Research Restart Plan

The University of Arizona has committed to providing services to maintain and protect the health and welfare of its students, staff and faculty has identified a plan to inform the campus re-entry process across many domains. The University of Arizona’s overall Re-Entry Plan includes the following guiding principles.  (https://provost.arizona.edu/content/campus-re-entry-plan-working-group). 

University of Arizona Guiding Principles

The following principles have guided our prioritization of approaches for safely reopening campus to University of Arizona students, staff, and faculty:

  1. Equitable outcomes for all students, staff, and faculty regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or their need to refrain from in-person activities due to concerns about COVID-19;
  2. Rapid identification and containment of COVID-19 case clusters in the University of Arizona communities;
  3. On-campus and off-campus isolation options and wrap-around wellness services for students, staff, and faculty with confirmed COVID-19 infection;
  4. Protection of individuals in our University of Arizona community, and their family members, who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease, or to harassment or discrimination;
  5. Commitment to transparent and participatory decision making with regard to reopening University of Arizona campuses with clear and consistent communication protocols; and
  6. Vigilance in regular review and updating of approaches according to a rapidly emerging evidence base with active monitoring by key advisors from across University of Arizona colleges and support units.

 

Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) defined additional principles to supplement those in the UArizona plan. These principles were established to support the broader University of Arizona re-entry efforts and reopening of the campus, and to protect the health and safety of the University of Arizona research workforce, clinical patients, community partners, and human research subjects:

  1. Protect the careers of early career faculty/researchers.
  2. Protect the ability of our students to complete their degrees.
  3. Provide clear and fair guidance on research restart.    
  4. Participate in COVID-19 research, Testing, Tracing, and Treatment.

 

A rolling start approach is recommended to:

  • conduct a successful restart and climb-out process that brings UArizona research back to full strength;
  • fully protect our researchers, students, their human research subjects, and community partners;
  • provide appropriate care for animal subjects;
  • maintain compliance with all regulatory requirements.

This document represents a six-phase approach to research on campus, which will be used to restart research. The research phase the University is in will be determined by RII using a combination of factors and consultation with the new Incident Command Unit and the Associate Deans for Research.  If positive COVID-19 infections rise dramatically at any time, the University will revert to an earlier phase appropriate to the new conditions. Research sites outside of the Tucson area may be experiencing the pandemic’s effects differently than we are on the main campus. In this case, the appropriate re-entry phases in Tucson and at remote research sites may not match. Researchers will need to understand their local conditions wherever they are and be able to classify their situations appropriately. It is only by such agile decision making that UArizona researchers will be able to mitigate the possibility of placing a community at elevated risk by conducting research there.

In this document, field research includes but is not limited to all research taking place off-campus, in settings that involve human co-location or interaction, or that require travel (including locally) to reach them. This could include, but is not limited to, environmental and agricultural research at field stations, social science research in community settings, humanities research in off-campus archives, and creative productions in off-campus arts or related venues.

The campus must deploy primary public health controls to slow the transmission and reduce the mortality associated with COVID-19. These control measures include:  

  • availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • environmental measures such as enhanced cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing;
  • the readiness of the campus and local health care systems and the campus infrastructure. 

 

Dependencies

An effective and compliant research restart will require many people from many areas of campus to collaborate. This document is not meant to duplicate or supersede guidance on areas that are not in the purview of Research, Innovation & Impact (RII), such as, but not limited to: 

 

Sanitation/Cleaning

Facilities Management cleaning process.

Facial Coverings/PPE

Cloth facial coverings will be required outside of research areas where PPE is already a requirement.

UA Face Covering Graphic 

Guidance on face coverings in the laboratory 

More information on the availability of PPE will be posted.

Testing/Tracing

Guidance on wellness checks/screening is forthcoming, including any role the UA might have in providing materials/supplies.

Technology must supplement, not supplant, in-person public health contact tracing methods.

Back to pre-virus conditions is not assumed without a viable vaccine and/or treatment.

Buildings/Signage

The UA Campus Re-Entry team is discussing signage and other visual materials to manage distancing issues and personnel limits in both confined and outdoor spaces.

Compliance Monitoring

Additional compliance from RII compliance units related to COVID-19 will be posted online.  

The compliance hotline/site will remain in place for reporting.  

Travel

Travel restrictions remain in place.

UA Libraries

The University of Arizona Libraries is making plans for reopening to support researchers and their work.  Read the update.  

Clinical Activities in Banner Health space Clinical activity in Banner space (both Tucson and Phoenix) is subject to their policies, guidelines, and approval processes.

Restarting Research Checklist - Qualtrics  

Checklist FAQs 

If you need assistance with the checklist or would like to submit a FAQ, please email research-re-start@list.arizona.edu.  If you need to check status of a checklist, please contact your college ADR first.  

Submit checklist information through the Qualtrics link (above).  The linked PDF and word documents are for planning purposes only. 

