Skip to main content
Blink

System Status: 

Research Ramp-up Guidance

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

 My-Post-1.png

Register for the Monday, October 26 (2:30-4:00 p.m.) research town hall here. (Active Directory login required. Please use your @ucsd.edu login, not @health.ucsd.edu or @eng.ucsd.edu.)

We are very pleased by UC San Diego’s very successful Orange Phase research ramp up, and appreciate the hard work that has made this possible. In order to reduce the opportunity for community spread of COVID-19, the Research Continuity Task Force identified a personnel density of 25% of normal operations as appropriate. We are close to reaching this 25% cap, with some PIs still working on their initial ramp up plans. Visit our Procedures page to learn more about how this may impact your research.

We are able to allow additional flexibility within that 25% cap, and have adjusted Orange Phase guidance so that:

  • Minimum physical distance between personnel remains 6 feet
  • Face coverings and plan-approved PPE required at all times, except when working alone in an office with the door closed
  • In wet labs, up to 2 persons can work simultaneously per bay, aisle, or bench (with a minimum 6 foot distance between personnel)
  • In dry labs, offices and other research settings, 1 person per 150 square feet (with a minimum 6 foot distance between personnel).
    Read VC of Research Sandy Brown's email about new orange phase guidance here.

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).

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.

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
  • Employee Resources
  • Training and Education Forms

Research Town Halls

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

To view a recording of previous town halls, please visit our SharePoint site. Active Directory sign-on required. Please use your @ucsd.edu login, not @health.ucsd.edu or @eng.ucsd.edu.

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

FAQs

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:

Guidebook Table of Contents

Table of Contents
  1. Statement from UC San Diego Academic Senate
  2. Principles
  3. A Phased Scale Up
    1. Figure 1: Campus Phases
  4. Guidance Framework
    1. General Requirements: applicable to all research, scholarship, and creative activity
    2. Context-specific requirements and resources: Orange Phase (began June 1, 2020)
    3. Figure 2: Additional Context-specific Requirements
    4. Exceptions: Alternative Strategies for Risk Mitigation
      1. General
      2. Training
  5. Ramp-up Procedures
  6. Important Information: COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing and Decontamination Procedures
  7. Appendices: Context-specific Additional Guidance and Resources
    1. Wet Labs
    2. Equipment-Intensive/Dry Labs
    3. Clinical Trials
    4. Social, Cognitive and Behavioral Human Subjects Research in Dedicated Research Facilities
    5. Imaging Research Involving Human Subjects
    6. Animal Research
    7. Community-Based Research in Researcher-controlled Settings (classrooms, clinics)
    8. Social Sciences/Humanities Field Research
    9. Performing Arts
    10. Natural Sciences Field Research (Additional Guidance)
  8. Additional Resources
    1. Campus Phase Explanations
    2. Impact on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
    3. Ethical Considerations and Resources

Introduction

The Continuity of Research Task Force chairs are Miroslav Krstic & James McKerrow with Faith Hawkins.

The Continuity of Research Task Force is comprised of: Todd Adams, Douglas Bartlett, John Bauer, Ben Bergen, Eli Berman, Sandy Brown, Andrew Chisholm, Kevin Chou, Linda Collins, Bob Continetti, Ross Dammann, Peter Ebenfeldt, Rachel Flanagan, Michelle Franklin, Rusty, Gage, Tracy Handel, Gene Hasegawa, Martin Hetzer, Susan Pike Humphrey, Steve Johnson, Ted Johnson, Andrew Kehler, Nancy Kwak, Tia Levine, Eric Mah, Angela McMahill, Phil Richter, Chip Schooley, Lance Scott, Dio Siegel, Frank Truong, George Tynan, Samuel Ward, Erika Wilson, Jerry Yang + faculty and staff advisors. 

