UD’s Return to Research under COVID-19

Guidelines & Resources

The University of Delaware is working to resume research operations — with the safety and wellbeing of the community our highest priority. All research work that can be performed remotely should continue remotely until further guidance is issued. This page provides an overview of UD’s phased-in return to research, in alignment with state and University guidance. It draws from a comprehensive plan developed with broad input from a working group including representatives from colleges, institutes, core facilities, environmental health and safety, communications, maintenance and operations.

Here, UD researchers also will find required forms that must be approved and access to training materials that must be completed prior to returning to campus, field-based or site-based research. A phased-in approach is being implemented. Review the phases below. If you think you (and your students/postdocs) are eligible for Phase 1, click on the first link to access the PI Return to Campus Request form—the first step in the process.

For additional information contact: UDResearch@udel.edu

UD Research Ramp-Up

Principles
  • Safety and wellbeing of the UD community is paramount.
  • Ensuring UD’s academic mission–learning, scholarly activities, public engagement–and position as a leading research university.
  • Maintaining our staffing to the greatest extent possible.
  • Follow public health and government authority guidance and recommendations.
    “…you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”— Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Establish new and improved best practices and instill an enhanced culture of individual accountability and safety.
  • Overall Objective: Ramp up research activities as safely and expeditiously as public health recommendations permit.
    Expectations
    • Safety and wellbeing of the UD community is paramount.
    • Measured and phased ramping up of research activities.
    • Continue to perform research remotely as much as possible.
    • If there is a significant increase in infections, it may be necessary to return quickly to an earlier phase to protect health and safety.
    • Physical distancing will remain in place, thus, laboratory or field-based procedures requiring close proximity (i.e., < 6 ft) of researchers will not be permitted.
    • Research work conducted by trained independent researchers not requiring direct mentorship in research techniques that would require close physical proximity of individuals.
    • New standards for protective personal equipment required including training on use. Individuals within facilities must wear a mask at all times, except, for example when alone in a single person office. Masks required for outside work when in close proximity (< 6 ft.) to others. Eating within indoor common or research spaces (e.g., break rooms, desks) will not be allowed until phase 4.
    • Support and protect those individuals in vulnerable populations.
    • Implement a fair, transparent and accountable process for granting access.
    • Expect high levels of enforcement of protocols and individual accountability.
      Research Space Categories and Definitions
      Field-based research: Entirety of research work conducted outdoors on non-human subjects without dependence on indoor UD research facility. Data processing can be done off-campus (e.g., at home, remotely). Field-based research that requires access to any indoor research spaces (defined below) will be considered indoor research and will be subject to indoor research guidelines.

      Common spaces: Spaces in research facilities such as lunchrooms, break rooms, classrooms and open desk environments, e.g. carrels, shared desk/workspaces.

      Open offices: Spaces where desks are assigned within a larger room. Desks may or may not be with half walls surrounding the desk, i.e., carrels.

      Shared offices: Smaller office spaces where desks are assigned to multiple people.

      Office: Single room assigned to a single individual.

      Open research laboratories: Laboratories where two or more PI groups share a single laboratory.

      Single PI research laboratories: Laboratories assigned to a single PI group.

      Common research spaces (controlled access): Research spaces not assigned to a single PI, but used commonly by researchers who have key card or key access.

      Common research spaces (non-controlled access): Research spaces not assigned to a single PI, access potentially allowed to all UD researchers.

      Core facilities: Managed research spaces that provide instrument access and research services to UD and outside researchers. Space is managed by a core facility director.

      Human-subjects research: Work involves in-person contact between a UD researcher or an extension/outreach agent and a human research subject or outreach participant, regardless of whether contact occurs in a UD facility.

      Health Screening Protocols
      Applicable to all individuals working and visiting campus. Daily temperature screening upon arrival to campus; once at mid-shift. Record and document daily.

      If feeling ill or have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing and/or loss of taste or smell stay home and call your healthcare provider (faculty, staff) or Student Health Services (students).

      Wash hands frequently. Avoid touching your face. Sneeze, cough into your elbow.

      If traveled out of state (not applicable for those who live out of state and are comminuting to campus) or have been in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, need to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus.

