Resuming On-Site and Field-Based Research Activities

This guide advises principal investigators, deans and Research Office employees on their roles in resuming on-site and field-based research activities at OSU in compliance with state and local health authority resumption requirements. The guide serves to support as much research activity as possible while ensuring the health and safety of OSU personnel and individuals in the communities in which OSU conducts research.

OSU is now Operating Under Research Resumption Stage 3

OSU continues to strive to support as much research activity as possible while fostering the health and safety of OSU personnel and individuals in the communities in which OSU conducts research.

Researchers or research teams seeking to resume research activities at locations other than personal residences (i.e., campus, field, research stations) must prepare research activity resumption plans and receive approval of these plans from their deans, if the research activity is a part of a college, or the vice president of research (VPR), if the research activity is a part of a center or institute that report to the Research Office. Activities that have already been deemed critical and are ongoing can continue as planned. Deans and the VPR may also continue to authorize critical research. All activities that can be effectively carried out from home should continue at home until further notice.

Return to research activities will occur in stages and will continue to follow guidance issued by the governor and public health officials.

Values

The approach to re-engaging OSU’s research enterprise will be consistent with the following values articulated by OSU’s Task Force for Research Continuity and Resilience.

  • HEALTH: The health of the OSU community and the communities in which we operate is the top priority.
  • VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Decisions about research should acknowledge and mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable populations.
  • ·VALUING ALL CONTRIBUTORS TO OUR RESEARCH MISSION: We support to the fullest extent possible all individuals who participate in our research enterprise.
  • STUDENT SUCCESS: Research is integral to the educational process of OSU students at all levels.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY AND COLLABORATION: Decisions about research should prioritize the judicious and collaborative use of resources.
  • CLARITY AND COMMUNICATION: The campus community should put effort into the thoughtful application of the resumption guidance to foster equitable access to research spaces.
  • FLEXIBILITY: Decisions about research should recognize complexity and allow for creativity and flexibility.
  • INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY: We are guided by OSU’s mission and values.

Prioritization

Below are characteristics of research programs that will receive priority. Note that accessing on-campus or on-site facilities solely as a matter of convenience is not prioritized.

  • Is essential to the success of complex and long-term projects.
  • Requires unique seasonal activities.
  • Involves work that has been delayed significantly by impacts of COVID.
  • Is essential to student degree and post-doctoral progress.
  • Involves brief on-site activities to facilitate continuation of remote work.
  • Maintains unique specimens and collections, plants and animals or cultures; highly specialized analytical, manufacturing, computing facilities; and field-based facilities.
  • Assures continuity of services that are essential to external stakeholders.
  • Initiates or continues research to address an imminent and severe threat to society, such as COVID-19.
  • Sustains fee-for-service activities.
  • Involves individual(s) who cannot otherwise perform work from home.

Requirements

To adhere to the values stated above, research activities should be planned to: o Be performed while adhering to OSU’s physical distancing policy and guidelines or using appropriate Personal Protective Equipment in line with OSU PPE guidance.

  • Be performed while adhering to improved cleaning protocols, following guidance from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
  • Maintain existing safety procedures (e.g., lab safety protocols).
  • Coordinate other activities in adjacent spaces to enable appropriate physical distancing
  • Involve a curtailment plan (see stage-specific guidance regarding timelines).
  • Adhere to training restrictions for each stage.

Timing of Research Activities Resumption

Resumption of research activities is anticipated to occur gradually and in several stages.

Research activities that satisfy all requirements above will receive the most expedient review and approval. Note that such research activities are resumed in a prioritized manner (not all at the same time) so that the density of people within OSU facilities adheres to guidelines, and OSU resources are utilized judiciously. Deans and the VPR will determine prioritization for college and center/institution activities, respectively (and will lead prioritization of the review of any research component related to human subjects, animals, biosafety, boating and diving).

Research activities that cannot satisfy all requirements must provide alternate mitigation strategies to address these requirement(s). Research activities that cannot adhere to the requirements above and do not employ mitigating strategies may require special considerations. In some cases, these activities may not be approved. Deans or Directors can contact the Research Office to explore options.

Approval Process

Researchers who are affiliated with a college (including centers and institutes that are housed in colleges) and are interested in research activities that are carried out in spaces under the purview of their college will seek approval from college leadership (dean or a delegate such as an Associate Dean for Research). Similarly, those associated with a center or institute who will be using facilities associated with that center or institute will seek approval from the Research Office leadership (VPR or a delegate). Researchers who are primarily affiliated with a specific college/center/institute but require access to facilities associated with a different college/center/institute must work with both leadership entities and receive approval from leadership associated with both units.

As research activities progress, researchers should plan on filing updated research resumption plans and seek approval as described above.

RESUMPTION STAGES

Research Preparatory Stage

Develop research activity resumption plans.

  • Resumption plans should be assembled as soon as possible, even if the desired resumption will occur in the future. This will allow time for review and revision and other additional necessary reviews (e.g. Human Research Protection Program, Animal Program, Biological safety).
  • Deans and the VPR (or their delegates) must approve resumption plans for colleges and centers/institutes, respectively.