In consultation with: EOC (Emergency Operations Center), EH&S (Environmental Health & Safety), IT Services, Facilities, Procurement, Return to Learn team, Academic Senate leadership and Committee on Research, Animal Care, IRB, Deans & Provosts, multiple undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars

 

Introduction 

These guidelines outline plans and procedures to enable ramp-up of research activity at UC San Diego. Guided by our own infectious disease experts and epidemiologists as well as the World Health Organization, the CDC, and state and local public health experts, our goal is to enable a return to on-site research, scholarship and creative activity while protecting the health and safety of all members of the UC San Diego community. All available scientific evidence indicates that the threat of community spread of SARS-CoV-2 will remain for months to come, and that we should prepare to move back and forth between varying levels of activity on campus. Prepared by the Continuity of Research Task Force, with additional input from faculty, staff and students, the guidelines outlined here will enable us to do so with minimal complexity.

The Continuity of Research Task Force understands this document to be a living text, one which will be adjusted and improved as circumstances evolve and we learn together how best to respond to them. Updates will be posted on this page regularly.

 

Statement from UC San Diego Academic Senate

The Continuity of Research Task Force, organized by Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra Brown and co-chaired by SAVCR Miroslav Krstic and Dean James McKerrow, has in a few short weeks produced a detailed set of plans to govern research continuity in the SARS-CoV-2 era. Reflecting our institution’s core values, these plans make the protection of the health and safety of campus members its paramount priority, while recognizing the urgency of returning to the vibrant research activity that is characteristic of our campus life. Eight breakout groups that included Senate members addressed the heterogeneous research and safety needs of faculty, research staff and students across campus. The process was broadly consultative, and made essential use of the world-class medical expertise that our campus is fortunate to have. Senate Council applauds these plans and expresses its deep appreciation for the dedicated scientists and staff who worked tirelessly to bring them to fruition.

Andrew Kehler Chair, Committee on Research

Maripat Corr Chair, San Diego Divisional Academic Senate

Steven Constable Vice Chair, San Diego Divisional Academic Senate

 

Principles

  • Prioritize the physical safety and mental health of all members of the UC San Diego community, the communities in which we engage in research, and the communities in which we live.
  • While the urgency of resuming our research is keenly felt, we will do so only in a way that is informed by the ethical imperative, to prioritize health and safety.
  • Resume research, scholarship and creative activity with full adherence to public health directives, campus policy, and the guidance of medical and public health experts.
  • Ensure a transparent and consistent process in determining permissible levels of research activity over the course of the pandemic. Minimize complexity so that we can easily move from one level of activity to another. Ensure that decisions are made and implemented at the unit level (PI, department, center or institute) to account for the variety and contexts of research, scholarship and creative activity at the university. Allow flexibility within necessary parameters.

A Phased Scale Up

Given the continued threat of community spread of COVID-19, activity will resume/expand in phases. New outbreaks are possible at any time and may require a contraction of activity. The Chancellor, in adherence with state and local directives and in consultation with university leaders, epidemiologists, and infectious disease experts, will determine when conditions require or permit transitioning from one phase to another. Research, scholarship and creative activity at UC San Diego will therefore be governed by campus-identified phases, with distinct and risk-appropriate restrictions on the density of on-site personnel, requirements for use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face coverings, and frequency of disinfection of work spaces and commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs and light switches.

The Red Phase is characterized by a “stay-at-home” order from government officials, and campus-mandated remote work. Only essential activity is permitted on campus (or at any UC San Diego research site) during this phase. PPE, social distancing, and sanitization protocols are required.

The Orange Phase is characterized by a modest increase in on-site activity (including field research, community research, and clinical sites). “Stay at home” orders may remain in place; remote work is required for those whose work can be conducted remotely. In general, approximately 25% of research personnel will be on-site at any time. PPE, social distancing, and sanitization protocols are required.

The Yellow Phase is characterized by a more significant increase in on-site and field activity of normal activity. In general, approximately 50% of research personnel will be on-site at any time; remote work is required for those whose work can be conducted remotely. PPE, social distancing and sanitization protocols are required.

The Green Phase is characterized by a return to normal operations, subject to campus restrictions.

Click here to download a PDF version of these phase descriptions and the chart below. 

