As we approach the beginning of another unprecedented time in UConn’s history, my team and I have provided guidance on several topics related to the continued resumption of research. Since May, researchers have shown that with proper procedures, adherence to guidelines, and community commitment, it was possible to return to the critically important research projects happening throughout UConn. Throughout this process, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has adhered to President Katsouleas’ message that in order to educate our students in a pandemic, we must all work together and to provide a safe learning environment. Students returning to UConn campuses must also commit to the “UConn Promise” to help keep the UConn community safe, including strictly abiding by rules that require a campus quarantine to start the semester, face mask usage at all times, and keeping physical distance from one another. Similar requirements of masking and distancing are mandated by the state for off-campus residents, as well as quarantines for those from most outside states. These guidelines will not only help to keep our students in the classroom, they will help to keep researchers in the lab, field, and clinic.
While most labs have already resumed activities under the current process, which requires approval from the OVPR, some faculty and students may have questions about what is required to continue or initiate new research projects in the fall. As of August 31, 2020 when the campus reopens, obtaining written approval from the OVPR for Resuming Research Activity is no longer necessary to engage in research on any of UConn’s campuses. The following guidance outlines additional aspects of conducting research at UConn for the Fall Re-Opening.
Guidance for Fall 2020 Lab, Field, and Human Subjects Research
- Approval from the OVPR for “Resuming Research Activity” will no longer be required for conducting research at any UConn campus.
- Labs and research programs must continue to develop and maintain a written COVID-19 Research Safety Plan (Lab and Field Research COVID-19 Safety Plan or Human Subjects COVID-19 Safety Plan), but submission and approval of Research Safety Plans to the OVPR will no longer be required. Departments and administrative offices are required to perform a detailed risk assessment, set site-specific prevention protocols, and to have the resulting safety plan approved by their leadership. If your department does not already have an approved COVID-19 safety plan in place, please use the Return to Campus COVID-19 Protection Plan template to prepare to return to work on campus.
- Research personnel must continue to be trained on the plan and documentation of the training must be maintained.
- Research personnel must continue to complete COVID-19 Research Safety Training from the Division of Environmental Health and Safety. Documentation of completion must be retained as part of Research Safety Plan documentation.
- Research Safety Plans may be amended as necessary. If a plan is amended, all personnel must be retrained on the amended plan and training must be documented.
- Research Safety Plans should continue to address federal and state guidelines and requirements.
- Lab and research personnel must follow University wide and campus specific COVID-19 requirements.
- Research Safety Plans must allow for distancing of at least six feet, with the goal of maintaining an overall personnel density of 50% or less of the pre-COVID occupancy/density. If this is not possible then the Safety Plan must justify why and specify what measures will be put in place to minimize the potential of exposure.
- For research involving human subjects, Research Safety Plans should be developed based on the clinical requirements of UConn Health, even if those projects take place on another UConn campus. If this is not possible, the Research Safety Plan must justify why and specify what measures will be put in place to minimize the potential of exposure.
- Labs and research programs should maintain a process to know when personnel are working in the labs or research areas. Labs and research programs may develop their own methods to achieve this goal. Signed daily logs will no longer be required as the only acceptable method. Other acceptable methods include key card access, electronic check-ins, or use of location-based apps. Some schools and colleges may also have processes in place for monitoring building density and access.
- Labs and research programs should continue to have and refine plans to immediately halt or ramp down research activities, if required.
- The summer requirements/processes for undergraduates to participate in research will no longer be required. Guidance for Fall Undergraduate Research and Independent Study Courses has been issued.
While we reopen UConn for academic activities, we thank you for your dedication to the health and safety of your labs and the UConn community. If you have additional questions, more information can be found on the OVPR website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship