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Research Re-engagement

Last Updated: 3:30 p.m. on May 30, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized the limited reopening of laboratory research on May 15, 2020. Research leadership from across the University of Michigan campuses are working together to safely re-engage research activity through carefully managed waves, in accordance with the governor’s authorization.

  • Buildings that are not open for laboratory/studio-based research remain restricted to critical approved personnel only.

  • Buildings that will open for laboratory/studio-based research will not yet be open to other activities beyond the approved research and critical approved activities.

  • All work that can occur remotely will continue to be done in that manner, including office and dry lab work.

​Please refer to the May 29 email from Rebecca Cunningham, U-M vice president for research, for more information.


The U-M research re-engagement guidelines do not supersede any more stringent or heightened lab or other safety requirements – including any related to the use of specific personal protective equipment (PPE) – applicable to a given research project, which must continue to be followed at all times. These guidelines below apply to all buildings with allowable re-engaged research activities, and all U-M employees entering and exiting those buildings, regardless of whether they are involved with re-engaged research activities.

  • Symptomatic employees should contact U-M Occupational Health Services' COVID-19 Hotline at 734-764-8021 (Option 1).

  • The health and safety of our workplace is critical. If you see or feel someone is not following appropriate guidance for maintaining a lab space, we encourage constructive feedback in the labs between personnel. Anonymous concerns can be directed to your associate dean for research, or refer to the U-M compliance hotline.

  • Please refer to the university's COVID-19 Research Operations webpage for important FAQs about how the novel coronavirus has impacted U-M research and scholarship. If you have questions about research re-engagement, please refer to the FAQs at the bottom of this webpage. 


Laboratory and Studio Research

Guiding principles for ramping up laboratory and studio research

  1. The safety of the workforce and everyone associated with its return, including members of surrounding communities, is the leading priority.

  2. Planning recognizes the diversity of types of research across campus is a strength and critical to our research enterprise and mission.

  3. Planning recognizes that for safety and feasibility, all laboratory and studio research will not reopen at the same time and we will need a stepped approach to reopening.

  4. A required component of planning will be reversibility, in case a recurrence of COVID-19 forces another contraction of research activity.

  5. Laboratories, including shared facilities, must carefully prepare equipment and materials for occupancy after a long period of dormancy and may require additional time or planning.

  6. Planning will be as transparent as possible, to permit individual faculty to make plans that conserve their time and effort.

  7. Graduate students may not be compelled to conduct research activities on campus as a condition of assistantship or postdoctoral research associate support, while public health orders governing individual activity remain in effect.

  8. OVPR administrative review of school/college/unit staging plans in concurrence with their approvals of PI safety plans will occur to ensure coordination, effectiveness and compliance in health and safety.

Guidelines for entrance into any U-M laboratory building with research operations

  1. For all non-emergency situations, all buildings will have a wheelchair-accessible single point for entrance and exit, which everyone will be required to use.

  2. Prior to entering

    1. Your name and U-M ID will be verified against a list of approved labs and names of allowed personnel; and

    2. Your temperature will be taken by a greeter; and

  3. You will be required to participate in a screening that asks:

    1. ​Do you have symptoms of: fever (>100.4 °F), chills, cough, loss of sense of smell and/or taste, shortness of breath, sore throat, diarrhea?

    2. Have you had household contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

    3. Have you returned to Michigan from out-of-state in the last 14 days, excluding daily commuting from a home location outside of Michigan?

    4. Have you traveled by airplane in the past 14 days?

  4. If your answers to the screening disallow you from being present at work (pursuant to an applicable Executive Order, University policy, or otherwise) or you are not listed among the approved personnel, you will not be allowed access into the building.

  5. Any employee who has a positive intake screen will be referred for follow-up with the Occupational Health Services Hotline. (734-764-8021).  

    1. Occupational Health Services (OHS) will conduct the initial triage for employees with a positive screen

    2. OHS employees are trained to determine the need for a COVID-19 test, etc.

    3. There is a process in place for employee testing, either with off-site testing or at University Health Service.

    4. Employees will not be allowed to work until cleared by OHS.

Guidelines for individuals returning to work

  1. Approval is required from School/College/Unit to re-engage in laboratory work.

  2. Before approved individuals may return to work, they must complete a training module that outlines practices for safely returning to lab work.

  3. Employees who are not feeling well are required to stay home.

  4. According to the U-M Chief Health Officer, individuals who are at high risk for complications of COVID-19 are not required to return to work. If an employee has a concern that they may be at high risk, they should contact their own doctor or Occupational Health Services. Some examples of high risk factors are:

    1. Age greater than 70, 

    2. Persons with primary or acquired immunodeficiency,

    3. Persons on anti-rejection therapy following solid organ transplant or bone marrow transplant,

    4. Persons on biologic therapeutic agents, such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors,

    5. Persons with malignancy and ongoing or recent chemotherapy, or

    6. Persons receiving system immunosuppressive therapy, including corticosteroids equivalent to 20 mg/day or prednisone for >2 weeks.  