Figure 1: Campus Phases

 

 

 

Campus PHASE

 

RED

Shelter-at-home, “essential research only”

ORANGE

Low-density with PPE and distancing (approximately 25% personnel density) (updated October 16, 2020)

YELLOW

Medium-density research with PPE and distancing (approximately 50% personnel density)

GREEN

return to full operations (some restrictions may remain)

PPE, physical distancing, sanitation

Required

TBD

Work that can be done remotely continues remotely

Required

TBD

Remote work by vulnerable  groups[i]

Required

Recommended

Not required

DENSITY restriction for on-campus research, rehearsal, etc. (with safety & sanitation per EHS) Only essential personnel allowed

wet labs: 2 persons/aisle 

other spaces: no more than 1 person per 150 sq ft

wet labs: 2 persons/aisle 

other spaces: no more than 1 person per 150 sq ft

None
Chair/Dir./Dean actions required Review/Approval of on-site research plans, exception requests Review/Approval of research activity plans, exception requests; floor/adjoining facilities’ plan coordination, building egress Review/Approval of research activity plans, exception requests; floor/adjoining facilities’ plan coordination, building egress As per usual practice
PI actions required Submission of on-site & remote site plans On-line submission of density/safety management plans, adherence agreement On-line submission of density/safety management plans, adherence agreement None
Researcher/staff actions required Remote work plans, contact information to PI/supervisor PPE, safety, hygiene training (if required) PPE, safety, hygiene training (if required) None

TRIGGER

Campus level determination with public health considerations (state and local)

Shelter-at-home order instituted by Governor or by County

From RED: state shelter-at-home order may be eased; campus-defined low-density research with health & safety standards 

CAN BE REVERSED

From ORANGE: state or local shelter-at-home order may be lifted; campus further relaxes density restrictions with campus-defined health & safety standards 

CAN BE REVERSED

Normal functions resume (some restrictions may remain) 

CAN BE REVERSED

 

[i] Effective May 10, 2020 and continuing until further notice, the Health Officer of the County of San Diego issued “a strong recommendation … that all persons who are 65 years or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or have a compromised immune system self-quarantine themselves at home or other suitable location.”

 

General Guidelines

Guidance Framework

Regardless of the type of activity in which you’re engaged, certain practices are required for all UC San Diego faculty, students and staff. The CDC advises that risk of viral transmission rises when individuals work 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 attending to the risk of transmission.

In specific settings or types of activity, additional practices will be required to support the safety of all of those involved in the research. Where the specific requirements of the activity necessitate exceptions to these guidelines, a risk mitigation plan must be developed and approved by department/program leadership before activity can resume (see below, p. 9).

General Requirements: Applicable to all Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity

  • Work that can be conducted remotely should continue to be conducted remotely until normal university operations resume.

    Persons who are 65 years or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or have a compromised immune system are particular vulnerable to severe impacts of respiratory infection. During the Red phase, members of these vulnerable groups are required to have the option to work remotely; members of these vulnerable populations are strongly recommended to have that option during the Orange phase.
  • If you are sick or have any reason to believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or any infectious disease, do not come to work.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, visit UC San Diego Health's COVID-19 website to learn where to get tested. Follow EOC protocols (available below) for reporting your positive test results if you are tested elsewhere.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars cannot be required or pressured to work on-site during the Red or Orange phases. Because research is an essential element of the UC San Diego educational experience, faculty should make an effort to support students in credit-bearing (honors, thesis, dissertation, independent study, experiential learning) research activity, while not coercing them to work on-site. Students may work on-site by exception during the Red phase.
  • All personnel must complete a symptom and exposure screening before beginning work on-site each day; those with symptoms should not enter the workplace.[i] UC San Diego IT teams will select and implement a reporting systems app which will be ready for use before we move into the Orange phase; information about that app is available on the Human Resources blink webpage.
  • Adhere to appropriate density restrictions, as required by phase (see Figure 1). Such restrictions may require implementation of work shifts to ensure that maximal density is not exceeded.
  • Follow CDC guidelines for protecting yourself and others through frequent hand washing, social distancing, etc.
  • Wear a face covering when you are on campus — on sidewalks, in common areas of buildings, etc.[ii] In most settings and circumstances, a cloth or disposable ear-loop face covering is sufficient. Surgical masks are considered ideal if available (does not have to be N95 or include a filter). Face coverings (and other personal protective equipment, as required in specific contexts) are available for purchase.

