Frequently asked questions

Campus

Residence

I live in residence and think I may have flu-like symptoms. What should I do?

Everyone is asked to self-monitor their health. If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, please contact a public health official.

Ontario residents may contact Telehealth Ontario toll free: 1-866-797-7000 or TTY: 1-866-797-0007.

You have an obligation to contact Housing Services at (613) 462-7221 if you are self-isolating.

How will I be supported if I am self-isolating?

Someone from Housing Service will be in contact with you at regular intervals during your self-isolation. Please do not leave your room; meals will be provided to you. A detailed information sheet will be provided to all students who are self-isolating. You must follow Ottawa Public Health guidelines on self-isolation.

My roommate has to self-isolate; do I have to do the same?

Yes. Based on public health guidelines, Housing Service also requires all roommates in a unit to self-isolate if one person self-isolates. Everyone needs to do their part in order to avoid spreading the virus.

I have a meal plan, but I am not sure what has changed?

If you do not have symptoms, you can still use your meal plan to access the Dining Hall. Precautionary measures have been put in place to prevent contamination and the spread of germs in the Dining Hall.

Please note as of Monday March 23, the Dining Hall has changed its hours of operation and will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.

I don’t have a meal plan and I want to know more about getting one. Where can I find out more?

If you would like to purchase a meal plan for the remainder of the term, email the uOttawa Card Office at uOttawaCard@uOttawa.ca.

What number do I have to call if I need help?

Students living in residence can call 613-562-5885 for general questions.

For emergencies, please contact Protection Services at 613-562-5411.

Will Residences remain open?

Because we want to protect our students, and the most vulnerable members of the Ottawa community from the risk of COVID-19 infection, we are now requiring all students currently living in uOttawa residences to fully vacate their rooms.

This does not apply to international students or those with exceptional circumstances.

This difficult and drastic decision has not been taken lightly, but we deem it an appropriate response to the public health emergency caused by the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It is another critical step in our necessary efforts to employ social distancing to flatten the infection curve and reduce the impact of the virus.

Exceptional Circumstances

We understand that due to exceptional circumstances some students will not be able to move out. If you are unable to move out, please indicate that you wish to stay in residence. It is imperative that you contact (613) 462-7221 if you are self-isolating.

International Students

Health insurance

Do students living in the Outaouais region have UHIP coverage?

The University of Ottawa’s physical proximity with the province of Quebec (Outaouais region) coupled with the significant number of international students electing to reside there highlights the importance of this question. Sun Life has agreed to extend the Ontario provisions of the contract to the Outaouais region as per the request of the University of Ottawa. It is preferable to be treated on the Ontario side; however, the Quebec RAMQ listing will be respected in the Outaouais region.

Will International students who are still in Canada at the end of April 2020 due to travel restrictions/closures still have UHIP coverage?

If you are registered for September 2020 courses, UHIP coverage will remain active until August 31, 2020 when the new cycle will commence in conjunction with the new academic year (September 1st, 2020).

Leaving Canada

Can we leave Canada and return to our home country?

When deciding whether you should stay in Canada or leave, there are multiple factors that may influence your decision.

For instance, the most important factor is your health and safety. We strongly recommend verifying your destination’s safety situation as well as the countries in which you are transiting if it is not a direct flight. Additionally, students need to ensure they are well enough to travel so as not to present a risk to themselves or others. Check the Frequently Asked Questions section on the university’s Coronavirus website to learn more about the symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus and what to do to protect yourself and others around you should you decide to travel.

Furthermore, make sure to check the entry/exit requirements put in place by your home country or countries where you plan to transit to see if you are legally able to enter those countries with the current situation. Canada also announced that it has closed its borders to non-citizens or non-permanent residents of Canada with some exemptions. This Order has effect for the period beginning at noon Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020 and ending at noon Eastern Daylight Time on June 30, 2020. The exemptions to this travel restriction include international students and workers whose permits were approved or issued prior to March 18, 2020. We encourage you to consult Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) webpage for the most updated information and further details.

Academic integrity and continuity remain a priority. Our goal is to ensure that students can complete all courses in which they are currently registered and receive their evaluations and credits without any interruption. All in-person classes and labs in the Winter and Spring/Summer 2020 terms have been moved to distance and online learning formats for the rest of the semester and exams will not be taken in-person.

Another factor to consider, secondary to your health and safety, is if you can continue to study outside of Canada. As an example, you need to make sure that you can access your courses and exams from the country you are traveling to.

If there are any other questions related to this or factors that you would like to discuss with us, feel free to do so. That being said, ultimately, the decision is yours.

I believe I fall under the travel exemptions. Can I travel to Canada now?

If you fall under these exemptions, you may travel to Canada now. When you travel, you need to self-identify to the airline and demonstrate that you have in your possession either a valid study permit or letter of introduction that was issued prior to March 18, 2020. Please note that if you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air, regardless of their nationality.

As a foreign national, you are still required to comply with the other entry requirements imposed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC):

  • If you are from a VISA required country, you must hold a valid Temporary Resident VISA (TRV) to enter Canada. If you hold an expired TRV, you will be required to apply for a new one from your country of nationality or a country where you were legally admitted.
  • If you are from a VISA-exempt country, you must hold a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA) if you plan to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada, officers will assess your health before you leave the airport. They will also question you on your plans to self-isolate. It is mandatory that you isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. You must declare to the border officer: “I/we acknowledge that I/we must self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.” For more information on how to isolate effectively, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s online resource.

We encourage you to consult Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) webpage for the most updated information as the situation continues to evolve.

If we leave Canada, how can the University assist us to return in September if the COVID-19 situation persists?

The situation is rapidly changing, and we cannot guarantee you will be allowed to enter Canada in the near future. The institution is not able to act and override any measures or restrictions imposed by the Government of Canada as the situation evolves. We encourage you to consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) webpage for the most updated information.