  5. No undergraduate students, visitors, or visiting researchers are permitted in laboratories (regardless of whether the individual has an Mcard).

  6. Employees are encouraged to use personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer on public transportation, per the governor's Executive Order 2020-91.

  7. Work that can be done remotely must continue in that fashion.

  8. If your work requires your presence on campus and you do not wish to report for work, you may be able to utilize paid leave options, including the COVID-related paid time off or vacation time if approved by the supervisor. Voluntary furloughs may be a possibility. Please discuss your options with your supervisor.

  9. Graduate Student lab engagement should follow Rackham Guidance. Specifically the manner in which graduate students return to research in the laboratory or field should be mutually agreed upon by faculty mentor/PI and the graduate student. This agreement should be part of the work plans that faculty develop with their graduate students as part of the ramp up.  Faculty should create pathways for graduate students to return to research that address both the priorities of the student and the priorities of the PIs research projects. If not fully aligned, the following factors can potentially provide flexibility: (1) Engage the research group as a team to complete high-priority lab tasks in ways that accommodate the individual situations of lab members; (2) Incorporate variable levels of on-campus (e.g. lab work) and remote (e.g. data analysis, experimental design) research activities into the work plans of graduate students during the initial ramp up in ways that accommodate their individual situations; (3) as needed, the student’s department or program can work with the faculty and student to develop alternative methods for academic and research progress. 

    1. In addition, the Graduate student’s department or academic program should review faculty/student work plans to ensure safety and equity. In the event that the manner in which a graduate student returns to laboratory or field research cannot be mutually agreed upon by the faculty member and student, the department or academic program should assist in developing such an agreement. The graduate student, faculty member, and department can also call upon available campus resources, including those in the student’s school or college, the Rackham Resolution Office, or the Dean of Students Office of Conflict Resolution.

    2. Confidentiality of a graduate student’s individual circumstances should be maintained by the faculty mentor.

Guidelines for preparing the workspace and operating a safe laboratory/studio

  1. Each laboratory/studio must provide all of the following items before reopening: safe laboratory schedule/plan, individual duty list, and occupancy list that, at all times, maximizes employee spacing and complies with social distancing and all relevant PPE. The plan must be approved by your school/college/unit. All of the described procedures must be followed and adhered to:  

    1. This safe laboratory plan/schedule should minimize the number of people in each laboratory room and all associated spaces (for example, break rooms) at any one time. This example form will be used by several schools to guide obtaining and approvals for this information. Approvals of safety plans will be given by each school’s research leadership, with concurrence from OVPR. Please follow guidance from your school or unit on the form and process for obtaining approval to return to the lab.

    2. Distribute a list of duties to be performed by personnel, indicating the location and designated time of day for such duties to be completed.  

    3. Develop a means of signifying who is present in the lab/studio space at any given time, preferably through an online sign-in tool to minimize touching items such as a physical sign-in sheet, or other mechanism of controlling the number of people in the lab at the same time.

    4. Principal investigators must designate an on-site supervisor or employee to implement, monitor and report on the COVID-19 control strategies within labs, per the governor's Executive Order 2020-91.

    5. Stagger break times to minimize contact between people in rooms.  Conference rooms and cafeterias will be closed off and cannot not be used. Ensure eating and drinking is not occuring in labs.

    6. Post a map inside the lab/studio entryway with maximum room/bay occupancy to maintain social distancing.  

    7. Each lab/studio room can only accommodate a maximum of 1 person per 144 square feet. If you cannot maintain at least 6 feet of social distance, or the person per square feet requirement, then the schedule will need to be revised and/or reconfigured to achieve these.

    8. Small, narrow laboratories/facilities smaller than 288 square feet can only accommodate one person at a time.

    9. Lab Benches are not 6 feet across, thus plan for work to occur only on one side of the lab bench in most instances.

    10. Note that, depending on the research area/experiment, safety guidelines for the specific research project may require more than one person to be present in the room at any one time. Even in this case, the individuals present must maintain a 6-foot separation at all times. If the appropriate physical separation cannot be maintained, this work cannot be started.

