A Staged Approach for Restarting UO Research Activity

Currently active recovery phases/stages:

Note: This webpage will be updated regularly to address new guidance.  Changes will be date stamped to highlight new information or policies. 

Updated September 14, 2020

Overarching Goal: To ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff while increasing research activity in a phased approach as public health guidance and safety conditions permit. The purpose of this document is to lay out a framework for phased re-engagement of on-campus research activities. Further planning for later UO re-opening stages is still to come. Recovery will be a long-term transition with a restart process that is scaled gradually and aligned with public health conditions.  Our framework is informed by the following principles and observations: 

Core Principles: 

  • We must support and protect the safety, physical, and emotional health of the research workforce.

    • Practical and safety considerations will dictate which activities are allowed in any given UO stage, space, or site.
    • Plans must be designed to protect research personnel from transmission of COVID-19 from research personnel, other UO employees and human subjects involved in research programs.
    • Maximizing opportunities and engagement via remote work is critical and is expected to remain critical at least through 2020.
  • We must support and protect the wellbeing of human subjects research participants
    • Practical and safety considerations will dictate which activities are allowed in any given UO stage and space or site. 
    • Plans must be designed to minimize risks to human subjects including minimizing exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 while maximizing the benefits to human subjects
    • Plans for protecting at-risk populations, including those deemed higher risk for the impacts of COVID-19, must be strongly justified.
  • Planning and execution of fair, transparent, and accountable processes for access should engage the research community to identify needs and to find solutions that support our research mission.
    • Research groups and PIs will need to prioritize their on-campus activities, focusing especially on those that enable further remote work.
    • We must protect the careers of early stage faculty and researchers about to enter the job market.
    • We must also protect significant investments among our research community, including prioritizing ongoing longitudinal studies, cohorts, and associated data and prioritize efforts where clinical/direct public health services are benefiting the public. 
  • We will engage with leadership and health authorities regarding the best practices and will continue to comply with executive orders and health authority guidance from national, state, local, and university authorities.
    • Plans to re-engage research activities must anticipate changes in guidance and have provisions to adapt to new guidance, including the possibility that we may have to retreat to more conservative access to campus.
    • Plans will also need to describe procedures to ensure compliance with external orders/guidance and provide a mechanism for monitoring compliance internally.

Process for Reengagement in On-Campus Research Activities 

We understand that the disruptions to different types of on-campus research vary significantly across research areas. All plans are required to enable strict adherence to governmental physical distancing orders.

PIs should review the phases/stages of recovery below and follow guidelines for the phase/stage that applies to their intended activities.  Faculty conducting UO phase 0 critical essential research activities do not need to submit a recovery plan but are required to log visits to campus and follow best practices for physical distancing and cleaning (as per guidance below).  PIs seeking to conduct other research activities beyond UO phase 0 must develop and submit a recovery plan for their research group that complies with the principles and rules below. These plans will be reviewed through the Research Recovery IMT and EHS, in coordination with faculty subject area experts, who will determine whether plans are suitable or whether revision is needed.

All research activities must comply with OVPRI enhanced cleaning and distancing guidance. All human subjects activities must follow Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI COVID-19 Recovery Stages. All research involving travel must seek approval from Travel IMT.

Phases/Stages and Permitted Research Activities 

Movement between phases/stages is tied to public health directives and the current state of the health care response to COVID-19. Details of distancing requirements, appropriate work attire, and PPE usage will adapt to public health directives as they evolve. Before allowing greater researcher access to on-campus activities, plans and enforcement of physical distancing directives are necessary. We anticipate that there will be limitations on the number of people on campus per research group, limitations on the number of people in shared spaces, etc. in each phase.

UO PHASE 0: LIMITED ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE ACTIVITIES (Initiated March 23, 2020) 

Lab-based activities:

Essential maintenance/research activities include:

  • Activities required to maintain lab safety, gas supply and equipment that cannot be safely powered off for extended periods of time
  • Care for animals, plants, and other living organisms 
  • Research related to COVID-19

Prior to each visit to campus to perform these activities, researchers must complete the On-Campus Research Form

Field-based activities:

  • UO travel is banned, and travel to field sites is suspended. Exceptions for essential activities such as remote equipment maintenance or COVID-19 related sample collection require approval from the IMT travel group.

