New Updates regarding COVID-19
News and updates
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September 8, 2021 Updates
In light of new provincial guidelines announced September 1, 2021, amendments were made to Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step for indoor instructional spaces (i.e., classrooms & laboratories) at postsecondary institutions, effective immediately:
- Classroom spaces at the Faculty of Medicine will generally increase capacity to 50% ;
- Laboratories can resume at 100% capacity with all other COVID-19 safety measures remaining in place (e.g., procedural masks, face shield/goggles where working in close contact (<2m))
These rules only apply to RGN/PMC research teams. Research teams based at affiliated institutions must continue to follow their host institutions’ guidelines.
Please note that these physical distancing amendments apply ONLY to indoor instructional, library and laboratory spaces. For all other areas on campus (e.g., shared offices, hallways, stairwells, etc.), COVID-19 safe measures continue to be in effect including maintaining 2m physical distancing and wearing procedural masks indoors at all times except when taking a sip of water or eating in designated areas.
Given these changes, the Faculty of Medicine will be updating occupancy limits for classrooms and removing occupancy signage from laboratory spaces starting today. In addition, the capacity limits in the RGN library are expected to be removed in the next two weeks.
In parallel with these changes, and in alignment with the mandatory vaccination policy recently announced by the University and required by Ontario’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we would like to remind you that it is mandatory that everyone in the uOttawa community- students, faculty and staff- declare their vaccination status by using the online COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration tool - whether you intend to come on campus or not. All other visitors, including vendors, service technicians, and research staff based in affiliated research institutes must select ‘Other’ and register using the COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration tool to complete this attestation before coming on campus.
Please note that you should not ask students or staff to provide you with their vaccination status. Instead please remind them to complete the Declaration Tool and the University will follow up directly where necessary.
What does this mean for you?
- Immediately: It is mandatory that everyone in the uOttawa community – students, faculty, staff, and visitors – certify their vaccination status using the COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration tool. Individuals having received a confirmed accommodation notice from the University will be expected to undergo testing at least twice every 7 days.
- Before coming on campus: Once you have received confirmation from uOttawa that your Vaccination Declaration has been registered, every person who receives confirmation that they are permitted to come to campus will need to follow these additional measures:
- In accordance with Ontario Government regulations, every person must fill out the COVID-19 Daily Health Check-In form online before coming to campus and must receive confirmation they are permitted to come onto campus.
- Once on campus, everyone is required to strictly comply with all COVID-19 safety measures including wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, maintaining 2m of physical distance whenever possible, and wearing face shields of safety goggles when 2m physical distancing is not possible.
- Individuals who are not cleared to be on campus should inform their supervisor and questions should be directed to Jennifer Dale.
- Wet-lab research activities: You may resume on-site research activities at 100% within your laboratory space. All students and staff must have completed Points 1 and 2 above.
- Dry-lab research activities: You may resume on-site research activities where appropriate, dedicated research space has been made available. All students and staff must have completed points 1 and 2 above and strictly comply with all COVID-19 safety measures as described in Point 2.
- Lunch/Breaks: Eating is only permitted in designated zones within RGN and PMC. Designated spots for lunches and breaks are properly spaced and cleaned multiple times each day.
- Meetings: In person meetings are restricted to groups of 3 or less. Until further notice all in-person lab meetings are not allowed. Presently, nearly all conference rooms are being used for break and extra lunchrooms spaces.
- Onsite Students/Staff: Principal Investigators must inform the Research Office of all new onsite students, staff and visitors. Please fill a New Staff form and complete Appendix 2 for all new onsite students and staff. Please email teh Research Office should you need these forms. Visitors (e.g. service technicians, vendors) can be confirmed via email and must complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration tool before coming on campus and comply with all COVID-19 safety measures as described in Point 2 while on campus.
Finally, as the situation continues to evolve unpredictably over the next weeks and months, we ask that you continue to be vigilant, considering that an outbreak, locally and/or on campus, could lead to a rapid reduction in research activities in labs this fall.
June 14, 2021 Updates
Starting Monday, June 14th maximum on-site occupancy of approved research staff will increase to 75% at any one time for “wet-labs” at RGN. At PMC, approved staff on-site is still through departmental scheduling – please contact your Chair for process/approval.