    11. Move equipment to create at least 6 feet between users.

    12. Tape will be used to mark out 6-foot spaces for high traffic areas or bottlenecks.

    13. PI safety plans should include attestation that buildings must not be used for social gatherings or group meetings, that conference rooms and other group spaces will be off limits,

  2. Masks

    1. Employees authorized to return to lab work must be provided a cloth face covering and instructions on cleaning and maintenance. Refer to EHS Face Covering Usage for COVID-19

    2. A new mask will not be provided daily, so you must retain this mask and bring it with you daily, after complying with all relevant and applicable cleaning and care requirements. Refer to EHS Face Covering Usage for COVID-19

  3. Create a safe space and maintain at least 6 feet between researchers at all times.

    1. Always wear the cloth face covering provided to you unless your research procedures dictate heightened PPE requirements. When not wearing the safety PPE required for your laboratory work, reapply your provided face covering. Proper hand hygiene before and after using any face covering is critical.

    2. Wash your hands with soap upon entering and before leaving the lab/studio, and wash them after touching shared accessory devices like phones (use speaker phone if possible).

    3. Wear eye protection when there is a potential for splash or splatter to the face, or when surface contact is a possibility, e.g. microscopy work.    

    4. Minimize shared items (pens, notebooks, frequently used reagent bottles, etc.). As much as possible, each person should have their own.

    5. All principal investigators must formally assign a daily in-lab sanitation role which includes daily decontamination of lab-space procedures including the cleaning of all work benches, door handles & lock keypads, keyboards/mice/desks for shared equipment computers, telephones, printer, cameras, microscopes, control panels, etc.

    6. Provide disinfecting supplies and require workers to wipe down their work stations at least twice daily, per the governor's directive.

    7. If it can be done safely, use paper towels or Kimwipes when handling common laboratory items, laboratory equipment and cabinet handles.

    8. Wipe or spray door handles with 70% ethanol (or other EPA-registered disinfectant) after use. See EHS guidelines

    9. Lab coats, gowns or aprons are recommended to protect personal clothing. Follow EHS guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting hard, non-porous surfaces.  

    10. Remove lab coats and gloves when leaving the lab. 

    11. Consider footwear and clothing as a possible transmission source. You should have a pair of shoes that you use for external use (including working in a laboratory/facility) that you do not wear into your place of residence. Such shoes could be left just inside the door of your place of residence. 

    12. Be sure to disinfect surfaces, such as tables and chairs, before and after using such facilities. 

      1. Cups, mugs, plates, and silverware must be washed with soap before and after use. 

      2. Wash your hands after using a break room.  

      3. Food and drink are not allowed in labs. ( link coming here)

  4. Create a plan for shared equipment. All shared equipment must be disinfected before and after each use.  

    1. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting equipment. Discard (where supplies allow) or disinfect gloves after each use with 70% ethanol or sanitizer. 

    2. Special care should be taken to disinfect equipment that makes direct physical contact with skin, including eyepieces for microscopes, touch pads, etc.  

    3. Use disposable tissues, Kimwipes, etc. to touch surfaces that cannot be disinfected, and/or when gloves are not available.

  5. Create a plan for interacting with individuals outside the lab  

    1. Contact with other labs should be made via phone or electronic means, except in cases of extreme emergency.  

    2. Those also working in the patient care setting should change clothes prior to lab entry.

    3. Transfer of items should be arranged by leaving them in the hallway or other designated area for a no-contact approach, as opposed to handing them over in person. The timing of these transfers should be closely coordinated to ensure the safety of all involved, as well as to eliminate the potential for lost or otherwise unattended items in these settings.

    4. Research studies must be carefully and thoughtfully planned given the likelihood that support services, such as animal facilities/ULAM, central stores, core laboratories, etc. will be operating at reduced levels.

    5. Use of shared facilities and other labs’ equipment must be pre-arranged in order to avoid accidental contact. Be sure that all users understand lab sign-in procedures.  

    6. Use precautions when entering a restroom, shared use facility, or other common areas. Call out to assess occupancy or create an “occupied” door sign. Use a disposable towel or Kimwipe to touch door handles and faucets, and wash your hands upon entering and leaving.

    7. Develop a safety protocol plan for deliveries.

  6. Working safely with animals in the vivarium

    1. The Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine (ULAM) will maintain mechanisms for providing continued daily care to all animals housed on campus in the event of a natural disaster or other events that may interrupt normal business, including the COVID-19 situation. This includes continued veterinary medical care; assessment of animal health and well-being; provision of food, water, and clean cages; and maintenance of appropriate environmental conditions. Our top priority is to continue the provision of critical life support services that ensure animal welfare.

    2. IACUC approval processes remain intact and any changes to research protocols must be submitted to IACUC for review and approval prior to implementation, pursuant to normal processes.

    3. ULAM will remain in “split-shift” mode, effectively reducing available staff. This augments the need to limit studies to those that could be relatively easily ramped-back-down should the need arise. Full ULAM staffing is not possible during this phase of re-engagement of laboratory work and thus support for a full volume of animal-related work cannot be expected.

      1. Studies may only be performed on animals already in-house; new animal orders will only be accepted for COVID-19-specific studies. Exceptions must be approved by the pertinent Research Associate Dean.

