News & Events - Focus on COVID-19 Information for Researchers

The research news and events section aims to provide up-to-date information about news, events, activities, awards, funding and new developments pertaining to Research & Innovation at York University. Please check the news and events links for regular updates. More information is also available on the @YUResearch Twitter feed.

COVID-19 Information for Researchers

For general information and updates on COVID-19 from York University, see https://coronavirus.info.yorku.ca/.

Important News: Submission of Research Applications and ORS Checklists

COVID-19: Researchers' FAQs

General Research Questions

Q: Are there any guidelines on social distancing?

The Federal Government has released guidelines on physical distancing. In this item, it is suggested that each person increase the distance between themselves and another person to two metres or six feet. This comprehensive document contains more detailed information on physical distancing.

Q: Should researchers start any new protocols?

As per the President’s memo March 18, 2020, researchers are encouraged not to start, or submit, any new research protocols requiring on-campus activities. Researchers should also assess the needs for ongoing projects.

Q: York University has canceled in-person classes, will my research on campus continue?

Beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020, York suspended all face-to-face instruction and moved courses to online formats. We remain committed to completing the term and have deployed all of our resources to support faculty and students through this transition.

Please stay tuned for additional information over the coming days. As always, you can find the latest updates on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website and you can email your questions to coronavirusinfo@yorku.ca.

Q: Should researchers move their data for secure access during the disruption?

Yes, researchers should move their data onto OneDrive for secure access during this disruption. Instructions can be found here: https://yuoffice.info.yorku.ca/.

Q: Will research space be open for use? 

As per the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic
and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, most buildings as well as research labs and faculty offices on York University campuses (i.e., with the exception of those associated with “required services”) will be locked at 11:59 pm Friday, March 20. There is an expectation that most research activities are transitioning to home locations as is practical.

As of 11:59 pm, Friday, March 27, access cards will no longer be active for the period of the building closure. A limited number of colleagues will be granted extended access after March 27 in order to fulfill required services and/or to maintain critical and time sensitive research which meet specific criteria.

As per the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic
and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, forms to request extended access beyond March 27, 2020 to continue time-sensitive critical research activities or course completion.

Please stay tuned for additional information over the coming days. As always, you can find the latest updates on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website and you can email your questions to coronavirusinfo@yorku.ca.

Q: How do I collect my mail?

Mail can be brought to the Central Mailroom, Curtis Lecture Hall Room 19. You can drive right up to the loading dock and enter the mailroom from there. Here is the link to our updated procedures during this period, with map included: https://ancillary.info.yorku.ca/business-operations/mailing-services/.

Q: Does the professor need to be personally in the lab to supervise students?

Professors retain authority over, and remain accountable for, their lab space and the conduct and safety of personnel in their labs. However, as per the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, most buildings as well as research labs and faculty offices on York University campuses (i.e., with the exception of those associated with “required services”) will be locked at 11:59 pm Friday, March 20. After March 27, at 11:59 pm, PI’s attendance is one of the criteria for continuing critical research.

Q: Will research staff working from home still be able to access offices/labs on occasion (example once/week) or will buildings be completely in lock down?

As per the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic
and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, most buildings as well as research labs and faculty offices on York University campuses (i.e., with the exception of those associated with “required services”) will be locked at 11:59 pm Friday, March 20. There is an expectation that most research activities will transition to home locations as is practical.

As of 11:59 pm, Friday, March 27, access cards will no longer be active for the period of the building closure. A limited number of colleagues will be granted extended access after March 27 in order to fulfill required services and/or to maintain critical and time sensitive research activities.

See the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic
and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, for forms to request extended access beyond March 27, 2020 to continue time-sensitive critical research or research activities or course completion.

Please stay tuned for additional information over the coming days.

Q: What do I have to do to close my research space?

See York University Research Space Shutdown protocol March 19 2020_11.53am. (French version of this document is also available: York University Research Space Shutdown protocol March 19 2020_11.53am_FR). This document provides a methodical approach to supporting consideration of pressing issues related to not having access to your research spaces. If you go through these steps, it will help ensure you do not have unanticipated consequences to your research spaces or research program during this period that all researchers (except for a small number of pre-approved exceptions) will have no access to on-campus research spaces. It is understood that researchers all over the world are impacted by these closures, but by taking a methodical approach such as what is structured here, researchers can mitigate loss.

Q: Are there any limitations on accessing systems from home, such as limits on the number of VPN connections to access network drives, or library e-journal access from off campus?

UIT is working to maximize the utility of the VPN. For further information, please contact Steve Ojwang, Director of Infrastructure, stephen.ojwang@yorku.ca.

