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Research Ramp-up Guidance

Guidance and resources for the UC San Diego community about how to safely ramp up onsite activity during COVID-19.


As researchers, you know how critical regular testing, symptom checking, masking, awareness and education are in keeping our labs and you healthy. With this in mind, please continue to 1) test; 2) symptom check; 3) wear a mask and encourage those in your research program do the same; and 4) consider adding the confidential exposure notification app, CA COVID Notify, to your mobile device.



In-person meetings now permissible

In-person business and research meetings are now allowed on-site for faculty, staff and students. All attendees must adhere to CDC and UC San Diego health and safety protocols, including maintaining 6 feet of physical distance. In-person attendees are limited to 10 persons. Read the full announcement and health reminders here.


(3/25/21) (updated 4/14/21)

Increasing access to labs, offices and studios for academic and research work

As part of UC San Diego’s plan to incrementally repopulate the campus, we are increasing access for faculty and PIs to their individual labs, offices and studios for academic and research work. Beginning April 1, 2021, those with approved Research Ramp-up plans can increase on-site personnel to 50 percent. 

All personnel working on-site must continue to follow CDC and campus guidelines, regardless of vaccination status, regarding social distancing, use of face coverings, daily screenings, weekly testing, and regular hand washing and sanitization.

Density limitations based on square feet or people per bay/aisle will no longer be required. Instead, 50% of total personnel (including those members of your group who may have been/still are working remotely) may work on-site at any one time, regardless of which phase they have been assigned to in your Research Ramp-up plan.

Faculty and PIs should:

  • Update your existing Research Ramp-up plan if you need to add personnel. Instructions can be found here. Please note that administrative staff successfully working remotely should continue to do so until at least May 31.
  • Submit a new Research Ramp-up plan if you haven’t submitted one already AND you have other team members (grad students, postdocs, research staff) who need approval for on-site access with you. Instructions can be found here
  • Submit a Work Health Management Form if you are returning to individual on-site work in your private office or studio without additional personnel (link here)

Read full details of this update here.



Research Lab Visitor Form

Due to personnel density requirements in all research spaces, labs are required to fill out a Research Lab Visitor Form for all visitors, including media and other UC San Diego personnel not on your approved Research Ramp Up Plan. Notice should also be given to surrounding labs that may be impacted by the additional personnel onsite. The form can be found on our Quick Links page under "General Forms."



OSHA training requirement

If you are returning to on-site work, you must complete a one-time, state-mandated online training. You can access this training via UC Learning Center (sign-in required).



Guidance for rotational training and on-site research coursework

Rotational Training and On-Site Research Coursework: As Fall Quarter begins, students will be joining research labs and facilities for training and coursework. Students training in the same lab for more than 4 weeks need to be identified and added to that lab’s Ramp Up Plan. Departments and Programs must confirm that all research facilities where students are training – even for shorter, micro-rotations – have a Research Ramp Up plan which includes either a Training Risk Mitigation Plan or an Alternative Risk Mitigation Plan that addresses training. More information is available in the Rotational Training and On-Site Research Coursework PDF.

Miscellaneous Reminders

You can now download a Visitor Symptom Screening Checklist here (PDF).

The Guidelines for Research Ramp Up at UC San Diego can be found below, but if you prefer a PDF version, you can download one here. (updated October 19, 2020)

Forms / Resources / Quick Links

Please visit our "Quick Links and Forms" page for links, forms and downloads for the following:

  • Quick Links
  • General Forms
  • Signage
  • Research Volunteer, Patient and Visitor Screening Information and Forms
  • Training and Education Forms


Vice Chancellor and UCOP Guidance

A link to campus announcements from the Vice Chancellor for Research regarding research during COVID-19:

A link to campus announcements from the UC Vice President for Research & Innovation regarding research during COVID-19:

As a reminder, the best places for current information regarding UC San Diego and COVID-19 are:

Research Town Halls

Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra Brown will periodically host virtual town halls for UC San Diego faculty and staff.

