Coronavirus Impacts - Research Return
Information on Coronavirus Impacts - Minimizing Research
6 July 2020
Dear UC Research Community-
Now that our researchers have been back since June 1st
, I wanted to take a moment to provide everyone a quick update on UC’s plans regarding research and researcher density. As noted in our original planning documents, our initial plans were to allow up to 50% research density through the end of June with that level being maintained until further notice.
Given the current state of COVID-19 in the region, the addition of administrative staff to campus as part of Phase Two of the multiphase
return to campus, and the general success of all of you at maintaining a safe and healthy research environment during Phase One of the return, at this time there will be no changes to research density through the month of July.
Researchers should continue to follow schedules that accommodate up to 50% of the research team, which were submitted earlier.
It is the intention of the senior leadership team to review the situation before the end of July and provide an additional update for research activities in August and beyond.
I recognize that the limited density does have an impact on everyone’s productivity and also is a challenge for many of our students and trainees. Those considerations are key, but we must maintain our vigilance and commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for all of our faculty, staff and students engaged in our research enterprise.
Please remember that the most up-to-date guidance on research return can be found below.
I continue to appreciate your patience and understanding as we manage this ever changing and challenging environment.
Vice President for Research
Research Return - June 1 Update
View the VPR's Research Continuity Discussion (recorded 5/13/2020) here
Although there is much occurring that speaks to the significant challenges facing all of us and our nation, from the pandemic to the horrible news last week involving George Floyd and the resulting protests that are still on-going, I wanted to take this moment to thank all of you who were engaged in Phase 1 of our Return to Campus plan.
Today marks the return of research activities to both on- and off-campus locations. While this return is measured and remains limited to those activities that require access to facilities, equipment and/or resources that are unavailable in a remote work environment, it is a positive and necessary step for our world-class faculty and researchers to fulfill our mission as a Carnegie R1 institution. As of this morning, we have over 1100 faculty, staff and students who have been approved to return.
We did not reach this stage without the hard work and dedication of all involved in our research enterprise. Beyond each of you, there were a number of individuals at the unit-, college-, and administrative-levels who spent a significant amount of time developing processes, communicating information and reviewing/approving the Health, Safety and Scheduling plans. If you are one of those who is returning to research, please take a moment to join me in thanking all of those who were engaged in making this possible for you. I know that many of our college groups along with those in the Office of Research spent this past weekend working to get as many plans approved as possible. And while you are sharing your thanks, do not forget all those in a support function – from LAMS through facilities and janitorial services – who have also stepped forward to get us to this point.
I recognize that these past 2+ months spent conducting research remotely have been difficult and disruptive for all of us, and I want to thank you again for your commitment to your research and UC. Please remember as we move into the summer to be vigilant, keeping the health and safety of all involved in our research and creative activities as your top priority.
Vice President for Research
Principles and Process for Research Return to Campus
The University of Cincinnati may now focus on the principles and processes required to return to on-campus research activities. This guidance has been prepared to assist our research community with accomplishing this task. This guidance is not authorizing a return to research as usual…significant restrictions remain in place to support the health and safety of all involved.
Principles for Research Return
The following principles must be followed in allowing on-campus research:
(5/20/2020 - updated mandatory actions for all on-campus research activities)
- All research activities that can be completed remotely (e.g. data analysis, report generation, lab meetings) must continue to be performed in a remote work environment.
- Any and all on-campus research activities should follow the cognizant Public Health Authority directives.
- Employees who meet the CDC’s definition for those who are at higher risk for severe illness (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html) may request reasonable accommodations by contacting the Human Resources Department.
- Student, staff and faculty safety, health and well-being are the most important considerations when allowing any on-campus research activities. To achieve this principle, the following actions will be mandatory for all allowable activities:
- Before returning to campus for the first time, all employees must successfully complete a brief online information session administered by University Health Services to ensure awareness of CDC and ODH guidelines. The tutorial can be found here.
*NOTE* - Students may have trouble accessing the return to COVID-19 Pandemic: Working Safely at the University of Cincinnati training ( https://bit.ly/COVID19_UCTraining). We realize this is time sensitive, HR is attempting to provide an alternative login for students ASAP, look for a new link from your college and on this website prior to June 1.
- Before coming to campus each day, all employees must complete a self-administered wellness check based on CDC and ODH guidelines. The wellness check can be found here. All employees who have symptoms that may relate to COVID-19 should contact University Health Services immediately at COVIDWatch@uc.edu.
- All employees must wear facial coverings on campus, except while eating or alone in a private space. For more information on facial coverings, including exemptions to this requirement, click here.
- All employees must adhere to social-distancing requirements detailed here.
- All areas must clean and sanitize their workplace settings throughout the day. These efforts will supplement cleaning and sanitizing activities that will occur after hours by our facilities staff. Click here for specific directions.