Human subjects research:

  • Human subjects research that can be done remotely can continue
  • Research studies of COVID-19
  • Groups performing human subject research may come to campus to collect mail, incoming samples, etc. as part of their work from home process.

Prior to each visit to campus to perform these activities, researchers must complete the On-Campus Research Form.

*As of June 17, we are in UO Stage 1 which permits limited face-to-face HSR (see guidance below)*

UO PHASE 0.5:  ESSENTIAL LIMITED RESEARCH ACTIVITIES (Initiated May 13)

  • UO phase 0 activities are permitted

Lab-based activities:

  • Prioritize experiments that:

    • Utilize research animals that would otherwise need to be euthanized
    • Create work to enable to be done at home to limit time on campus
    • Can be done with minimal occupancy of research spaces, not to exceed 2 people per research group per day
    • Use research core facilities to conduct activities, especially when these activities create additional remote work
    • Require significant prep/lead time to prepare for subsequent UO phase activations
    • Protect research investments that would be lost without campus activity

Field-based activities:

  • Prioritize experiments that include seasonal data collection and local fieldwork that does not require travel
  • No non-essential travel. Travel, including local travel, continues to require approval from the IMT travel group.

Human subjects research:

  • Same as UO phase 0

RULES FOR UO PHASE 0 and 0.5: Updated 07/25/2020

Applies in all cases: 

  • Any UO phase 0.5 activities must be able to be shut down quickly if a return to UO phase 0 is required
  • Encourage symptom checklist monitoring for all researchers coming to campus or working in the field. Researchers should not come to campus or interact with other employees if sick.
  • Limit time on campus/in field to only critical activities
    • Do not conduct work on campus that could be done at home
    • Planning and prep work must be done remotely when feasible
    • Ensure physical distancing at all times and in all spaces according to most recent guidance (currently at least 6ft. per person)
  • All people engaging in on campus or fieldwork research activities are required to wear face coverings following UO policy.
  • Each PI seeking to conduct on-campus lab-based research or fieldwork will be required to submit a research recovery plan and receive approval before initiating proposed UO phase 0.5 tasks
    • Note: Following approval of a UO phase 0.5 recovery plan, you are no longer required to log planned visits to campus using the OVPRI on-campus research form.
  • NEW: Weekly confirmation of Commitment to Research Safety and Public Health form by all individuals named on PI recovery plans (e-mailed directly to all personnel named on PI recovery plans)

Specifics for on campus and lab-based activities: 

  • Please be aware that campus-support services are much more limited than normal, including on-campus staffing of incident response specialists.  Please implement additional non-routine lab-based precautions whenever conducting work with physical or health hazards.
  • Increased physical distancing:
    • Research groups are permitted to have up to 2 persons working in an on-campus space per day. It is preferable for work to be performed during normal work hours. If members of your team need to conduct work outside of regular hours, please include how you will ensure lab and personal safety during off-hours work.
    • Shift working that exceeds 2 people per day is not permitted.
      • No in-person research group meetings and no use of on-campus space for activities that can be performed at home
    • Implement coordinated workflow that includes logs of all entries & usage of shared research spaces
  •  
  • Increased cleanliness:
  • Spot checks of on-campus compliance will occur. These checks will focus on compliance assistance and will be staffed by departments, institutes, and UO EHS. Governmental authorities are also engaging Oregon businesses with compliance enforcement.

Additional specifics for field-based activities: 

  • All field-based activities that involve travel must be approved through the IMT travel group 

    • Note: For fieldwork involving travel, please submit your recovery plan at least 1 week before the date of travel
  • Break rooms and offices remain closed   
  • Thorough hand washing must occur upon entry and exit of work spaces 
  • Disinfection of all handled equipment or tools before and after use by each researcher 

The names of Principal Investigators with approved Phase 0.5 Recovery Plans can be viewed here. You will need to log-in to view this page. 

