COVID-19 Response: Guidance for Researchers

This page contains information about research operations during the University of Calgary's COVID-19 response.

Visit the Emergency Management website for general campus information.

This page is for: faculty, postdocs, students, and staff engaged in research

Last updated: July 31, 2020, 11:06 a.m.

  • We ask our campus community to continue working from home
  • Buildings are secured and require key card access
  • Only those researchers with Expanded or Critical Research Designation may operate on campus
  • Researchers returning to campus must follow the UCalgary Re-Entry Protocols, and complete a Workspace Safety Plan with their Department. 

Please review the Re-entry section below for information about exemptions for research, scholarly, or creative activities. 

Opt-in to receive the weekly COVID-19 Research digest, which summarizes research related information each week.

Communications archive

Email communications sent by the Office of the Vice-President (Research) will be listed here.

Re-entry for the research community


Please review these steps carefully before returning to campus: 


Secure a research Exemption

A research exemption is required to work on campus, in the field or in the community.

Read the criteria and apply for a Critical or Expanded Research Designation.

Apply for an exemption

Understand the re-entry protocols

Familiarize yourself with the latest version of the UCalgary Re-Entry Protocols.

Read the re-entry protocols

Submit your Workspace Safety Plan

Faculty members who receive a research exemption must submit a Workspace Safety Plan. Be sure to review the instructions prior to submitting this plan.

CAS login required. 

Create Workspace Safety Plan

Read the latest campus updates

Visit the main UCalgary COVID-19 Response page for the latest information for students, faculty and staff.

Read campus updates

Guidance on specific topics:

Summer research students

Read more

Graduate students

Read more

Clinical research settings

Read more

Human Ethics

Read more

Lab and community research settings

Read more

Animal care

Read more

Grants and contracts FAQ

Read more

Updates from funders

Read more

Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund

Read more

Research Guidance FAQ

You require:  

  • A research exemption approved by the VPR office (Critical Research Designation or Expanded Research Designation) 

  • Workspace Safety Plan approved by your Department  

  • Any postdocs, graduate students, or undergraduate students identified in your research exemption application must consent to be on campus (these individuals will be contacted directly by the Postdoc Office, the Faculty of Graduate Studies, or the Office of the Provost, respectively) 

Go to the Research Exemptions page for full details

If we are forced to further restrict activity on campus, Expanded Research Designations may be revoked, while Critical Research will be permitted to continue.

The supervisor (a faculty member) must submit an Expanded Research Designation application.  

All supervisors who receive an approved ERD must complete the Workspace Safety Plan. This plan must include a description of safety precautions specific to up-close training and guidance. 

See specific eligibility requirements for summer undergraduate researchers.  

No. High school students participating in summer research programs will not be permitted in labs / on campus for Summer 2020. 

No, you also require a research exemption. The research exemption provides the necessary information about the research activities to confirm whether this is the appropriate time to open your research workspace. Your Department Head will not approve your Workspace Safety Plan if you do not have a Critical or Expanded Research Designation.  

Contact to set up a time to pick up cleaning supplies.

University protocols do not require PPE to be used on campus. PPE that would normally be required for labs and other work tasks must be used in those situations. Note that the university has not made masks mandatory, nor should your Workspace Safety Plan make masks mandatory. Please follow the provincial guidance, and read the statement from the Cumming School of Medicine on the topic.

We would not endorse asking staff or students to take steps beyond what is identified in provincial or university guidance. Visit the Alberta website and the University of Calgary website for the latest guidance.  

Please visit the Clinical Research Settings page for full details. Ensure you follow AHS site-specific guidance. Also consider whether there is any cross-over with university spaces/resources. Contact EHS at or Marcello Tonelli, AVPR at to discuss if you are unsure.  

Guidance for all researchers

Please stay up to date with rules and guidance from the Government of Alberta and AHS.

If you must conduct research, creative or scholarly activities on campus, in the field, or in the community, review the research exemption section and apply for the appropriate exemption.

If you are working on Main or Foothills Campus, you can contact Staff Wellness at to schedule a time to pick up disinfectant wipes.

  • Be aware of current guidelines from AHS on how to protect others and yourself.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of core facilities and other fee-for-service resources becoming unavailable. 
  • Be prepared for delays in supply chain, including shortage of Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Be prepared for delays in services provided by vendors.
  • If you returned from travel abroad after March 12, be aware that a 14-day self-isolation period is required upon your return. Check Alberta’s current isolation requirements.
  • Even in cases where you have a research exemption, please continue to work from home whenever possible and limit your presence in research facilities and in the workspaces on campus.  
  • Maintain a 2-meter separation between active work areas.
  • Any in-person group activities including thesis defenses, mentorship committee meetings, seminars, journal clubs, laboratory meetings and hiring interviews should be canceled or held as virtual meetings by telephone, Skype, Zoom or similar. UCalgary now has an institutional license for Zoom.
  • Although there are currently no plans to close the university, this could change in the future with very little or no notice.  Further, individual COVID-19 cases could lead to closure of University buildings with no notice at all. Therefore, please take measures to ensure that your unit is prepared for the possibility of a closure at the end of each day.
  • Visit the ‘Working and Learning from Home’ website for information about ensuring you are set up to be productive from home.
  • Think carefully before initiating new experiments: consider the time required to complete them as well as the cost and inconvenience if they were interrupted before completion.
  • Unit leaders should consider communicating with each other about opportunities to mitigate the impact of illness or self-isolation, such as by sharing staff between units.


We know that determination of urgency vs. non-urgency of your potential research activities may not be straightforward. Furthermore, we recognize that you may have concerns relating to funding agency timelines.

The teams in the VPR Office and Research Services are available to assist you in considering the time-sensitivity of your planned research activities. 



Questions or inquiries should be directed to

Please monitor this website for current information

External requests for COVID-19 Supplies

In the interest of efficiency and to avoid duplicating efforts, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) will be coordinating institutional contributions for requests from external agencies for COVID-19 supplies, including reagents and personal protective equipment (PPE).

If you receive or have received a request of any kind for COVID-19 supplies, please contact Eoin O’Grady, Manager, Laboratory Safety, with details of the request and any timelines associated.

Personal Protective Equipment

We are recording "bulk" stocks of PPE. If you have a stock of PPE items, please contact Eoin O’Grady with a list of the PPE items that you have, and the number of units. 


There is now an urgent need for reagents for use in provincial COVID-19 testing. If you have any of the reagents listed below, contact Eoin O’Grady and Benedikt Hallgrimsson specifying the name of the PI, location and quantities available. 

Reagents, Product ID, Supplier

  • Magmax Lysis/Binding solution concentrate, AM8500, LIFE TECHNOLOGIES
  • Magmax Wash Buffer 1, AM8504, LIFE TECHNOLOGIES

  • 5X Magmax RNA beads, AMB18365, LIFE TECHNOLOGIES

  • ABI Magmax mirvana total RNA isolation kit, a27828, ThermoFisher