For general questions about IT access please contact Aladin Alaily, Director, Client Support Services at UIT, aalaily@yorku.ca.

For questions about licensing or terms of use for our electronic products, please contact Aaron Lupton aalupton@yorku.ca.

To report a technical or access problem with an electronic product, please contact ereport@yorku.ca.

Q: Can student groups associated with ORUs hold meetings in ORU spaces?

No. As per the March 18 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, most buildings as well as research labs and faculty offices on York University campuses be locked at 11:59 pm Friday, March 20. We strongly urge all meetings to be held electronically in order to minimize potential transmission of virus.

Research Equipment/Supplies Questions

Q: Can I/my trainees take research equipment home?

As per the March 18, 2020 memo from the Provost and Vice-President Academic
and Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation, most buildings as well as research labs and faculty offices on York University campuses (i.e., with the exception of those associated with “required services”) will be locked at 11:59 pm Friday, March 20. There is an expectation that most research activities will transition to home locations as is practical.

If equipment is moved away from a York University location insurance coverage, for the equipment and its use, may not be available.

If considering moving equipment, please contact Risk Management Services, Steve Matterson stevem1@yorku.ca to determine what options, if any, are available.

Q: Deliveries: I’ve ordered something. What will happen if it arrives during a disruption?

Please see the Procurement Services website. It says York will accept courier shipments if the receiver has issued a redirect notice with the carrier and emailed the department in advance of the redirect. Keep in mind, vendors often determine the carrier, and redirects must come from the vendor.

Researchers might consider posting orders for only essential items. Researchers who have hazardous or perishable items should contact the vendor or Procurement Services to assist with canceling or rescheduling delivery.

Procurement Services contacts:

Jan Oliver jsoliver@yorku.ca
Carolyn Fasick cfasick@yorku.ca

For more information on mail on campus please contact:

Frank Myers fmyers@yorku.ca
Chad Saunders chads@yorku.ca

Human Resources Questions

Q: If I’m paying research assistants/associates/post-docs, and they self-isolate or if the university closes, are they paid and if so, who pays? Do I have to pay if research staff are not working?

Research assistants/associates paid by hourly wages will be paid from the PI’s cost centre for the hours worked. CPM and YUSA staff will be paid from the cost centres they are currently paid from and PIs are encouraged to find work for all staff that can be done remotely, if possible. All benefits including sick time remain unaffected.

For more information about research HR, please contact Anna Gordon gordonan@yorku.ca.

Q: Can I continue with new research hires, i.e. research assistants/post-docs? What do we do about signatures on ETFs & contracts?

Current hires are still being processed and new hires posted.

E-Signatures are being accepted. For more information about research HR please contact Anna Gordon gordonan@yorku.ca.

Q: In the event research employees are working from home, how can I submit my bi-weekly timesheets, as they require original signatures?

Timesheets may be submitted with an e-signature.

For more information about research HR, please contact Anna Gordon gordonan@yorku.ca.

Q: Can I hire people not at York to do the work?

York researchers have always been able to hire non-York personnel to do research. We continue to have the ability to sub-grant funds to another institution.

Should you wish to transfer funds to another institution under a Tri-Council grant, please contact Joan Broussard (joanb@yorku.ca).

Should you wish to transfer funds under any other grant funding, please contact Janet Newton (newtonj@yorku.ca).

Q: My faculty administrator has recently submitted a Citizenship and Immigration application for my future Post-Doc or IVRT, how will this affect their hire?

  • What if they are originating from one of the countries currently at risk? Should we be cancelling their application?
  • Should we be continuing with international hires? Or should this be on hold?
  • I want to extend my international post-doc, are there any issues or implications with Citizenship and Immigration in terms of potential delays?
  • If their country of origin is currently at risk? Or a country that is currently not at risk?
  • My post-doc’s contract has ended, can they return to their country, if it’s a country at risk?

On March 13, the Minister of Transportation announced that inbound flights from international destinations will soon only be allowed to land at a limited number of airports. Things may evolve very quickly in the next few days or weeks. Whether or not these visitors can travel to Canada will also depend on travel restrictions of their own countries and flight availability.

Post doc and IVRT should notify York International and their hosting faculty member. There are no issues/penalties for cancellation and they won’t be charged an administrative fee until they actually arrive. The decision of whether or not to come to York is theirs.

If applicants are currently outside Canada and need to apply for visas, expect delays. The Visa Applications Centres (VACs) in China are only accepting biometrics appointments and VACs in Korea are experiencing delays. If they are from a country where there is no VAC and they must travel to a neighboring country to give biometrics or submit their passport, York International suggests they figure out all logistics before launching an application. IRCC operations in any countries/regions may change any time without notice.

