Faculty & Staff - UTogether2020
Further safety measures have now been implemented on campus
As we continue to ensure a safe and healthy work environment and campus, Provincial regulation and public health guidance now require that post-secondary institutions implement COVID-19 health screening for anyone coming to campus. In order to comply with these directives, a health screening is now required for all members of our community, including faculty members, librarians, staff, and students, each day they visit any one of the three U of T campuses or any other property owned or operated by U of T.
There are two ways that individuals can complete the required health screening and generate a risk status each time they come to U of T: by using UCheck to conduct a self-assessment, or by completing a paper based or offline assessment log.
What is UCheck?
UCheck is the easiest and most secure way to complete the required health screening and generate a COVID-19 risk status prior to coming to U of T. Your risk status (i.e., “red”, meaning high risk, or “green”, meaning low risk) is securely shared with the University and will be reviewed from time to time as part of our compliance auditing process. Individual responses to the UCheck self-assessment questionnaire are not accessible by the University. More details on how to use UCheck, including how we are keeping this data private, are available at utoronto.ca/utogether2020/ucheck.
If you are unable to access the UCheck online self-assessment web portal, or choose not to use UCheck, please inform your manager, supervisor, Dean, Chair, or Academic Director (or their designate). In these instances, you can instead use a paper-based or offline self-assessment log to document the outcome after you complete your daily self-assessment. If you are unable to download the assessment log, please ask your manager or supervisor for a paper copy. Further information on the paper-based or offline self-assessment log, and how to respond to a red risk status, will be provided shortly to managers, supervisors, Deans, Chairs, and Academic Directors.
Any employee who receives a red risk status after completing a self-assessment is required to immediately contact their manager, supervisor, Dean, Chair, or Academic Director (or their designate) to determine next steps. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, in addition to reporting that on your self-assessment, you must also contact the University of Toronto Occupational Health Nurse at email@example.com. The Occupational Health Nurse will conduct an assessment and will provide you with guidance on next steps. As a reminder, all staff must continue to inform their direct manager or supervisor through normal processes if they will be absent from work for any reason.
Staff, Faculty and Contractor Access to Campus
How Do I Arrange a Visit to Campus
The check-in desk is located at the Science Wing main entrance and is accessible Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Arts and Administration Building (AA) is accessible Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The following buildings can be accessed by card/FOB only from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m:
- Science Research Building (SY)
- Environmental Science Building (EV)
- Instructional Centre (IC)
- Social Science Building (MW)
For access outside of these hours, please call Campus Police at 416-287-7398.
General Safety & Physical Distancing Measures
Mask usage on campus
- Any individual in an indoor space at U of T (that is normally publicly accessible) will be required to wear a face mask or face covering, when measures such as physical barriers are not available. This includes hallways, lobbies, elevators and other common use facilities.
- Exemptions are provided for people with underlying medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear masks and individuals in specific areas that are not intended for public use.
- Masks may be removed when taking part in athletic or fitness activities and in situations where wearing a mask impedes delivery and receiving of services.
U of T will provide approximately 250,000 non-medical, fabric face masks to students, staff, faculty and librarians (two per person). Student distribution of masks will run from September 8 to September 18 during the set hours at the following locations:
- Residence (available to all students not just residence students) - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Chem Stores (ESCB): Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- SW Entrance Welcome Desk: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Health and Wellness Centre: Monday from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Tuesday from 10:00 am to 4:45 pm (Virtual/Phone Appts only), Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:45 pm, and Friday from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm (Virtual/Phone Appts only). Closed for Lunch Daily 12:50 pm to 2:00 pm.
- Classrooms will be setup so that students can sit at least two metres (6 feet) apart from one another.
- A maximum number of individuals allowed in a particular space will be adhered to.
Entrances and exits
Dedicated entrances and exits are currently being established to promote a one-way flow of traffic to adhere to physical distancing restrictions.
Keep an eye out for signage located across the campus that will encourage and instruct everyone to practice safe physical distancing and proper hand hygiene.
Meeting rooms and elevators
Signage will be provided indicating maximum occupancy for meeting rooms and elevators, as well as to direct the flow of foot traffic.
Cleaning and disinfecting
- Libraries and classrooms will be cleaned five times per week, while surfaces that people frequently come into contact with--including elevator buttons and doorknobs--will be disinfected twice a day, in keeping with Public Health Ontario guidelines.
- Caretaking staff are also using a new, chlorine-based solution approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that caused COVID-19).
