Research Continuity Overview

Researchers will be allowed to return to Normal Activity.

Normal Activity

  • While normal activites are allowed adherance to all campus guidelines is till required.
  • Details are included in the university’s Research Continuity plan, developed based on recommendations from the COVID-19 Response Team and Research subcommittee.
  • Researchers should be prepared to adjust, including returning to previous levels, if the situation changes.

Failure to abide by the directives and guidelines posted here and in the Research Continuity plan may result in restrictions or loss of laboratory privileges.

These guidelines should in no way supersede basic lab safety practices.

Resources for Researchers:

Level 0: Shut-Down
Short term physical access for vital activities.

Level 1: Essential-Only
Essential activities requiring physical access, limited as much as possible.

Level 2: Critical
Critical/Time-Sensitive/Essential activities where on-campus physical activity is required.

Level 3: Restricted
Restricted activities are many of the normal activities where a physical presence on-campus is desirable, but socially or temporally distanced as much as possible and only approved after review.

Level 4: Normal

Research Activity - Definitions

Plans for each level of research activity must be proposed by the researcher and properly reviewed and approved, balancing risks and costs, whether an activity appears to be allowed or prohibited at a given level. (See link above for sample Research Plans and templates.) These definitions and examples are not meant to be overly prescriptive in terms of the specific activities that might be permitted or forbidden at each level. They are general guidance that must be interpreted and implemented with common sense but never in isolation by a single researcher. 

Vital Activity

Vital research activities are limited to specific tasks that require a physical presence on-campus, which are absolutely required for the long-term health of the research enterprise or would cause immediate and lasting harm if not accomplished.  Examples could include care of very expensive or unique animals and plants, maintenance of irreparable cell lines, safe shutdown of equipment or disposal of volatile or unstable chemicals which would otherwise require ongoing attention to be safely stored, and maintenance of equipment which cannot be shut down, for example, cryogen replacement in superconducting magnets, or building infrastructure, such as belt replacement in air handling units or repairs of water line leaks, that cannot be deferred during a restriction on research. In this situation the goal of allowed activity is not to conduct on-campus research but to avoid long-term and lasting damage that will greatly disrupt future research work. An exception is specifically-targeted research activities such as projects addressing the COVID-19 crisis, human subject research that would endanger research participant lives if stopped, and limited on-campus IT activities that enable remote work.  

Essential  Activity

Essential research activities could include animal and plant care or maintenance of cell lines where replacement is possible, but a major inconvenience, and maintenance of equipment or building infrastructure that potentially could be shut down but might require an extended time frame or large expense to restart, for example equipment under high vacuum or clean room operation.

Critical Activity

Critical research activities are identified and prioritized at the Unit level, to be those activities with the greatest time and research productivity constraints. These can include time sensitive activities, for example, graduate students and postdoctoral associates close to completing their degree/term of appointment and research for completion of grants with end dates within 6 months, where the funding agency has not granted leniency. Activities could include, but are not limited to, seasonal data collection such as field and agricultural work, experiments close to completion, or projects whose continued restriction or deferral would lead to catastrophic delay or loss of research results and subsequent success. Limited core facility access may also be granted depending on the nature of the activity.

Restricted Activity

Restricted research activities are defined at the Unit level, to be those activities that either require or are significantly enhanced by physical presence in University spaces (such as laboratories), and/or require University resources that are not available in a remote setting. These activities should be socially or temporally distanced as much as practicable and must be planned, reviewed and approved.