March 20, 2020
Dear Lakehead Research Community,
I’m sure many faculty and graduate students are wondering how Lakehead University’s latest updates on the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and institutional response to COVID-19 may affect research on campus and elsewhere.
Lakehead University continues to respond to the rapidly-changing COVID-19 pandemic, guided by federal, provincial, and municipal advisories. I want to assure you that our priority is the health of our University community while providing you with the support to continue research activities with, to the extent possible, minimal interruptions. We are committed to delivering the administrative and technical support necessary for research operations, however we will be continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and provide updates to the research community regarding potential impacts on our research operations.
Researchers need to understand that they may need to delay, scale back, or stop research activities in the interest of public health.
Lakehead University is implementing measures to help disrupt the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to protect individuals at risk and to reduce the pressures on our health care system. Lakehead researchers should continue to review the information from Lakehead University’s COVID-19 webpage which will continue to be updated as necessary.
The Office of Research Services has also provided responses to Researcher’s Frequently Asked Questions that can be accessed from Lakehead University’s COVID-19 webpage.
I would like to take this opportunity to address potential questions related to research activities. While Lakehead University is working to protect the integrity of our research activities, our first priority is your health and well-being. With that in mind, we provide the following recommendations for guidance.
I’ll start with noting that the Canadian Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) has recently released a message to provide updates to the research community in Canada, as they themselves implement appropriate social distancing measures and other modifications to their business operations.
I encourage research supervisors to be flexible with members of their research group, particularly students, as well as those who may be at higher risk or have special concerns. Please accommodate graduate student researchers, or research associates / support staff to work remotely from home whenever possible. All students have been informed that they are able to continue their courses and examinations remotely and many have already left to travel home.
RESEARCH ON CAMPUS
While the university remains open to support required on-site operations such as the Instrumentation Laboratory, there may be future government directives that prevent people from coming to campus as we have seen in other provinces. If you haven’t already done so, please consider what steps would be required to suspend your research activities should that necessity arise. Please take advantage of online communication tools as much as possible so that your research students and any others doing research with you can work remotely; consider tools such as Zoom to run group meetings so people need not be in the same room. Support is available for such tools from the Technology Services Centre.
Masters and PhD defences that have been scheduled during the months of March and April will need to be set up to make use of remote communication tools. If you have not already done so, please be in touch with Trish Sokoloski in the Faculty of Graduate Studies office if you have an upcoming student defence.
If a researcher needs to be on campus to sustain their research, it is the researcher’s responsibility to follow all provincial and federal guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Good practice includes the principle of social distancing, frequent hand washing, reducing the number of people in labs or offices at the same time, etc. The Public Health Agency of Canada has guidelines around prevention strategies about mitigating COVID-19 spread which are helpful to review in planning: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html
RESEARCH TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Please adhere to the University’s March 18 statement regarding all work-related domestic and international travel: https://www.lakeheadu.ca/about/coronavirus
For all other questions, please refer to the Research FAQs. If you have additional questions, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anne Klymenko, Director, Research Services (email@example.com).
Thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.
Andrew. P. Dean
Vice-President, Research and Innovation
cc. Anne Klymenko, Director, Research Services