      2. Breeding colonies must remain on maintenance-mode only; no new studies may be initiated on animals produced by breeding colonies. 

      3. Additional limits may be required based on ULAM staffing levels and/or as needed to maintain social distancing. 

    4. Subject to the restrictions and exceptions outlined above, researchers must generally consider animals already housed in the vivaria when planning for potential re-engagement in animal-related experiments. ULAM can assist in verifying the number and locations of animals assigned to a researcher’s protocol(s).

    5. The ULAM Business Office will continue placing orders for the critical supplies needed to ensure animal health and well-being (e.g., feed, bedding, critical care veterinary supplies), but procurement of all non-critical supplies will be temporarily placed on hold. If your animal-related experiments require the use of anesthetics, analgesics or any other pharmaceutics, ensure you have adequate supplies that are not expired prior to initiating those experiments.

    6. Space within ULAM and animal-use rooms must be carefully coordinated to ensure mandated social distancing and space density directives. Animal holding and procedures rooms will be identified with the maximum allowable occupants at a given time. ULAM will post times needed for daily animal husbandry and any veterinary clinical care activities; initially, this will consist of morning vs. afternoon routines. Research interaction with animals must be scheduled to ensure mandated social distancing and space density directives. This may require interlaboratory coordination in rooms housing/used by more than one PI. Sign-up sheets for scheduling shared procedure rooms will be provided to allow for scheduling in advance. The sanitation procedures needed between users will also be provided. 

    7. All in-person training classes and workshops offered through the ULAM Training Core have been canceled until further notice. Animal-based research may only be performed by staff that have already completed all in-person training, including laboratory-specific training.

Creating a culture and opportunity for continuous improvement of lab and health safety

  1. Frequent communication from OVPR and EHS regarding lab safety, research re-engagement and important public health updates.

  2. EHS will perform walkthroughs to help maintain public health standards so that labs can remain open.

  3. Report lab safety issues, including personnel who are ill or not following safety protocols, via the U-M compliance hotline website. You can also report concerns by calling 866-990-0111 or contacting EHS at 734-647-1143 or emailing EHS.

  4. OVPR and Occupational Health Services will track aggregate data on COVID-19 illness in labs with weekly reports.


Field Research (Locally based, non-human subjects)

Guiding principles for ramping up field research

  1. The safety of the workforce and everyone associated with its return, including members of surrounding communities, is the leading priority.

  2. Planning will be as transparent as possible to permit individual faculty to make plans that conserve their time and effort.

  3. Graduate students may not be compelled to conduct field research activities as a condition of assistantship or postdoctoral research associate support, while public health orders governing individual activity remain in effect.

  4. OVPR administrative review of school/college/unit field research plans in concurrence with their approvals of PI safety plans will occur to ensure coordination, effectiveness and compliance in health and safety.

Guidelines for performing field research

  1. You will be required to record daily the following screening that asks:

    1. ​Do you have symptoms of: fever (>100.4 °F), chills, cough, loss of sense of smell and/or taste, shortness of breath, sore throat, diarrhea?

    2. Have you had household contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

    3. Have you returned to Michigan from out-of-state in the last 14 days, excluding daily commuting from a home location outside of Michigan?

    4. Have you traveled by airplane in the past 14 days?

  2. If your answers to the screening disallow you from being present at work (pursuant to an applicable Executive Order, University policy, or otherwise) or you are not listed among the approved personnel designated by your school/college/unit, you will not be allowed to perform field research.

  3. Any employee who has a positive intake screen will be referred for follow-up with the Occupational Health Services Hotline (734-764-8021).  

    1. Occupational Health Services (OHS) will conduct the initial triage for employees with a positive screen

    2. OHS employees are trained to determine the need for a COVID-19 test, etc.

    3. There is a process in place for employee testing, either with off-site testing or at University Health Service.

      1. Employees will not be allowed to work until cleared by OHS.

Guidelines for individuals returning to work

  1. Approval is required from School/College/Unit to re-engage in field work.

  2. Before approved individuals may return to work, they must complete a training module that outlines practices for safely returning to field work.

  3. Employees who are not feeling well are required to stay home.

  4. According to the U-M Chief Health Officer, individuals who are at high risk for complications of COVID-19 are not required to return to work. If an employee has a concern that they may be at high risk, they should contact their own doctor or Occupational Health Services. Some examples of high risk factors are:

    1. Age greater than 70,

    2. Persons with primary or acquired immunodeficiency,

    3. Persons on anti-rejection therapy following solid organ transplant or bone marrow transplant,

    4. Persons on biologic therapeutic agents, such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors,

    5. Persons with malignancy and ongoing or recent chemotherapy, or

    6. Persons receiving system immunosuppressive therapy, including corticosteroids equivalent to 20 mg/day or prednisone for >2 weeks.  