The university will install upwards of 1,000 hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipe dispensers across the three campuses so that people can easily disinfect their hands. Each dispenser will be touchless and installed at an accessible height in visible locations.
- Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is conducting assessments across U of T’s three campuses to ensure that adequate physical distancing measures are in place.
- In high-traffic areas where maintaining a two-metre distance from others isn’t possible or is impractical are being assessed and appropriate protective measures such as Plexiglass barriers and sneeze guards will be installed.
What services are available?
The UTSC Library will be open with limited access to study space this Fall 2020. The general stacks will remain closed with a retrieval process in place. UTSC students, faculty and staff can continue to access library services such as the online help desk, consultations with liaison librarians, and more online.
UTSC Library staff are ready to continue assisting students, faculty and staff through our new online help desk.
Live Chat With A Librarian
Resources and information for faculty, instructors, librarians, library staff and teaching assistants to support teaching and online learning.
- UTSC Centre for Teaching and Learning
- UTSC Academic Advising and Career Centre
- Resources to Support Teaching
- Programming for Instructors to Support Online/Remote Teaching
- COVID-19 Academic Continuity Strategy: 2020-2021
Resources, guidelines and information for researchers from UTSC’s Office of V-P Research & Innovation, U of T’s Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Centre for Research & Innovation.
- Faculty request to access research facilities
- Research Labs FAQ
- Resources for Researchers
- COVID-19 Guideline for Reopening Research Spaces
- COVID-19 Research & Innovation Updates
- COVID-19 Response Resources (secure SharePoint site)
- Principals for Research Recovery and Adaptation
Working from home
UTSC's I&ITS team offers remote support, tools and technology tips to help you keep safely connected while working from home.
- Support services for UTSC staff working remotely
- Support services for UTSC faculty
- Online Lunch & Learn Sessions
- Cyber Security Tips for Remote Work
- UTSC I&ITS Remote Work Checklist
- Beware of Email Phishing Attacks
- Protect Yourself Against Malware
Health, mental health and wellness
For information about health care and mental health supports available to UTSC faculty and staff, please visit the Health and Safety Information page.
Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre
Faculty and staff are invited to visit the Department of Athletics & Recreation’s Virtual Summer Programs and get active.
Human Resources & Equity information
Visit Working at U of T for the latest information about COVID-19 policies, guidelines and resources.
STILL HAVE COVID QUESTIONS? Submit a question here or refer to the following pages for more details:
Research - Restart
When can I restart my research?
At this time and in the near future, all research that can be undertaken from home will continue remotely. For individuals unable to begin or resume their research activities on-campus, alternative research approaches will become available. Please note, individual research spaces will have restrictions on the number of people allowed in accordance with public health directives and university guidance. Each academic division will have a process for determining the recovery and adaptation of research including the specific requirements for approval. Divisional research recovery plans must ensure the ability to maintain physical distancing more generally in the building based on overall building occupancy. Please contact your unit head for information.
Where do I find more information on how to restart my research?
The research recovery and adaptation process is being managed at the divisional level, in harmony with the following university-wide guidance documents:
- University of Toronto Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation
- COVID-19 Guideline for Reopening Research Spaces
Please contact your unit head for specific information on how the research recovery and restart process is being managed in your division.
How do I determine whether I need PPE for my research space or lab?
The Environmental Health and Safety Office has outlined the following steps to obtain PPE for research spaces:
- Review the Guideline for Reopening Research Spaces (Section 6) to determine if physical distancing measures will be appropriate for the research space(s).
- If the assessment indicates that physical distancing is not possible or is challenging, you can contact EHS at firstname.lastname@example.org for further assessment on mitigation measures in advance of relying on PPE, or proceed with the required PPE purchasing.
- Purchasing: If PPE is required, it can be purchased through the researcher’s existing supply chain (e.g. . MedStore, ChemStore). If a researcher does not have an existing supply chain, they can send a request indicating the PPE required to email@example.com.
Research – Human Participants
What is the current status of research with human participants?
Previously Approved Studies
Researchers wanting to restart face-to-face REB-approved research must first submit an amendment that includes additional ethical considerations, completion of a checklist, and informed consent language with respect to risks of COVID-19 and necessary precautions to be taken. Once the amendment is approved, the researcher must then submit a request for research recovery approval to their respective department chair or faculty dean.
