Research Ramp-Up

Research Resumption Request Forms

Research Resumption Resources

Communications

 

May 11, 2020

To: UC Santa Cruz Research Community
From: Scott Brandt, Vice Chancellor for Research
Subject: Planning for the Ramp-up of UCSC Research

Dear Colleagues,

With the release of Governor Newsom’s four-stage plan for reopening businesses and schools and even more recent statement about moving to early stage 2 of reopening on May 8, it is time to discuss UCSC’s gradual ramp-up of research operations. The general principles and points of consideration articulated below are intended to inform faculty and researchers, department chairs, deans, research unit/center directors, and research leadership in their planning and decision-making.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

UCSC’s top priority is the health and safety of its faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, UCSC will continue to comply with the current and future versions of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, as well as County public health directives, especially physical (social) distancing requirements.

Because ramping up research will increase the population density in UCSC facilities at a time when Santa Cruz County shelter-in-place orders are relaxing, the opportunity for COVID-19 infections remains and the possibility of a resurgence exists. Our research ramp-up plans must adhere to and exceed the physical distancing and other safety requirements established by public health authorities and must include the possibility of returning to a lower level of activity and population density as needed.

Ramping up research will begin slowly and carefully in approximately 2-3 weeks, initially with research that must take place in UCSC facilities and cannot be carried out at home and at densities that, as much as possible, mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission. Over time and with an abundance of caution, UCSC will gradually increase activity and the population density of its research facilities. As a general guideline, researchers should continue to perform research from home to the greatest extent possible. We appreciate the importance of campus offices to many researchers and will begin considering office access for research purposes when the Governor announces a move to late Stage 2. If your research requires access to library content please see https://guides.library.ucsc.edu/remote-access.

As the campus continues to ramp up on-site operations, additional public health precautions will be implemented. The campus is developing the testing and health monitoring protocols that will be implemented. These can include, but are not limited to: daily symptom monitoring, temperature checks, asymptomatic testing, contact tracing and antibody testing. Plans will be developed in coordination with the Office of the President and other UC campuses.

All researchers, including students, academic researchers, and support staff (technical and administrative), will be transitioned back to work slowly, taking into account physical distancing and personal protective equipment requirements. As the campus continues to scale up research operations, many students, staff, faculty, and researchers may face difficult emotions around returning to work. If you have concerns about returning to work, please consult with your appropriate Employee Relations analyst or academic personnel representative. The Employee Assistance Program also provides free, confidential resources for managing anxiety and workplace effectiveness, which may be helpful as the campus returns to in-person operations. 

Early-stage researchers, including graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, are in a particularly critical time in their academic and professional careers. Therefore, to the extent possible, ramp-up plans should prioritize getting these scholars back on track as soon as possible, and processes for granting access should be fair and transparent.

PLANNING PROCESS FOR ENABLING THE RESEARCH RAMP-UP

The planning process will proceed as follows, with the above general principles guiding plan development and consideration given to the points further below.

  1.   The official (e.g., Dean, Director) responsible for each building will develop an occupancy plan for each building/facility in which research is conducted, keeping in mind existing use by faculty teaching online courses and others approved via the exception process. Where building/facility oversight is shared, responsible officials should collaborate. While plans may differ between buildings/facilities, all plans should address: 
    1. Managing population density and accommodating physical distancing;
    2. Adherence to UCSC health and safety guidelines; and
    3. A process—probably via a committee—for reviewing and approving the ramp-up plans for independent labs and research programs housed in the building/facility.
  1.   Faculty members and researchers with independent laboratories/studios and research programs will develop plans for their space. These plans should be based on target densities and social distancing requirements (both of which will be provided), bearing in mind the dynamic nature of lab/studio activities and the use of common equipment in labs and studios, and include plans for disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and maintaining appropriate laboratory safety. (See https://officeofresearch.ucsc.edu/covid-19/research-ramp-up.html for planning templates and web forms for submittal, a Research Ramp-up Checklist, and COVID-19 Disinfection Guidance.)
  2.   The official(s) responsible (or their designated committee) for the buildings/facilities that house research space will review and approve plans deemed feasible within their building/facility occupancy plan. Approved plans will be forwarded by the Responsible Official(s) to the Office of Research (OR) for final review with Support Services/Facilities to ensure appropriate levels of operations support for the planned activities. Once approved by OR, the individual ramp-up plans may commence.
  3.   The Office of Research will communicate with the responsible officials as needed to inform them of any changes to the operational restrictions, such as target densities. They will use that information to determine which plans they may approve and at what level.

Initial Target Densities for labs/studios: Initial target densities will be 500-1000 sq. ft. per person. In smaller spaces, this means one person per room. In larger spaces, the specific amount of space allocated per person should depend upon the configuration and use of the space. For example, in the large shared labs in Biomed, we anticipate no more than 1 person per bay, with provisions to avoid 2 people in adjacent bays using benches that face each other.

Initial Target Densities for buildings will be determined in consultation with Support Services/Facilities and communicated to the official(s) responsible for each building.

Building/facility occupancy plans and individual research ramp-up plans should be considered living documents. As such, the owners of these plans are responsible for monitoring communications from the Office of Research regarding changes state and county public health orders, UCSC health and safety requirements, as well as any other applicable health and safety directives, and modifying their plans accordingly.

POINTS OF CONSIDERATION

By developing appropriately careful plans for ramping up research now, UCSC will continue to “flatten the curve” while also preparing to responsibly resume our research mission as safely and effectively as possible. 

Any questions or concerns may be sent to researchcontinuity@ucsc.edu. Additionally, the Office of Research will be holding divisional research ramp-up town hall meetings to go over the plans and address any questions.

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Research Resumption Request Forms

UCSC Research Recovery: Planning template | Web form 

UCSC Shared-Use and Recharge Facilities RecoveryPlanning template | Web form

These forms should only be submitted by the Faculty member, Research Scientist or Facility Director that is responsible for the space.

For the category which most closely matches your situation, complete the planning template and associated web form. Note: If you have already submitted a web form and do not have a link to edit it, please contact Michele Chamberlin at michambe@ucsc.edu to receive instructions on how to edit your request.

Field Work

UCSC Field Work Recovery: Planning template | Web form

Field work is a critical part of research activities on the UCSC campus and due to seasonal variation, critical work can only be done in small windows. Work that requires seasonal measurements can proceed as long as local and state shelter-in-place orders allow for the activity. Please submit the Fieldwork Recovery Plan found in the links below.

If you have already submitted an essential personnel request for field work, it is not required to submit a new form. However, if part of the work requires going into a lab space for supplies or sample preparation, you will need to submit a Research Recovery Form so that we can ascertain all building activity.

Please consider the following when preparing your Field Work Recovery Plan;

  • Transportation to/from the work site needs to be done with a single individual/vehicle, unless the individuals share a household.
  • Communication protocols need to be established between individuals in the field and PI for periodic check-ins.
  • If equipment/supplies/samples are needed from a campus location prior to work, this will need to be scheduled in coordination of on-going activities in a building. Same thing when samples need to be preserved at the end of the day (will need to fill out Research Recovery Form)
  • Consider plan to ensure distancing of at least 6’ while doing field work. In circumstances where proper social distancing is not feasible due to the activity, develop a plan for other methods of mitigation. One special item to consider is wind direction and the need to avoid being down wind of an individual for long periods.

Research Resumption Resources

Research Ramp-Up Checklist

COVID-19 Disinfection Guidance

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