Safe Return to the University Workplace (draft) 

Human Subjects - Documents approved June 23, 2020 

Handling Human Samples (RLSS Guidance) 

Field Research (coming soon)

A return to the safe operation of research on campus requires the implementation of multiple mitigation strategies. Contact RLSS if you would like help assessing your situation and determining the best strategies for research re-entry. Best practices should include:

Implement multiple mitigation strategies that together provide a high level of safety. One of these must be physical distancing to the extent possible.

  • Researchers should work remotely as much as possible and engage human subjects remotely where possible (and with IRB approval).
  • Perform daily wellness checks, stay home if exhibiting any symptoms, and contact their health care provider.
  • Spacing: The following guidelines must be adopted for shared research spaces: no more than one (1) individual per 144 square foot per room/workspace. Other documented and approved approaches may be allowed.
  • Single occupancy only in vehicles when traveling to and from field sites for field research.

Utilize engineering controls to prevent transmission and researcher exposures by:

  • Blocking pathways and placing cues on the floor to indicate acceptable physical distances for workers.
  • Removing unneeded soft or porous surfaces and covering remaining porous surfaces (e.g., fabric chairs) with nonporous and disposable materials such as plastic covers.
  • Ensuring that conventional lab and room ventilation works appropriately; and if possible, increasing air changes per hour rates in all workspaces.
  • Segregating workspaces to comply with CDC guidance ensuring at least 144 square feet per person for shared spaces. Other documented and approved approaches may be allowed.

Create and implement new work practices to reduce COVID-19 transmission, such as:

  • Creating shifts (AM/PM) or altered schedules (e.g., alternating days, weeks, etc.).
  • Disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces at least once daily, with higher traffic areas being cleaned more often.
  • Modifying work tasks to increase distancing.
  • Washing hands frequently, following CDC guidelines.
  • COVID19 Cleaning Guidance from University of Arizona Facilities Management.

In addition to the above controls and new work practices, use of personal protective equipment, e.g. face masks, face shields, and/or respirators, are the primary controls.

  • CDC guidelines for facial coverings should be strictly adhered to; and
  • Masks should not interfere with other PPE, like safety goggles or face shields.

Local External Conditions 

Situation unknown and changing 

COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise, testing limited, PPE shortage 

Summary

Only research defined as essential is allowed, and researchers must have an approved waiver for such activities. 

Essential research may include:

  • Research involving humans, animals, and plants
  • COVID-19 research (studies of COVID-19 and/or the treatment of patients with COVID-19) 
  • Catastrophic loss (experiments that cannot be stopped immediately without irreplaceable loss of important cells, human and animal subjects, crops, materials, long-term data collection, equipment)
  • Significant harm to a long-term program, the continuity of which is essential 
  • Student completion (requiring final experiments or continuous data collection by a student who is scheduled to graduate this semester) 

Operational Activities - ALL 

Research offices, facilities, field stations, and partners are closed, except where personnel are required to protect life, safety, and Essential research infrastructure/capability

  • All units operating with minimum staffing
  • Authorization limited access to faculty offices to pick up books and materials, shut down instrumentation, etc. delegated to deans
  • Departments have submitted COOP / Mitigation Plans in anticipation of next Phase
  • Closed labs have submitted shutdown plans to RLSS 
  • Agricultural production deemed essential by Governor's executive order 

Best Practices: 

Physical distancing is the primary strategy:

  • Workers should minimize their presence; stay home if symptoms are present, and contact Campus Health and/or their Primary Care Provider (PCP) if they become concerned that they’ve contracted COVID-19 
  • Remote work only, except in “essential” cases
  • Researchers must complete waivers to continue research operations
  • Ramp work down safely and in compliance with RLSS guidance for temporary lab closures and in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements

Local External Conditions 

COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise, testing limited, PPE shortages 

Additional State/Local directives in place curtailing activities 

Local Campus Research Conditions 

COVID-19 cases occurring within campus (research) population with evidence that these cases are resulting in transmission to additional members of the campus community 

Summary

On-campus access allow to conduct research under approved conditions, maintain research capability or prevent catastrophic disruption; extreme measures in place to assure health and safety.  

Researchers must have additional approval for Phase 2 operations via resubmitted of checklist approved for Phase 3 (if ramping down from Phase 3 or higher. 

Operational Activities - ALL  

Research access allowed to conduct research under approved conditions, maintain research capability or prevent catastrophic disruption; extreme measure in place to assure health and safety.  

  • Research involving face-to-face interaction is not allowed, except in cases of clinical safety or COVID-19 research.  All human subjects work in Banner Health space is subject to their approval before proceeding.  
  • Students may be approved to participate. 