      PPE Requirements

      Cloth masks required when traveling to/from and on campus when physical distancing is not possible. Procure at least two cloth masks per person. UD provides cloth face masks for all employees. Employees are permitted to use their own cloth face masks provided they meet CDC requirements. Employees wash masks daily with hot water and soap/detergent. Continue with standard PPE use for labs following SOPs. UD procuring PPE centrally for purchase by lab groups, units, etc.

      Physical Distancing

      Follow current CDC guidelines. Keep at least six feet away from other coworkers. Do not gather in groups consistent with Delaware state guidance (currently no more than 10). Continue desk and group work remotely. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others, including when in public and at work. If possible, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.

      Protecting Vulnerable Populations

      UD is committed to the health and wellbeing of all employees and students, including individuals from vulnerable populations. Resources to consult for guidance include your advisor/supervisor, graduate program director or Human Resources, as applicable. Questions regarding accommodations may be directed to Disability Support Services.

      Facilities

      Clean, disinfect using PPE–gloves, aprons and masks. Restrooms and common areas cleaned and supplies replenished frequently.

      Common/gathering areas remain locked, whenever possible until at least phase 3.

      Electronics. Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics. Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting. If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.

      Post signage with guidance for cleaning, disinfecting and personal hygiene.

      Compliance

      UD is a supportive campus community that advocates for each individual’s voice to be heard. Every member of the community is accountable for themselves and others. UD endorses a “see something, say something” mindset to ensure health and safety as we return to campus. Individuals are directed to the UD compliance hotline for anonymous reporting of non-compliance with any aspects of research ramp-up guidelines, including state guidance, physical distancing protocols or pressure to perform outside of an individual’s comfort zone.

      COVID-19 Planning Group

      This working group has been meeting remotely every Monday since April 6, 2020, to discuss concerns and plan toward a future ramp-up of UD’s research operations.

      Charlie Riordan, Chair
      Vice President, Research, Scholarship & Innovation

      Tracey Bryant
      Senior Director, Research Communications

      Jeffrey Caplan
      Director, Bio-Imaging Center

      Judy David
      Assoc. Director, Custodial & University Services

      Laura Desimone
      Director of Research Education & Human Development

      Paul Dickinson
      Director, Maintenance & Operations

      Doug Doren
      Interim Dean, Graduate College

      Tim Dowling
      Director, Student Health Services

      David Edwards
      Assoc. Dean, Health Sciences

      Jeff Friedland
      Assoc. Vice President, Research Administration

      Mike Gladle
      Director, Environmental Health & Safety

      Jennifer Horney
      Director, Epidemiology Program

      Sylvester Johnson
      Director, Custodial & University Services

      Murray Johnston
      Assoc. Dean, Arts & Sciences

      Sheryl Kline
      Deputy Dean, Business & Economics

      Dave Martin
      Assoc. Dean, Engineering

      Cordell Overby
      Assoc. Vice President, Regulatory Affairs & Compliance

      Gerald Poirier
      Facility Manager, Advanced Materials Characterization Lab

      Sindhuja Sunder
      Graduate Student, Geography & Spatial Sciences

      Gwen Talham
      Director, Animal Care Program

      Fabrice Veron
      Deputy Dean, Earth, Ocean & Environment

      Eric Wommack
      Deputy Dean, Agriculture & Natural Resources

      PI Return to Campus Request Form

      Must be completed to access campus facilities

      Ramp-Up Checklist

      Must be completed to access campus facilities

      Training

      All employees must complete required safety training

      Ramp-Up Checklist

      Must be completed to access campus facilities

      Close Section

      Ramp-Up Checklist

      Before returning to campus PIs and core facility directors complete the research ramp-up checklist. These measures are in addition to the general guidance for the entire university.

      Building Entry

      • Single point of entry to each building designated by signage
      • Mask/face cover must be worn prior to/during being in the building. (If individual does not have mask, one will be provided)
      • Hand sanitizer will be at entry point to be used by individuals prior to entering the building.