  5. No undergraduate students, visitors, or visiting researchers are permitted to perform field research.

  6. Employees are encouraged to use personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer on public transportation, per the governor's Executive Order 2020-91.

  7. Work that can be done remotely must continue in that fashion.

  8. If your work requires your presence on campus and you do not wish to report for work, you may be able to utilize paid leave options, including the COVID-related paid time off or vacation time if approved by the supervisor. Voluntary furloughs may be a possibility. Please discuss your options with your supervisor.

  9. Graduate Student lab engagement should follow Rackham Guidance. Specifically the manner in which graduate students return to research in the laboratory or field should be mutually agreed upon by faculty mentor/PI and the graduate student. This agreement should be part of the work plans that faculty develop with their graduate students as part of the ramp up.  Faculty should create pathways for graduate students to return to research that address both the priorities of the student and the priorities of the PIs research projects. If not fully aligned, the following factors can potentially provide flexibility: (1) Engage the research group as a team to complete high-priority field tasks in ways that accommodate the individual situations of team members; (2) Incorporate variable levels of research activities (e.g. field research, data analysis, experimental design)  into the work plans of graduate students during the initial ramp up in ways that accommodate their individual situations; (3) as needed, the student’s department or program can work with the faculty and student to develop alternative methods for academic and research progress.

    1. In addition, the graduate student’s department or academic program should review faculty/student work plans to ensure safety and equity. In the event that the manner in which a graduate student returns to laboratory or field research cannot be mutually agreed upon by the faculty member and student, the department or academic program should assist in developing such an agreement. The graduate student, faculty member, and department can also call upon available campus resources, including those in the student’s school or college, the Rackham Resolution Office, or the Dean of Students Office of Conflict Resolution.

    2. Confidentiality of a graduate student’s individual circumstances should be maintained by the faculty mentor.

Guidelines for preparing the field research operation

  1. Each laboratory/studio must provide all of the following items before reopening: safe field research schedule/plan and individual duty list, that, at all times, maximizes employee spacing and complies with social distancing and all relevant PPE. The plan must be approved by your school/college/unit. All of the described procedures must be followed and adhered to:

    1. This safe field research plan/schedule should minimize the number of people at any one location at any one time. Approvals of safety plans will be given by each school’s research leadership, with concurrence from OVPR. Please follow guidance from your school or unit on the form and process for obtaining approval to return to field research.

    2. Field Research Operation Plan must include:

      1. Contingency plan for carrying on research if one or more personnel becomes sick or is no longer willing to risk conducting the research.

      2. Description of the research activities and what precautions are being undertaken to limit potential disease exposure or transmission (i.e., personal protective equipment, social distancing).

      3. Justification as to why delaying the research will have a detrimental impact on the research project or the student’s progression towards a degree.

      4. List of all engaged personnel, their contact information and an emergency contact.

    3. Distribute a list of duties to be performed by personnel, indicating the location and designated time of day for such duties to be completed. 

    4. Develop a means of designating who is present at the field research space at any given time, preferably through an online sign-in tool to minimize touching items such as a physical sign-in sheet, or other mechanism of controlling the number of people at the same location at the same time.

    5. Note that, depending on the research area/experiment, safety guidelines for the specific field research project may require more than one person to be present at a location at one time.  In this case, the individuals present must maintain at least a 6-foot separation at all times. If the appropriate physical separation cannot be maintained, this work cannot be started.

    6. Move equipment to create at least 6 feet between users.

    7. PI safety plans should include attestation that field locations must not be used for social gatherings or group meetings.

  2. Masks

    1. Employees authorized to return to field research work must be provided a cloth face covering and instructions on cleaning and maintenance. Refer to EHS Face Covering Usage for COVID-19

    2. A new mask will not be provided daily, so employees must retain their mask and bring it with them daily, after complying with all relevant and applicable cleaning and care requirements. Refer to EHS Face Covering Usage for COVID-19

  3. Create a safe space and maintain at least 6 feet between field researchers at all times.

    1. The cloth face covering should be worn when in outdoor situations where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, and always worn when going indoors where others may be present. If your research requires heightened PPE, that should be worn in lieu of the face covering for that task. Proper hand hygiene before and after using any face covering is critical.

    2. Wash your hands with soap upon entering and before leaving the field location (this could be the transport vehicle), and wash them after touching shared accessory devices like phones (use speaker phone if possible).

    3. Wear eye protection when there is a potential for splash or splatter to the face, or when surface contact is a possibility, e.g. microscopy work. 

    4. Minimize shared items (pens, notebooks, frequently used reagent bottles, etc.). As much as possible, each person should have their own.