If you are a temporary resident of Canada, your study permit, work permit, or visitor record is valid until the expiry date indicated on your immigration document.

As a foreign national, you are still required to comply with the entry requirements imposed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), despite the current situation.

  • If you are from a VISA required country, you must hold a valid Temporary Resident VISA (TRV) to enter Canada. If you hold an expired TRV, you will be required to apply for a new one from your country of nationality or a country where you were legally admitted.
  • If you are from a VISA-exempt country, you must hold a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA) if you plan to enter Canada by air.

If you are unable to return to the University as a result of the travel restrictions, please contact the registrar to arrange for accommodations.

Study permits

If we are stuck in Canada after the end of April due to travel restrictions/border closures, what will happen if our study permit expires?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asks all temporary residents to maintain their legal status in Canada. International students who are not able to return home may extend their stay in Canada by extending their study permit (where possible), or by changing their status to visitor or worker.

According to the special measures imposed by IRCC, international students who were not able to extend their stay before the expiry date of their last permit, may restore their status within 90 days from the expiry date of their legal status. International students who were not able to apply for a restoration of their status before the 90-day timeline, may be able to apply for a temporary resident permit.

If you have questions regarding your immigration status and the impacts, we encourage you to contact an immigration advisor at the International Office by e-mail: uointl@uOttawa.ca. You may also contact IRCC directly using the Web form.

What can international students who require a study permit expect from IRCC?

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented special immigration measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, we encourage international students to monitor their website for the most up to date information.

You may experience delays in the processing of your application as a reflection of disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (CODIV-19).

Whenever possible, international students who are not be able to return home may extend their stay in Canada by extending their study permit.

International students who are not eligible to apply for a study permit within Canada may submit their application online to the office located in their country of nationality or country where they are legally admitted.

According to the special measures imposed by IRCC, international students who were not able to extend their stay before the expiry date of their last permit, may restore their status within 90 days from the expiry date of their legal status. International students who were not able to apply for a restoration of their status before the 90-day timeline, may be able to apply for a temporary resident permit.

Both my study permit and study visa will expire soon. What should I do to extend them?

Study Permit Extension: Information on the study permit extension process is available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. You must submit your application online. You can check the current processing times on the IRCC website. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you apply. Therefore, it is always recommended that you renew your immigration documents in the following order: 1- passport, 2- study permit 3- visa. Due to the high processing times and the disruptions we are currently experiencing, we recommend you apply for an extension up to 6 months before the expiry date of your current permit. If your permit expires in less than 6 months, please apply as soon as possible.

Documents to apply: We recommend international students to include two academic documents in their application: an official enrollment verification letter and an unofficial transcript. You can request official academic documents from InfoService. The document you should request is called Official Enrollment Verification. You must ask them to add a remark that indicates where you are in your program of study (for example, that you are in your second year of a four-year program). You can also request a remark that confirms the date enrolment opens for the upcoming term.

Please note that in person services are currently closed. InfoService accepts document orders online through your uoZone account, as usual. For students who are not able to order their documents online, InfoService is accepting document requests by email at document@uottawa.ca. If you decide to send your request by email, you will be asked to fill out the Request for Documents form and send in a scanned copy.

Proof of financial support: There are several options you can use as proof of financial support. As a reminder, you must demonstrate that you have the minimum funds necessary to support yourself as a student.

TRV Application: Information on applying for a new temporary resident visa (TRV) is available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. You may submit an application online, as soon as you receive your study permit. Please note that a TRV is solely a travel document. You are not required to have a valid TRV unless you have plans to travel outside of Canada.

Processing of the application: Please note that IRCC has confirmed that applications will not be refused for non-compliance, and all applications currently in progress at IRCC offices abroad, at case processing centres and within the Domestic Network will continue to be processed but may experience delays. The current processing times may not reflect the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

What will happen to our legal status following this situation?

If you are a temporary resident of Canada, your study permit, work permit, or visitor record is valid until the expiry date indicated on your immigration document.

As the situation evolves, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that international students, who are not able to fulfil the requirements of “actively pursuing studies on a full-time basis” for work authorization, will not be penalized.

Therefore, IRCC has also confirmed that students who are forced to drop to part-time or take a leave of absence due to COVID-19 will maintain their eligibility to work on or off campus, provided they meet all the other requirements. Note that this exception only applies to students who must become part-time or take a leave of absence because of COVID-19. If you were part-time or on a leave of absence before the start of the pandemic, this exception does not apply, and you do not have work authorization. You should be prepared to explain why you were not able to maintain full-time status in future immigration applications.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada asks all temporary residents to maintain their legal status in Canada. International students who are not be able to return home may extend their stay in Canada by extending their study permit (when possible), or changing their status to visitor or worker.

Implied status: As indicated on IRCC’s website: If a temporary resident applies for renewal of their work or study permit and their permit expires before a decision is made, paragraph 186(u) and section 189 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) (the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions pending a determination of their application for renewal) apply only as long as the person remains in Canada. In order to benefit from implied status, you must apply to extend your status before the expiry date indicated on the permit.

How will this situation impact my post-graduation work permit?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released instructions regarding the impacts on your immigration status due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

IRCC has confirmed that the effects of COVID-19 will be taken under consideration when assessing Post-Graduation Work Permit program eligibility. Although under normal circumstances, in order to be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international students must maintain their full-time student status during each academic session of the program or programs of study they complete and submit as part of their Post-Graduation Work Permit application, if an international student is unable to meet this criteria due to reasons related to COVID-19, they will still be considered eligible for the PGWP, provided they meet all the other program criteria. Therefore, taking a leave of absence or becoming part-time because of COVID-19 will not negatively impact your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit at this time.

In order to apply for your PGWP you will need:

  • an official letter from your Faculty that confirms you’ve completed your study program
  • an official transcript, or a copy of your transcript accessible through your uoZone account

Please note that you are not required to physically attend a convocation ceremony in order to apply for the post-graduation work permit. The documents above will be available for you upon completion of program requirements.

