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Field SRC Activities

This section provides guidelines for principal investigators and supervisors to prepare and manage field SRC activities as part of Toronto Metropolitan University’s broader reopening protocol.

Reminder: Monitor and incorporate the general public health directives imposed on all workplaces by the federal, provincial and local public health agencies.

 Recommended Procedures for Field SRC Activities

  • Under all circumstances, if someone is experiencing symptoms associated with cold/flu or COVID-19, they should not travel for SRC activities (local or otherwise).
  • Update yourself and your team on the local conditions in the field location and stay up to date on any changes that might impact plans.
  • Consider any additional risks that researchers may pose to communities, or that communities may pose to researchers.

University-owned, private or rental vehicles:

  • Practice physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Improve ventilation in the vehicle by opening the windows or setting the air.
  • Consider using alternative modes of transportation, including walking and biking.
  • Encourage hand hygiene by providing hand sanitizer.
  • Wipe down high-touch surfaces (e.g., steering wheel, parking brake, gear shift, arm rests, etc.) before and after use with appropriate disinfectants for the type of surface.
  • Review the Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidelines (opens in new window)  for details on how to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.

Public transit:

  • Check with local transit authorities for the latest information on services and procedures. Follow all requirements including the use of masks or face coverings.
  • Avoid or limit touching frequently touched surfaces such as kiosks, ticket machines, turnstiles, handrails, restroom surfaces, elevator buttons, etc.
  • Use touchless payment and no-touch doors, etc. when possible.
  • Exchange cash or credit cards by placing them in a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand.
  • Practice physical distancing guidelines, including:
    • Travel during non-peak hours.
    • Avoid gathering in groups or in crowded spaces at transit stations / stops.
    • Skip a row of seats between yourself and other riders.
    • Enter and exit buses through rear doors.
    • Look for physical distancing instructions / guides offered by transit authorities (e.g., floor decals or signs indicating where to stand or sit to remain at least 2 metres apart from others).
  • Practice hand hygiene. Upon arrival at your destination (or as soon as possible), wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Rideshares and/or taxis:

  • Avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by passengers or drivers, such as the door frame, handles and windows.
  • Avoid accepting complimentary items provided to passengers.
  • Use touchless payment when available.
  • Practice physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Use masks or face coverings while riding.
  • Improve ventilation in vehicle. Ask the driver to open the windows or set the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.
  • Practice hand hygiene. After leaving the vehicle and/or when you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Physical distancing:

  • Maintain a minimum 2-metre physical distancing (opens in new window)  between co-workers not part of your household at all times, including during travel.
  • Modify work practices and physical workspaces to maintain physical distancing.
  • Stagger shifts to maintain physical distancing if necessary.
  • Where physical distancing cannot be maintained, use masks or face coverings.
  • Be aware of and adhere to all local and public health recommendations.

Personal hygiene practices:

  • Follow health and hygiene practices.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (or wipes) with at least 60% alcohol:
    • Before, during, and after preparing/eating food.
    • After touching commonly used surfaces (e.g., door handles, elevator buttons).
    • After using the toilet.
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
    • After touching garbage.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the trash and practice hand hygiene.
  • Have adequate hygiene supplies with you at all times.
  • Do not wear gloves when touching common surfaces like doorknobs or light switches. Use paper towels or other disposable items when you need to touch these common surfaces or to wash your hands after touching them.

Face coverings/masks:

  • Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing and hand hygiene. They are to be used in combination.
  • Have a face covering with you at all times.
  • Follow Toronto Metropolitan University's Face Mask Policy.
  • Best practices for face masks or coverings recommend wearing them:
    • In buildings.
    • In vehicles at all times, unless alone or with individuals from the same residence.
    • When outdoors if unable to maintain 2-metre physical distancing.
  • Face coverings should:
    • Cover the nose and mouth.
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the face.
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
    • Include multiple layers of fabric.
    • Allow for breathing without restriction.
    • Be frequently laundered and machine dried.
  • When putting on and removing face coverings: (external link, opens in new window) 
    • Do not touch the eyes, nose or mouth.
    • Wash hands with soap and water or apply hand sanitizer before and after removing your mask/face covering.

Shared equipment:

  • Whenever possible, tools and equipment should not be shared. Equipment should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected before and after use.
  • Individual PPE, field equipment and supplies should be marked and assigned to each research team member whenever possible. If equipment must be shared, it should be disinfected before and after it is used.
  • If tools and equipment must be shared, review Cleaning and Disinfecting recommendations (opens in new window)  for details on how to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.
  • Identify high-touch locations and equipment specific to each space. Examples can include:
    • Equipment handles, latches, controls and touchpads.
    • Bin and water incubator lids.
    • Hand tools and other shared tools.
    • Baskets, bins, trays, etc.
    • Exteriors of shared chemical bottles and caps.
    • Pens, whiteboard markers, recording devices, etc.

There are a number of guidelines to be aware of when performing routine and more frequent cleaning:

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects frequently while in use.
  • Visibly soiled objects and surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water or appropriate cleaning materials before they are disinfected.
  • Use disinfectant to clean common areas and high-touch surfaces frequently, and use disposable cleaning materials.
  • Dispose of used cleaning materials and immediately wash hands.
  • Follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines for hard surface disinfectants (external link, opens in new window)  to be used for COVID-19.
  • 10% bleach in water is an approved disinfectant.
  • Although 70% ethanol is not recommended for all surfaces, it may be appropriate for electronics and other delicate surfaces.
  • Never mix cleaning chemicals together, especially with bleach.
  • Remember to properly label cleaning supplies and use and store them accordingly.

Additional cleaning considerations:

  • Locations and equipment with a high frequency of handling and contact represent a higher probability of viral loading in the work area and should be considered as part of more frequent cleaning.
  • Common surfaces and equipment should be wiped down at the beginning of use and before the end of use, or before use by another individual.

For additional information, please see Toronto Metropolitan University's  (google doc) General Cleaning Guidelines for Employees (external link, opens in new window) .

Q. We are working with populations in vulnerable circumstances, but our SRC activity requires in-person contact. Can we initiate/resume our projects/studies?

A. At the present time, in-person SRC activity that includes populations in vulnerable circumstances should continue to be conducted without in-person contact when possible.

Q. Can SRC activity involving specific communities be initiated or resumed?

A. Principal investigators working with distinct communities/groups (e.g., Indigenous peoples, faith-based, etc.) should consult with the community in question.

It is best practice to consult with the communities to determine whether they wish for you to continue with the SRC collaboration at this time and to ensure that you are following their health and safety practices. A letter or email of permission from an appropriately authorized individual within the community is required.

Q. Can I conduct in-person focus groups?

A. If possible, focus groups should be conducted virtually, unless there is an absolute need for them to take place face to face. An in-person focus group would need to follow all public health directives, including the need to:

  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Follow screening procedures.
  • Use appropriate PPE.
  • Maintain the highest standard of cleanliness, including regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces and cleaning exam/procedure/study rooms between each participant.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.