RESEARCH CONTINUITY: Research Ramp-up
Framework for UCI Phased Research Activities
Revised – June 21, 2021
The Framework for UCI Phased Research Activities, which was established to guide the conduct of research at UCI during the COVID-19 pandemic is informed by local circumstances and the following resources:
- California Department of Public Health: Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors
- OC Health Agency guidance
- Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard
- A broad and extensive consultative process with colleagues at UCI, from across the University of California, AAU, and APLU.
The below framework and supplemental information (on the left menu) are intended to inform faculty members and independent researchers, department chairs, deans, research unit/center directors, and research leadership in planning and decision-making as UCI advances through its research phases.
The increase in research activities will occur gradually, over an extended period of time, and in a carefully measured fashion consisting of four phases:
- Phase 1 – Critical (Essential) Research Activities
- Phase 2 – Research Activities That May a Pose Lower Risk for Virus Transmission
- Phase 3 – Research Activities That May Pose a Higher Risk of Virus Transmission
- Phase 4 – Research Activities as Public Health Directives and Requirements Relax
The Vice Chancellor for Research will inform the research community when UCI will move from one phase to the next (based on guidance from the State of California and Orange County and other relevant public health authorities).
Principle 1: In carrying out all aspects of research, UCI will follow all applicable federal, state, and county public health directives and University of California guidance. The health and safety of UCI employees and students remains our top priority. In addition, all personnel are responsible for following UCI Executive Directives, and all other health, safety, and COVID-19 guidelines and requirements issued by Environmental Health and Safety and/or UCI Health (as applicable).
Principle 2: Research activities will gradually increase over time as local conditions improve, public health directives change, and restrictions relax. As a community, we must remain vigilant and responsive to changing circumstances. Therefore, the Vice Chancellor for Research may curtail or modify the current research phase on little or no notice pursuant to public health directives.
Principle 3: Phase 4 research does not require a research plan. Plan Owners, however, may retain or establish more stringent safety protocols and protective measures that those required by UCI Executive Directives, California Department of Public Health guidance, and the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (CETS). Authorized Officials remain responsible for reviewing and approving such Plans (see “Decision-Making Authority” below).
Principle 4: Prior to the Governor ending California’s COVID-19 state of emergency order, no researcher (especially students) and no research staff should be compelled to work on campus. No disciplinary or retaliatory action shall be taken against personnel who choose to remain away from campus while the order remains in effect. Faculty, staff, and students who have concerns about these considerations should consult with the appropriate HR business partner or AP personnel.
UCI’s research enterprise encompasses a broad and varied group of disciples. Plan Owners and Authorized Officials should review and contemplate the General Points of Consideration.
Authorized Officials have independent responsibility for developing review and approval processes and procedures for research plans. They may delegate their responsibilities to other officials within their organizations; however, they cannot delegate their accountability.
Early Career Researchers may be experiencing disproportionate impacts as a result of the pandemic’s effect on UCI’s research enterprise. Priority should be given to getting ECRs back on track as soon as possible by including flexible accommodations to meet their academic deadlines and granting fair and transparent access to UCI Research Facilities.
Non-Discrimination: In addition, decisions about which personnel will return to the campus, when and for what research operations must be made in accordance with UCI’s non-discrimination policy.
Accommodations: Personnel may need reasonable accommodations, which can be facilitated by UCI Disability Management Services. Authorized Officials and Plan Owners should carefully consider the needs of employees and/or students with current disability accommodations or those who will require new accommodations, whether for disability or other reasons.
This framework, including the supplemental information and guidance (see left menu) applies to In-Person Research Activities. It also applies to Remote Research Activities if the legal entity or governing body controlling the site has not issued its own guidelines. UCI personnel conducting Remote Research Activities should first follow the site’s guidance, provided that doing so does not cause them to violate a UCI policy.
Plan Owners and Authorized Officials should communicate clearly and frequently with all personnel engaging in Research Activities. It is important that they understand what is expected of them regarding health and safety in the context of the Framework for UCI phased research. In addition, Authorized Officials should consider appointing local leaders (e.g., department chairs, center directors) to encourage and facilitate compliance, and/or to act as a point of contact to which personnel may direct concerns. Personnel also may submit their concerns through already-existing channels on campus (e.g., the whistle-blower program). Authorized Officials may also consider other mechanisms to enable employees to report concerns.