As Brock University gears up for a significant return to campus for the Fall Term, research is opening further, with a few significant changes to previous research policies and procedures.
One of the biggest changes is that researchers are no longer required to present their safety plans to their Faculty’s Associate Dean of Research.
“This means our researchers will continue to be responsible for the proper safety planning for their spaces, but they won’t have to go through the same approval process that has been in place throughout the pandemic,” says Michelle McGinn, Associate Vice-President, Research.
She says many researchers — particularly lab-based ones — already have safety plans that will remain on file. If restrictions are required to be re-introduced, the plans are already there.
Another major change is the abolishment of the 18-square-metres per person space requirement in labs.
“We recognize that in a research lab, researchers are focused on the research task; they might not know what the person next to them is doing and when they might step closer to them,” says McGinn, adding that masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that researchers wear will enable them to be in close quarters.
Lab facilities found in the Roy and Lois Cairns Health and Bioscience Research Complex and other areas will be open on weekdays as well as weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., once the new academic term begins.
Advance notice will be required about which spaces will be used on weekends and holidays so the custodial team can focus their cleaning efforts. The final details for providing this notice are still being finalized.
Some researchers working with human participants will be shifting their activities from online to in-person, though there is already some research occurring on campus with human participants, says McGinn.
Brock’s Research Ethics Boards have established “closer ties” with the Health, Safety and Wellness department and the Academic Safety Committee to ensure support and guidance are provided for bio-safety and public health related questions, she adds.
Brock’s vaccination mandate extends to community members who may visit the University to engage as research participants.
“Vaccination for researchers and human participants provides a bit more security for both groups,” says McGinn.
Scholars who need to travel internationally to carry out their research will also have more options throughout the fall, depending upon requirements and local conditions in the host country. Global Affairs travel advisories will continue to guide researchers’ decisions.
The Research section of Brock University’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions will be updated in the coming days to reflect these changes and any additional future steps.