Frequently Asked Questions

For the latest update on closures and restrictions currently in effect, please see this page.

Updated September 9, 2022

General

Given the prevalence of the virus right now, there’s a real possibility that you have COVID-19 if you are showing one or more of these symptoms. As only priority groups can currently access PCR testing, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should either use a rapid antigen screen (where available) or stay home as a precaution.

Brock community members who test positive, who live with someone who has tested positive, or who have COVID symptoms should follow the guidance provided by Niagara Region Public Health, which can be found here.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it is important that you do not visit campus.

If you test positive for COVID-19 with a PCR or Rapid Antigen Test, you must stay home and self-isolate. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have access to testing, you are to assume that you have COVID-19 and also must stay home and self-isolate.  Please visit the Niagara Region Public Health website (or if outside Niagara, the appropriate Public Health Unit with jurisdiction) for the most up to date instructions. Students should contact Student Health Services (covid19@brocku.ca) for support. Staff and faculty should contact Human Resources (employeehealth@brocku.ca).

If you test positive for COVID-19 with a PCR or Rapid Antigen Test, you must stay home and self-isolate. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have access to testing, you are to assume that you have COVID-19 and also must stay home and self-isolate.  Please visit the Niagara Region Public Health website (or if outside Niagara, the appropriate Public Health Unit with jurisdiction) for the most up to date instructions. Students should contact Student Health Services (covid19@brocku.ca) for support. Staff and faculty should contact Human Resources (employeehealth@brocku.ca).

Niagara Region Public Health are asking individuals who have a confirmed PCR, Rapid Antigen Test or are symptomatic to identify contacts. A contact is anyone who was less than two metres away even for shorter periods of time in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, consider yourself infectious for 48 hours before your test. Please reach out to your contacts and let them know about your situation.

When possible, you may receive an email to Brock University account notifying you of a possible contact.

Beginning Sept. 6, masks will be required in all instructional spaces, including classrooms, lecture halls, seminars, teaching labs, and other spaces when teaching by instructors is taking place.

All masks worn must be medical grade, a decision reached in consultation with the Brock University Faculty Association and other stakeholders. Fabric face coverings such as buffs, gaiters and bandanas do not satisfy the masking policy requirement at Brock.

Medical masks are also required in shared research space, as outlined in the relevant section of the Brock University Coronavirus FAQ.

Students are able to request and receive an exemption through the Student Affairs office. They will be provided with a student mask exemption form and will select the general reason for the exemption request. They do not require a doctor or other provider to sign off on the exemption. Once submitted, they will have a brief meeting with a representative from Student Affairs to complete the process. For this exemption, please email studentaffairs@brocku.ca.

With COVID-19 cases trending downwards across the province and 93 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 years and older fully vaccinated, Brock University paused its COVID-19 vaccination requirement on July 4. All members of the Brock community are still strongly encouraged to become vaccinated against COVID-19 and to keep up to date on boosters.

With the safety of students, staff and faculty a top priority, Brock has introduced a number of measures related to the ventilation system to help mitigate concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to all building ventilation systems undergoing regular maintenance to ensure air is clean and flowing into and out of buildings properly, overrides have been implemented in various areas and systems, such as air intakes, to increased fresh air volumes to indoor spaces.

Everyone visiting campus is strongly encouraged to complete screening online and to stay home if they are feeling unwell. This helps reduce the likelihood that a positive case will come to campus.

Research

Under the Office of the Vice-President Research, a plan to provide guidance for a broad range of research activities on- and off-campus was developed in June 2020 and revised at critical points over the following months. The current plan builds from the same set of guiding principles and research priority timelines that have been in effect throughout the pandemic. Table 1: Chart of Brock Research Activities Across the Stages of Pandemic and Recovery (September 2022) provides an overview of the Brock research activities that have been authorized at each stage of the pandemic and recovery.