Leave from studies

What is the impact of a leave from studies for an international student?

Please consult your faculty or academic unit about their leave of absence policy. Here are the immigration impacts of a leave from studies:

Leave from studies and study permit: According to the guidelines from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on study permits, you have no action to take regarding your immigration status if your leave from studies is less than 150 days or if you leave Canada. Your study permit remains valid until the expiry date indicated on the permit. If you decide to leave Canada, we encourage you to contact Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Government of Canada for the most up to date information, as the situation is constantly changing due to the evolving situation with COVID-19. If your leave from studies will be more than 150 days and you wish to remain in Canada, you must apply to change your status to visitor or worker.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released instructions regarding the impacts on your immigration status due to the COVID-19 outbreak. IRCC has confirmed the following:

  • The effects of COVID-19 will be taken under consideration by IRCC when assessing Post-Graduation Work Permit program eligibility. Although under normal circumstances, in order to be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international students must maintain their full-time student status during each academic session of the program or programs of study they complete and submit as part of their Post-Graduation Work Permit application, if an international student is unable to meet this criteria due to reasons related to COVID-19, they will still be considered eligible for the PGWP, provided they meet all the other program criteria. Therefore, a leave of absence because of the COVID-19 will not negatively impact your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit at this time.
  • IRCC has also confirmed that students who are forced to drop to part-time or take a leave of absence due to COVID-19 will maintain their eligibility to work on or off campus, provided they meet all the other requirements. Note that this exception only applies to students who must become part-time or take a leave of absence because of COVID-19. If you were part-time or on a leave of absence before the start of the pandemic, this exception does not apply, and you do not have work authorization. You should be prepared to explain why you were not able to maintain full-time in future immigration applications.

IRCC Compliance Reporting: If you undertake an interruption of studies, the University will report your academic status as “no longer enrolled” or “authorized leave” in the next compliance reporting period with IRCC. You may receive an email from IRCC at a future date asking for clarification on your leave from the University. We encourage you to keep copies of all supporting documents to this end.

For the impact on your University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), please contact the International Office: uointl@uOttawa.ca.

Academic information

How will the rest of this term unfold academically?

All in-person classes and labs in the current (Winter 2020) term have been moved to distance and online learning formats for the rest of the semester.

We ask all students to be patient and to understand that we are all working as quickly as possible to provide accurate updates and solutions to this challenging situation.

The School of Nursing and the School of Medicine have suspended all clinical placements for CO-OP students.

Other CO-OP students should follow instructions from their respective employers with regard to remote work or other steps being taken in response to the pandemic. If you have concerns about your employers’ plans (or lack of them) you may contact the CO-OP office by email or via the TEAMS platform.

Will spring-summer courses be offered?

The 2020 Spring and Summer semesters will be offered as planned and all courses will be delivered via distance learning. The 2020 spring-summer course schedule will be available Thursday, April 2. The first day to enroll in courses has been moved to April 6 for graduate students and April 8 for undergraduate students. The Registrar's Office will do its best to accommodate students during this time.

Are final exams going to take place?

Exams will not be taken in-person. More information will follow shortly. Students will be contacted through digital channels with specific arrangements as to how each course will be completed.

Will it be a Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory (S/NS) semester or will students receive grades as usual?

Because each faculty is unique and offers a diversity of programs, the Senate decided to give individual professors and faculties the latitude to implement the most relevant measures for their programs, while maintaining academic standards and integrity, respect for learning objectives and ensuring an approach that is flexible and fair to students. As such, students should receive information specific to each course from their professor.

Does choosing the S/NS option have an impact on my Academic Standing Status?

Academic performance is based only on your cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and according to the CGPA required for your program, unless exception approved by the Senate (see academic regulations I - 11.3). The GPA is calculated only with alphanumeric scores. Grades with no numeric value, such as S / NS, are not part of your MPC or MPT calculation.

If you are on probation and your CGPA is above 3.0, courses with S / NS scores will not count towards the 24 credits of your probation period.

If I’m repeating a course for the second time and opt for the S/NS option, what will happen to my cumulative grade point average (CGPA)? Will the previous mark still be erased?

Neither grade will count in the calculation of your GPA, since the S / NS option has no numerical value.

What’s the maximum number of classes I can chose to identify as S/NS?

This may vary depending on the policy applied in each faculty.

How many alphanumeric grades do you need to be considered for the Dean’s list?

If you are registered full time and have less than 9 credits with alphanumeric scores (even due to the situation of COVID-19), you must have maintained a term grade point average (TGPA) of at least 8.5 (except in law where the average is 7.5).

If you are registered full time and have at least 9 credits with alphanumeric scores (even due to the situation of COVID-19), you must have maintained a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 8.5 (except in law where the average is 7.5).

You can consult the academic regulations 13.4.

Will Convocation be canceled?

In-person spring convocation ceremonies will not take place. The University is currently considering a range of options to provide an alternative convocation experience to graduating students, including the possibility that we may be able to one day reconvene with families and friends for our traditional ceremony when circumstances permit.

All students qualified to graduate in Spring 2020 will indeed officially graduate and will receive their degrees and parchments.

The Office of the Registrar is contacting students who are eligible to graduate with more information.

For more information please contact infoservice@uottawa.ca.

What online resources exist for students now studying from home?

Need help setting up your uoAccess account or downloading the key software you’ll need to study from home? Visit the Student Zone to find out how to reset your password, download important software, or browse their list of frequently asked questions.

Visit the Working remotely page to make sure you have the right hardware and software installed to access your uOttawa accounts.

What is Brightspace and how does it work? I’ve never used it.

Brightspace is uOttawa’s virtual campus. It is a web platform that provides access to course websites and online learning resources through a single portal. 

Information on how to access and use it can be found on the Teaching and Learning Support Service website.

