Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Research Ramp-Up Phase 2

The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is announcing plans for Phase 2 of the research ramp-up effort, following the Phase 1 restart of research in Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine buildings.

Approved by collegiate associate deans for research and the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT), Phase 2 involves the gradual and limited reopening of several research buildings, laboratories, and support facilities, on the following tentative schedule:

Friday, June 5: Van Allen Hall, Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratory, Seamans Center, and College of Dentistry

Monday, June 8: Chemistry, Communications Sciences and Disorders (in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center), IIHR–Hydroscience & Engineering labs, and Pharmacy (the College of Pharmacy Building and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Building)

Wednesday, June 10: Biology and Biology East, and the Psychological and Brain Sciences Building

Friday, June 12: Department of Health and Human Physiology (in the Field House), the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (including Trowbridge Hall and Halsey Hall), and the College of Nursing

Reoccupation depends on several important criteria first being met:

  • All Principal Investigators (PIs) must have approved plans for their research spaces with a list of occupants for their space at no more than 50% of typical occupancy.
  • Personnel must complete any training required by their college or program.
  • All personnel must sign an Employee Health and Safety Acknowledgement in which they agree to comply with health and safety guidelines.
  • Buildings must have attendants at established entrance/access points.
  • Reoccupied buildings must have adequate face shields and cloth masks available for distribution, initially at access points. Face coverings must be worn throughout all buildings.
  • Reoccupied buildings must provide adequate hand sanitizer at access points and/or throughout buildings.
  • Buildings must have appropriate signage in place regarding face coverings and social distancing throughout the facilities.

The research pilot for Phase 1 and Phase 2 is only for those who absolutely must access research spaces on campus; those who are able to work remotely should continue doing so until instructed otherwise. Our top priority during this process is to minimize exposure to and spread of COVID-19.

Plans are being developed in Phase 3 for moving other research and creative activities back to campus.

As more faculty and staff reoccupy buildings, OVPR will continue evaluating the situation to ensure that:

  • Safety practices are effectively minimizing exposure of occupants to COVID-19
  • Staff upon whom researchers depend—including those working in core facilities, public safety, and Facilities Management—are themselves safe and adequately supported
  • Principal investigators are able to conduct effective research despite these constraints

Further ramp-up guidance can be found on a new OVPR Website. Additionally, OVPR is emailing a periodic newsletter with the latest news, information, and resources for researchers, scholars, and creative artists navigating the COVID-19 outbreak. To subscribe, click here.

Marty Scholtz, vice president for research

Continuing to Work Remotely

There is still no campus wide date for when employees, working remotely, should return to campus. Each member of the university community has been contributing to the successful operation of the university, whether working through adversity and distractions at home or performing essential services on campus. Working remotely is reducing the threat of COVID-19 spread for everyone, including colleagues who must report to work in person, and will further enable our efforts to be able to welcome students back to campus in the fall.

Allowing critical research to slowly ramp up on campus will provide the university a chance to operationalize recommended health and safety measures in specific settings to learn how to best implement these practices on a larger scale. It provides necessary time to:

  • allow Purchasing to acquire necessary cleaning supplies and protective equipment,
  • allow Facilities Management time to make any necessary building modifications (e.g. changing traffic flow patterns within buildings to lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19),
  • allow individual units time to prepare unit-specific return plans that reduce the number of individuals within university buildings at a single time.

Again, there is no campus wide date for when employees working remotely should return to campus. Employees working remotely should continue to do so until further notice and should not return to campus until they are asked to do so by their dean, vice president, or unit manager.

Note: UI Health Care employees and those associated with public health efforts may be called back to work sooner than other areas of campus, depending on patient volumes and specific organizational or research needs.