Dear members of the McGill community,
As we’re seeing a gradual loosening of some COVID-19 restrictions across Quebec and Canada, I would like to take a moment to offer some updates about McGill’s campuses. Please remember that only employees who are engaged in approved necessary services (including construction projects), or approved Phase 1 and/or COVID-19-related research activities, are currently allowed on campus. All other employees must continue to work from home until further notice, as we continue to prioritize resumption of different activities on campus as needed.
We are still implementing Phase 1 of the gradual resumption of select on-campus research activities. As mentioned in previous communications, the phase-in is happening under a strictly controlled environment, following public health authority directives, to ensure our community’s health and safety.
As Phase 1 proceeds, building accesses are being monitored, deliveries are being centralized in hubs, cleaning has been intensified, and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is doing rounds to check adherence to safety protocols. The University is conducting ongoing evaluations of protocols enacted in the re-opened buildings; this includes assessments of public health and government directives, adherence to the University’s on-campus safety directives, the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the outcome of the EHS inspections.
Phase 2 will be conditional on the successful implementation of Phase 1. In parallel to Phase 2, the University will consider resuming other select activities on campus, such as clinical training in simulations facilities, clinical skills training labs, limited on-campus administrative activities, and plans for individuals to pick up personal belongings or work material.
Necessary work that cannot be done from home may be considered for on-campus resumption. Such activities will be required to adhere to two-meter physical distancing and other health and safety directives. This typically will require adapting work schedules, workspaces, and work processes. In exceptional cases, where such adaptions are not possible, physical barriers (such as personal protection equipment, or dividers) will be required before work can be resumed on campus.
Resuming on-campus activities will require approval by McGill’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). As the government further eases restrictions, the EOC will begin accepting requests from individual unit leaders who wish to resume campus activities. To prepare for the launch of this process, the EOC recommends that individual unit leaders now begin developing tentative implementation plans, in compliance with the University’s mandatory directives for preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
Researchers and other employees who are granted permission to work on campus are required to read and abide by the University’s directives for facilitating a safe and efficient transition back to on-campus activities. Please note that, given the situation in the Quebec CHSLD network, students or staff who are working part-time in a CHSLD are not allowed to also work part-time in a research lab on campus. Moreover, the University has developed protocols should an employee exhibit symptoms while on campus, be unable to report to work because of symptoms, and/or test positive for COVID-19. It is of paramount importance that all community members involved in on-campus activities comply with safety protocols. To help maintain a safe environment, the University has established a procedure for reporting non-compliance.
Although the novel coronavirus is not known to spread through heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, McGill is taking the additional precaution of maximizing outdoor air intake, up to 100 per cent fresh air, where possible. Labs, particularly wet labs, are already equipped with systems to contain airborne contaminants. All drinking water pipes are flushed before the reopening of a building.
Deans may now grant exemptions for some travel that is deemed necessary for prioritized field-based research. Such travel must be done within the province of Quebec and not require air travel. Exemptions will only be granted to travel that complies with the safety instructions in the University’s Principles and Procedures for Research on campus and the Quebec government’s guidelines for travelling between regions. All other McGill-related travel within Canada, and McGill-related international outbound travel, continues to be prohibited, in accordance with the Government of Canada advisory.
Thank you for your continued collaboration in ensuring the health, well-being, and safety of our community.
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), on behalf of the Emergency Operations Centre
May 22, 2020