Research Stage 1

  • All research that can be performed from home will continue to be conducted at home.
  • With approval, only individuals who cannot otherwise perform duties remotely may return to research activities at locations other than their residence.
  • For facilities with several employees, only a fraction of the lab or facility’s usual complement of employees may be present on-site at any one time. The objective is to maximize physical distancing and minimize contact among employees and others present.
  • Only trained research employees can conduct on-site research activities. Individuals who require training should not be on-site during this research stage.
  • Research activities should occur at OSU facilities/sites (e.g., campus, experiment stations, OSU research forest) or at local field/on-location sites that do not require overnight stays.
  • Only essential research-related travel will be permitted, and all travel must be consistent with OSU guidance on travel and CDC restrictions. Requests for essential travel will continue to be reviewed by deans and the VPR or their delegates.
  • Seagoing research will require special considerations and coordination. PIs should consult with OSU Ship Operations if a vessel being used is an OSU research vessel or a chartered vessel (contact [email protected]) or the OSU Scientific Boating Program if the vessel is a PI-operated small boat (contact [email protected]).
  • Some face-to-face research with human participants may resume, contingent on OSU Environmental Health and Safety guidelines and CDC restrictions.
  • Some research activities involving animals are allowed with limitations imposed by Environmental Health and Safety guidelines.
  • It must be possible to curtail resumed on-site and field-based research activities and return to a state of critical activities only with two days’ notice. Curtailment planning for activities that involve approved essential travel should consider options related to initiating an immediate return home or sheltering in place.

Research Stage 2

Includes Stage 1 allowable activities with the following modifications:

  • The number of research employees at OSU facilities/sites at any one time may be increased as allowed by EHS guidelines.
  • Travel restrictions are eased, subject to the requirements of the university’s travel suspension policy and guidelines from the governor and public health agencies.
  • It must be possible to curtail resumed on-site and field-based research activities and return to a state of critical activities with one-week notice. Curtailment planning for activities that involve approved essential travel should consider options related to initiating an immediate return home or sheltering in place.

Research Stage 3

  • All research that can be effectively performed from one’s residence should continue to be conducted at the residence.
  • With approval, only individuals who cannot optimally perform research duties remotely may return to research activities at locations other than their residence.
  • For facilities with several employees, operations should be designed to allow for adherence to OSU’s physical distancing policy and guidelines with the objective of maximizing physical distancing and minimizing contact among employees and others present. This may mean that only a fraction of the usual complement of employees may be present on-site at any one time.
  • Training activities should be carried out while adhering to the current physical distancing guidance. If closer contact is required (e.g. activities involving joint-use of equipment), use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is required by all participants, and EHS guidance on PPE must be followed.
  • Only essential research-related travel will be permitted, and all travel must be consistent with OSU guidance on travel and CDC restrictions. Requests for essential travel will continue to be reviewed by deans and the VPR or their delegates.
  • Seagoing research will require special considerations and coordination. PIs should consult with OSU Ship Operations if a vessel being used is an OSU research vessel or a chartered vessel (contact [email protected]) or the OSU Scientific Boating Program if the vessel is a PI-operated small boat (contact [email protected]).
  • Research involving human subjects or research involving animals may be carried out with public health modifications consistent with the guidance by the Human Research Protection Program and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) with approved research resumption plans.
  • No specific timeline is imposed for the curtailment of resumed on-site and field-based research activities. However, researchers are required to articulate a curtailment plan as part of their research resumption planning. Curtailment planning for activities that involve approved essential travel should consider options related to initiating an immediate return home or sheltering in place.

Additional Guidance

  • OSU’s Human Research Protection Program, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Biosafety Committee and Scientific Diving Program have made available additional guidance related to COVID-19. Note that these programs will continue to evaluate risks associated with COVID-19 as they carry out their customary reviews and approvals.
  • The university is adhering to CDC and Oregon Health Authority guidance with respect to the use of masks and face coverings. All PIs must adhere to the university’s policies.
  • The Research Office may facilitate coordination among OSU units and/or non-OSU collaborators to avoid undue demand on shared OSU resources (e.g., hiring, purchasing) and facilities used by multiple research groups.

Party

Responsibility

All research personnel

  • Support the conduct of research to foster the health and safety of OSU employees, students, research collaborators and community members.

Principal Investigators (PI) or Research Groups

  • Develop a plan for on-site (e.g., lab) and field-based research activities that aligns with OSU’s general resumption plan. See template assembled by the Research Office.
  • Acquire necessary PPE, face coverings and cleaning supplies in compliance with OSU university-wide resumption guidelines and EHS guidance for research facility operations.
  • Coordinate with OSU and non-OSU partners when needed to support the safety of OSU personnel and efficient use of resources.
  • Participate in regular meetings coordinated by colleges or centers/ institutes to review latest health and safety protocols; discuss resumption concerns and questions; review current university COVID-19 resumption guidelines; and facilitate collaboration.

ADRs/Center or Institute Directors

  • ADRs (as designees of the deans) and CI directors (as designees of the VPR) review principal investigators’ plans for compliance with university’s resumption plan and existing EHS standards.
  • Organize regular check-in meetings with PIs.
  • Participate in meetings coordinated by the Research Office.

Vice President for Research

  • Coordinate meetings to review current health and safety protocols; discuss resumption concerns and questions; review current university COVID-19 resumption guidelines on its COVID-19 response; and facilitate collaboration.
  • Develop and distribute updated research activity guidance that is fully aligned with the university’s resumption guidelines.