This plan was developed by the Research Access Task Force, whose membership includes the Associate Deans Research and Graduate Studies (six academic Faculties and the Faculty of Graduate Studies), the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate University Librarian, Graduate Student Association, Health Safety and Wellness, Facilities Management, and Faculty and Staff Relations. Representatives from the Research Ethics Boards contributed to all discussions related to research with human participants. The development and implementation of these plans continues to be informed through coordination of safety, resourcing, and wider access to campus facilities.

Prior to accessing research facilities and sites on- or off-campus, researchers must agree to abide by regulatory, public health, and safety guidance and to implement appropriate risk-mitigation strategies. For guidance, please consult the COVID-19 information on the HSW SharePoint site (login required).

Principal Investigators (Faculty Supervisors) are responsible for establishing and enforcing capacity limits and risk-mitigation strategies for the shared research spaces under their authority and for maintaining all applicable regulatory clearances (e.g., animal care, Research Ethics Board, biosafety) for their research. The Associate Dean Research and the Health, Safety, and Wellness team besafe@brocku.ca are available for consultation.

Established capacity limits must respect any provincial, municipal, or institutional requirements and must never exceed standards established pre-COVID. A regulatory amendment to Ontario Regulation 364/20 on August 31, 2021, lifted capacity limits and physical distancing requirements for indoor instructional spaces, including research laboratories. The previously implemented 18 m2 per person is no longer a requirement. Recognizing that movement patterns are not always predictable in shared research spaces where attention is focused on the research activity and not necessarily the location of others in the shared space, 2 m physical distancing should be maintained whenever possible.

A rotational schedule for all lab group members may be needed to ensure equitable access to shared research spaces (e.g., labs). Campus access hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days per week, including weekends and holidays.

Possible Future Restrictions: All planning and research activity under the terms of this plan must be conducted in light of the prospect that provincial orders and public health guidelines may call for greater restrictions in the future. Researchers are expected to create the conditions to reduce or cease activities on short notice in case COVID-19 conditions worsen.

If at any point, the University or the research site moves toward a more restrictive stage, then the research authorization process through the Associate Deans Research will be reactivated immediately.

  1. Each previously approved Research Facility Access and Prioritization Request Form and the associated Researcher COVID-19 Mitigation Strategy and (if relevant) In-Person Research with Human Participants Risk Checklist will remain on file and will be reactivated immediately if the authorization process is reintroduced. These activities may continue if they were authorized at a point with a comparable level of restrictions.
  2. Activities that have not been authorized through the Associate Dean Research must stop until authorization is secured. The Associate Deans Research; the Academic Safety Committee; and Health, Safety, and Wellness will begin reviewing requests again using the forms and processes introduced prior to September 7, 2021.

Consult your Associate Dean Research if you are uncertain.

Campus access hours for shared research spaces (e.g., labs) are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days per week, including weekends and holidays.

Many researchers work in shared laboratories or use shared equipment, which necessitates consideration for rotational schedules to accommodate the collective needs. Principal Investigators (Faculty Supervisors) are expected to establish schedules that are visible to the Associate Dean Research.

The requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) depend upon the specifics of your research setting.

MINIMUM STANDARD

In research labs and other shared research spaces, medical masks are required whenever others are present.

WORKING WITH HAZARDS

For any research activity involving RG2 or RG3 pathogens or other hazardous substances (e.g., hazardous chemicals or radioisotopes) that could contaminate the mask (through spillage, splattering, or otherwise), Principal Investigators (Faculty Supervisors) must lead their teams in conducting risk assessments to identify activities that could lead to contamination of the masks with other hazardous substances. In such cases, laboratory users must dispose of masks before leaving the laboratory. In addition, a supply of disposable masks must be available in laboratories in case contamination of a mask occurs or is suspected.

Other Requirements

Depending upon the nature of your research activities, other PPE may be required (e.g., gloves, goggles, lab coat, N95 or KN95 respirator). Consult with Health Safety and Wellness or the Academic Safety Committee for guidance. Decisions regarding PPE for in-person human participant research must be determined in consultation with the Research Ethics Board; the minimum standard applies at indoor sites of research activity on- and off-campus.