What should I do if I have a technical problem, if I cannot connect to Brightspace?

You can get help if you have a technical problem by calling 1-866-811-3201 or by using the online form.

Can I get my tuition reimbursed?

Since courses continue to be offered, there will be no reimbursement of tuition fees.

Can I get my university fees reimbursed?

As courses continue to be offered, there will be no refunds of tuition or ancillary fees.

Can I still withdraw from a course?

The deadline to withdraw from a course has been extended until April 4, 2020 with no financial reimbursement.

The switch to online learning may result in delays for receiving grades and feedback from your professors. With that in mind, the Office of the Registrar has extended the deadline to withdraw from a course from March 20, to April 4, 2020.

You will not be able to withdraw from a course after that date. If you do not officially withdraw before the deadline and just stop participating online, your grade on your transcript will be EIN (Failure|Incomplete).

What should I do if I cannot participate in learning activities, write an exam or hand in an assignment for reasons related to COVID-19?

The University has produced a self-declaration form for students to request academic accommodations. If you cannot participate in course learning activities, write an exam or hand in an assignment for medical or other reasons due to changes in learning conditions caused by COVID-19, complete and submit the form found on the COVID-19 website within 10 business days of your absence or your assignment deadline. Please complete one form for each day you are requesting academic accommodations. You must also inform your professor as soon as possible if special arrangements must be made.

Admissions

Is it still possible to apply for admission?

For the majority of our undergraduate programs, we are still accepting admission requests. Programs that are still taking requests are accessible via the OUAC website.

Rest assured, our evaluation of admission files is on track and we continue to send answers on a daily basis. We may adjust deadlines if schools experience significant delays with reporting grades.

For international students, we have extended the deadline to submit an application to April 10.

Will the current situation have an impact on deadlines for sending my documents?

For undergraduate Canadian students, nothing has changed, the deadline to submit their documents for evaluation purposes is still July 1st.

For international undergraduate students, the deadline to submit documents for evaluation purposes has been pushed to June 1, 2020.

Once you are admitted, we have pushed the deadline to submit all final documents to confirm your admissions conditions to July 30, 2020, for Canadian and international students.

Consult the website for the 1st cycle program deadlines and the specific requirements for the 2nd and 3rd cycle programs.

The Admissions Office is monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and is aware that some schools have cancelled final examinations. Please communicate with us after in July if your school has cancelled all examinations. We encourage you to submit all final documents as soon as they become available in order for your conditions to be verified.

What is the impact if my school is closed?

In response to the many questions being asked about the impact of school closures due to the COVID-19 crisis, the University of Ottawa wants to reassure you that we are focused on ensuring that the application process continues as smoothly as possible for students. Until we receive direction from the Educational jurisdictions or Ministry of Education from each province, we hope to adhere, as best we can, to try to maintain some semblance of normalcy for students and parents. We will continue to evaluate completed files so send us the most up-to-date documents you have until the ministries of each province announce its plans for the remainder of the school year.

Will there be an impact on my offer of admission and prerequisite requirements if I receive Pass/Fail grades from a university or college for the current semester?

The University of Ottawa will not penalize university or college candidates for receiving Pass/Fail grades when it comes to completing the current semester. Candidates who receive a 'Pass' grade for a prerequisite will be considered as having completed the prerequisite requirements.

The University of Ottawa will grant advance standing for courses that receive a 'Pass' grade.

Can I get an extension to accept my admissions offer?

If the deadline to accept your offer is approaching, please note that we will provide flexibility for students who wish to accept their offer after the deadline. Keep in mind that certain programs in Engineering, Nursing and Civil law fill up quickly so we encourage you to accept sooner rather than later.

All offers expiring on April 1, 2020 will be valid until May 1, 2020. Your new deadline to accept/decline the offer is May 1.

Will admission events take place? Are they postponed or canceled?

Events on and off campus (including international events) are canceled until further notice. Some events will be delivered remotely.

Due to the cancellation of our on-campus tours, we’re offering virtual campus tours.

International Student Admissions

My test center has cancelled all the English tests until further notice, what can I do?

The deadline to submit all documents for undergraduate, international applicants has been pushed to June 1, 2020. The Admissions Office is monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and is aware that multiple test centers are closed. At this time, we are assessing the evolution of the pandemic. After June 1, should the situation remain the same, we will consider evaluating files without the English test. Should you meet all admission requirements, you will be conditionally admitted in the lowest level of our English Intensive Program. As the situation continues to evolve, we will revise the offers should you submit a proficiency test before August 31.

Please note that all students admitted in the English Intensive program are tested by the Official Languages and Bilinguism Institute of the University of Ottawa. If your level of proficiency does not require you to be in the lowest level, your course requirement will be updated accordingly.

I am an international student and will not be able to submit the required documents for evaluation purpose by April 30, what do I do?

We have pushed the deadline for international students for undergraduate programs to submit their documents to June 1, 2020.

I will not be able to obtain my study permit, what can I do?

The Admissions Office is monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and is aware that some of our candidates may have difficulties to obtain their study permit in time for the fall semester. Please communicate with us before September if you are unable to obtain your study permit. We will consider deferring your offer for the next available intake. You will be required to submit proof that you submitted your request for a study permit on time. The acknowledgment of receipt from Immigration Canada will be mandatory to be considered for a deferral.

Some IRCC offices send you an official letter acknowledging receipt of your application for a study permit; others simply give you a receipt of the payment of the application fees. Make sure that you keep all pertinent documents and submit them to us as soon as possible.

Will the interviews in Morocco still take place?

The admission interviews will take place virtually. Invitations will be sent out during the week of March 30.

Travel

An official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

I am affected by travel restrictions and cannot return to Canada. What should I do?

If you are unable to return to the University as a result of the travel restrictions, contact the registrar to arrange for accommodations.

I am planning to travel in the coming days. What should I do?