It remains the supervisor’s responsibility to build team schedules to ensure that research staff on site are able to adhere to the 2m spacing guidelines as much as possible. It is also the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that your team members are adhering to all COVID-19 safety policies, including wearing faceshields or safety goggles when staff are working in close contact with others.
What does that mean for you? While all work that can be performed offsite should still be done remotely, we are asking that supervisors with staff on site “pop-in” when possible to ensure that your team is following COVID-19 protocols. We would also like to remind supervisors that all undergraduates and new graduate students and staff must always be scheduled to work onsite with an experienced researcher to provide supervision for the duration of the shift.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the key COVID-19 safety protocols:
- 2 meter physical distancing must be strictly followed whenever possible.
- Procedural facemasks must be worn on site at all times. The exception is during lunch or coffee breaks in designated spaces or in private offices.
- Face shields and/or safety glasses must be worn when 2m physical distancing cannot be adhered to.
- Before coming to work each day, employees who work on campus are to complete a health self-evaluation using the online uOttawa COVID-19 daily Self-Assessment.
- No in-person meetings are allowed for groups greater than three. Until further notice all in-person lab meetings are not allowed. Presently, nearly all conference rooms are being used for break and extra lunchrooms spaces.
- Access to shared offices is limited to the occupancy numbers posted.
April 20, 2021 Updates
What to do in the event you have symptoms?
- Prior to entry on campus, ALL learners, faculty, researchers and staff are required to complete the uOttawa COVID-19 Self-assessment tool - Find the tool on SecurUO or access it from the self-assessment tool webpage. If it recommends staying home and getting tested, please comply.
- If you have symptoms (cough, fever, headache, sore throat) or are unwell, stay home and notify your supervisor. Follow Public Health instructions which may include testing at a local assessment centre and/or self-isolation.
- If you develop symptoms while on campus, promptly notify your supervisor and go home. Follow Public Health instructions which may include testing at a local assessment centre and/or self-isolation.
- For more information please visit Ottawa Public Health. You must also seek testing if you received a COVID-19 Alert app exposure notification.
What to do if you test positive for COVID-19 and are working or studying at RGN or PMC?
- Employees (including faculty and administrative staff; and research staff paid from grants - PDFs, Research Associates, and Technicians)
- Graduate Students (with on-campus course(s) or research activities)
- If you receive a salary as a TA or RA, notify the wellness office, your supervisor and MedSafety.
- All other students receiving a stipend from their supervisors or receiving an external scholarship notify firstname.lastname@example.org, your supervisor and MedSafety.
- To report your sick leave and for academic accommodations, please email Karen Littlejohn.
- Undergraduate students (with on-campus course(s), or research or clinical activities)
- Notify email@example.com, your supervisor and MedSafety.
- If you are working on site at another institute or hospital or placement, follow the institution’s reporting protocol.
- Please contact your academic program coordinator to advise them of your sick leave and to request any academic accommodations.
Promptly informing the Faculty’ MedSafety will trigger extra cleaning and immediate contact tracing, if required.
Please note that anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID‐19 or has been contacted by OPH due to a potential exposure, is not allowed to return to campus or to their placement until they have been cleared to do so by the appropriate medical authority.
New Provincial Public Health Measures (April 1, 2021)
As you know, both the provinces of Quebec and Ontario have enhanced restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern. While non-essential staff are asked to work from home, research operations in Roger Guindon Hall and Peter Morand Campus can continue to operate at present levels during the latest provincial restrictions. At this time we will not have to reduce or modify our research occupancy levels at either site.
However, at this time it is essential that we work from home as much as possible and only come to work for experiments and activities that must be done on-site. According to the new provincial order, all employers “must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.”
We must continue to maintain and enhance our vigilance in adhering to health and safety protocols for onsite research. While occupancy levels and protocols are not impacted, the following guidelines remain in place within RGN and PMC:
- Surgical face masks and protective eyewear are required for all researchers, staff and students working onsite, except in closed private offices. Wear your mask AND keep 2m physical distancing. MediStore has a supply of face shields.
