RESEARCH CONTINUITY: Research Ramp-up
Framework for UCI Phased Research Activities
Revised - March 30, 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 the following resources, as well as local circumstances:
- California Department of Public Health Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education
- OC Health Agency guidance
- CDC Guidance for Colleges and Universities
- 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, especially physical (social) distancing requirements. The health and safety of UCI employees and students remains our top priority. Therefore, Plans should align with the safety and mitigation requirements of the current research phase. In addition, all personnel are expected to follow applicable UCI health and safety guidelines, applicable UCI Executive Directives, and the safety protocols and protective measures of their approved Plan.
Principle 2: Research activities beyond Phase 1 will increase gradually. However, the Vice Chancellor for Research may curtail or modify the current research phase on little or no notice pursuant to public health directives. The resurgence of COVID-19 is a real possibility. As a community, we must remain vigilant and responsive to changing circumstances at the local, regional, state, national and global levels.
Principle 3: Plan Owners will create written Plans for their research program to increase Research Activities. Authorized Officials will review and approve the Plans (see “Decision-Making Authority” below). Plan Owners and their teams may not conduct research unless and until the appropriate Authorized Official(s) approves their Plan.
Principle 4: 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 Stay at Home Order remains in effect, while public health authorities still require physical distancing, or while personal or household factors continue to put them at higher-risk for contracting or suffering from COVID-19. 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. When developing Plans for transitioning Research Activities from one phase to the next, Plan Owners should review and contemplate the General Points of Consideration.
Authorized Officials must review and approve each plan. Authorized Officials have independent responsibility for developing review and approval processes and procedures. Authorized Officials should consult with Facilities Management, Environmental Health &Safety (EH&S), and other campus units to ensure that plans they approve can be appropriately supported in terms of adaptations and safety precautions. Authorized Officials 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) is effective immediately and 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 so that personnel understand this guidance and understand the Plan they are expected to follow. Plan Owners should share their approved Plan with their research team to ensure that all members know and understand the Plan.
EH&S will conduct spot checks to monitor our compliance with this guidance. 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.