New research that involves face-to-face contact with human participants should be submitted to the REB for review with the completed checklist, taking into account the new COVID-19-related ethical considerations and informed consent language. Once approved, the researcher must then submit a request for research recovery approval to their respective department chair or faculty dean.
Are there any important points to consider with my research?
Research that involves visiting or direct contact with vulnerable communities will not restart at this time. Research with external communities, including Indigenous communities and organizations may need to be collaboratively reconsidered in light of potential constraints. Please note that virtual research can continue if there is no direct contact with participants.
Virtual Research Methods
Virtual research (e.g. online survey, Skype/Teams or phone) can continue if there is no direct contact with participants. If changes will be made to an approved protocol or consent process to conduct the research through virtual methods, please submit an amendment for REB review. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance.
Research at TASHSN Hospitals
Please follow the direction of TAHSN hospitals regarding research conducted under their auspices.
Will the U of T REBs continue to accept and review new submissions?
U of T REBs will continue to accept and review all new submissions and continue to review activities (renewals, amendments, adverse events and protocol completion reports) even if the research cannot be undertaken as this time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although timelines may be longer than normal, the continuance of review is to prevent a backlog of submissions once COVID-19 restrictions are removed.
Research - Laboratories
How do I reopen my research space?
Each academic division will have a process for determining the recovery and adaptation of research including the specific requirements for approval. This process is based on the University of Toronto Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation and the COVID-19 Guideline for Reopening Research Spaces. For further information, please contact your unit head for information.
Will hazardous waste pickup service continue?
Environmental Protection Services (EPS) are operating normally for hazardous waste operations and chemical spill emergency response. EPS can obtain access to buildings and labs with support from the U of T lockshop and caretaking to pick up biohazardous waste and radioactive waste. If you don't have a regular weekly pickup scheduled, please contact EPS at (416) 946-3473 or email@example.com to request pickup and/or supplies. The central chemical waste rooms/facilities will continue to be serviced by our contractor as per normal schedules.
If a lab has a large amount of chemicals to be disposed instead of moving them to the building’s central chemical waste storage area you can designate an area in the lab and leave the chemical waste there with a sign indicating 'Chemical waste for disposal'. Call the EPS general line (416-946-3473) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a pickup, which will be handled on a first-come first-served basis. Any stable chemicals for disposal that can wait until normal lab research operations resume should be set aside in storage until then.
Are there resources I can access when working alone on campus?
The University has Working Alone Guidelines that includes resources available to support members of our community while on our campuses.
Does the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people apply to critical research projects or essential services?
Critical research labs and essential services are not covered under Ontario’s emergency order that restricts gatherings of more than 10 people. For further details please refer to the Guideline for Reopening Research Spaces.
Can cloth masks be worn in the lab?
Yes, cloth masks can be worn in labs even when using chemicals. Note, Non-medical face masks must not be used instead of medical-grade masks (e.g. N95 or surgical masks) where required by EHS to either conduct research or where physical distancing measures are not possible. Please ensure that you do not touch your mask with gloved hands. If you are working with flammables, your cloth mask should have at least as high a flame resistance rating as your lab coat. Please use the General Laboratory PPE Assessment Tool to determine what your lab coat material type should be.
Individuals wearing non-medical masks, whether provided by the University or not, are required to clean their masks regularly and replace them periodically following the instructions of the manufacturer and advice of public health authorities.
Are there specific materials I should avoid in a cloth mask?
Avoid readily combustible plastic fabrics that will melt when ignited. Some examples include polypropylene, acrylic and polyester.
Research - Funding
What do I do if issues associated with COVID-19 are affecting my ability to undertake key aspects of my funded research project within the original timeframe and budget?
During this period of uncertainty and potential related delay/interruption to research programs, it is important to keep research sponsors apprised of the status of funded research initiatives. Every initiative is subject to a research agreement which includes contractual obligations.
NSERC and SSHRC have authorized institutions to provide an extension of 12 months for grants that end between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 due to delays as a result of COVID-19. NSERC or SSHRC grant holders wishing to obtain an extension can write to their contact in RSO or IPO.
CIHR has announced that all active CIHR grants will receive an automatic one-year extension to the authority-to-use-funds date in order to give researchers an additional full year to use any residual unspent funds. Researchers need not apply for the extension. CIHR will also financially extend all existing Investigator-Initiated Research grants scheduled to expire between June 30, 2020 and March 30, 2021 for one year for those who had applied to the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition. Bridge grants provided to Nominated Principal Investigators (NPIs) in the Fall 2019 Project Grant competition who applied to the Spring 2020 competition will receive a 6-month financial extension. More details about CIHR's response to the COVID-19 pandemic are available on CIHR's website, their FAQ, or you can reach out to your contact in RSO or IPO.
