Notification from ACC Coordinator – September 2021 COVID-19 Updates

*** Important Notice *** September 2021 COVID-19 Updates for U of T Animal Research Community 9/3/2021

Dear U of T animal user community, 

Please see the following important COVID updates below. 

  1. Animal facility physical distancing and PPE requirements

As per University policy, as of September 13th, all members of our community who come onto campus will be required to have proof of vaccination via UCheckPhysical distancing and PPE requirements to participate in activities on campus are evolving and are currently being reviewed. Note that animal facility requirements may exceed the broader campus guidelines for the Fall semester.   

The following physical distancing and PPE requirements will be in effect until further notice (please keep these in mind when planning activities): 

  • Personnel are to work independently whenever possible to do so in a safe and effective manner. 
  • PPE requirements for >2m distancing, and space occupancy limits will remain the same until further notice. 
  • Note change to PPE requirements: if working <2m from others for ANY amount of time, eye protection (face shield/goggles/safety glasses with side protectors) AND a fit-tested respirator will be required (i.e., the <15-min time consideration is no longer in effect). 

o    eye protection AND a fit-tested respirator will now be required 
(i.e., the 15-min time consideration is no longer in effect) 

o    Contact your local EHS to arrange for a fit test as soon as the need for a respirator is identified to help avoid delays in completion of training or performance of procedures that require one. 

o    (From EHS) Eye protection must provide a barrier to splash/spray from both the front and from the sides and if applicable, from the top (e.g., Health care worker). For this reason, goggles and face shield are the primary forms of protection when there is a risk of splashing (e.g., healthcare workers providing care to sick patient). Some but not all forms of safety glasses may provide adequate eye protection. Safety glasses may be considered in specific situations where there is a low risk of splashing and where the use of goggles or face shields may impede the worker’s vision causing safety concerns. Where safety glasses are used, select models where gaps between the face and glasses are minimized. Where applicable, consider sourcing products that have an anti-fog coating. If you have any further questions on appropriate eye protection, please contact EHS.

  1. Animal census & Animal handler training

Given recent developments in COVID-related policies of the University and provincial government that better ensure that those coming on campus are vaccinated and thus impose less risk of transmitting the virus to others, restrictions to animal census and training and use will be lifted as of September 7th. 

Restrictions on training are being lifted, however there may be delays due to the backlog imposed by restrictions and space occupancy limits. Personnel should only schedule hands-on training close to the time that the learned skills will be used following it and are only to perform tasks for which they have received training and have been deemed competent. 

 Please reach out to your local facility manager/director as appropriate, if new projects and/or spaces are required, as facilities must follow University restrictions on maximum occupancy limits. 

As with throughout the pandemic, these conditions may require updating at any time if there are risks identified at the local animal facility, University, or regional/provincial levels that need to be mitigated. Further updates will follow. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please forward them to



David Hanwell (he/him)

University Veterinarian and Director, Animal Ethics and Compliance

Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO)

Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation | (647) 700-8692

General inquiries: 

The University of Toronto is open, but due to COVID-19, staff in the ROCO, Animal Ethics and Compliance Unit are working remotely to support operations as effectively as possible. Note that staff are not available to accept mail or courier deliveries. Please send items digitally or contact me to make alternative arrangements.

U of T COVID-19 Information

Research and Innovation COVID-19 Information