Frequently Asked Questions
- What qualifies as a “limited research activity”?
Limited research in this context is defined as “activities that can be conducted safely with limited personnel and COVID-19 specific protocols for reduced personnel density, physical distancing, and sanitizing workspaces.” Visit this page for more information.
- Should my department/unit plan to return to on-campus work?
All personnel should continue to work from home whenever possible, and accommodations should be made to allow people at high risk for severe illness to continue to telecommute long term.
- Will there be any guidance for research that doesn’t involve laboratories?
Yes – we now have separate protocols for laboratory, clinical/human subjects, field-based, and arts/humanities/social science research. If we have not adequately addressed your research area, please let us know. See the Research Operation Levels Table for more information.
- Can undergraduate student workers or volunteers who are not researchers come to campus?
Presently, all undergraduate work for the Summer 2020 semester must be remote, and undergraduate students are not permitted to return to campus. Please try to accommodate undergraduate students with remote work options. Guidance about student activities for Fall semester is not yet available.
- Will we have to wear masks on campus?
Medical grade masks, including N95 respirators and surgical masks, are still reserved for our health care workers. However, members of the campus community are expected to follow the current state of Utah guidelines for wearing face coverings in public spaces or settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Cloth face coverings are not PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and they are not a substitute for physical distancing, but they may help people around you if you are unknowingly infected but asymptomatic. The University is currently procuring a supply of cloth face coverings for staff, faculty, and students. If these supplies are not yet available when you need to return to campus, we ask that you please bring an alternative that follows CDC guidelines in the interim.
- Will laboratories have access to PPE for hazardous procedures?
If you are a PI that works with hazardous materials or procedures, you will need to provide the appropriate PPE to your personnel if they are to conduct lab work. We realize that many labs generously donated their PPE to the University Hospital and Clinics. As a result, Procurement and Contracting Services has been working hard to procure gloves, safety glasses, hand sanitizers, and sanitizing wipes for research personnel. While the Hospital and Clinics have priority over research labs, purchasing staff have been able to find sufficient supplies and many items are in stock in the campus general stores. Please note that if your non-clinical research requires N95 masks, these are not possible to source at this time and this research may need to be temporarily suspended.
- Will my building receive sanitization and other facilities services?
Custodial service is provided in research buildings with labs, including the disinfection of touchpoints in common areas. Custodial staff are provided with PPE. If some areas of your research building will remain vacant and don’t require service, please let facilities know in order to limit exposure for custodial staff. Placing signage in areas that are closed and don’t require service will further assist custodial staff. Conversely, if your unit has other spaces where researchers need access such as secure data rooms, libraries, or studios, please make sure that facilities has these areas on their cleaning schedule. Note that offices should remain vacant unless absolutely necessary. Under Limited Research Operations, only activities that can’t be conducted remotely should take place on campus; most office work must still be conducted from home.
- Does the “Limited Researh Activities Phase" change travel restrictions?
No, the current travel restrictions remain in effect until at least December 11. Note that driving locally to off-campus locations for University business, including field research, constitutes travel. To request permission for this work, see the travel restriction website.
- Who is responsible for enforcing the requirements on physical distancing, sanitization,
and face coverings?
The obligations of PIs, departments chairs, and deans are described in the University Health and Safety Policy 3-300. As a reminder:
Supervisors, faculty, and principal investigators are responsible to provide safe and healthy environments for those areas and personnel for whom they have supervisory or administrative responsibility, and to be continuously cognizant of the health and safety needs of all co-workers and employees for whom they are responsible.
Deans and department chairs are responsible to ensure that activities in their unit are in compliance with all applicable, rules, regulations and standards. To meet these obligations, deans and department chairs may define limited research activities more specifically as appropriate for their unit.
Environmental Health and Safety will continue to conduct weekly walk-throughs of all research buildings to spot-check compliance and issue reminders, when necessary. EHS will also continue to monitor research spaces for compliance with regular EHS guidelines and requirements as well as COVID-19 specific protocols.
For research involving laboratories and/or hazardous materials and procedures overseen by EHS, researchers will have conditional approval to proceed with limited research activities after they complete this checklist, and otherwise comply with instructions and procedures from deans and safety committees in their college.
- What happens if there is a case or suspected case of COVID-19 in a research building/lab,
core, or other research-related facility?
Specific guidance can be found on this page.
- Are the Research Operation Levels fluid?
Yes. UU research may transition between different Research Operation Levels based on the COVID-19 climate, or other emergency alerts such as an earthquake, active shooter, etc. Please refer to the VPR COVID website for continual updates.
- Is COVID-19 testing required?
The UU does not currently have the capacity to test individuals. Please follow self-report instructions in the Research Operation Table guidance document.
- Will key card access continue to be required for accessing research buildings?
Yes. Key card access to research buildings will continue during Limited Research Activies phase.
- Are the core facilities open for business? What restrictions are in place?
Yes. The majority of campus-wide cores are open. Use of cores are tailored by core directors. Use of PPE and cleaning/disinfecting of equipment/locations will be posted by each core.
Is there a way to report health and safety concerns or violations?
Workplace hazards, including non-compliance of physical distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols, can be reported through the EHS hazard form.
In addition, unethical or illegal activities in the workplace such as research misconduct, bullying behavior, or conflicts of interest can be reported through the ethics hotline.
Can I conduct field work under "Limited Research" conditions?
While state and campuswide travel restrictions are in effect, you must get permission to travel to field sites. As of this writing, travel for all university business, including field work, is restricted until June 30. The campus COVID-19 travel website explains the process for obtaining travel waivers. You will be asked to justify the urgent nature of your request, and why your travel can’t be postponed. You will also need to explain your safety procedures, which should follow the fieldwork portion of the COVID-19 research protocols, in addition to any other requirements of your department, school, or college.