Latest information and updates about COVID-19 (coronavirus) from McMaster University
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With the successful implementation of Phase 1, coupled with the Government of Ontario further easing restrictions, McMaster is now positioned to move to Phase 2 of its Phased Increase of Fieldwork Activity. Under Phase 2, remote working remains the preference and, currently, a return to fieldwork remains voluntary for researchers. The research community will be advised if this changes. As with Phase 1, all appropriate safety protocols must be in place before a researcher and any required staff or team member returns to the field.

Training of Research Personnel

Note: If you already have an approved Research Activity Plan, the addition of any research personnel, previously trained or new trainees, requires a simple amendment. If you do not already have an approved Research Activity Plan, you must submit one before any training can begin.

Training of McMaster researchers (undergraduates, graduate students, PDFs, staff) and non-McMaster volunteer researchers and visiting scientists working on McMaster-based research projects, when possible, should be done remotely. Where this is not possible, training will be allowed under certain conditions; precautions required will depend on the category of the training.

Category 1: Training which maintains physical distancing greater than 2m. 

Training that can be done from a distance of at least 2m is allowed provided the instructor and trainee follow existing COVID-specific work processes and shared space protocols.

Category 2: Training from a distance of less than 2m that may include limited direct contact.

Training that requires the instructor and trainee to be within 2m of each other is allowed only under these conditions:

Involvement of Human Participants

Note: Research personnel or researchers (those conducting the research) are distinguished from human participants (those who are the subject of the research).

The extraordinary ranges of the nature of fieldwork –  the environmental and societal conditions under which fieldwork takes place, and the temporal and spatial variance in COVID-infection rates or lack of information on such rates – make it extremely difficult to provide overarching guidance that ensures the safety of research personnel and human participants. Because of this, Phase 1 did not allow for “face-to-face” interactions with human participants.

Recognizing that some fieldwork involving human participants may be of direct and immediate importance to society as the pandemic continues, Phase 2 will allow for some exemptions. The VPR will consider special requests for involving human participants in fieldwork that clearly demonstrate the benefits to human health and well-being. Any human participant fieldwork must follow all specific guidelines for the appropriate REB in addition to the approvals previously mentioned. Please contact your REB for details.

Procedures for Approval

Approvals are required for all activities described above. In all cases, as you are developing your plans, experts from McMaster’s Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) and Biosafety Office are available to provide guidance. Please contact directly for assistance.

As with previous phases, research conducted at a hospital site or McMaster Innovation Park must also adhere to site-specific SOPs and protocols.

If you are submitting your Research Activity Plan for the first time, please visit the Phased Return to Research Application Form Decision Tree.

If you are making an amendment to a previously approved Research Activity Plan or submitting your Research Activity Plan for the first time, please use this portal.

If you are requesting an exemption to include human participants in your research, please send an email to the Office of the Vice-President, Research at

Consultation with External Research Partners

Meetings with external research partners and stakeholders (collaborators, industry, community, and government representatives) are encouraged to take place remotely, when possible. In cases where that’s not feasible, please contact your ADR or the Office of the Vice-President, Research at