All University-related travel by uOttawa staff and students is prohibited until further notice. Faculty travel is strongly discouraged.

Registration to the new uOttawa International Travel Registry is now mandatory for students and non-academic staff. If you are currently abroad, you must register. Registration is highly recommended for faculty members.

The University recognizes that restricting travel may have an impact on students, faculty and staff. Students should consult with their supervisor or those responsible for their program to assess potential alternatives. The University will make every effort to prevent or mitigate any potential impact on academic activities.

Staff and faculty may refer to the Government of Canada’s travel advisory website.

General information about COVID-19

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Other novel coronaviruses have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV).

In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan.

What is the risk?

At this time, the public health risk associated with COVID-19 is low for the general population in Canada but this could change rapidly.

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

The University is monitoring the situation and keeps assessing impacts on our University community. We follow guidance from local, provincial and federal public health agencies.

In light of urgent recommendations by public health officials that ‘social distancing’ is the most effective means of protecting students, staff and faculty members from infection, the University announced a series of measures, including in-person classes and labs, which will be replaced by online learning. Exams will not be taken in person either.

The University remains open. All residences, food services, libraries and other facilities and services remain accessible and open until further notice, however at reduced hours.

What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses. They include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Many of these symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza. Should you experience these symptoms AND you or someone you have been in close contact with has recently travelled abroad to an affected region, avoid contact with others and contact your health care professional or nearest hospital. Call your health care provider in advance to notify them you will be visiting the office.

What can I do to protect myself?

As usual, continue to practise good hand-washing techniques and hygiene practices. This includes washing thoroughly with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your elbow and staying at home or in your residence room if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

What is social distancing?

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. With patience and cooperation, we can all do our part.

This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

  • avoiding non-essential gatherings
  • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  • avoiding crowded places such as concerts, arenas, conferences and festivals
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
  • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others
If I experience flu-like symptoms, what should I do?

Everyone is asked to self-monitor their health. If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, please contact a public health official. If you do not have symptoms, there is no need for you to isolate yourself unless you have been directed to do so by a public health official.

Ontario residents may contact Telehealth Ontario toll free: 1-866-797-7000 or TTY: 1-866-797-0007.

Quebec residents may call Info Santé 811 or toll free: 1-877-644-4545 or TTY 1-800-361-9596.

For staff, report your absence promptly to your supervisor as per normal practice.

Should I wear a mask?

As the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low at this time, there is no need to wear a mask for your general, day-to-day activities.

People in health care settings should follow the requirements of their facilities with respect to appropriate personal protective equipment if they are working with suspected or confirmed cases.


Employees and Supervisors

Work Location

Classes are suspended, and students will move to online learning. Is the campus closed and if not, is it safe for employees to come on campus?

The university is still open and operating. However, employees are expected to work remotely unless their physical presence is required to maintain operational safety and/or the continuity of operations.

Supervisors must contact their employees to confirm whether their physical presence is required.

What measures can be implemented to ensure social distancing of employees who are physically at work?

Managers should create work plans that allow for social distancing. This can include:

  • introducing flexible or staggered hours allowing employees work at non-peak hours.
  • limiting staff meetings and get-togethers.
  • leveraging the use of technology for meetings, such as Microsoft Teams and teleconferencing.

Working remotely

I will be working remotely. What do I need to know?

Now is the time to make sure you have all the hardware, software and online apps you need to work remotely, in an efficient and secure way.

Here are a few ergonomic and safety tips on teleworking:

Teleworking Environment

  • The computer furniture, shelves, filing cabinets and bookcases are properly installed, and the filing cabinets are loaded properly so they won’t tip (e.g., anchored to the wall, where necessary
  • My workstation is adjusted to my needs. My desk, chair, monitor and keyboard are at the correct height and are properly adjusted (e.g., my head and wrists are in a neutral position).
  • The lighting is appropriate and suits my work (e.g., there is no reflection or glare on the monitor). Overhead task lighting is used.
  • The ventilation, humidity, temperature and noise levels can be adjusted, allowing me to work comfortably.
  • I have made sure that there is no risk of tripping (e.g., frayed or folded carpets or cluttered entranceways, hallways or passageways), and banisters are properly secured.

Safety of electrical equipment

  • Power bars are in good condition and do not present a tripping hazard.
  • Electrical outlets are not overloaded and do not present a fire hazard.
  • Electrical outlet covers are in good condition.
  • There is sufficient ventilation for electrical equipment.

All information about working outside of the office, including security guidelines, as well as step-by-step guides to setting up your workstation and connecting with colleagues, can be found on the Working remotely page.

For information on resetting your password, connecting to wireless networks, DocuShare and other IT employee services, please visit the Employee Services page.

I am a professor moving my course online. What resources are available to help me?

To help you effectively move your course from face-to-face to online, here are some important resources for you.

First, visit the Working remotely page to make sure you have the proper security measures in place, the right hardware and software installed to access your uOttawa accounts and connect with colleagues.

Visit the Professors Zone to get information about password resets, storage solutions for your research, scanning exams and more.

Finally, visit the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS)’s Teaching Continuity page to help you plan and execute your online course. Discover all the tips, tools and resources you will need to make the transition online as smooth as possible.

IT and Staffing Needs

Do employees need a university-issued laptop to work remotely?

No. Employees can work on a non-university-issued computer. However, they will need to take steps to ensure their personal computer is secure. Managers should ensure that employees have the equipment they need to support working remotely.

The University is working to identify laptops that may be used by employees who are teleworking and do not have access to a laptop. Services and faculties in need of additional laptops may contact Information Technology for support. IT will work to prioritize employees in need of VPN licenses and equipment.

What support is available to temporarily fill positions if employees are not available?

Please speak with a Human Resources Business Partner or Human Resources Manager for more information.

Medical Documentation, Reporting and Resources

Are managers expected to report and track employee absences related to COVID-19?