    UC San Diego’s Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions is stocking large quantities of PPE and disinfecting material, which is available for purchase through Oracle Procurement. Search COVIDPPE in the Oracle search bar to see the available items. Please add PPE items to their own cart so that they can route to Procurement for review and prevent delay of processing non-PPE orders. Additionally please make sure N95 orders are in their own cart so they can route to EH&S for their Respiratory Protection Program.

    These items are being stocked to meet the needs of many different campus communities. It is requested that you order only what your lab or office will need in two week increments to ensure that as many areas as possible across campus can take advantage of this supply. If you anticipate a significantly larger than normal bulk order, please reach out to IPPS through the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.

    You will be required to provide a Chart of Account (COA) string or Project Number (POET) to cover the cost of supplies: face coverings and PPE can be charged to grants, while other supplies must be charged to departmental or other COVID-specific accounts. Please consult your MSO or Fund Manager for guidance on identifying the appropriate account to use.

  • Regularly disinfect your work areas. Every research, office and performance space or studio should be disinfected at the beginning and end of every day, or at the beginning and end of every shift (whichever is more frequent). In addition to surfaces, instruments, and equipment, commonly touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs and handles, light switches) should be cleaned by those starting and finishing their work shift. Guidance is available on the EH&S blink page

    The Emergency Operations Center will make available, on a one-time basis, a free “welcome kit” of supplies, including disposable masks, cloth masks, disinfectant spray and disposable gloves (as needed) to those approved to ramp up their research. Quantities will be determined by the number of your personnel returning on-site during the initial ramp up. Request these supplies using the “Return to Research Initial Supplies Request” Form (currently being revised) and upload it at the Research Activity Reporting Platform.

    After these free supplies run out, additional supplies are available for purchase. UC San Diego’s Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions is stocking large quantities of PPE and disinfecting material, which is available for purchase throughOracle Procurement. Search COVIDPPE in the Oracle search bar to see the available items. Please add PPE items to their own cart so that they can route to Procurement for review and prevent delay of processing non-PPE orders. Additionally please make sure N95 orders are in their own cart so they can route to EH&S for their Respiratory Protection Program.

    These items are being stocked to meet the needs of many different campus communities. It is requested that you order only what your lab or office will need in two week increments to ensure that as many areas as possible across campus can take advantage of this supply. If you anticipate a significantly larger than normal bulk order, please reach out to IPPS through the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.

    You will be required to provide a Chart of Account (COA) string or Project Number (POET) to cover the cost of supplies: face coverings and PPE can be charged to grants, while other supplies must be charged to departmental or other COVID-specific accounts. Please consult your MSO or Fund Manager for guidance on identifying the appropriate account to use.
  • Many researchers share with other spaces like cell culture rooms, autoclaves, cold rooms, and waiting rooms. If you share space with others, you need to coordinate with them to ensure that these spaces are regularly disinfected, and that to the extent possible, use of these spaces is coordinated so that social distancing requirements can be maintained there. If possible, as you schedule activity in your lab, coordinate with others whose teams work on the same floor or hallway as you do. This will help to ensure that everyone can observe necessary physical distancing in common areas (e.g., restrooms, stairwells, hallways, elevators).
  • Day travel to field research sites or clinics must be conducted in accordance with specific guidelines below.
  • Develop and implement a communications plan for staff and students within your lab or research group to enhance awareness, compliance and site change requirements if needed.
  • Complete required forms and submit via the Research and On-site Activity Platform for approval by your department chair and dean. This tool should be used for on-campus research activity as well as field research, community-based activity, and activity conducted in satellite locations. Research, scholarship and creative activity cannot resume until your plan has been approved by the dean, and the campus has announced the transition into the Orange Phase.
     

[i] Effective May 10, 2020 and continuing until further notice, the Health Officer of the County of San Diego requires that employers conduct temperature screening or symptom screening of all employees. Symptom screening prohibits employees from entering the workplace “if they have a cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.”

