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?
You can see the latest COVID safety policies from Human Resources HERE.
- Is there any guidance for research that doesn’t involve laboratories?
Yes – we 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?
The undergraduate research policy for spring 2021 can be found here. Policies for the 2021 summer semester are currently under review - please check back for updates.
- Will we have to wear masks on campus?
Members of the campus community are expected to follow the current University of Utah face covering policy.
- 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. Most PPE items are in stock in the campus general stores.
- 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 Research Activities Phase" change travel restrictions?
No, the current travel restrictions remain in effect until June 30, 2021. 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 U strongly encourages weekly surveillance testing of asymptomatic personnel who visit campus. Testing is free and available to all faculty, staff, and students on campus. Per UHealth policy, investigators and research staff are responsible for ensuring that participants have been tested prior to research inpatient admissions and prior only to certain procedures in clinical and non-clinical areas of the university.
- 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 May 7, 2021. 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.
Are Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) or Limited AGPs allowed during research visits on campus?
Clinical AGP policy and guidance is available via Pulse. Please review and ensure compliance with appropriate use of portable HEPA filters, allow for adequate room turnover times and comply with PPE Use Guide. Specific AGP guidance, 11/12/20, can be found on this page, and is regardless of COVID test result. Compliant research space is available through the CCTS.