*To avoid confusion with county stages, going forward we will refer to ‘stages’ for our approach to re-opening*

UO STAGE 1: (Initiated June 16)

  • UO phase 0 and 0.5 activities are permitted 

    • Faculty with approved UO phase 0.5 Research Recovery Plans may submit a Transition to UO stage 1 Addendum. 
    • Faculty without an approved UO Phase 0.5 plan should submit a UO Stage 1 Research Recovery Plan and receive approval before initiating proposed UO stage 1.0 tasks
      • Note: Following approval of a UO stage 1.0 recovery plan, you are no longer required to log planned visits to campus using the OVPRI on-campus research form.
  • Continue to prioritize experiments that enable data collection to support further remote work/data analysis 

Lab-based activities:  

  • Same prioritization as UO phase 0.5 with increased access to on-campus research through shift-work and expansion to 50% of approved personnel to conduct work on campus or in the field at a given time.

Field-based activities:  

  • Expanded field research on case by case basis

    • Dependent on local, domestic, and international conditions/restrictions at field sites
    • Dependent on travel restrictions, ability to travel safely, and physical distance at field sites

Human subjects research: 

  • UO phase 0 activities are permitted
  • Face-to-face HSR as outlined below

RULES FOR UO STAGE 1: Updated 07/25/2020

All rules from previous phases apply, with the following modifications: 

Applies in all cases: 

  • Any UO stage 1 activities must be able to quickly transition to an earlier UO stage if required
  • Each PI seeking to conduct on-campus research, fieldwork, or face-to-face human subjects research newly allowed under Stage 1 will be required to submit a new research recovery plan if they do not have an approved UO phase 0.5 plan, or an addendum to an approved UO phase 0.5 plan. These plans must be approved before initiating proposed UO stage 1.0 tasks.
  • NEW: Weekly confirmation of Commitment to Research Safety and Public Health form by all individuals named on PI recovery plans (e-mailed directly to all personnel named on PI recovery plans)

Additional specifics for on campus and lab-based activities: 

  • Shift work is permitted. Untrained personnel may only work during normal work hours.  Activities involving higher risk (i.e., chemicals, physical hazards) should occur during normal work hours.
  • Faculty PI labs may have up to 50% of their approved personnel conduct work on campus or in the field at a given time. For groups with 5 or fewer people, the number of approved personnel permitted at one time will remain the same as in UO phase 0.5.
  • To ensure physical distancing and to limit the total person density on campus, research spaces must provide at least 200 ft2 per person for simultaneous occupancy (i.e. for 2 people to share one space, it must be greater than 400 ft2 and be of a layout to support appropriate physical distancing).

Additional specifics for face-to-face HSR activities:

  • Risk to human subjects and research staff has been minimized in a manner consistent with IRB, EHS, and Research IMT guidelines.
  • Face coverings and disposable gloves must be worn by all research personnel and face coverings must be worn by all research participants while conducting face-to-face HSR. Eye protection and lab coats are recommended (please see here for details about the UO lab coat program).
  • Face-to-face HSR is permitted for individual human subject* interaction, interventional activities, and procedures
  • All face-to-face engagement occurs on the UO Eugene campus
  • Procedures allow personnel and subjects to maintain at least 6ft of physical distancing throughout the entire research visit (i.e., no physical contact for any reason).
  • Activities or procedures can be completed in a brief visit, no longer than 2hrs.
  • Activities can be conducted with no more than two research personnel.
  • Research subjects may only include those individuals who are (1) not at higher risk of severe illness per CDC guidance and (2) are symptom-free as determined HSR guidelines.  See HSR guidelines for circumstances when an investigator may request an exception to the exclusion of those at higher risk of severe illness.
  • The number of face-to-face research subjects per PI over the course of a day may not exceed 25% the expected capacity based on your typical workflow or 2, whichever is greater.
  • All participants must be provided with notice regarding contact tracing requirements and limits of confidentiality associated with their participation using the OVPRI contact tracing disclosure form.