Managers and employees are responsible for recording staff absences as usual.

Please notify the Health & Wellness office about employees who are in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

Will an employee who must self-isolate be paid?

Yes. Employees must notify their manager to set up their work arrangement as well as Health & Wellness to report an employee in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

If an employee has had direct or indirect contact with a person diagnosed with or under investigation for COVID-19, what should they do?

Employees should immediately contact:

Ontario residents may contact Ottawa Public Health
or Telehealth Ontario toll free:
1-866-797- 7000 or TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Quebec residents may call Coronavirus Special line: 1-877-644-4545

Please notify Health & Wellness of about employees who are in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

Benefits

Are employees who become infected with COVID-19 entitled to benefits under the workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIB)?

Employees may be entitled to benefits and services under WSIB but only if they are infected in the course of their employment. Contact Health & Wellness by email at hrhealth@uottawa.ca for guidance.

Work Refusal

Can an employee refuse to come to work because they feel at risk?

Yes, an employee or faculty member can exercise the right to stop work if they believe they will encounter COVID-19 in the workplace.

Please speak with a Human Resources Business Partner or Human Resources Manager for more information.

Support for Employees

Is support available for employees who are feeling overwhelmed or scared?

People react differently in different circumstances. The uncertainty and risks associated with COVID-19 may be disturbing for some individuals.

If employees report feeling emotionally overwhelmed, they may access confidential support through the University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program at: 1-800-387-4765 TTY: 1-877-338-0275 or at workhealthlife.com. EFAP is now available for all employees and their families until April 30.

Business Continuity Planning

What is Business Continuity Planning?

The situation is fluid and the university will update its workplace policies to address new needs.

Employee Data – please remind employees of the importance of updating their personal and emergency contact information. Employees may forward updates to Human Resources at hrinfo@uottawa.ca.

Emergency Contact List – it is important that you are able to contact your employees in case of an emergency.

  • It is important that you have a protocol for contacting your team during off hours. You may use call tree, group text, group email, conferencing on Teams.
  • Develop a list that includes employee contact information and home address.

Research

How does this COVID-19 impact my research activities and research laboratories?

We recognize that research activities will be impacted by the measures implemented by the various levels of government and local authorities.

Therefore, we recommend that investigators:

  • Limit in-person social interactions as much as possible, including regular internal team/lab meetings and gatherings, and move those meetings online.
  • Consider how their lab’s activities might be prioritized and scaled down in response to staff availability.
  • Reconsider starting any large-scale projects; at this time, the Animal Care and Veterinary Services (ACVS) will not be able to accept large-scale animal orders or undertake new work that requires ACVS support.
Can I continue to allow research personnel – students, fellows, research associates and technicians – to work on active research projects in my laboratory?

Yes, as long as laboratory staff and research personnel are vigilant in adhering to preventative measures such as social distancing, good laboratory hygiene practices, and cleaning/sanitizing protocols.

Work associated with academic (e.g. for credit) laboratory activities is also subject to the transition to distance and online learning formats.

Are students currently employed in my laboratory (via paid internships, research assistantships or employment contracts) still able to work?

Yes. As employees, they are expected to continue to perform their usual tasks and roles, as per the terms of their arrangement or contract.

Do I need to adopt more stringent cleanliness and sanitation standards in my laboratory during this time?

Yes. All research laboratories should exercise heightened vigilance in ensuring that good laboratory practices for cleaning and sanitizing are followed.

Does the OVPR have a business continuity plan to ensure the operational readiness of its research facilities?

We have been proactively working with the Emergency Operations Centre (OVPR is a key member of the EOC), central administration, OVPR staff, Faculties, Facilities and Procurement to address key business continuity elements. These elements include:

  • The Animal Care and Veterinary Services team, under the leadership of Dr. Holly Orlando, is working diligently with the OVPR, key Faculties and researchers to ensure continued operation and support for our animal facilities (animal husbandry, life systems, feed, supplies).
  • Scientific instrumentation and equipment that requires care, maintenance and regular handling that may be disrupted by lack of personnel, support services or unreliable supplier response:
    1. Cryogenic and other gas/liquid supplies – liquid nitrogen, liquid helium, liquid/solid carbon dioxide, liquid/gaseous oxygen, gaseous argon…
    2. reagent and consumable supplies – to maintain safety, preservation and integrity of science collections, specimens and experiments
    3. other research mission-critical supplies
    4. on-site/in-person monitoring and observation that are research mission-critical
    5. research mission-critical specific/scheduled maintenance
  • Research labs that are in the midst of longer duration experiments that require regular monitoring, handling and observation that may be disrupted by lack of personnel, support services or unreliable supplier response.
  • Researchers in remote field camps or research sites who may find their plans disrupted by unpredictable supplier response.

The OVPR has carefully identified the key uOttawa support staff functions that are critical to ensuring business continuity, including facility management, animal care, shipping and receiving functions, specialized waste/bio waste management, monitoring and security, cleaning and maintenance. Business continuity plans for each of these functions are being reviewed by the Emergency Operations Centre.

Are you working with suppliers to ensure the timely provision of critical supplies and consumables?

Yes. The OVPR is working closely with our Procurement Services to monitor supplier provision of research “mission-critical” supplies and consumables. To date, our key suppliers have indicated no anticipated negative impacts on their supply chains and inventories, except for personal protective equipment (PPE – gloves, masks, etc.); therefore, we encourage reduced use of PPE where possible.

What happens if the university undergoes a partial or complete shutdown?

While we do not anticipate a partial or complete shutdown, the Emergency Operations Centre is preparing for all possible scenarios.

For research, this includes special consideration for research “mission-critical” elements: 1) animal facilities, 2) cryogenic and other gas/liquid supplies to ensure continued operation, safety and integrity of scientific equipment and instruments, 3) reagents and other supplies to maintain the safety, preservation and integrity of research collections, specimens and experiments. We are working closely with our key suppliers to ensure predictable and timely provision of critical research supplies and consumables.