If those applicants are already in Canada and cannot return home due to travel restrictions, they can apply to extend their status from within Canada. IRCC has announced special measures to help applicants from China, Iran and South Korea who are affected by COVID-19: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-special-measures.html

For more information contact York International:

Q: With the non-Canadian citizen/pr travel ban coming in, does this mean VISAs won’t be approved, so we shouldn’t do the CIC work, or does this mean that the CIC work can be processed by the Faculty research offices, so that its ready when travel resumes?

Visa applications that are in process will not be refused based on COVID-19, however, do expect service disruptions and delays at many Canadian visa posts abroad. Several Canadian embassies and consulates have closed or are closing as we speak and more closures may follow suit in the coming days. Applicants can check to see if the visa office responsible for their country or region remains open before submitting an application: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/contact-ircc/offices/international-visa-offices.html New applications submitted online during this time will probably be processed once services resume.

Q: For new IVRTs with VISAs already approved, but caught out by travel bans, is there an opportunity to start their employment while they’re abroad, if the PI attests and condones that they can work remotely? (Normally they have to arrive to allow the contract to start).

With the Canadian border closure taking effect on March 18 at noon, temporary residents will not be able to enter Canada even if they have been issued visas.  They do need work authorization to perform duties if they are outside of Canada.

Related Q: Can they receive work authorization if we’ve gone through CIC on work permits, but they don’t come in the country? Or do we need to support it as a foreign contractor?

They can start their employment while they’re abroad, with or without a work permit.

Q: When travel resumes, do research staff contracts start when they arrive or after the 14-day isolation period?

Our goal is to continue paying employees. If you have work for employees to complete while in self isolation, please encourage this and pay them for it from your cost centres. Be creative with assignments where possible.

Research Funding Questions

Q: What is the Tri-agency position on program deadlines as of March 16, 2020?

CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC are closely monitoring the evolution and impact of COVID-19, and are taking action to support grants, scholarships and awards recipients, as well applicants, peer reviewers and employees. They are also contributing to the efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and putting in place appropriate social distancing measures and other modifications to our business operations.

Please see the attached Tri-agency message on COVID-19.

Q: How can I get news from the Tri-Councils?

Please refer to the following sites for the latest information from the Tri-Councils:

https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/news_room-salle_de_presse/latest_news-nouvelles_recentes/2020/covid-19-update-1-eng.aspx

https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Media-Media/NewsRelease-CommuniqueDePresse_eng.asp?ID=1139

Q: Is there an extension for the Partnership Engagement Grants (PEG)?

The March 16, 2020 message from SSHRC's Vice-president Research reads: "We would like to inform you that the deadline for the Partnership Engagement Grants (PEG) has been extended to Thursday, March 19th (8 p.m. EST). Fortunately, those who will not be able to submit their grant application will be able to do so in the context of the next PEG competition, the deadline for which is June 15, 2020."

Q: How can I meet the goals of the grant if research staff are unable to work? Will I get an extension on my grant funds? What do I do if I fall behind on my research timelines because of a disruption? If my productivity is reduced will I have the option of securing more funds?

For contract funded research, we will rely on the force majeure clause of the contract to seek amended terms. Please contact Janet Newton (newtonj@yorku.ca) to discuss amending a research agreement.

If your research is funded through a donation, please work with your Faculty’s Senior Development Officer (Advancement SDO) to seek an amendment to gift agreement terms.

If your research is funded by a granting agency, ORS will work with you to seek end date extensions for your project and work within their COVID-19 protocols regarding additional funds, if possible.

Many grant programs funded by NSERC and SSHRC provide an automatic one-year extension (without additional funds). If you are currently in your one extension period, please consult the end date extension memo on YU Link. If your research is funded through a different granting agency or under a research agreement, please contact Janet Newton (newtonj@yorku.ca)

Q: There’s a grant submission deadline coming up.

  • What kind of support can I get from the RO (Faculty)? ORS? SIRI? Innovation York?
  • Will ORS allow electronic signatures during a COVID-19 disruption?
  • ORS requires hard copies of applications to be submitted to them – what will be the protocol for submitting applications?

See guidelines on Submission of Research Applications and ORS Checklists.

