Background

Saint Mary’s University shifted to virtual operations as of March 23, 2020. This phase of emergency management of the COVID-19 pandemic has been informed by the Province of Nova Scotia’s declaration of a State of Emergency on March 22, 2020, to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Since 5 p.m. on March 20, 2020, access to Saint Mary’s University campus is restricted to allow only a very limited number of employees on campus – those associated with essential services to support on-site operations (e.g. Residence Life, Security, some Facilities staff, personnel for animal care facilities support), and critical functions of the university. Access to campus since that time has been managed through a process established and overseen by the Vice-President, Finance and Administration, now delegated to members of the Senior Management Group.

Restricting access to campus also required the suspension of all on-campus research and scholarly activities in labs, offices, and research spaces. In addition, travel and other public health restrictions associated with the Provincial State of Emergency led to the suspension of all field research; activities involving face-to-face (in-person) interactions (e.g. surveys or focus groups with research participants) were deferred or required to be carried out remotely using tele-/video-conferencing tools. The only exceptions to these suspensions have been a small number of research projects directly related to the COVID-19, as these were categorized as “essential”, a consistent approach throughout Canada.

This Protocol and Process Guide provides direction on how on-campus and field research activity can resume in phases, to be implemented when circumstances related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia will allow the gradual lifting of activity restrictions. The processes outlined here are sufficiently general that they can be followed throughout the coming months, within the evolving stages of lifting activity restrictions by the Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH).

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