It would be prudent for all researchers to be formulating preparedness plans for prioritizing research activities and a scaling down of activities should those situations arise. For example, each lab should update their emergency contact list, have a ready-to-implement plan to quickly ramp down research projects, consider delaying the start of longer-duration research projects, and consider elements of work that can be conducted remotely.

Each Faculty is actively working on their emergency preparedness plan, and we would encourage contacting your Faculty’s research office or Vice-Dean, Research if you have specific questions.

What level of support can I expect for managing my grants, from application submission through to awards processing and providing access to my research funds?

At present, plans are in place to ensure ongoing operations for research management. A separate communication will be sent to researchers shortly through the uOttawa researcher list serve regarding the level of services to be provided and any changes to our normal processes.

The OVPR is also working closely with the Federal funding agencies to address questions related to delays, interruptions, submission deadlines, reporting requirements, eligibility matters, project end dates and grant extensions. We expect to receive additional information the week of March 16, which we will communicate to you through the researcher list serve. If you have specific grants management needs or questions, please address them to your normal faculty contact and/or your RMS faculty grants officer who will be able to assist you. We request that you do not contact the Tri-Agency directly.

Visiting Researchers Program, Office of International Research / Programme des chercheurs invités, Bureau de la recherche internationale

For projects impacted, award end dates will be extended and accounts will remain open for active awards under the Visiting Researchers Program managed by the Office of International Research. Any incoming visits planned to take place before June 30, 2020 should be rescheduled by the uOttawa professor and their international colleague. For any questions, please contact Carmen Bauer.

While we will not have answers to every question, the Office of the Vice-President, Research (OVPR) will continue to be guided by the principles of flexibility and responsiveness in our approach to address all situations regarding delays and interruptions in research activities and plans, including potentially significant delays resulting from lost field seasons. The OVPR will continue to provide the maximum level of support for the management of the grant proposal processes and awards, commensurate with the availability of staff.

Research Prizes and Awards Competitions (deadlines)

The OVPR will regularly inform researchers regarding changes in dates that may impact major competitions. Le VRR fera preuve de flexibilité par rapport aux dates limites internes pour les compétitions en cours qui requièrent une sélection interne ou un appui institutionnel.

What do these measures mean for Visiting Student Researchers?

Regarding current and upcoming Visiting Student Researchers (VSR):

  1. Our Centre for Research Opportunities has communicated with all current VSRs to ensure that they are supported in this time.
  2. For upcoming VSRs, our Centre has contacted them to recommend postponing or cancelling their research visit. For the ones who decide to postpone, our Centre will support them with this process. For the ones who decide to cancel, our Centre will refund the payment of the processing fee.
  3. For the VSRs that decide to continue with their research stay, our Centre will be working with them to ensure that they all self-isolate upon arrival. Our Centre will have ongoing communication with them throughout this time.

NOTE: If you know of any students that are not registered through our Centre, please tell them to contact our Centre at vsr@uottawa.ca so that we can register them to our program and provide them with the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) in order to access health services.

Students abroad doing research through programs offered by the Centre for Research Opportunities

  1. Our Centre for Research Opportunities has communicated with our students abroad and we are strongly urging them to come home early, following the recommendation from the Government.
  2. For students that are able to return, our Centre will support them with all the logistics shall they need.
  3. For students that do not wish to return or for whom it is not safe to return, our Centre will be in continuous communication with them during this time.

NOTE: The OVPR strongly recommends keeping all receipts and invoices related to expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19.

Should I delay my research project?

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the uOttawa Research Ethics Boards (REBs) advise investigators to consider if their research protocols could be modified or delayed, to limit personal contacts, laboratory visits or trips into clinics and hospitals. Revised participant consents or consent addendums may be required (e.g., to update privacy considerations with use of different communication channels). 

While Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) 2 typically requires review and approval of modifications prior to implementation, an exception can be made where the change is necessary to eliminate an immediate risk to participant(s) (Article 6.15).  Such changes may be implemented but must be reported to the REB at the earliest opportunity (within 5 business days as a guide). 

What happens next?

The Office of the Vice-President, Research (OVPR) is in constant communication with the Faculties through the Vice-Deans of Research and the Deans. Should you have any question or concern that is not addressed, please contact your Vice-Dean, Research who will consult with the OVPR as necessary. Updates to this Q&A will be posted as required.

For emergencies, the key contact for the Office of the Vice-President, Research will be Philippe-Thierry Douamba (Tel: (office) 613-562-5800 X2252 or (cell) 613-410-6749).

The OPVR is looking at various scenarios to address delays and interruptions in research activities. We will keep you informed as they become available.

International Postdoctoral Fellows

How does COVID-19 impact International Postdoctoral Fellows employees?

The Employment and Immigration Sector of Human Resources (HR) is working with the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Post-Graduate Studies (OVPGPS), Faculties, and Research Supervisors to provide all international Postdoctoral Fellow employees with appropriate information regarding their registration and employment at the University of Ottawa in this challenging time.

Regarding upcoming International Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) employees:

For registered international PDFs currently living outside of Canada, the Employment and Immigration Sector of HR is contacting them and their Research Supervisor to advise them that the start date of their employment is deferred until such time as the Government of Canada confirms that it has lifted the travel restrictions for Temporary Foreign Workers. We ask that they continue with their work permit application using the employment offer they have already received from uOttawa, and following the instructions on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. Please note that the deferred start date will also depend on the travel restrictions imposed by the country of origin.

Regarding current International Postdoctoral Fellow employees:

For international PDF employees currently at uOttawa, HR is monitoring the end date of their current work permit. For PDFs with permits expiring before July 1, 2020, HR will review each case individually and contact the PDF and Research Supervisor to determine the next steps.