  • For SSHRC PEGs and any other grant that are due Monday March 16, those printed materials need to be submitted to ORS and applicants need to submit on-line by 12noon on Monday, 16 March 2020. ORS will review and forward the applications to SSHRC in the afternoon. If someone is working off campus, they need to make the same arrangements as if they were off campus on any regular deadline.
  • ORS and Innovation York have developed business continuity plans to keep all pre-award and innovation supports functional if the office is physically closed. All ORS and Innovation York business will be conducted virtually, and we will post directions about how to complete, sign and submit an ORS checklist along with an electronic copy of the application. Check this FAQ regularly for information. The same deadlines will apply for submission of ORS Checklist and complete copy application:
  • Ten working days for a full review of applications to any funder;
  • Two working days for a budget review of non Tri-Council applications;
  • By 12noon on deadline date for Tri-Council applications; and
  • Please see Signature Policy Memo on YU Link for details on ORS deadlines.
  • For knowledge mobilization or commercialization support for your grant applications, please contact Michael Johnny (mjohnny@yorku.ca) or Laura McLachlan (lauramcl@yorku.ca) respectively.

For more information on research grants, please contact Joan Broussard, joanb@yorku.ca.

For more information on Strategic and Institutional Research Initiatives, please contact Mark Roseman roseman@yorku.ca.

For more information on industry matches or Mitacs grants, please contact Laura McLachlan (lauramcl@yorku.ca).

Q: Can I still obtain support from Innovation York for industry partnerships, knowledge mobilization, commercialization and entrepreneurship services?

Innovation York remains operational. Please contact the following individuals for support or with any questions you may have:

Research Ethics Questions

Research Ethics Submissions - Research Involving Human Participants

Note: ALL other research ethics applications, please contact Alison Collins-Mrakas at acollins@yorku.ca for information.

Q: Is the Office of Research Ethics and Research Ethics Board (HPRC) operational?

The Office of Research Ethics and the Research Ethics Board (HPRC) are fully operational, although working remotely. Ethics reviews are conducted virtually. Should a meeting be required to discuss an urgent matter, meetings will be held remotely via Zoom. All ORE email addresses continue to be monitored with the same frequency. However, while ORE staff will do its best to respond to all inquiries as quickly as possible, responses to inquiries and applications may be delayed somewhat.

Contacts:

Both email addresses will continue to be frequently monitored throughout each work day.

Q: What has changed?

  • Phones: As the office is now remote, phones will no longer be answered. To reach ORE staff, please use the contact emails noted above.
  • Submit any paper-based items via email instead of campus mail or in-person drop-off. Send paper-based submissions to: ore@yorku.ca.
  • Highest priority will be given to research that is time sensitive (such as COVID-19).
  • Presentations – as all in-class instruction has been moved online, scheduled presentations will be postponed until further notice.
  • Meeting requests: Please contact Alison Collins-Mrakas, Sr. Policy Advisor, ORE at: acollins@yorku.ca. Note if preferred or required, meetings may be conducted via zoom or telephone.

Q: How do I submit my ethics protocol?

For Faculty:

Faculty members are encouraged to use the ORE online ethics review system for the submission of new protocols. The online system will continue to be monitored, and protocols processed as per usual – albeit with a moderately slower response time.

The online system may be accessed here: https://research.info.yorku.ca/ore/human-participants/.

Effective immediately, any paper-based application (for new protocols, renewals to and/or amendments to existing protocols) must be sent as electronic documents to ore@yorku.ca OR acollins@yorku.ca. Approvals will be issued and returned via email.

For Graduate Students (Thesis- and dissertation-related research ONLY):

Students are advised to follow the direction of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) regarding the submission of research proposals and ethics protocol documents (where applicable). Information can be found at: https://gradstudies.yorku.ca/covid-19-update-grads/.

Student protocols will be processed as per usual process once received in ORE.

Do NOT email your TD1, TD2 or TD4 directly to ORE. It must be processed by FGS first. Please contact gsthesis@yorku.ca for any questions.

For All Other Student Research (course related, MRPs, etc.):

Please contact your program office for submission procedures regarding research related to MRPs, Individualized research (such as undergraduate theses).

STUDENTS ARE REMINDED THAT UNSUPERVISED RESEARCH MAY NOT BE CONDUCTED and WILL NOT BE REVIEWED BY ANY ETHICS COMMITTEE.

Q: What changes to a current or ongoing study require an amendment application and approval?

Amendment applications are NOT REQUIRED if you are halting, rescheduling or delaying research activities UNLESS those actions are at the request of the funding agency, study sponsor or other body. Researchers are required to document when studies have been halted.

Amendment applications are REQUIRED and HPRC approval must be obtained before you change study procedures (including consenting processes) for new or existing participants.

Example: You want to administer new and follow-up study questionnaires over the phone instead of in-person, or you want to change the location of in-person interviews instead of having participants come into the lab at the University.

There are some limited exceptions to the requirement for an Amendment: For all approved applications that do not specify whether a procedure is remote versus in-person, you do not need to submit an amendment.