    5. All principal investigators must formally assign a daily sanitation role which includes daily decontamination of procedures including the cleaning of all door handles & lock keypads, keyboards/mice/desks for shared equipment computers, telephones, printer, cameras, microscopes, transport vehicles, etc.

    6. Provide disinfecting supplies and require workers to wipe down their work stations at least twice daily, per the governor's directive.

    7. If it can be done safely, use paper towels or Kimwipes when handling common field items, field equipment and door handles.

    8. Wipe or spray door handles with 70% ethanol (or other EPA-registered disinfectant) after use. See EHS guidelines.

    9. Overclothes or coveralls  are recommended to protect personal clothing. Follow EHS guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting hard, non-porous surfaces.

    10. Remove overclothes and gloves when leaving the field location.

    11. Consider footwear and clothing as a possible transmission source. You should have a pair of shoes that you use for field use that you do not wear into your place of residence. Such shoes could be left just inside the door of your place of residence.

    12. Be sure to disinfect surfaces, such as tables and chairs, before and after using such facilities.

      1. Cups, mugs, plates, and silverware must be washed with soap before and after use.

      2. Wash your hands after using a break room.  

  4. Create a plan for shared equipment. All shared equipment must be disinfected before and after each use.
    1. ​Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting equipment. Discard (where supplies allow) or disinfect gloves after each use with 70% ethanol or sanitizer.

    2. Special care should be taken to disinfect equipment that makes direct physical contact with skin, including eyepieces for microscopes, touch pads, etc.

    3. Use disposable tissues, Kimwipes, etc. to touch surfaces that cannot be disinfected, and/or when gloves are not available.
  5. Create a plan for interacting with individuals while in the field

    1. Transfer of items should be arranged by leaving them in a designated area for a no-contact approach, as opposed to handing them over in person. The timing of these transfers should be closely coordinated to ensure the safety of all involved, as well as to eliminate the potential for lost or otherwise unattended items in the field.

    2. Research studies must be carefully and thoughtfully planned given the likelihood that support services will be operating at reduced levels.

    3. Use of shared facilities and other equipment must be pre-arranged in order to avoid accidental contact. Be sure that all users understand field sign-in procedures.

    4. Use precautions when entering a restroom, shared use facility, or other common areas. Call out to assess occupancy or create an “occupied” door sign. Use a disposable towel or Kimwipe to touch door handles and faucets, and wash your hands upon entering and leaving.

Travel procedure

  1. Limited field research conducted in the State of Michigan can be approved with appropriate safety plans in place. Out-of-state travel remains restricted, with the possibility for approval in only rare circumstances.

  2. Business-related travel for employees is restricted to essential travel only, per the governor's Executive Order 2020-91.

  3. Minimize Staff Involved: You are expected to conduct the essential field research with the fewest staff needed to complete the activity, while ensuring employee safety. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to remain in frequent communication with employees conducting essential field research. At a minimum, PIs are expected to require employees to check in when they begin and end work. 

  4. One Person per Vehicle: Only one person per vehicle is allowed for any travel related to essential research activities. This policy applies to travel using a University vehicle or a personal vehicle.

  5. One Person per Room: Any overnight lodging must be one person per room.

Creating a culture and opportunity for continuous improvement of field and health safety

  1. Frequent communication from OVPR and EHS regarding safety, research re-engagement and important public health updates.

  2. You will largely be in isolated areas and responsible for maintaining public health standards so that field research can remain open.

  3. Report safety issues, including personnel who are ill or not following safety protocols, via the U-M compliance hotline website. You can also report concerns by calling 866-990-0111 or contacting EHS at 734-647-1143 or emailing EHS.

  4. OVPR and Occupational Health Services will track aggregate data on COVID-19 illness with weekly reports.


Research Re-engagement FAQs

  1. Who decides which labs, researchers or buildings get to reopen in the pilot wave? 

    1. It is not safe or feasible for all buildings or all labs to open on the first day of lab ramp up. OVPR has provided the schools/colleges/units with guiding principles to decide the prioritization of which activities, buildings and labs can resume on-campus activities during the pilot wave. Some will work with other school leadership, such as department chairs, while others are being decided at a unit-level. We are planning for a second wave of buildings with labs to reopen after we are confident the first wave is working safely. We encourage you to reach out to your chair or research associate dean if you have questions. May 25, 10:20 a.m.

  2. What about buildings or other facilities that house researchers or labs from more than one school?

    1. In cases where buildings or labs house researchers from multiple labs or units, we expect all involved units or PIs to be in close communication about the needs of those facilities. For cores and other shared facilities, the school/college/unit providing oversight will determine their priority through the same process as individual PI labs, in conjunction with OVPR. May 25, 10:20 a.m.