Smaller and /or private sector sponsors may not publicly communicate in the same way. Should you have questions or concerns about existing agreements with such sponsors, please be in touch with the relevant VPRI staff member.
Researchers and research support staff should regularly visit the websites of their research sponsors to view new information regarding COVID19-related changes. See below for some key sponsor updates:
How will COVID-19 impact deadlines and process for submitting mandatory financial reports such as Form 300 to the Tri-agencies?
CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, CRC and CFREF have postponed the deadlines for submitting financial reports for 2019-20 (April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020) until September 30, 2020. The preparation and distribution of financial reports will be led by the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO), utilizing SharePoint for both distribution and collection. Questions may be directed to Donna Walker, Director, Research Financial Reporting & Audit.
Other sponsors have also communicated extension of their financial reporting deadlines due to impacts of COVID-19. The Research Oversight and Compliance team will contact affected grantees with revised timelines as they become available.
CIHR’s Spring 2020 Project Grant competition that was cancelled on April 2, 2020, is now proceeding. What does this mean for those who applied to the re-instated program? Is there an impact on the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition?
The CIHR is proceeding with reviewing the applications submitted to the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition (which had been cancelled on April 2nd.) The peer reviews process will occur between June and August with video-conference panels as in-person peer review is unviable at this time.
Spring 2020 applications submitted by Nominated Principal Applicants (NPAs) who did not receive a financial extension will be reviewed, unless specifically withdrawn by the NPA. Those NPAs who were offered a financial extension based on the original decision to cancel the Spring 2020 competition will be contacted directly by CIHR to discuss the options available to them.
CIHR’s total budget for the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition will be approximately $245 million (depending on how many of those offered a one-year funded extension opt to keep that extension)
The Fall 2020 Project Grant competition will proceed as planned, however there may be adjustments needed to the timelines to ensure that those who are not successful in the Spring competition have the opportunity to re-submit in the fall. Any changes to the timelines will be announced to the community shortly. You may also reach out to your contact in RSO.
What do I do if the work of my research-funding supported staff or trainees is impacted by COVID-19 and how I determine next steps with respect to pay continuance?
Most externally funded research personnel continue to be engaged in work remotely, or on campus for essential research programs. The University expects these research personnel will continue to be paid.
The University also expects that funding commitments for trainees such as graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will be met and that supervisors will ensure that they are able to maintain their academic progress.
Academic administrators should work with their divisional leaders and Divisional Human Resource Offices to assess any individual circumstances that require special consideration. The School of Graduate Studies has also issued guidance for Chairs and Supervisors for additional reference.
What actions have been taken to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on researchers and their programs?
The University has engaged both levels of government and funding agencies to address concerns about continuity of research funding. At present, public sector institutions are not eligible for the federal Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Significant work, in partnership with other universities and research hospitals, continue to make the case for support of our country’s research personnel.
Is institutional funding in place to bridge lost or interrupted research funding?
There is no institutional fund to bridge lost or interrupted research funding. Academic administrators will need to work with their PIs and divisional leaders to address financial challenges to research programs, ensuring that plans take appropriate account of the University’s collective agreements and employment policies.
There are many different and complex situations across our campuses. Each PI’s research program is relatively unique in terms of funding source(s) and personnel. Each program has different opportunities to continue work remotely, or as we start to consider restart of operations, to be able to maintain physical distancing and other control requirements related to COVID-19.
Who can I speak with to obtain specific information regarding funding continuity from sponsors of my research program?
Many funding organizations have web pages dedicated to COVID-19 changes to their funding programs. We suggest you visit the website of your research sponsor(s). Where there is no externally facing information on the sponsor website, faculty members can turn to their unit/division research support staff, or with the relevant staff member(s) in the VPRI Research Services Office or the Innovations & Partnerships Office. We do not recommend engaging directly with research sponsors, given the pressures on sponsors at this time, and the University’s efforts to negotiate helpful and consistent program adjustments.
What Federal Government programs are available to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on my research?