- Access to shared research offices is limited. Please respect posted occupancy numbers and DO NOT cover windows. While drinking will be allowed, eating will not be allowed in shared office spaces.
- Eating is only permitted in designated zones. There are designated spots for lunches and breaks that are properly spaced and cleaned multiple times a day accross RGN.
It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure their research staff are aware and are complying with all guidelines. Given the severity of the situation, anyone not complying with these orders will have their onsite access privileges removed.
UPDATED - FALL 2020
Return to Research Guidelines for Roger Guindon Hall
While complying with health and safety requirements and in accordance with the Province of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening Our Province, and relevant sector specific guidelines, the University of Ottawa and the Faculty of Medicine have continued planning and evaluation to support our progressive and phased approach to return to research for the Roger Guindon Hall.
Starting on Monday November 23rd, each lab can have 45% maximum of their approved staff on-site capacity at any one time with each lab allowed to have up to 90 % of their approved staff on-site over the course of a day.
This will require shift work and supervisors are responsible for establishing a schedule that ensures 2m physical distancing of staff/learners in the labs. It is also the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that all staff/trainees are aware of all R2R guidelines and comply with onsite safety policies. It is highly recommended that labs consider cohorting of staff in shifts whenever feasible (i.e. scheduling the same group(s) together to limit possible exposures).
With increased researchers on site and higher occupancy levels it is highly encouraged that Principal Investigators consider being on site 2 days each week to ensure supervision and compliance of their lab team to all COVID19 protocols.
Please review the following guidelines and ensure that all staff and trainees are aware of the health and safety measures in place at RGN. As a reminder, two key guiding principles remain at the forefront for safely increasing onsite capacity for operational and research activities:
- The health and wellbeing of our uOttawa Faculty of Medicine community will be placed above all other considerations and will comply with all health and safety recommendations.
- The phased approach must be equitable to all research teams and adequately supported by research services and facilities.
- It is understood that if an outbreak occurs, whether locally or nationally, that all research activities at RGN and PM can be immediately halted. When planning research activities, researchers must consider that an immediate halt to research may occur at any time that may be more restrictive than the original COVID-19 restrictions.
- Researchers, staff, students who can conduct their research or administrative activities off-campus should continue to do so. All activities (including but not limited to writing, analysis, reviewing, videoconferencing and marking) that can be completed from home must be conducted off-campus.
- On site access will be restricted to only research and learning activities that must take place on campus (e.g., wet-bench work and access to restricted database portals required for certain projects in SEPH).
- Access to shared offices and boardrooms is limited. Please respect posted occupancy numbers and do not cover windows.
- If a faculty member opts to use their office space (for work that absolutely cannot be performed off-site), this activity will be counted towards the daily / weekly occupancy count of the lab, as described below.
- Only approved faculty/staff/trainees (undergraduate, graduate students and PDFs) who have completed all necessary laboratory safety training (eg. biosafety, lab safety training, autoclave safety) including new COVID-19 training modules released by the Office of Risk Management will be allowed on-site. For details on the process to add new staff to your ‘approved staff’ list, please see ‘LAB PROCEDURE FOR RETURN TO RESEARCH’ below
- Visiting scientists/collaborators are now allowed onsite. However, to maintain occupancy numbers any lab visitors/collaborators must be scheduled within an individual lab’s daily occupancy limits. If the visiting scientist/collaborator requires access to your labs for extended periods of time (e.g. weeks or months) PIs may request changes to lab approved list and must follow the procedure above for addition of new staff/trainees. Permission will only be granted for visitors with a formal status with the University (e.g. visiting scientist on sabbatical).
- Lab occupancy signs must be posted for each lab. The Research Office will issue a maximum lab occupancy sign that is to be posted on the door of closed labs or in the bay area of open labs. We recognize that in some cases labs are spread over multiple rooms, however the maximum occupancy number still reflects the upper limit of staff from a single lab on site at one time. This occupancy sign will aid in the active monitoring of lab on site numbers and not necessarily specific rooms.
- Unpaid volunteers are not be allowed onsite until further notice
- No other visitors will be allowed on-site including relatives and children. Exceptions will be granted for service personnel and vendors. All service personnel must be accompanied by approved faculty/staff and adhere to physical distancing and PPE guidelines at all times.