  3. What do I need to do to start planning for re-opening my lab?

    1. You should work within your school/college/unit on completing the approval process. Most importantly, each laboratory/studio must have their COVID Lab Safety Plans approved by their school. Plans provide details, including square footage, allowed and requested occupancy, shared equipment or other resources, times/days of access, and details about which research activities will be performed. May 25, 10:20 a.m.

  4. What if I or members of my lab have already been approved to access buildings or laboratories to perform research related to COVID-19 or other essential functions? Am I exempt from these new procedures?

    1. Approved essential activity can continue until your building begins reopening. At that point, you must receive approval from your school/college/unit to have continued access. With the addition of several additional people in labs and using commons spaces, the new access, density requirements, safety plan approval and screening procedures will apply to ALL users of a building including those that were doing critical research prior. May 6, 8:15 p.m.

  5. My office has a door and can reasonably be sealed off from others. If I follow proper public health guidance (e.g., 6+ feet of distance, wear mask in public), can I work in my on campus office if it is in a building with labs that are open?

    1. No. All activities that can be done off campus should be done remotely if at all possible, including work that can be completed in offices. Only activities that have been deemed essential are allowed in offices, with approval to do so by your school leadership   Although individual offices may be low risk, when we fill those offices we increase activity in hallways, intake stations, restrooms, parking, bus ridership—all potentially leading to increased interactions and disease transmission. Lab work cannot be done at home, which is why this is a prioritized activity as opposed to office work  This is not how we hope to operate in the fall but how we plan to open if allowed in May and June. May 6, 8:15 p.m.

  6. Can I perform field research outside of Washtenaw County if I follow local public health guidelines?

    1. In-state field work for work without human subjects is allowed with approval. Some circumstances may still be limited, including work at the U-M Biological Station or when using specialized equipment that precludes social distancing requirements, including boats or airplanes. We will follow statewide public health guidance closely about when travel restrictions expect to be lifted. May 27, 1:45 p.m.

  7. I am a graduate student. How will it be decided if i should or should not return to work with my PI?

    1. Graduate students and faculty mentors should work together to develop a mutually agreeable plan that allows for the student to return to on-campus research. The student’s graduate program or department can help by providing specific guidance for the development of work plans describing the ramp up and ensure that the ramp up in activity is accomplished in a safe and equitable manner. Further discussion and suggested practices will be presently added to Rackham’s COVID-19 resource page. PI’s will not be able to insist graduate students return to the lab unilaterally. May 6, 8:15 p.m.

  8. How will the research of graduate students be prioritized during the ramp up?

    1. Faculty mentors/PI’s may be required to sequence the restart of projects in their laboratories. Each of these decisions should recognize that every graduate student has an individual need to make degree progress, and that such degree progress is potentially impacted by the sequencing of the restart. Departments and faculty mentors should clearly communicate restart plans, so that graduate students can determine how to allocate their time between remote and on campus research tasks during the ramp up. May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  9. Will undergraduates be allowed to participate in on-campus research during the initial stages of ramping up research?

    1. No. The early phases of return to lab work will be for employed staff, graduate students and UM faculty. Our most junior research trainees may be able to return to labs after labs are fully up and running and the new work flows are routinized on a case by case approval basis. This is not anticipated in May and June. Operations in July are not yet known and are dependent on the virus transmission and how smooth lab operations are going. May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  10. Can visiting scientists or scholars return to the lab?

    1. Not at this time. Access is currently limited to U-M employees only. Visiting scientists, scholars, and other visitors—including researchers from outside U-M that wish to use core facilities—may not currently access labs or buildings. Technicians that need to service instrumentation or other critical needs are allowed and must be coordinated with approval  with your school/college/unit. May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  11. Are researchers on the Flint and Dearborn campuses subject to the same rules around restarting research?

    1. Yes. This guidance on how labs will operate and the safety planning that needs to occur  applies to all three campuses.   Please work with your school and department leadership to understand how your campuses are implementing this guidance. May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  12. How is social distancing achieved in the labs?

    1. Regardless of how many research groups or schools co-occupy space, current guidelines require individuals to be spaced at least 6 feet apart, with no more than one researcher for every 144 sq ft of laboratory space. Additionally, no more than 10 people can be gathered in any lab common space regardless of size and distancing. Common spaces such as lounges, break rooms will be closed off.  May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  13. Do I have to answer health questions and have a temperature check every time I enter my building? 

    1. Yes. All employees entering buildings that are ramping up will have an intake procedure including questions on health and a temperature check. This will be required for all faculty and staff entry into all buildings that have started re-opening. May 6, 8:20 p.m.

  14. If I work in a lab and feel ill, are there enough tests for me to be tested? How long will it take to get my result?

    1. If you feel ill, do not come to work.

    2. Please contact the Occupational Health Services (OHS) hotline at 734-764-8021 will conduct the initial triage for employees with any potential symptoms. If you meet the criteria for testing you will be directed to a testing site. UM has ample testing supplies available for employees and trainees in our labs. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  15. If someone in my lab becomes ill will I be notified if I have been in close contact with them?