 


Preparation for the next phase: 

  • Necessary UA facilities/services are staffed and operational
  • Core campus functions are staffed and operational to handle increased load (Facilities, RLSS, Campus Health, etc.) 
  • Teams are able to purchase necessary supplies
  • Face coverings are required on campus 
  • Physical distancing and cleaning measures are well understood and in place 
  • Researchers are monitoring conditions at research sites, including, but not limited to, travel regulations, site requirements for visitors, etc.,  

Local External Conditions

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations stabilize

COVID-19 testing capacity increases

PPE shortages may still exist

Public health authorities & Governor relax restrictions on ‘essential workers’

Local schools still closed/ teaching remotely for rest of academic year

Other educational and health agencies may be open (youth centers, special ed/needs providers, health services providers

Exposure Alerting Pilot begins for volunteer labs, which may include Technology-Assisted Contact Tracing (TACT), symptom query apps, PCR, and serological testing on campus

Summary

Definition of “essential”

Work under previously approved waivers, and expanded or new work must have an approved Re-Entry Checklist

Guidance drafted for non-lab-based field research & work 

All research that can be done remotely should continue in that manner

Activities meeting the CDC and University safety guidelines and having Phase 3 re-entry checklist approval can proceed at their best pace. 

Plans for sudden return to Phase 1 or 2 in place

Operational Details – ALL Activities

Examples of research activities: 

  • Animal experiments where a delay would result in euthanasia or loss of a colony
  • Prioritize access for students and postdocs completing their degree/term of appointment.
  • Prioritize research for completion of grants where funding agency has not granted leniency on the end date. Documentation from sponsor requiring continued work may be requested. 
  • Core facilities: restart facilities based on sufficient customer demand where work cannot be done remotely
  • Human research coordinate with the IRB, and Banner, if applicable 

Operational Details - Non-lab based

  • Seasonal data collection such as field and agricultural work, experiments close to completion, or deadline driven, where a pause or deferral would lead to catastrophic delay or loss of research results.
  • Field research: expand approvals depending on what current restrictions are in the counties/states/countries where field research is to be conducted.

Preparation for the next phase:

  • Core campus functions are staffed and operational to handle increased load (Facilities, RLSS, Campus Health, etc.)
  • More core facilities are staffed and operational
  • Research teams are able to purchase necessary supplies
  • Physical distancing, face coverings, and cleaning measures are well understood and in place (e.g., face coverings for all on-campus personnel required) 
  • Researchers are monitoring conditions at research sites, including, but not limited to, travel regulations, site requirements for visitors, etc.  

 

Local External Conditions 

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decrease.

COVID-19 testing capacity near maximum of needed.

Continue Exposure Alert Pilot for volunteer labs, along with more widespread use of TACT; sufficient contact tracers trained and protocols in place for notifications and quarantine/isolation. 

PPE widely available.

Further relaxation of restrictions - standards for return to normal. 

Local schools/Education providers open for in-person activities/teaching/learning.

Summary

Gradually expand # of people on campus while maintaining distancing 

New on-campus research allowed, and personnel density guidance should be followed. All research that can be done remotely should continue to be, including all seminars, group meetings, etc.

Plans for sudden return to Phase 1, 2, or 3 are in place.

Operational Details - ALL Activities 

Must maintain distancing, not exceed the max occupancy per building and require the use of symptom query and Bluetooth contact tracing apps. 

Operational Details - Non-Lab Based 

Field Research - expand on a case-by-case basis (depending on local conditions/restrictions at field sites, travel restrictions, ability to travel safely, and ability to physically distance at field sites).


Best Practices: 

  • Continue to employ physical distancing, engineering controls, and new work practices to continue to reduce transmissions. 
  • Monitor the number of COVID19 cases and reassess operational posture if there is a resurgence of the virus or cases in your team’s area.

Local External Conditions 

New cases of COVID-19 are low.

COVID-19 testing is at maximum-needed capacity.

Exposure Alert Pilot transitions to Program; contact tracing and quarantine of contacts continue.

Sustained normal PPE availability. 

Further relaxation of restrictions - standards for activity are based on capacity to physically distance.

Local schools/Education providers open for in-person activities/teaching/learning.

Summary

Continued expansion of on-campus research while maintaining physical distancing.

New on-campus research allowed, and personnel density guidance should be followed. 

All research that can be done remotely should continue to be, including all seminars, group meetings, etc.

Plans for sudden return to Phase 1, 2, 3, or 4 in place.

Operational Details - ALL Activities 

Access to offices allowed generally, with attention to distancing and cleaning.

Access to libraries, collections, studio spaces, performance spaces, and labs with distancing and the disinfection of materials.

Operational Details - Non-Lab Based 

Field Research - expand on a case-by-case basis (depending on local conditions/restrictions at field sites, travel restrictions, ability to travel safely, and ability to physically distance at field sites).


Best Practices: 

  • Continue to employ physical distancing, engineering controls, and new work practices to continue to reduce transmissions. 
  • Monitor the number of COVID19 cases and reassess operational posture if there is a resurgence of the virus or cases in your team’s area.

 

Local External Conditions 

Vaccine widely available and used in combination with widespread testing and identification of new COVID-19 cases, with quarantining/isolation.

Exposure Alert Program, contact tracing and quarantine of contacts continue.

No or minimal state restrictions.

Summary

All types of on-site research are allowed.  

Operational Details - ALL Activities 

Restart remaining normal research operations. 


Best Practices: 

  • Continue to follow the latest CDC guidance on minimizing potential spread.  Encourage vaccination and maintain safe work practices to reduce potential spread.