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VPR COVID-19 Update - May 19, 2021

Dear Research Community,

The Office of the Vice President for Research would like to express our sincere appreciation to the U research community for working together throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We are now entering a phase of the pandemic where we are transitioning from mandated requirements, such as required mask usage in all buildings, to voluntary precautions based on personal and collective responsibilities. Members of the campus community are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. The VPR Office has updated allowable research activities and protocols to reflect this transition, and to remain consistent with UofU and CDC guidelines. U Research will be transitioning to “Modified Research Activities”, effective May 24th, 2021. Please visit the Research Operation Levels table for full details. Below are some of the highlighted updates:

  • “Modified” Research Activities are defined as research activities that can be safely conducted under current CDC, University of Utah, and normal EHS guidelines and recommendations.
  • Unvaccinated personnel are highly encouraged to continue utilizing face coverings and keep 6-feet of physical separation, according to CDC guidelines. Beginning May 24th, 2021, masks and face coverings will no longer be required in University of Utah facilities. Please note that masks will continue to be required inside University of Utah Health facilities and where clinical patient or medical care is provided. Masks are recommended to be worn in shared/public spaces where the vaccination status of all personnel and visitors is not known. In no case should the use of face coverings by an individual be actively discouraged, called out, or penalized.
  • Proper PPE is required in all laboratory settings. The essential role of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must remain a daily part of the life of safety, research, and healthcare professionals. The University is obligated under a number of Federal and State health and safety regulations, including but not limited to OSHA, to provide necessary PPE to ensure safety and well-being of our workers during their job activities. This includes requirements for lab coats, gloves, eye protection, and respiratory protection, such as respirators or face coverings, when warranted by the conditions of the workplace or activity being conducted.The selection of required PPE is based on a hazard evaluation of the laboratory operations and is documented in the EHS Safety Administrative Management (SAM) system.EHS has provided a PPE hazard assessment worksheet to help identify the proper PPE. Please contact your assigned EHS Occupational Safety Specialist for help in completing the PPE hazard assessment.
  • Frequent hand washing is encouraged, providing protection against COVID-19 as well as other easily transmissible illnesses, such as the cold and flu. Individuals should NOT come to work if they are feeling ill, and may be asked to leave the workplace by their supervisors. If you are feeling ill, you should take sick time or arrange with your supervisor to work remotely.

Thank you for keeping our campus communities healthy and safe. The U’s research community did not have a single case of transmission spread from lab-to-lab over the last year. This is truly remarkable. We are very humbled by the care and support our U research community has for each other. U Research continues to reach new heights despite this challenging period, and we appreciate your efforts in keeping research operations running smoothing and safely as possible.

Sincerely,

Andy Weyrich, Vice President for Research
Diane Pataki, Associate Vice President for Research
Erin Rothwell, Associate Vice President for Research Integrity & Compliance

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Last Updated: 5/25/21