    1. Occupational Health Services (OHS) will conduct the initial triage for employees with a positive screen and contact tracing will be conducted per current public health guidance. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  16. I am a staff member working in a lab. I am worried about COVID and do not personally feel comfortable returning to the lab. What are my options? Can I decide to not return?

    1. Faculty and staff you are expected to work on campus if your research or scholarship requires it. However, we strongly encourage work that can be done remotely to continue in that fashion.

    2. If your work requires your presence on campus and you do not wish to report for work, you may be able to utilize paid leave options including the COVID related paid time off or vacation time if approved by the supervisor. Voluntary furloughs may be a possibility. Please discuss your options with your supervisor. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  17. Who will determine if an individual is “high risk”?

    1. It is up to the individual to identify themselves as high-risk based on a range of factors (e.g., age 70+, immunocompromised, other certain underlying health conditions). Individuals who feel they are at high risk should discuss with their health provider and Occupational Health. High risk individuals may choose to participate in permitted on campus activities but will not be required to do so. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  18. Can animal work resume once the “re-engagement” phase begins?

    1. Initial resumption of animal-based work must be thoughtful and calculated to meet expectations of the early phases of the ramp-up period. Given the possibility of a need to quickly ramp-back-down, only short-term studies requiring animal manipulation should be started once re-engagement commences.

    2. Studies will only be allowed with animals already in-house. Requests for new animal orders will only be accepted for COVID-19-specific studies approved by the Research Associate Dean. 

    3. Breeding colonies must remain on maintenance-mode only. At this time, no new studies may be initiated on animals produced by breeding colonies except for COVID-19-specific studies approved by the RAD. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  19. How will social distancing and room occupancy directives be implemented in animal facilities during the initial stages of ramping up research?

    1. Signs will be posted on all rooms within the animal facilities to indicate the maximum occupancy based on the area (square footage) of the room. Note: regardless of the allowable occupancy, 6-ft distancing must be observed when more than one person is working within any room.

    2. ULAM will initiate a husbandry schedule with the intent of completing all routine animal care duties during specified time periods, thus allowing the scheduling of research activities once re-engagement commences without ULAM personnel present. We anticipate that this will be early in the morning, such that the afternoons may be used for research; however, this may be vivarium-specific. Husbandry schedules will be posted on each room.

    3. Sign-up sheets for animal procedure rooms will be available. ULAM is investigating an on-line tool for scheduling time in both housing and procedure rooms. May 6, 8:25 p.m.

  20. The guidelines state that cafeterias and conference rooms will be closed, and we are not permitted to eat or drink in the labs. Where should we instruct lab members to take breaks where they can eat or drink? 

    1. The intent of the closure of these spaces is to prevent the spread of the virus within the building. According to U-M guidance for safe lab work, conference rooms and cafeterias must remain closed to ensure social distancing. Individuals should find alternate locations to eat/drink, such as outdoor areas or other seating where social distancing can be maintained. May 8, 11:35 a.m.

  21. What should I do to prepare my lab so that researchers will be ready to resume their work?

    1. EHS has developed a checklist to help researchers safely and efficiently ramp-up research activities, and compliments the research continuity plans that they have developed. The checklist is meant to be implemented at the lab/research group level. Contact EHS (734) 647-1143 or your EHS representative to discuss the checklist or if you have any concerns. May 8, 2:50 p.m.

  22. ​Where can I find signage, equipment cleaning logs and disinfection protocols for my research laboratory?

    1. Please refer to the U-M Department of Environment, Health and Safety's COVID-19 Research Resources webpage. May 19, 11:25 a.m.

  23. As a supervisor, what should I do if an employee refuses to wear a face covering in situations where it is required? Or says that they cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering?

    1. The first step is to have a discussion with the employee to explain that face coverings are now required to be worn as indicated by the State of Michigan executive order unless there is a medical reason that prohibits the use. If the employee states they have a medical reason for not wearing one, they must provide documentation from a medical professional to Work Connections just like any other restriction. They can be sent home using their own PTO until documentation is received, evaluated by work connections, and a determination is made. May 26, 9:50 a.m.

  24. Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering?

    1. No. A face shield is not a suitable substitute for a face covering. They can be worn as additional protection in conjunction with a face covering, but do not meet the requirement for wearing a face covering alone. May 26, 9:50 a.m.

Questions?

Do you have questions about how COVID-19 has impacted research operations at the University of Michigan?

Please refer to the university's COVID-19 Research Operations webpage for important FAQs about how the novel coronavirus has impacted U-M research and scholarship.