View slides for:

To view previous town halls, please visit our SharePoint site. Active Directory sign-on required. Use your login, not or

You can also learn about upcoming virtual "grand rounds" and view past sessions from UC San Diego Health by visiting their website.


During the coronavirus outbreak, many travel restrictions have been put in place by the U.S. State Department and the University of California Office of the President. Visit the links below for more information.

Q: Can I still travel for research purposes?

All official university travel should be in compliance with UC San Diego’s “Interim Policy on Official University Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” In general, travel is discouraged unless it is “essential,” defined as “both mission critical to the unit and impossible to conduct without travel.”

Q: Can I charge trip cancellation insurance to my grant?

Trip cancellation insurance is typically unallowable on grants. However, we are monitoring any additional guidance the federal government may issue related to travel. If you need to travel in the coming months to conduct business for a sponsored project and you want to purchase trip cancellation insurance, you may reach out to your sponsored project contact to request prior approval from the sponsor to charge this cost to the grant.

Q: What is the university’s recommendation regarding personal travel (and/or return from personal travel) at this time?

The most current recommendations are available on the Return to Learn website under “Resources for University Travelers.” Helpful links are included at the bottom of the page to inform your travel decisions.  

Q: What is the university's policy on travel reimbursements during the coronavirus outbreak?

You can read about our reimbursement policy.

Exceptions: Alternative Strategies for Risk Mitigation


As noted above, the CDC advises that risk of viral transmission rises when individuals are in close proximity (at distances of less than 6 ft.) for periods of as little as 10 minutes. Restrictions regarding social distancing, use of face coverings, hygiene and sanitization outlined here are intended to permit some resumption of research, scholarship and creative activity while reducing the risk of transmission.

There are some types of activity where these restrictions will be impractical or will have a significantly damaging impact on research. In many cases, prioritizing public health and safety will require that those types of activity not commence until the risk of viral transmission has declined (transition to yellow or green phase). 

In a limited number of instances, alternate strategies for mitigating risk of transmission may be proposed as exceptions to the requirements here. Approval for exceptions to these guidelines will be infrequent, and will be based on assessing of the necessity of such exceptions for the conduct of specific and required activity. Among those activities where such exceptions may be requested through the submission of a Risk Mitigation Plan include:

  • Use and maintenance of certain types of instrumentation that require two or more persons working in close proximity (less than 6 ft. apart);
  • Training of staff or students in specific techniques, skills, or procedures;
  • Artistic performances by duos or small groups for limited periods of time;
  • Research procedures that require more than one person to conduct.

Creative approaches to planning work that requires brief close proximity or that prevents the use of some PPE might include the use of face shields, coordinating distinct multiple location performances which are simultaneously transmitted, transparent dividers in certain behavioral research experiments where face coverings would substantially interfere with experiments, or in performances with brass/reed/wind instruments, etc.

Risk Mitigation Plans must explain the importance of conducting the activity at this time; why the activity cannot be adjusted to adhere to required social distancing or use of PPE; how the risk associated with persons working in close proximity will be mitigated. Review and approval/disapproval of such mitigation plans is required but may delay resumption of on-site research, scholarship, and creative activity.

There may be circumstances in which additional review of proposed plans is required, for instance, when space is being used by multiple PIs and a collaborative plan has not been arrived at. In these situations, where additional review of plans is required, the Continuity of Research Task Force will review plans and work with PIs, departments, and deans to determine what mitigation is required to enable activity to proceed.


If you need to conduct training activities with students or staff and these activities cannot be done while maintaining the safety requirements outlined in the guidebook, you will need to submit a Training Risk Mitigation Plan (PDF)

Your plan must explain the necessity of conducting the training at this time and why you cannot abide by standard safety guidelines (e.g., physical distancing, use of PPE, personnel density). You will also need to provide risk mitigation measures for specific instances where you are not able to meet standard safety guidelines.