      PI Lab Level Pre-Start Checklist for Safety Considerations

      • Assess your lab space for ability to meet physical distancing guidelines.
      • Determine how many people can work safely in your lab/facility at a single time while observing appropriate physical distancing. Initially, no more than 2 people per 1000 sq. ft.
      • Have your department chair/building/facility representative confirm your space assessment and the number of personnel you are proposing to allow in the space at a single time.
      • For shared laboratory work spaces, you must work with the other faculty and facility/building managers/department chairs to establish definitive guidelines for the space.
      • Create a lab calendar to track who will work at what time.
        1. Share this calendar with the appropriate unit representatives.
        2. Post occupancy limits on the door, visible to those outside.
        3. Post calendar on the door, visible to those outside.

      Lab Startup Checklist

      • Before you arrive: ensure trainings are up to date, review hygiene guidance, PPE decontamination and reuse guidelines, and work alone guidance. (The buddy system must be used at all times).
      • Consider PPE needs: and order supplies accordingly. Coordinate with EHS when ordering.
      • First Time You Arrive: carefully observe laboratory for safety considerations and proceed with caution wearing the appropriate PPE (lab coat, safety glasses, gloves, etc.) based on specific lab protocols and SOPs.

      Fill out the following checklist to begin the “UD Research Ramp-Up” process:

      Ramp-Up Checklist

      COVID-19: Ramp-Up Checklist

      BUILDING ENTRY

      CHECK ALL THAT APPLY

      Building Entry
      Masks
      Hand sanitizer
      Sending

      Training

      All employees must complete required safety training

      Research Ramp-Up Phases

      Click on each phase for more details.  We are now reviewing PI request forms for Phase 1.

      PHASE 0

      CURRENT PHASE

      Essential Maintenance of Effort
      COVID-19 PPE Production

      THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      PHASE 1

      ACTIVE PHASE/JUNE

      Time-Sensitive Research
      Some Field-Based Research

      10-15%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      PHASE 2

      TIMELINE TBD

      Lab-Based Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      All Field Based

      ~33%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      PHASE 3

      TIMELINE TBD

      Further Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      Some In-Person Human Subjects

      ~67%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      PHASE 4

      TIMELINE TBD

      New Normal
      All On-Campus Research Resumes

      85-100%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      PHASE 0

      Essential Maintenance of Effort
      COVID-19 PPE Production

      THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      Close Section

      PHASE 0

      CURRENT PHASE

      Essential Maintenance of Effort
      COVID-19 PPE Production

      THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

      Governor’s stay at home order in place; travel restrictions. Local/regional COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing; limited COVID-19 testing (diagnostic and/or antibody); limited access to PPE

      RESEARCH EFFORTS

      PHASE 0. ESSENTIAL WORK: Maintenance of animal and critical cell lines, equipment; activities that directly support state of Delaware requests.
       

      1. Projects that directly address COVID-19 research, and PPE manufacturing and production.
      2. Essential staff only in UD research facilities, comprising < 5% of research and facilities personnel.
      3. Building managers and academic unit leaders prepare movement plans for research buildings and place signage and instructions within buildings. These plans should be broadly shared with researchers and plans should be posted at building entrances.
      4. Centralized procurement of PPE in anticipation of Phase 1 research. Phase 1 PIs prepare for research ramp-up; includes reviewing and revising standard operating procedures (SOPs), making changes to align with physical distancing guidance and the level of support infrastructure available.


      PHASE 1

      ACTIVE PHASE

      Time-Sensitive Research
      Some Field-Based Research

      10-15%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      Close Section

      PHASE 1

      ACTIVE PHASE/JUNE

      Time-Sensitive Research
      Some Field-Based Research

      10-15%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

      Governor’s stay at home order and restrictions loosening. Local/regional COVID-19 cases decreasing for 14+ days, hospitalizations flattening; COVID-19 testing (diagnostic and/or antibody) availability increasing; identification of new COVID-19 cases with quarantining and contact tracing; limited access to PPE may remain.

      RESEARCH EFFORTS

      PHASE 1. Time-sensitive and field-based research that can be performed safely with physical distancing and limited support infrastructure, highly-limited return to indoor research spaces. Expectation of ~10-15% of total UD research-related workforce researchers and essential support personnel returning to campus facilities and field-based work. Disruption of effort/data collection causes catastrophic data loss or delays. Seasonal data collection such as outdoor non-human subjects field and agricultural work; long-term longitudinal studies; animal experiments where a delay would result in euthanasia or loss of a colony.