* individual human subject is defined as face-to-face human subjects research between one or more human subjects/family members from the same household (human subject household) with research personnel.

UO STAGE 1A (Initiated July 27)

  • UO phase/stage 0-1 activities are permitted 

    • Faculty with approved UO stage 1 Research Recovery Plans may submit a Transition to UO stage 1A Addendum.   Please only fill out this addendum if your work involves face-to-face HSR that are enabled by Stage 1A. If your work does not involve HSR and you have an approved Stage 1 plan, then you are already approved for Stage 1A activities and do not need to submit a plan.
    • Faculty without an approved UO stage 1 plan should submit a UO stage 1A Research Recovery Plan and receive approval before initiating proposed UO stage 1A tasks
  • Continue to prioritize experiments that enable data collection to support further remote work/data analysis 

Lab-based activities:

  • Expanded training for current and new users

Field-based activities:

  • Expanded field research on case-by-case basis

    • Dependent on local, domestic, and international conditions/restrictions at field sites
    • Dependent on travel restrictions, ability to travel safely, and physical distance at field sites

Human subjects research (HSR) activities:

  • Expanded Face-to-face HSR activities that include some minimal contact as outlined below

RULES FOR UO STAGE 1A

All rules from previous phases apply, with the following modifications:

Applies in all cases:

  • Any UO stage 1A activities must be able to be shut down quickly if return an earlier UO phase/stage is required
  • Each PI seeking to conduct newly allowed on-campus research or fieldwork will be required to submit a new research recovery plan if they do not have an approved UO stage 1 plan, or an addendum to an approved plan for the current stage. These plans must be approved before initiating proposed UO stage 1A tasks.
  • Weekly submission of Commitment to Research Safety and Public Health form by all individuals named on PI recovery plans (e-mailed directly to all personnel named on PI recovery plans)

Additional specifics for on campus and lab-based activities:

  • Training among users already in your approved recovery plan where distance cannot be maintained provided ALL of these conditions are met:

    • PPE that creates a physical barrier (e.g. gloves, face shields or plexiglass barriers, in addition to UO-required face coverings)
    • Duration less than 15 minutes
    • No more than 1 such occurrence per hour per room (current conservative measure that will likely be updated at a later date)
  • Training with new users provided ALL of these conditions are met:
    • Research recovery plan is updated to include new users
    • New users:
      • Are current UO undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdocs
      • Are incoming graduate students or postdocs
      • Note: Incoming undergraduates may be trained as new users after the academic year officially begins

Additional specifics for face to face HSR activities:

  • All UO stage 1 activity is permitted. 
  • Activities done indoors where distance cannot be maintained provided ALL of these conditions are met:
    • PPE that creates a physical barrier (e.g. gloves, face shields or plexiglass barriers, in addition to UO-required face coverings)
    • Duration is less than 15 minutes
    • No more than 1 such occurrence per hour per room (current conservative measure that will likely be updated at a later date)
    • County, or equivalent, in which the work is performed in must be in at least in Phase 1
  • Activities that can be done outdoors on UO campuses where distance cannot be maintained provided ALL of these conditions are met:
    • PPE that creates a physical barrier (e.g. gloves, face shields or plexiglass barriers, in addition to UO-required face coverings)
    • Duration is less than 2 hours
    • County, or equivalent, is at least in Phase 1
  • Family visits off-campus that can be done outdoors (e.g. backyard, park) provided ALL of these conditions are met:
    • PPE that creates a physical barrier (e.g. gloves, face shields or plexiglass barriers, in addition to UO-required face coverings)
    • Participants required to wear face coverings
    • Duration is less than 2 hours
    • County, or equivalent, is at least in Phase 1
    • Provisions in plan for adjustments due to inclement weather

It has been demonstrated that talking is one of the easiest ways to spread the virus, so please minimize talking when physical distancing of at least 6 ft cannot be maintained (e.g. describe while at a distance and then demonstrate in closer proximity without talking).