Minimal risk mitigation strategies for training include:

Remote planning and preparation: Prior to each in-person training session, the trainer and trainee will meet remotely to plan the training session, walk through procedures and practices, etc. This will maximize the efficiency of in-person time, focusing that time on the actual conduct of training, and thereby reducing close in-person contact to the shortest possible time.

Proper ventilation of training spaces: Whenever possible, training will be performed in a space with single-pass airflow (without recirculating air). PIs should make every effort to identify such space (confirming with EH&S if they are uncertain), relocating their training activity where possible to use such spaces. 

1:1 Training: Only one trainer and one trainee will be engaged in hands-on training at a time in a given space. Group training is permitted only by exception.

Minimizing duration of close contact: Trainer and trainee will minimize, to the fullest extent possible, the amount of time spent in close proximity to one another. For example, a trainer may demonstrate a procedure and then step back to a distance of more than 6 feet; a trainee may watch a demonstration of an instrument through a window, after which the trainer and trainee trade places so the trainee is working with the instrument and the trainer is supervising through the window, etc.

Use of face masks in addition to regularly-required PPE: All personnel are required to use face masks at all times. In shoulder-to-shoulder training situations, both trainer and trainee must wear face masks at all times, in addition to whatever PPE would be standard for the particular context. For instance, use of particular equipment might normally require a face shield; a face mask must also be worn.

Exceptions: In situations where these minimum training safety requirements are impossible, PIs will need to prepare alternative training risk mitigation strategies for review and approval by Environment, Health & Safety. Consultation with EH&S staff prior to submitting plans is encouraged.

Training plans that cannot meet minimum standard requirements will need to be approved by EH&S, graduate program directors (if graduate students are involved) and academic leaders (including department chairs, deans and division heads). You cannot conduct any training activities that do not adhere to specified safety requirements without an approved Training Risk Mitigation Plan.

Not all Training Risk Mitigation Plans will be approved. If your plan is not approved, you will need to find ways to conduct the training in compliance with safety requirements or else hold off on conducting the training until safety requirements can be met (possibly when research moves into the Yellow or Green phase and restrictions are loosened).

COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Decontamination Procedures

UC San Diego has scaled up symptomatic and asymptomatic testing efforts through the Return to Learn program. The goal is to improve the health and safety of our campus community by quickly identifying and containing any potential outbreaks of COVID-19.

While these efforts are critical to improving the health and safety of our community, the situation with COVID-19 continues to change. We will continue to adapt our response to integrate the most up-to-date science, which will require significant flexibility from all of us. Read more about testing and screening on the Return to Learn website.

If through this program or testing elsewhere you or a member of your research team tests positive for COVID-19, immediately inform the Emergency Operations Center ( so that contact tracing and facility decontamination can be initiated according to appropriate protocols. The PI should not inform anyone else about another individual’s health status or possible infection. EOC and other offices on campus will respect individual confidentiality when conducting contact tracing.

A lab member’s positive test result may require short-term closure of research space in order for the EOC and EH&S to complete a review of the COVID positive case and an assessment of the locations where the COVID-19-positive person spent time. The scope and timeline for enhanced cleaning will be based on the risk of potential contamination and the type of research taking place. EH&S will coordinate closely with the department and PI to determine the appropriate cleaning procedure to limit the impact to the research areas. Access to research and common spaces may be restricted for a limited time to allow for our campus cleaning team or an outside vendor to respond. Cleaning will typically occur on the same day or evening of the notification.

If you are a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar, please review this decision tree to determine your testing requirements.

All Other Information

Visit our "Other Information" page for all other pertinent information about conducting research during the pandemic including:

  • Guidebook introduction and table of contents
  • Phased Scaled Up details
  • Context-specific guidelines and Appendices for certain research scenarios
  • Research Ramp-up procedures
  • Additional Resources
If you need help or have questions about research ramp-up procedures, please email