AVAILABLE GUIDANCE

See the following guidance documents from Health, Safety, and Wellness:

Need more information about this topic? Contact besafe@brocku.ca.

HOW TO ORDER PPE

Request sufficient supplies of the necessary PPE by contacting Science Stores. Send email requests to sciencestores@brocku.ca.

For the foreseeable future, the costs for the following items will be covered by the Office of Research Services if ordered through Science Stores:

  • Medical Masks
  • N95 or KN95 respirator if required by research activity
  • Gloves if required by research activity

Purchase (using non-Tri-Agency funds) is also possible through Workday catalogues as explained on this video.

Researchers continue to be responsible for purchasing the following items (with non-Tri-Agency funds):

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Lab Coats
  • Goggles

Where research staff are feeling unwell, care should be taken to stay home to prevent transmission of any illness. If COVID-19 is known or suspected, Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines should be followed.

Researchers, participants, and caregivers (if present) should self-screen for symptoms each day prior to in-person interaction on- or off-campus.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, tell your close contacts that they have been exposed. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first.

Informing your contact will help stop the spread of the virus. Give them the link to this webpage, ontario.ca/exposed, so they can protect themselves and their contacts. Your close contacts should follow the advice for being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Communicate with your supervisor, team members, and research participants if activities need to be rescheduled. Ensure all laboratory contact information is up to date.

Field research must:

  • follow strict physical distancing and hygiene protocols as informed by location-specific public health guidance while on site, and during travel to and from the site;
  • respect the prohibitions around gathering sizes;
  • have been approved by any relevant local authorities (e.g., parks or conservation authority, First Nations band council); and
  • attend to any research travel restrictions in effect at the time (see Can I travel for research?).

Research travel is subject to location-specific public health guidance, Global Affairs travel advisories, and any funding restrictions.

All expenses must comply with the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expense Policy, including the need for prior written approval from the Associate Vice-President Research when the combined cost of travel exceeds $4,000.

Risk-mitigation processes are in place in the Brock Archives & Special Collections to support health and safety for researchers, staff members, and external users. Consult the Archives & Special Collections website for details. For the best experience, users are encouraged to email archives@brocku.ca at least 24 hours in advance to schedule an appointment and provide a list of materials to be viewed.

Faculty and student researchers may work in their campus office spaces as needed.

The Office of Research Services continues to provide full services for researchers. Most team members have hybrid work schedules.

Signatures for a researcher’s Department Chair (or Centre Director), Dean, and Vice-President Research continue to be required before an external grant application can be submitted. Electronic signatures are accepted.

An automatic, one-year (time-only) extension for projects that were funded under our various internal Research Enterprise grants and awards in 2020 was implemented.

To request an extension to any other internal Research Enterprise grant (e.g., Explore Grant, Exchange Grant, Match of Minds, Research Initiative Award, VPR Canada Summer Games Grants, etc.), complete this form and submit it to Terence Rudolph, Research Officer, at trudolph@brocku.ca. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Funding extensions do NOT affect Research Ethics and Animal Care certifications, which are subject to the regular annual renewal processes.

Research sponsors, including the Tri-Agencies, have been actively developing processes for submitting and granting extension requests. Allowances vary by funder and program. Any researcher with questions about the possibility of extending a funded project (in-time only or with funding) should contact their Research Officer for assistance.

The REB and ORE are functioning at full capacity and are not experiencing any significant delays in processing new applications or renewals.

To book an in-person or remote appointment, email reb@brocku.ca

Research involving human participants should be conducted online where possible. Where in-person interaction is required, researchers are expected to use appropriate measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission, including physical distancing, enhanced sanitation protocols, and medical masks. Goggles, face shields, N95 or KN95 respirators, plexiglass dividers, or other mitigation measures may be required for some research studies. Minimize time together whenever possible, including completing remotely any tasks possible (e.g., reviewing consent materials, completing questionnaires, etc.).