- All employees must continue to abide by restrictions on travel detailed here.
- All employees who meet the CDC’s definition of individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may continue to work remotely. CDC information on risk factors is available here. Please contact Human Resources to submit a request to work remotely due to being at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- For more information on mental health resources, please click here.
- For more information on maintaining a safe work environment as well as wellness and support resources, please click here.Before returning to campus for the first time, all supervisors and lab leaders must complete a health safety assessment of their workplace setting. Find more information, including deadlines for completion, here.
- To accommodate these safety principles, laboratory directors, faculty mentors and principal investigators must develop a plan to promote safety. Plan templates will be provided by your college to assist in addressing these safety principles. Each plan will require you to:
- Develop a process to record daily personnel activity and entry/exit from research space;
- Establish a laboratory space cleaning/disinfecting schedule;
- Develop a plan to maintain spatial and temporal distancing of personnel (e.g. consider shift scheduling/cohorting to minimize personnel density);
- Coordinate research involving shared spaces to maintain distancing requirements.
- Research locations and dimensions for planning purposes can be found at https://space.uc.edu/.
- Research directors/faculty mentors/PIs should assume that additional Stay at Home orders can be authorized at any time to combat future outbreaks of the virus. Now is not the time to be starting new long-term research projects.
Preparing for Research Return
- Laboratory directors, faculty mentors and principal investigators can begin preparing for the return of on-campus research activities. Suggestions to ensure appropriate and successful on-campus activities include:
- Identify crucial contingencies that must be accomplished first before broader research can be conducted (e.g., restarting/recalibration of equipment, restarting cell cultures, gradual expansion of animal colonies, availability of core facilities). Begin planning research return based on these contingencies.
- Prioritize on-campus research to those most crucial experiments/studies/data gathering that can maximize off-campus data review/evaluation and/or proposal/paper preparation/submission while minimizing research time and need to be on-campus.
- Identify needed supplies, reagents and the like that should be procured and available before on-campus research can resume.
- Discuss with trainees and staff current research status and develop plans for progress under limited on-campus access and that may be impacted by limited availability of core facilities/collaborators/supplies, by social distancing requirements, illness/quarantine within the research location or building, or a new ‘stay at home’ order. Create clear plans of action during the research return that are agreed upon by all parties.
Phased Approach to Research Return
- Research return plans may include allowances to begin preparing on-campus research laboratories or facilities prior to June 1st. Those allowances would be for preparations that are essential for a resumption of research. Examples include, but are not limited to: cell culturing, expanding animal colonies, instrument calibration, etc.
- Documentation must be provided that describes the personnel to be involved, the location, the frequency and duration (e.g., weekly for 2 hours), and the health, safety & wellness plans and processes.
- Research activities during the month of June will be limited as follows:
- Weeks of June 1st and June 8th: Personnel restrictions –generally no more than 25% of the total research team present in a single research location at the same time.
- Weeks of June 15th and June 22nd: Personnel restrictions –generally no more than 50% of the total research team present in a single research location at the same time.
- The limitations above must always adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- Contiguous research spaces are considered as a single research location
- These research personnel restrictions will be re-evaluated in late June/early July. Researchers should assume limitations and plans in place for week of June 22nd will be continued indefinitely. As the campus status changes, researchers will be informed.
College Documentation and Approval Process
The Office of Research has created a template to be used by each college to document the research plans and standard operating procedures for safety, scheduling and access, along with a multi-week plan for research activity prioritization under limited access conditions. Only the Dean or their designee may modify the template to accommodate college-specific needs. Under no circumstances should the information relating to Research Location Health and Safety Plans and Personal Protection Plans be deleted or otherwise not provided for review.
Each Dean or their designee will identify the appropriate approval chain for these research plans. College-wide summaries of approved plans must be provided to the Vice President for Research via email no later than May 28th
for activities planned to begin the week of June 1st. A summary form to be completed by each college will be provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
In addition, each department or unit area that will be having researchers return must identify a point of contact and establish a process whereby mail, package and cleaning supplies delivery can be accommodated. Each Dean or their designee is responsible for communicating this unit-level information to Joe Harrell
in Facility Services.
Any approved requests for on-campus access ahead of the June 1st research return date must be submitted to Heather Geers
for final review and approval by the Vice President for Research.
Additional Information and Resources
Faculty and Principal Investigators (PIs) should always keep the safety and well-being of their trainees and research staff as their top priority.
All documents also available on our researchhow2 page.
Key Office of Research Contact Info
Sponsored Programs Grants - email@example.com
Sponsored Programs Accounting - firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal Care - email@example.com
Human Subjects - firstname.lastname@example.org
Compliance & Safety Concerns - email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
View the Questions & Answers from the Research Town Hall: Research Continuity from 5/13/2020 here.