- No in-person meetings of more than 3 participants are to be conducted until further notice (including lab meetings / seminars / conferences / thesis defences / meetings with external groups/ etc.). Video or teleconference should continue to be used until further notice. If one-on-one meetings are required (maximum of 3 participants) physical distancing must be respected and face masks/protective eyewear worn.
- uOttawa restrictions on international travel will remain in place until specifically lifted.
LAB PROCEDURE FOR RETURN TO RESEARCH
Starting on Monday November 23rd, each lab can have 45% maximum of their approved staff on-site capacity at any one time with each lab allowed to have up to 90 % of their approved staff on-site over the course of a day.
If there are no changes in lab’s staffing levels, there is no need for action from the Principal Investigator.
For the addition of new staff/trainees to their approved list, Principal Investigators must submit to resmed@uOttawa.ca and their basic science chair*:
- new staff form
- updated September 2020 Emergency plan including phone numbers of new staff
- signed COVID19 checklist from new staff/trainee
Please remember that all new staff must complete all mandatory and lab-specific training, including the Office of Risk Management’s COVID19 training module. It is also the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure all their team are aware and compliant with COVID19 Return 2 Research Protocols.
Once your new staff have been on-boarded, the Research Office will provide you with a new NOD outlining your lab’s:
- Weekly total of # staff allowed on site based on 7 days
- Maximum total # of staff allowed on site each day
- Maximum # of staff allowed onsite at any one time
Physical distancing measures and face mask/protective eyewear requirements
Given Ottawa Public Health Guidelines and the physical limitations of our working environment, all research staff on site must follow the outlined requirements:
- Procedural masks/protective eyewear are required for all learners, faculty, researchers and staff who are required to be on campus, except in closed, private offices when you are by yourself. Wear your mask/protective eyewear AND keep 2m physical distancing from others. MediStore has a supply of face shields, procedural masks and other PPE.
- All workers on site whenever possible must maintain a minimum of 2m physical distancing.
- As presently required by Faculty of Medicine health and safety, all researchers working in a lab are required to wear safety glasses and lab coat.
- Gloves should continue to be used as required following recommended laboratory safety procedures established pre-COVID-19. They are to be used in lab facilities as normal but gloves should not be used on door handles or in hallways, except where a one glove policy is required for safe handling of laboratory materials. In specific common equipment or core facilities, specific policies may be posted.
- All lab doors should remain closed at all times to enable the building’s ventilation system to properly balance. Fume hoods and return air ducts play a vital role in removing airborne contaminants from our labs and workspaces. It is recommended that researchers on site wash their hands immediately on entering the lab and again prior to leaving. Handwashing should preferably be done frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- The use of elevators continues to be restricted to members of our community with mobility issues and for those transporting equipment and carts.
- Elevators will have increased maximum capacity limit of 2 and those using elevators must maintain 2m physical distancing.
- Failure to adhere to new maximum capacity limits will result in restrictions of access to site.
- Microwaves and Fridges in kitchenette areas will be reinstalled/plugged in.
- Cleaning supplies will be provided in each kitchenette area. Users of the microwaves, fridges, sinks, kettles etc. must decontaminate any touch surfaces before and after use, e.g., door handles, faucet taps, and microwave controls.
- To maintain cleanliness of kitchenettes, no dishes/cutlery are to be left piled in sinks, drying racks, or on countertops. Wash what you use, then put it away or take it home. We reserve the right to dispose of anything left behind.
- Physical distancing measures must be adhered to in kitchenette areas at all times. Occupancy numbers will be posted for each kitchenette and must be adhered to.
- Minimal amounts of food and beverages can be kept in fridges and all items must be labelled with owner. They are to be used to store lunches/snacks brought from home and small amounts of milk, beverages. If the pandemic forces the closure of site again, fridges will immediately be shut down and all items disposed of.
- Failure to adhere to break/lunch measures will result in restrictions of access to site.
Hallways and Stairs
- In many areas of the buildings there will be new traffic flow measures that will be clearly marked including:
- One-way entrances and exits
- One-way hallways
- Stairways designated solely for up or down traffic.
- Failure to follow traffic flow measures will result in restrictions of access to site.
