Principles for Restarting Labs
This document refers to research conducted in UCF research spaces, including the physical campus and campus owned/leased spaces, astronomical observatories, or field stations and nature reserves, or with direct contact with individuals (human participants) anywhere.
We do not intend to cover research that can be done entirely remotely. On-campus research includes a physical presence in campus libraries, archives, and museums to access any university material that cannot be accessed remotely, as well as performance work, visual arts, or other studio access that must be done on campus.
To keep everyone safe, while increasing research activity in a phased approach as safety becomes easier to maintain.
Our framework is informed by the following principles and observations.
Follow the cognizant Local, State, and National Public Health Authority directives to shelter-at-home and implement social distancing.
- Recommendations and guidelines from relevant state and local web sites will be followed. Examples include:
- Local UCF information will continue to be updated on our COVID-19 safety page.
Protect the health and safety of the research workforce, emotional as well as physical. Protect the health and safety of our clinical patients and human subjects.
- No researcher should feel they are being compelled to work on campus or in the field during periods when normal university operations are disrupted. Safety within laboratories must be rigorously maintained, with adequate access to PPE and other safety-related supplies. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) must be made aware of all research activities within university spaces. Labs will not be authorized for access unless adequate safety supplies are identified as being available. More information regarding access to supplies (e.g., disinfectants, masks, gloves) please call the Department of Emergency Management at (407) 882-7111.
- PIs must identify who among their workforce are considered to be critical personnel (and replacements/backups). Faculty, students, and staff involved in research who feel uncomfortable about their work situation can anonymously report their concerns.
These reports will be investigated by the Vice President for Research, and other leadership as appropriate, including Deans and Department Chairs. Likewise, anyone who feels that they observe unsafe processes or procedures should report their concerns here.
- Lifting of travel restrictions are necessary before you can do so.
- A number of research projects have successfully and safely transitioned to being fully remote, requiring infrequent or no access to university spaces. Researchers who are conducting research remotely should continue to do so until the university resumes normal operations.
Research experiences for undergraduates are important to their career preparation.
- Where it can be demonstrated that the undergraduate student is an essential research team member (paid member of the research team or at the PI’s discretion, with approval from your chair or director) and that research must be performed in person at a research site, undergraduate students are permitted to have access to research laboratories.
Implement a fair and transparent process for granting access.
- A Lab Reopening Task Force defined different research tiers (laboratory/research activities) to organize the way lab teams will be allowed back on campus.
- Prior to gaining access to a lab, researchers must complete all outstanding EH&S training, and a new training prepared specifically for COVID-19 – Research Restart EHS222, select the EHSA Login.
- The majority of people on campus are following the rules; a small number of abuses are inevitable; deans, directors and department chairs, with assistance from EH&S, should be engaged in the kind of educational and other interventions that encourage and support compliance. Remember, you may report concerns/abuses here.
Ensure as rapid a research restart as the public health conditions permit.
- Prior to accessing labs, PIs should consider questions regarding lab readiness found here.
- In all cases, researchers identified in these tiers will be allowed back on campus, and laboratory activities resumed provided that appropriate equipment is available in the space to allow for the health and safety of researchers. To request access to supplies (e.g., disinfectants, masks, gloves) contact the Department of Emergency Management at (407) 882-7111.
- Researchers must commit to strictly follow the safety protocols established by EH&S. This will include certifying they and their lab team have completed all training and completion of the COVID-19 Research Restart Written Procedures.
- Each person (PI, students, postdocs, lab staff, etc.) entering and leaving the lab will be required to complete check-in and check- out electronic form daily.
- All-access for research staff must be scheduled in advance to ensure adherence to lab density requirements of 1 person per 200 square feet.
Participate in finding cures and preventions for COVID-19, and in assessing the economic, political, and cultural impacts of the virus, while increasing the safe access to all patients to clinical trials for their conditions.
Note: UCF’s document was inspired and heavily borrowed (with permission) from various documents prepared by the University of California system, the APLU, and the University of Washington, among others. A special thank you to UCF Berkeley for sharing its Principles and Framework Guiding a Phased Approach to Restarting Research Activity document.