campus research and scholarly activity and provided upon request by officials of Memorial University (e.g. Facilities Management staff with responsibilities in the building, Campus Enforcement and Patrol).
Staff or students must not be compelled to undertake on-campus research or scholarly activities if an exemption is granted. The requesting deans and campus vice-presidents are expected to maintain contact with any individuals working under the exemption to ensure that this requirement is enforced along with ensuring compliance with any conditions associated with the exemption approval.
Deans and school heads who make requests are expected to monitor any on-campus research and scholarly activities that are exempted as a result of their requests. They must immediately suspend such activities if the exemption conditions are not being met or if they have concerns about the health and safety of researchers or other staff who may be working in the same building or elsewhere on campus, or of members of the general public.
Memorial and my office, jointly with campus vice-presidents as applicable, retain the right to revoke any permission given under this process, or to change conditions associated with any exemption, as dictated by the evolving internal and external circumstances related to COVID-19.
Memorial remains committed to supporting the fulfillment of the critical research mission of the university while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, research partners and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Neil Bose
March 27, 2020