- Guidelines for each washroom are clearly posted and procedures must be followed.
Common Equipment & Technical Services (CETS)
Technical Support, Autoclave & Glassware washing Services
- Current on-site shift work will be increased to meet research needs while prioritizing safety of staff and users.
- All requests for technical support must be submitted via email or by phoning our pager number (613-719-0317).
- To minimize trips to 4201 (autoclave/glassware washing facility), CETS staff has resumed pickup/delivery of items. This will extend to delivery of sterilized items and may include scheduled drop-off times for biohazard waste bags in gray bins left behind the elevators on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors.
Common Equipment Areas
- Signage has been posted outside all common equipment rooms, to indicate how many people can be in the room at one time, and which instruments can be used safely at the same time (>2m apart).
- To optimize equipment access while maintaining safe physical distancing, some instruments have been moved.
- Booking procedures will be tightly monitored to accommodate the limited work times. Over booking or failure to utilize equipment when booked may result in future limited access to equipment of the user and/or lab.
- Decontamination procedures will be clearly marked for each piece of equipment.
- Please contact the core facility you wish to use to make arrangements for booking and training procedures. COVID19 restrictions may impact operations for some facilities.
- MedPurch has resumed normal levels and hours of service.
- Medfaci has resume normal hours of service.
- Requests for new installations, modifications and moves will require justification and will only be reviewed if critical to current activities or for preparation of next reintegration stage.
Keeping it clean in labs and office areas
Coronaviruses on surfaces can easily be cleaned with a common household disinfectant.
Increased cleaning and sanitization frequencies, particularly in high traffic areas and with shared tools and equipment is important. High traffic areas AND personally used tools, equipment and work areas should be cleaned and sanitized at minimum twice a day. Shared tools and equipment should be cleaned pre and post use.
- Housekeeping services within RGN have been modified to reflect the new COVID-19 crisis and emphasis is on wiping down door handles, railings and other highly used surfaces with approved disinfectants.
- As usual, housekeeping services will not be cleaning lab benches, desks, tables or any research equipment.
- PI’s lab specific plans must include a daily plan outlining in detail who is responsible for the decontamination of common surfaces/equipment with 70% Ethanol. It is recommended that labs ensure the decontamination procedure used does not result in damage to research equipment. These areas/surfaces include, but are not limited to:
- Equipment such as: incubator handles, BSC/fumehood glass, keyboards, microscopes, centrifuges, etc.
- Lab benches, pipettes, faucets.
- Signage will be posted reminding staff to wipe down areas.
- It is recommended that research staff refrain from sharing any personal tools and/or equipment
Human Resource Considerations
- No staff, faculty or student should feel compelled or obligated to return to campus and will have the ability to share their concerns with their Faculty, ORM, OVPR, union.
- Researchers, staff, students who can continue to conduct their research activities off-campus must do so. Until further notice, the use of faculty or student offices for writing, videoconferencing, analysis, administrative duties, marking etc. is not permitted.
- PIs/Supervisor must take into consideration the needs/limitations of lab members with health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications and plan work schedules accordingly.
- PIs/Supervisors must schedule personnel required on campus based on maximum occupancies and will retain responsibility for team members under the principle of duty of care. It is the PIs responsibility to ensure that all COVID-19 guidelines are being respected by team members.
- When assigning work shifts to researchers/staff, PIs/Supervisors should take into consideration transportation challenges to/from work. Ideally staff/trainees should take all precautions to decrease COVID-19 exposure, including:
- Taking private transport to and from RGN, such as personal cars, biking, walking and running.
- Reduce use of car-pooling and car sharing
- If public transport is to be used, consult the reduced schedules prior to planning work shifts
- When scheduling, PI/Supervisors must remain understanding of challenges associated with child or elder care.
In order to ensure the safety of our uOttawa community and their families, all COVID-19 guidelines must be strictly adhered to by all research staff on-site and compliance will be monitored. All members of the uOttawa community have the right to a safe work environment and anyone can report any real or perceived non-compliance to their supervisor, chair of department, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that their team is aware of and compliant with COVID19 Return 2 Research Protocols. Confirmed non-compliance may result in limiting access of individuals or labs to research facilities.
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