Regarding the registration of new International Postdoctoral Fellow employees:

For new registrations of international PDF employees living outside of Canada, the offer of employment letter will have a start date of July 1, 2020. This date is, however, subject to change depending on the evolving circumstances. This letter of offer is to be used to complete the work permit application following the instructions on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

For new registrations of international PDF employees living inside Canada, HR and the OVPGPS will review each case individually and contact the PDF and Research Supervisor to determine the next steps.

Who should I contact?

For information related to registrations, contact the OVPGPS: postdoc@uottawa.ca

For information related to immigration, contact the Employment and Immigration Sector, HR: hrimmigration@uottawa.ca

Information on the work permit application delays related to COVID-19 can be found on the IRCC website.

How does COVID-19 impact affiliated International Postdoctoral Fellows?

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Post-Graduate Studies (OVPGPS) at uOttawa is working with the affiliated institutions, Faculties and Research Supervisors to ensure that all affiliated international Postdoctoral Fellows with appropriate information regarding their registration and employment at the University of Ottawa in this challenging time.

Who should I contact?

For information related to registrations, contact the OVPGPS: postdoc@uottawa.ca

For information related to immigration, contact your institution.

Information on the work permit application delays related to COVID-19 can be found on the IRCC website.

Research Involving Humans

Is the REB accepting new submissions?

Yes, the REB is accepting new submissions, but for on-campus research, only new submissions that are approved by the VP, Research will be approved by the REB (see https://research.uottawa.ca/ethics/guidelines).

Can previously approved research continue?

Off-campus research can continue if there is no direct contact with participants (e.g., online survey, Skype or phone interviews).

If the currently approved project involves direct contact, and you want to make changes to your project, please refer to the uOttawa Guidance – Research involving humans and COVID-19 as well as the information below for additional considerations, including information for submitting modifications.

Note: If your project was approved prior to the implementation of eReviews, please email forms to ethics@uOttawa.ca.

Can I conduct on-campus research with humans?

The Office of the Vice President, Research (OVPR) has requested that all non-essential critical research or non-time sensitive research that is conducted on campus begin scaling down activities appropriately by Friday, March 27 at 5:00 PM.

Critical research includes COVID-19 research, time-sensitive critical projects or laboratory activities that if disrupted, would result in serious loss of research data, material or equipment.

If you are conducting on-campus research and want to continue your work, you must seek approval from the Chair of the Department and the Vice-Dean, Research or Dean of your Faculty by completing a derogation form (available on the OVPR Website). Requests will be forwarded through the Dean’s Office to the Office of the Vice-President, Research at: innovation@uottawa.ca. Please send requests no later than Tuesday, March 24 at 5:00 PM. The Vice-President, Research will then determine whether these requests are approved.

Should I be sending in my requests for renewal of the ethics certificate and project closure?

Yes. These requests will still be reviewed. A reminder that a valid ethics certificate must be in place in order for research activities involving humans to occur.

Note: If your project was approved prior to the implementation of eReviews, please email forms to ethics@uOttawa.ca.

I have a new project involving COVID-19, what do I need to know?
  • COVID-19 studies are being prioritized by the REB
  • We highly recommend you contact us at ethics@uOttawa.ca so we can ensure the file is dealt with as efficiently as possible
  • You can submit these at any time – there is no deadline to send in the submission
  • If the project is minimal risk, it will be sent immediately to evaluators
  • If the project is above minimal risk, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a protocol officer via ethics@uOttawa.ca
  • Feedback will be provided as soon as possible following the ethics review

Please note uOttawa-affiliated hospitals are focusing on clinical care. If your project involves a hospital site, please check their website for information on the status of current research projects.

Funded Research

If you want to pursue non-participant research activities for a funded project that does not yet have ethics approval, please complete the Conditional Release of Research Funds form and submit it to info-sgr-rms@uottawa.ca.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

As with the rest of the University community, ethics staff are working remotely. Please contact them by email as phone messages may not be accessed regularly.

Contact information: https://research.uottawa.ca/ethics/

For more information on REB review, please see TCPS 2: Research Ethics Review during Publicly Declared Emergencies

Ethics of research with animals

What are the plans in place to ensure the continued operation of our animal facilities?

A separate communication from our Animal Care and Veterinary Services team will be sent to researchers and investigators. The decreased availability of animal care staff will require some adjustments in the near-term, and a plan to ensure business continuity is being implemented, including redeployment of staff to ensure basic animal husbandry and care, life systems support, and maintenance of current active projects.

Is the Animal Care Committee still reviewing and approving animal use protocols?

Yes, the Animal Care Committee continues its work, including receiving amendments to and renewals of existing animal use protocols, as well as receiving new protocols.

For projects with animals that won’t be able to be done immediately (see the March 19, 2020 memo from the Vice-President, Research and the March 20, 2020 update from the Animal Care & Veterinary Service), the Animal Care Committee will work with the protocol author towards an approval in principle of the work, and then towards final approval when conditions allow the animal work to proceed.

For critical or time sensitive research work involving animals, including work related to COVID-19, can the Animal Care Committee review the work between regular meetings?

Yes, for work that has received approval from the Vice-President, Research, the Animal Care Committee can work with the protocol author to review the protocol or amendment between regular meetings. The Animal Care Committee uses the same standards it would normally apply during regular review processes and provides an expedited review and approval process for critical or time sensitive animal-based research.

Can field research with animals continue?

Yes, if it is approved by the Animal Care Committee and all public health directives and guidelines are respected.

Who can help me clarify what is needed and apply to the Animal Care Committee?

Please contact Marie Bédard, Director of Animal Ethics, mbedar7@uottawa.ca, 613-853-2910, who will help you clarify what is needed and with her team will help you prepare a new animal use protocol or amend an existing protocol as appropriate, working with the Animal Care & Veterinary Service. Marie and colleagues will then assist you and the Animal Care Committee in the review process to facilitate review and approval of the work.

Back to top