Research Ethics Board clearance must include assessment of the risks to participants based upon the risk-mitigation strategies implemented with respect to current pandemic conditions. See the COVID-19 Guidelines and Considerations for Completing REB Applications for In-Person Research for guidance if your research involves in-person interaction with human participants.

Researchers, participants, and caregivers (if present) should self-screen for symptoms each day prior to in-person interaction on- or off-campus.

Participants (and caregivers or support people, if required) must complete an online COVID-19 risk acknowledgement form prior to their first research study visit.

Brock University paused its COVID-19 vaccination requirement effective Monday, July 4, 2022. All members of the Brock community are still strongly encouraged to become vaccinated against COVID-19 and to keep up to date on boosters.

Some individual research studies may be limited to participants who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These determinations will be made case-to-case, based on discussions between researchers and the REB.

The Brock Animal Care and Use Program has a crisis management plan, which includes strategies to address the conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Animal Care Committee (ACC) continues to review applications, make decisions, and exercise required oversight functions.

Researchers must follow Brock University COVID-19 health and safety protocols and ensure that animal care is not compromised.

Please contact the Animal Care Manager, sbukovac@brocku.ca or Clinical Veterinarian, spetrik@brocku.ca if you have any questions or need assistance.

Reach out if you have questions or concerns:

Travel

Throughout the pandemic, Brock’s travel guidance has always been based on Government of Canada recommendations. As a result of recent advice from the federal government, members of the Brock community can resume non-essential travel. SAC member approval will no longer be required to travel. Instead, the ‘usual’ approval procedures will apply. Those who choose to travel outside Canada are still encouraged to check current travel restrictions and entry/exit requirement for both Canada and the country they are visiting. Restrictions are still changing and may be imposed with little warning. Please consult the Government of Canada’s travel advisories website for details.

The Government of Canada has recommended:

  • If you are still considering travelling or are already outside of Canada:
  • Check your destination’s Safety and security, Entry/exit requirements and Health sections.
  • Get the Government of Canada’s latest updates on COVID-19.
  • Check the Pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice.
  • Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.
  • Check with your travel insurance provider to know more about their policies related to COVID-19. Find out if you are covered for medical treatment if you become infected with COVID-19 as well as for extended stays outside of Canada.

Tri-Council travel expenses  

The three federal granting agencies confirm that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable, considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel, when cancellation occurs. More information is available at https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Media-Media/ProgramNewsDetails-NouvellesDesProgrammesDetails_eng.asp?ID=1133

University-funded travel expenses

For travel booked prior to this communication (March 12, 2020), Brock faculty and staff can submit for reimbursement for any non-refundable travel fees, considering the impacts of COVID-19. Reimbursement must be allocated from the funding source (ie. PER, internal research grants, department budgets) originally intended and approved to cover the cost of travel.

Note:  Non-refundable travel fees for travel booked after the date of this communication will not be reimbursed. For this reason, the University encourages faculty and staff to purchase additional travel cancelation insurance, as well as additional travel health insurance. The costs for purchasing additional insurance will be considered eligible for reimbursement from the funding source intended to cover the cost of the travel (ie. PER, internal research grants, department budgets).

If reimbursement is provided for travel costs where a service provider issues a credit to the claimant, the claimant is responsible for ensuring the credit is used for future University activities and not for personal use. The claimant must refund the University for the cost of the credit if they decide to repurpose the credit for personal use.

All other Travel, Meals, and Hospitality Policy and Professional Expense Reimbursement Policy requirements and approval protocols remain in place.

OUT OF COUNTRY TRAVEL BENEFITS

Employees with Green Shield coverage should visit the Green Shield Canada (GSC) Support Centre for the most recent information on Out of Country TravelCoverage and Coronavirus FAQs.

Faculty and staff who engage in out of country travel, subject to University policies and procedures, are accountable for regularly reviewing the following for timely information, which is subject to change and may impact benefits coverage.

Any benefits questions should be directed to benefit@brocku.ca or to Green Shield Canada (GSC) at 1-888-711-1119.

For information relating to the requirements for entry or re-entry into Canada, please review the guidance provided on the Government of Canada website.