[ii] Effective May 10, 2020 and continuing until further notice, the Health Officer of the County of San Diego issued guidance requiring that employees “shall wear the face covering whenever they are in a business or within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household.”

Context-specific Requirements and Resources: Orange Phase

Context-specific Requirements and Resources

In certain research settings, the health and safety of researchers and research participants is best protected through adherence to additional safety practices until health risks diminish or all campus activity returns to normal (Green phase). Where the (pre-COVID) health and safety plan for the lab or facility conflicts with guidelines below, the more restrictive guidance will prevail.

The Orange Phase began on June 1, 2020.

The table below summarizes these requirements for particular settings; additional detail is available in the appendices.

Figure 2: Additional Context-specific Requirements

 

Context Facility startup requirements Daily startup requirements Density of personnel Personal protective equipment Disinfection Screening of personnel Travel

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL ACTIVITY 

(ORANGE PHASE) 

(updated Oct 16, 2020)

 

Consult EHS Checklist for safe re-opening of facility 

 

As per context-specific guidance 

Approximately 25% of normal  

no more than 1 person per 150 sqft

Face coverings (cloth masks or surgical masks) required for all 

Disinfect work areas, commonly touched surfaces at beginning and end of each day, shift, or use  

Symptom and exposure screening for all personnel  

Subject to university guidelines  

 

Additional requirements for specific contexts

If a facility or lab has been unused, are specific startup procedures as outlined by EH&S required for safe resumption of activity?

Are additional preparations required before work can begin each day?

Are there additional restrictions or guidance for social distancing?

Are there requirements for personal protective equipment beyond basic face coverings?

Are there additional requirements for disinfection of workspaces?

What personnel involved with activity require screening for exposure to COVID-19 before activity?

Are there additional considerations re: travel for research purposes?

Wet labs

Yes, consult EH&S checklist

As per usual

Orange:2/aisle

Yellow: 2/aisle

disposable gloves may be recommended

ensure all equipment disinfected after each use

none

None

Dry labs

Yes, consult EH&S checklist

As per usual

Orange:2/aisle

Yellow: 2/aisle

as per usual practice

ensure all equipment disinfected after each use

none

None

Human subjects research in dedicated research facilities (clinical trials, behavioral studies on campus, etc.)

Yes, consult EH&S checklist

Pre-screen staff and participants 24 hours in advance of activity

Ensure waiting areas allow social distancing

face shields may be required for staff; face coverings for participants

disinfect after each appointment; disinfect common spaces (waiting rooms) hourly

Screen staff and participants immediately before activity

None

Imaging research involving human subjects

Yes, consult EH&S checklist

Pre-screen staff and participants 24 hours in advance of activity

Ensure waiting areas allow physical distancing

Face shields may be required for staff; face coverings for participants

Disinfect after each appointment; disinfect common spaces (waiting rooms) hourly

Screen staff and participants immediately before activity

none

Animal housing facilities and procedure rooms

Consult ACP

none

none

Location-specific PPE requirements as per usual practice

disinfect common spaces every two hours

none

None

Social sciences and humanities research at public research sites (ethnographic observation, interviews, etc.)

Not applicable

Pre-screen staff and participants 24 hours in advance of activity

risk mitigation plans needed if site does not permit full social distancing

Face shields may be required; face coverings for participants

Disinfect surfaces before and after use

Screen staff immediately before activity

Carpool limited to 2 people; public transportation discouraged

Community-based research in researcher-controlled off-campus sites (e.g., schools, community centers, etc.)

 Not applicable

Pre-screen staff, and participants 24 hours in advance of activity

Risk mitigation plans needed if site does not allow for distancing

face shields may be required; face coverings for participants

Disinfect after each appointment; disinfect common spaces (waiting rooms) hourly

Screen staff and participants immediately before activity

Carpool limited to 2 people; public transportation discouraged

Performing/Visual Arts

Yes, consult EH&S checklist

Pre-screen participants in joint activity (dance, theatre, musical)

risk mitigation plans needed if site does not allow for social distancing

 Additional PPE may be required, or alternative (e.g., plexiglass barriers)

disinfect before/after each use of shared spaces, equipment (music stands), etc.

