Dear Members of the Research Community,
Premier Ford’s COVID-19 and social distancing update announced yesterday (May 14th) has opened the door for McMaster to begin to implement our phased return to research activity as I described in my previous letter.
While the government’s relaxed restrictions allow for some activities to begin as early as May 19th, McMaster’s resumed activity will not commence on that date. As always, the health and safety of our university community remain our top priority, and as we continue to prepare buildings and labs, and ensure all COVID-specific health and safety concerns and modifications are addressed, we anticipate an expansion of research activity return no later than June 1st. I will provide an update when the precise date is confirmed.
We are now beginning to move to Phase 1 of our planned return – only those who require campus-based equipment and facilities or whose inability to conduct fieldwork presents serious obstacles and consequences for graduate students and researchers completing their studies – are eligible to return. Two committees, with pan-university representation, have developed our phased approach to increased on-campus and fieldwork research activity, in compliance with all government, public health and university guidelines. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am so appreciative of their guidance, and the results of their work will soon be posted to our website.
It is important to remind everyone that as we move into Phase 1, no researcher, or member of any research team, should feel compelled to return to the lab or the field. Returning is completely voluntary and the sole choice of the individual. It is also important to remember that working from home remains the preferred method of conducting research.
Prior to returning to your research – both on-campus and fieldwork – approval must be received from your Chair and Associate Dean Research. The portal to complete your request will be live on the research website by the middle of next week. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the HR website to learn more about the University’s health and safety guidelines as we increase our activities.
We’ve seen – and continue to see – what is happening in other jurisdictions that have rushed to return and there is much to be lost if we do not do this is in a measured and thoughtful fashion. I know that you are all anxious to get back to your research, but we need to ensure we’ve taken every possible precaution to bring you – and every staff member who is critical to maintaining our buildings and campus – back to a safe working environment. The health and well-being of our people – and their families, to whom they’ll return each day – is our paramount concern.
I look forward to getting us all back safely.
Enjoy the long weekend,