In addition to the COVID-19 Emergency Benefits described on the Government of Canada website, the Prime Minister has made the following announcements specific to research programs at universities and research institutions:
22 April 2020
Up to $40M to extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships. Award holders will need to attest that their research was disrupted by COVID-19 constraints and that they are not benefiting from compensation under the Canada Emergency Student Benefit or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or other income supports related to COVID-19. Award holders will be contacted in the coming weeks by their respective agency, and the funding will be provided before September 30, 2020. Further information is available here.
The balance of the fund, $251.6M ($32.3M SSHRC, $140M NSERC; 79.3M CIHR), is to supplement existing federal research grants, to support students, post-doctoral fellows and research support staff. As of July 28, 2020 CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC have written directly to grant holders by e-mail to offer the supplemental salary and stipend funds to those who continued to pay stipends and salaries to students, trainees, and research personnel between April 1 and June 30, 2020 while research was interrupted due to the pandemic. You have until August 13, 2020 to respond to the email, confirming the information required by the Agencies. For more details, please see Research Alert.
15 May 2020
$450M, including two block grants to universities to provide:
Wage supports for up to 12 weeks for universities and health research institutes to avert layoffs of research personnel. The support will cover up to 75% of salary for research personnel who are funded through non-governmental sources (industry or philanthropic) and are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. Consistent with the provisions of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, funding will support up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, even if their work has been suspended temporarily.
In Fall 2020, universities and health research institutes with resources to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. This will cover up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs, and will support activities such as the safe storage of dangerous substances, and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.
The University awaits information from the tri-agencies on how these resources will be made available.
Is NSERC providing a funded extension to Discovery Grant holders? If so, what do I need to do?
NSERC is offering a one-year funded extension to all active Discovery Grants including: Discovery Grants, Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project and Major Resources), Discovery Grants – Northern Research Supplements and Discovery Development Grants. By “active”, NSERC means that the grant received an instalment for April 1, 2020. If you began your unfunded automatic extension year on April 1st, 2020, then unfortunately your grant is not eligible.
NSERC is contacting all holders of eligible and active Discovery Grants directly to describe the extension option and provide a timeline by which you must accept or decline the funded extension. You do not need to reach out to NSERC or request this extension through Research Services.
The one-year funded amount is equal to the one-year amount of your annual funding level. NSERC is contacting active Discovery Grant holders in order of the final funded year end-date: for example, those who are in their final funded year are being contacted now and over the next few weeks, followed by those who are in their second last funded year, and so on. If you are only in your first or second year of your Discovery Grant, it could be many months before NSERC contacts you.
We continue to seek clarification from NSERC about how they will notify Research Services when someone accepts the extension and the confirmed amount.
Additional details are available on NSERC’s website active Discovery Grants one-year funded extension due to COVID-19.
Research - Facilities
Is the Toronto Research Data Centre open?
Yes. On July 15, 2020, Toronto RDC will begin a limited opening for researchers with approved projects in keeping with safety measures put in place including maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask in RDC and Robarts Library. If there is capacity additional researchers will be prioritized according to their research needs. RDC is initially targeting student researchers with deadlines for graduation and researchers with revise and resubmit deadlines. All researchers interested in returning are welcome to submit a request.
To book an appointment, send your request to email@example.com and include your name, PI name, project number and answers to the following questions:
- What is your current need?
- Do you have a deadline?
- If known, how much time do you anticipate needing?
- What unique software and files will you require?
RDC staff are reviewing all requests and will assist all researchers interested in using the Centre.
Research – International
Can I continue collaboration with my international partners?
We recognize that international collaboration is crucial for addressing significant global issues including our response to COVID-19 and encourage continued international collaborations using virtual tools.
Can my international partners visit the University of Toronto?
International visit and delegations are not permitted at this time due to federal travel restrictions. We encourage you to continue meeting with your partners using virtual tools and platforms.
My research requires international travel, what should I do?
Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is advising all members of its community to avoid all non-essential travel. Refer to the U of T FAQs for additional information on travel.
If I have additional questions about my current international partnerships, who should I contact?
For additional questions about international partnerships, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research - Innovation
Where can I find additional resources?
The Centre for Research & Innovation Support (CRIS) has curated a set of resources for researchers. The Spotlight pages include the latest COVID-19 funding opportunities as well as resources to support you to continue your research during the pandemic. For further questions, please email email@example.com .
Where can I find resources for my startup?
All of the University’s entrepreneurship programs remain active and continue to provide support to entrepreneurs remotely. The latest resources and updates can be found here.