The amendment application form is available on the ORE website at: https://research.info.yorku.ca/ore/human-participants/.

Please contact Alison Collins-Mrakas at acollins@yorku.ca if you have any questions.

Q: Temporary halt to participant recruitment… what do I do?

This does not need to be reported to the Office of Research Ethics unless the study hold is initiated at the request of an external funding agency if applicable or relevant.

Graduate Students are asked to inform FGS of any delay or hiatus in research. Please visit: https://gradstudies.yorku.ca/covid-19-update-grads/ethics/ for more information.

Q: When participants cannot come to study locations, what should I do?

As of March 20, 2020, due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the possible risk of exposure for in-person contact associated with research activities, study participants may not  be able to come to campus labs, offices, clinics or other study locations. Study teams should plan for this possibility and submit an amendment application for any alternatives. These might include (but are not limited to):

  • Phone calls;
  • Use of digital technology to interact with participants for the purposes of recording data (e.g., cell phone photos, zoom, etc); and
  • Alternate study locations.

Q: Can I still interact with my research subjects?

As of 11:59 pm March 27, 2020, the University campus is closed to non-essential/required/permitted personnel. Research with human participants can continue, however, due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the possible risk of exposure for in-person contact associated with research activities, researchers should have a compelling reason why in-person interactions with participants need to occur or continue. One example might be studies where there are literally no options other than in-person interactions.

For those studies where there are no alternatives to in-person interactions, researchers are advised that they must institute social distancing of at least two metres (or six feet) apart during all interactions.

Q: What studies involving human participants can continue without requiring an amendment?

Approved research studies that limit participant interactions to online or remote communication, telephone contact, remote monitoring, remote data collection or secondary data analysis may continue.

Wherever possible, rather than suspending research, investigators are encouraged to modify their procedures to replace in-person study visits with remote options for questionnaires, survey, screening and consent procedures.

Post-Award Questions

Q: Will I get reimbursements for my expenses during the disruption or will it have to wait?

  • Concur – electronic, should continue.
  • Travel - Tri-Council policy on cancellations

Concur will continue to operate as usual. The Travel desk staff are set up to work from home if and when needed. Note that paper claims will take more time to process if staff are working from home; therefore, please register to use Concur.

Contact Paula Perri at perrip@yorku.ca.

Other travel related links:

Q: What if I receive a notice of award? How do I get access to my funding?

Research Accounting will continue to create cost centres upon receipt of notice of awards, ethics approval and a signed accountability document. Business continuity plans have been developed to ensure service delivery without interruption.

Research Accounting contacts:

Q: In the event my research employees are working from home, what are the guidelines/directives around digital security and qualitative research? Can interview transcripts or audio files be shared online/on personal laptops? What software should be used/how should it be shared? Google docs?

UIT recommends that Microsoft OneDrive be used. For a OneDrive tutorial, visit: https://office365.info.yorku.ca/o365-training/.

For more information about security see Privacy & Security: https://office365.info.yorku.ca/privacy-and-security/#squelch-taas-tab-content-0-0, and in particular, the “Approved Information Classifications for Office 365 Services.”

For more information, visit the Information Security Website at York (https://infosec.yorku.ca/) or contact askit@yorku.ca.

For help with research data management needs, visit https://www.library.yorku.ca/web/research/rdm/ or contact the Library RDM team at: yul_rdm@yorku.ca.

Q: How do I submit a cheque requisition?

Answer will be forthcoming from General Finance.

For more information about general finance please contact Paula Perri at perrip@yorku.ca.

Q: Where can I find information from Finance on how departments will continue to function?

In light of recent events surrounding COVID-19 and the modification of University
activities and service delivery, Finance is providing an update (March 20,2020 memo from Aldo DiMarcantonio, AVP Finance & CFO, about Modified Operations Finance) as to how our departments will continue to function, from the financial perspective.

Travel Research Questions

Q: In case I have research events and activities planned that will not occur at York University (e.g., field interviews, seminars and/or workshops) that involve partners/volunteer/paid staff/students, can those go ahead as planned? What if they are local, national or international?

As of Friday March 13, the Government of Canada strongly discourages all international travel (including travel to and from the US).

Local or in Canada research events may be held at the researchers’ discretion, but researchers are encouraged to promote social distancing and follow Toronto Public Health preventative measures.

As per the President’s memo of March 13, 2020, “we will be cancelling or postponing all non-essential events that are not required as part of an academic program.”

Q: Are there particular protocols that you want us to follow for staff who are returning from international travel, including the United States?

Please consult the Government of Canada travel advisory:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html