Screen staff and participants immediately before activity

 

Natural sciences field research

Consult our "Field Research: Additional Guidance"

Ships/Boating

Consult our "Field Research: Additional Guidance"

 

Exceptions: Alternative Strategies for Risk Mitigation

 

GENERAL

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.

 

TRAINING

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).

Ramp-up Procedures

Ramp-up Procedures

Before resumption/expansion of research is allowed, you should begin planning for a gradual increase in activity and on-site work.

  • Plan to continue working remotely whenever possible (e.g., data analysis, writing, literature review).
  • Make a long-term, multi-phase plan.
    • The online Research and On-Site Activity Platform enables you to list all personnel prioritized by phase, so that when the campus moves from one phase to another you do not have to resubmit the framework unless your research plan has changed. The tool also allows you to enter information only for a single phase, and can be updated in either case.
    • It will be easiest for you to fill out the tool by gathering the information you need in advance (personnel lists, etc.). Before you go to the online platform, download and review/complete required forms which you will need to upload to the online tool for review and approval.
    • Assess what activity can be done on-site in adherence to restrictions on personnel for each phase, and the minimum number of people required to do that work.
    • PIs should work with postdoctoral scholars and students to help them balance on-site and remote activity throughout the pandemic. Encourage off site activity when reasonable and feasible.
    • Consult floor plans for your research or performance space (floor plans are available via Tririga, which department MSOs can access) and consider what adjustments will be required to meet restrictions.
    • Identify those activities and personnel who will be working on-site in Red, Orange, and Yellow Phases of activity. Personnel identified for activity in any phase will also be able to work in subsequent (less restrictive phases). See additional guidance in the appendix.
    • Visiting scholars, scientists, and researchers must secure approval for activity from the chair, and dean, and are subject to the same requirements regarding social distancing, hygiene, PPE, sanitization and accountability as others.
  • If you share space (cold rooms, cell culture rooms, etc.) or equipment with others outside your immediate research group, coordinate with them to ensure that these spaces are regularly disinfected, and that to the extent possible, use of these spaces is coordinated so that social distancing requirements can be maintained there. You will need to identify these shared spaces and plans for disinfecting in the Research Activity Reporting Platform.

  • PIs or lab leaders should review and complete the Social Distancing and Sanitization Protocol, and (if necessary) Alternative Risk Mitigation Plan. You’ll need to upload these when you complete and upload the online Activity Framework Tool.

  • Complete the online Activity Framework Tool. You will be notified when your plan has been approved. Do not commence activity before your plan is approved and the campus has announced the transition into the Orange Phase.

  • Identify PPE and disinfecting supplies that you and your staff will require. Many of these items are available for purchase. UC San Diego’s Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions is stocking large quantities of PPE and disinfecting material, which is available for purchase through Oracle Procurement. Search COVIDPPE in the Oracle search bar to see the available items. Please add PPE items to their own cart so that they can route to Procurement for review and prevent delay of processing non-PPE orders. Additionally please make sure N95 orders are in their own cart so they can route to EH&S for their Respiratory Protection Program.

    These items are being stocked to meet the needs of many different campus communities. It is requested that you order only what your lab or office will need in two week increments to ensure that as many areas as possible across campus can take advantage of this supply. If you anticipate a significantly larger than normal bulk order, please reach out to IPPS through the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.

    You will be required to provide a Chart of Account (COA) string or Project Number (POET) to cover the cost of supplies: face masks and PPE can be charged to grants, while other supplies must be charged to departmental or other COVID-specific accounts. Please consult your MSO or Fund Manager for guidance on identifying the appropriate account to use.

  • Educate your research staff about the different phases, required PPE, density restrictions, screening procedures and disinfection protocols. Discuss and create work schedules that will be required to adhere to density restrictions.

  • Consult with EH&S (as necessary) or your facility manager about steps required to re-open a space that has been unused for any length of time. EH&S’s checklist is available at https://blink.ucsd.edu/safety/research-lab/covid-19/start-up.html.

