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March 20, 2020

New directives for McMaster researchers

The University has been closely monitoring information coming from government and public health agencies and their advice on the intensifying need to strengthen measures to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 outbreak in order to protect the health and lives of Canadians.

As a result, the university now requires that all McMaster research that does not fall under the parameters noted below be closed down by Tuesday March 24 at 5 p.m.  This applies to any research that requires people to be in laboratories or in any group setting.  Research by individual researchers that can be conducted remotely, such as online interviews, and follows all social distancing guidelines can continue.

Research will be allowed to continue if it:

  • Is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – this includes related research in areas across the university
  • Involves clinical trials or intervention studies with patients who need to be monitored
  • Must be maintained for health and safety reasons
  • Must be continued for ethical reasons, such as some animal studies

Essential research services that need to be maintained include:

  • Core facilities that support research outlined above
  • Critical equipment monitoring or servicing
  • Cleaning and maintenance that support the essential research programs
  • The care of fish, animals or plants, in coordination with the Central Animal Facility

In order for any essential research area to continue operations, the area must have the signed endorsement from the appropriate dean and the acting vice-president research.  These offices are prepared to review these requests as quickly as possible.

Even in the case of research deemed essential, supervisors are reminded that they should limit research staff and graduate students to the number of people required to maintain the research program.  If possible, research staff and graduate students should work from home, if the work allows them to do so. The request to deem an area of research essential must also include a staffing plan so it is known who is required to work on-site and who can work remotely.

When I wrote earlier this week I asked that researchers and groups be prepared for the need to close down research programs at short notice, including plans for waste disposal and identification of essential services needed to maintain research samples, facilities and infrastructure.  If you need assistance putting these plans into action please contact your associate dean of research as soon as possible.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and we will take every reasonable precaution to keep McMaster faculty, staff and students and our community safe.

 

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