      In this limited phase, prioritized research includes:

      1. Prioritize access for graduate students and postdocs close to completion where lack of campus access will jeopardize timely degree or term of appointment completion. Graduate students scheduled to graduate in May or August 2020. Postdoc appointments ending on or before August 31, 2020.
      2. Prioritize research work of
        a) tenure track (not yet tenured) faculty,
        b) sponsored projects with fixed, time-sensitive deliverables and
        c) sponsored projects with no ability to charge salaries/stipends for no-work.

      Core facilities resume limited operations to support time-sensitive research within this phase and to prepare for the next phase of research ramp up. For information regarding library access visit the Library, Museums and Press website.

      PIs prepare for Phase 2 research ramp-up; includes reviewing and revising SOPs, making changes to align with physical distancing guidance and the level of support infrastructure.

      UD establishes self-reporting system for symptom and exposure monitoring via Qualtrics or similar platform.

      Research work that can effectively be performed remotely should continue to be done remotely.

       

      PHASE 2

      Lab-Based Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      All Field Based

      ~33%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      Close Section

      PHASE 2

      TIMELINE TBD

      Lab-Based Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      All Field Based

      ~33%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

      Further relaxation of executive orders and restrictions. Local/regional COVID-19 cases significantly decreasing for 28+ days, hospitalizations decreasing; COVID-19 testing (diagnostic and/or antibody) availability meeting UD needs; Rapid identification of new COVID-19 cases with quarantining and contact tracing; PPE more widely available

      RESEARCH EFFORTS

      PHASE 2. Gradual expansion of on-site research or studio activities.

      1. Lab-based research ramps up to gradually increase the number of people on campus to ~33% of personnel working simultaneously with strict physical distancing requirements of PPE, no more than 2 people per lab bench, no more than 3 people per 1000 sq. ft.; shift work and alternate day work schedules recommended. All field-based research can resume consistent with local guidance/conditions. Limited time-sensitive human subjects work may be possible depending on restrictions with prioritization of work of:
        a) tenure track faculty,
        b) sponsored projects with fixed, time-sensitive deliverables and
        c) sponsored projects with no ability to charge salaries/stipends for no-work.
      2. Common/gathering areas and multiple cubicle spaces and shared offices remain closed. Desk and group work continues remotely. Research work that can effectively be performed remotely should continue to be done remotely.
      3. Continued use of self-report for symptoms or exposure.


      PHASE 3

      Further Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      Some In-Person Human Subjects

      ~67%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      Close Section

      PHASE 3

      TIMELINE TBD

      Further Research Gradual Ramp-Up
      Some In-Person Human Subjects

      ~67%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

      Further relaxation of executive orders and restrictions. Local/regional COVID-19 cases minimal, hospitalizations decreasing; COVID-19 testing (diagnostic and antibody) availability meeting local needs; Rapid identification of new COVID-19 cases with quarantining and contact tracing; PPE fully available.

      RESEARCH EFFORTS

      PHASE 3. Further expansion of on-site research.

      1. Further gradual relaxing of physical distancing requirements such that 67% of lab personnel are working simultaneously. Some in-person clinical and human subjects research or extension/outreach activities can commence provided subjects or participants are not from vulnerable populations.
      2. Research work that can effectively be performed remotely should continue to be done remotely.
      3. Limited access to common spaces consistent with executive order guidance on gathering group sizes in effect.
      4. Continued use of PPE and social distancing.


      PHASE 4

      New Normal
      All On-Campus Research Resumes

      85-100%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      Close Section

      PHASE 4

      TIMELINE TBD

      New Normal
      All On-Campus Research Resumes

      85-100%

      OF THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY

      EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

      Minimal to no government restrictions. Widespread testing, identification of new COVID-19 cases with quarantining and contact tracing, effective therapeutic(s) and/or vaccine widely available.

      RESEARCH EFFORTS

      PHASE 4. New Normal.

      1. All on-campus research permitted, including computational research, in-person human subjects research, and extension/outreach activities. Some physical distancing requirements remain in place. Common areas and shared offices re-open consistent with executive order guidance on gathering group sizes in effect. Should still consider performing work remotely.


      Share This