Once on-site activity resumes/increases, PIs, responsible faculty, and lab/facility managers must ensure that they and their teams observe required density restrictions, safety procedures, and disinfecting protocols. Additionally, continue planning for a change in campus phase. While we anticipate some time to prepare for movement from a more restrictive to a less restrictive phase, it is possible that shifts from Yellow to Orange or Orange to Red might happen more abruptly, so maintaining and updating plans for decreasing on-site activity is important.

Important Information: COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Decontamination Procedures

Important Information: COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Decontamination Procedures

On May 11, 2020, UC San Diego initiated the Return to Learn Program, which aims to broadly test students, faculty, and staff on campus on a recurring basis for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The pilot phase will make COVID-19 testing available to all resident undergraduate and graduate students on campus in May, 2020. Later, Return to Learn testing may potentially be made available to other members of the UC San Diego on campus community. You can read the latest updates about Return to Learn on their website.

In the meantime, UC San Diego Health is making COVID-19 testing available to those faculty and staff who will be returning to on-site research and who indicate when they register for the required symptom and exposure screening process that they are interested in asymptomatic testing. Student Health Services will make testing available to non-resident undergraduate and graduate students returning to on-site research. UC San Diego Health will be contacting individuals who indicated that they wanted to be tested; given capacity for asymptomatic testing, it may take several weeks to test all who are interested. No employee can be required to be tested prior to returning to on-site activity.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be directed to their health care provider for clinical guidance and will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days. The names of those who test positive will be provided to county health officials for their information, and to contact tracers (coordinated through UC San Diego Public Health Program). The names of those who test positive will not be provided to co-workers or those with whom they have had close contacts.

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 (eoc@ucsd.edu) 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.

Appendices

Context-Specific Additional Guidance and Resources

Additional guidance for the following settings can be found on our Appendices page here

  • Wet Labs
  • Equipment-Intensive/Dry Labs
  • Clinical Trials
  • Social, Cognitive and Behavioral Human Subjects Research in Dedicated Research Facilities
  • Imaging Research Involving Human Subjects
  • Animal Research
  • Community-Based Research in Researcher-controlled Settings (classrooms, clinics)
  • Social Sciences/Humanities Field Research
  • Performing Arts
  • Field Research--Additional Guidance

Additional Resources

Campus Phase Explanation (assigning personnel to phases)

A transition between Campus Phases has the potential to occur with little warning and may necessitate the immediate curtailment of all on-site activity. To facilitate a coordinated and measured response to changing density restrictions, we ask that each PI or Responsible Faculty Member classifies personnel according to on-site access needs. An individual who is identified as requiring access in a restrictive phase automatically has access in subsequent, less restrictive phases. Determinations should be made on the basis of adhering to restrictions on density within research facilities; how feasible it is for an individual to conduct their work remotely; the criticality of the work for the success of the research program. Classifying an individual as “Green” does not imply that the individual is non-essential, it merely indicates that on-site access is not essential to that individual’s work. 

The Red Phase is characterized by a “stay-at-home” order from government officials, and campus-mandated remote work. Only essential activity is permitted on campus (or at any UC San Diego research site) during this phase. PPE, social distancing, and sanitization protocols are required. Generally, no more than 15% of personnel who normally work on campus will be approved for on-site work in the Red Phase.

Personnel guidance: Only a small proportion of personnel (no more than 15%) will be designated “essential,” with continuing on-site activity during the Red Phase. These personnel are essential to functions that cannot be suspended or performed remotely, conducting “critical activity” as defined by the campus.

Persons who are 65 years or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or have a compromised immune system are particular vulnerable to severe impacts of respiratory infection. Members of these vulnerable populations are required to have the option to work remotely during the Red Phase.

Students and trainees cannot be required to work on-site during the Red Phase. Students cannot be designated “essential” except by approval of the department chair/division head and dean. Such designation is generally restricted to situations in which on-site activity is required for the timely completion of students and trainees’ degree. 

