Institutional Return to Campus Plan

A comprehensive plan for a safe return on campus

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Ottawa community has adapted its activities – on campus as well as online / at a distance – in order to pursue its education and research mission during these unprecedented times. Our Institutional Return to Campus Plan provides a comprehensive overview of the University’s response to COVID-19, including resources available to the campus community, guidelines and requirements during the reopening phases and recommended best practices to ensure the health and safety of our university community as our operations progressively return to normal.

Following governmental directives

On April 27, 2020, the Government of Ontario issued A Framework for Re-opening Our Province, a three-stage plan for restarting and remobilizing businesses, services, and public spaces. The Government of Ontario’s reopening plan includes a gradual, phased approach. Locally, Ottawa Public Health has led the charge in the fight against COVID-19, and it has provided direction and advice on the sanitary precautions to implement, and restrictions to impose, in Ottawa. Given uOttawa’s proximity to Gatineau, where a significant proportion of our students and employees reside, the Government of Quebec’s COVID-19 response is affecting our remobilization plans.

Reopening Ontario Phases

Roadmap for Ontario Covid reopening


Because public health advice and requirements continue to evolve, our Institutional Return to Campus Plan will be updated regularly to ensure that it remains current. However, please refer to the most recent public health guidance issued by Ottawa Public Health and Public Health Ontario.

Guiding principles

Six principles guide all decisions taken by the University to foster a gradual, safe return to campus and a progressive resumption of normal academic and research activities. These principles prioritize protecting the health and safety of all members of the community, as well as the new working, teaching and learning environment resulting from the pandemic and related health measures. This includes incorporating newly accepted norms of hygiene, physical distancing and facial coverings in all areas of campus to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

These principles are as follows:

  1. The health and safety of uOttawa’s students, faculty and staff is our foremost priority.

  2. Recovery efforts at uOttawa is aligned with public health directives and guidance. This includes:

  • Gathering restrictions
  • Authorized business activities
  • Physical distancing
  • Proper respiratory hygiene
  • Hand hygiene, both washing hands with soap or using hand sanitizer
  1. Recovery is being carried out in a progressive, phased approach. Safety is the first consideration for the timing, rate, and scale of recovery efforts.

  2. Faculty and staff should continue to work remotely until both public health and university directives allow for a safe return to campus. Everyone who comes to campus will follow practices that promote safety, good hygiene and adhere to physical distancing directives.

  • Units must identify essential personnel required on campus and those that can work off-campus.
  • Retrieval of work materials and personal effects is authorized but needs to be closely managed by Units.
  • Unit employees working at off-campus work sites/areas must adhere to applicable site-specific restrictions that are in effect
  1. Academic programs continue to be mostly delivered online. All efforts are being made to support distance learning and ensure students receive the best education under the circumstances.

  2. The first step of uOttawa’s progressive return is the reopening of our research labs. As a research-intensive university, it is vital that we restore our ability to conduct research as a first step in recovery efforts.

Coordinated Approach

Our Institutional Return to Campus Plan begins with an overview of all the services and resources available to ensure the health, safety, and wellness of our university community. This includes the uOttawa COVID-19 Assessment Centre located at our Lees Campus as well as mental health and wellness resources and the much more frequent cleaning and disinfection of all our facilities and premises. Planning principles and specific protocols have been developed and are regularly updated in order to manage possible COVID-19 cases and outbreaks on our campuses.

On-campus research, scholarly, and artistic activities have progressively resumed during the spring and summer months. Comprehensive recovery and reintegration planning by faculties and services has allowed for a limited offering of on-campus in-person courses and other learning activities during the Fall 2020 session while providing online or distance delivery of all our undergraduate and graduate courses. Many services to students (libraries, academic accommodation and support, undergraduate and graduate academic offices, career and CO-OP, teaching and learning, food, sports, student life, services for aboriginal and international students) and employees (health, wellness and safety, training and support, travel, working from home) provided centrally and by the faculties are being offered in a hybrid mode, partly in-person and partly online. Finally, our Institutional Return to Campus Plan reiterates our institutional commitment to support and to work with our many alumni, friends, and collaborators and to implement innovative ways to do so.

To know more about how uOttawa is coordinating its safe return to campus, please consult our Institutional Return to Campus Plan.

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