On May 12, UBC announced that a phased resumption of on-campus research, scholarship and creative activities is set to occur in the beginning of June following the on-campus research curtailment currently in effect.
The decision comes as an extension of the changing public health requirements in response to COVID-19, as well as the feedback received from over 950 faculty members over the course of eight virtual town hall consultations.
The first phase of resuming on-campus research will enable limited access to facilities following strict physical distancing expectations. This phase will allow for no more than one-third of normal research occupancy on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.
Starting in June, access will be granted to researchers who require on-campus resources and cannot work remotely, or to those with existing curtailment exemptions. According to the university’s planning and process statement, “[i]t is anticipated that graduate students needing to complete thesis projects will also receive priority.”
From June onward, subsequent phases are planned to be put in place. This will look like a gradual increase in on-campus research occupancy, though it will still be much less than what researchers have been used to.
One thing to note is that the unpredictability of COVID-19 led to the initial state of curtailment and these changes are not exempt from the possibility of the outbreak escalating. A linear progression through the phases is not guaranteed and a return to curtailment could happen at any time according to reassessment of public health conditions.
“It is important to stress that health and safety remains our priority,” wrote President Santa Ono and VP Research & Innovation Gail Murphy in a broadcast message to the community.
Much of how phased resumption will play out in the coming months depends on the guiding principles followed by the university. This includes following the orders of the Provincial Health Officer, being equitable in deciding how to ease curtailment restrictions and welcoming discussion about concerns for returning to work.
More information on how these changes will affect on-campus activities such as field work, animal care services and library access is available on the FAQ of the phase one details page.