UO STAGE 1B (Initiated September 14)

  • UO phase/stage 0-1A activities are permitted 

    • Faculty without an approved UO stage 1 or 1A plan should submit a UO stage 1B Research Recovery Plan and receive approval before initiating proposed UO stage 1B tasks
    • Faculty with approved UO stage 1 or 1A Research Recovery Plans should submit a Transition to UO stage 1B Addendum only if they are adding new protocols or activities now permitted by Stage 1B (i.e. close contact activities >15 minutes, new activities involving human subjects)
      • NOTE: If you are only modifying protocols related to square feet requirements (reduced from 200ft2 per person to 175 ft2 per person) or increasing the duration of previously approved activities outdoors, you do NOT need to submit an addendum for approval.
  • Continue to prioritize experiments that enable data collection to support further remote work/data analysis 

Lab-based activities:

  • Marginal increase in person density in research spaces
  • Testing the ability to conduct research protocols requiring work in close proximity for > 15 minutes (e.g. animal surgery, fish cryo) in OVPRI research core facilities.

Field-based activities:

  • Expanded field research on case-by-case basis

    • Dependent on local, domestic, and international conditions/restrictions at field sites
    • Dependent on travel restrictions, ability to travel safely, and physical distance at field sites

Human subjects research (HSR) activities:

  • Expanded duration of face-to-face HSR activities conducted outdoors
  • Ability to conduct research in non-UO clinical healthcare settings

RULES FOR UO STAGE 1AB

All rules from previous phases apply, with the following modifications:

Applies in all cases:

  • Any UO stage 1B activities must be able to be shut down quickly if return an earlier UO phase/stage is required
  • Each PI seeking to conduct newly allowed on-campus research or fieldwork will be required to submit a new research recovery plan if they do not have an approved UO stage 1 or 1A plan, or an addendum to an approved plan for the current stage. These plans must be approved before initiating proposed UO stage 1B tasks.
  • Weekly submission of Commitment to Research Safety and Public Health form by all individuals named on PI recovery plans (e-mailed directly to all personnel named on PI recovery plans)

Additional specifics for on campus and lab-based activities:

  • Research spaces must provide at least 175 ft2 per person for simultaneous occupancy (i.e. for 2 people to share one space, it must be greater than 350 ft2 and be of a layout to support appropriate physical distancing)
  • Research protocols [e.g. animal surgery, fish cryo] in OVPRI research core facilities that require nor more than 3 UO faculty, staff, or students on PI plans to be in close contact for greater than 15 minutes is permissible provided ALL of the following conditions are met:
    • All members should eliminate new close contacts (defined as person within 6ft proximity for more than 15 minutes) outside of their household for 7 days prior to initiation and 7 days after completion of the activity
    • PPE including gowns, user-supplied EH&S fitted N95s, and face shields are required for the activity

Additional specifics for face to face HSR activities:

  • All previous activity is permitted. 
  • Activities done in qualified clinical healthcare settings provided ALL of these conditions are met:
    • The PI agrees to follow the documented safety plans and procedures for those facilities that at least meet the standards of UO guidelines
    • Activities minimize the number of UO employees accessing those facilities
    • Activities are local (do not involve business travel for UO employees)
  • Activities that can be done outdoors on UO campuses where distance cannot be maintained now allows for durations up to 4hrs
  • Family visits off-campus that can be done outdoors (e.g. backyard, park) now allows for durations up to 4hrs

It has been demonstrated that talking is one of the easiest ways to spread the virus, so please minimize talking when physical distancing of at least 6 ft cannot be maintained (e.g. describe while at a distance and then demonstrate in closer proximity without talking).

Future Phases 

We envision at least one more subsequent UO stage prior to return to normal research operations. Expansion of research activities, including those involving travel or face-to-face human subject research, will be highly dependent on relaxation of federal, state, local, and university policies related to physical distancing and allowed activities. While we do not yet have sufficient information to provide a substantive framework for these future stages, we anticipate that they will depend on the status of COVID-19 testing, serotesting, and contact tracing. Our goal is that this phased recovery plan will ensure continuity between stages as a necessary precaution given the expectation that transition back to earlier phases/stages may be required on short notice.