The Orange Phase is characterized by a modest increase in on-site activity (including field research, community research, and clinical sites). “Stay at home” orders may remain in place; remote work is required for those whose work can be conducted remotely. PPE, social distancing, and sanitization protocols are required.

Personnel marked as “orange” are permitted to access on-site facilities when public health guidance and campus leaders relax restrictions to allow small numbers of personnel to work on-site. To ensure that risks of viral transmission are limited, personnel should still be kept to a minimum (generally, no more than 25% of personnel on-site at any time). “Orange” personnel are essential to functions and activities that cannot endure a period of prolonged suspension and cannot be performed remotely. Members of vulnerable populations are strongly recommended to have the option to work remotely. Students and trainees cannot be required to work on-site during an Orange Phase. During the Orange phase, students engaged in credit-bearing academic work (theses, independent study, experiential learning) may work on-site.

The Yellow Phase is characterized by a more significant increase in on-site and field activity of normal activity. Remote work is required for those whose work can be conducted remotely. PPE, social distancing and sanitization protocols are required.

Personnel marked as “yellow” are permitted to access on-site facilities once density restrictions are further relaxed by the campus in response to improving public health conditions. Personnel density should be moderate, generally no more than 50% of personnel on-site at any time. Personnel able to perform functions remotely should continue to work off-site. Vulnerable groups are recommended to work remotely.

In the Green Phase, activity may return to a close approximation of pre-Covid levels. Subject to any campus restrictions, all personnel are permitted to access on-site facilities. 

 

Impact on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

In light of the disproportionate impact of the campus closure on faculty with children living at home and faculty supporting other people in their homes (whether parents, relatives, or sick members of their family), the Continuity of Research Task Force urge PIs, department chairs, and deans to consider EDI issues when making decisions about ramping up research. Early career faculty, postdocs, and graduate students are more likely to have young children at home (and lack daycare during the COVID-19 crisis), potentially making both work from home and returning to campus nearly impossible. Researchers should not be penalized and, where possible, flexible accommodations should be considered.

Even with the ramping up of digitization and remote access to collections, certain kinds of research may not be able to move forward until travel restrictions are lifted (e.g., some kinds of on-site research, field work, archival visits, and community engaged research). Research with and on underserved and/or vulnerable communities will be disproportionately affected, as will faculty working with these communities. Since the implications for career development and tenure and promotion are significant, the Task Force calls on both our colleagues across campus and the campus leadership to recognize, and where possible mitigate, these extenuating circumstances when evaluating productivity. 

 

Ethical Considerations and Resources

As research teams return to research, they may encounter specific situations that are not addressed by policies or regulations. Some of these may be ethical questions. For example, not everyone on a team will agree on what counts as a “reasonable risk.” How should PIs or lab supervisors react if this happens? Not everyone can contribute to the research as much as they could before. Some employees may have unavoidable care-giver duties, such as home-schooling their children. Others required to work remotely may struggle with online communication. Differences in amount of work will cause inequities in workload. How should PIs and supervisors handle this? As research is modified due to the pandemic, what work is still appropriately charged to externally-funded grants? How should employees or supervisors handle non-compliance by others with COVID-19 best practices? These are just examples from a universe of possible concerns.

Research teams are always challenged by issues such as these, but the pandemic and resulting new requirements can be expected to exacerbate many of these clashes of interests and present situations that are not obviously consistent with our previous experiences. Clearly no “one-size-fits-all” advice is applicable here. However, it is useful to bear in mind the asymmetry in the balance of power. PIs and supervisors have a moral responsibility to take into account the exceptional situations many of their employees are in and to ensure that they feel that they are in a safe and healthy working environment.

In light of these potential ethical challenges, ORA has established an ad hoc committee with expertise in ethics. The committee members are available to discuss these questions when they arise, raising issues to consider and connecting the issues to existing ethical norms and practices. The role of this committee is to help articulate questions and options, and to consult or refer to additional experts as needed. However, the ultimate responsibility for decisions will rest with the PIs, Chairs, and Deans. Please contact research@ucsd.edu.

If you need help or have questions about research ramp-up procedures, please email researchrampup@ucsd.edu.