RESEARCH CONTINUITY: Research Ramp-up

Guidance for Expanding Off-Site Research Activities

The Guidance for Off-Site Research Activities and Points of Consideration provided below supplement the Framework for UCI Phased Research Activities.  It applies to all UCI personnel and students engaged in Phase 1 – 3 research activities.

Off-site research is defined as UCI research activities conducted at sites or in facilities that are not owned, operated, controlled or managed by UCI.

Guidance for Off-Site Research Activities

This guidance cannot and does not address all of the activity-specific and location-specific challenges, circumstances and scenarios that UCI’s research teams may encounter. Rather, it is general guidance intended to help faculty and independent researchers (“Plan Owners”) in developing transition plans for off-site research (“Plans”).

  • All Guiding Principles contained in the Framework for UCI Phased Research Activities apply to off-site research activities, as do the sections on:
    • UCI’s Research Phases Mirroring the State of California Roadmap,
    • Decision Making Authority,
    • Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accommodations, and
    • the communication expectations contained in Communication, Monitoring and Enforcement
  • Research personnel should follow UCI Executive Directives, guidelines, policies and procedures when traveling to and from off-site research locations, including the UCI Executive Directive on Travel.
    • UCI personnel should follow the site’s guidelines and precautions, provided that doing so does not cause them to violate a UCI policy.
    • If a site does not have published guidelines or precautions, UCI personnel should follow UCI’s guidance and policies.
    • Delay research activities until a later date if circumstances at a site may prevent personnel from following either the site’s guidelines and precautions or UCI’s guidelines and policies.
  • Plan Owners should review the General Points of Consideration (available on the Research Continuity website) for those points applicable to their off-site research activities.
  • All personnel who will be off-site should review and discuss the approved Plan before commencing off-site research activities, including undertaking travel to the site.
  • Plan Owners should follow the process implemented by their Authorized Official (deans and SRP/ORU directors) to complete their Plans. Their Plans should also identify special or unique circumstances and the precautions Plan Owners will implement to address them.

Points of Consideration

Plan Owners and Authorized Officials should contemplate the below Points of Consideration when developing and reviewing Plans.

  • Do the off-site research activities align with the current applicable UCI Research Phase? If not, delay the off-site research until a later phase.
  • If non-UCI personnel (e.g., collaborators from other institutions) will actively engage in the off-site research, coordinate with them ahead of time and jointly develop a plan that aligns with the guidelines and policies from all participating institutions.
  • Register travel with UC Away if not booked through the UC Connexxus Travel program.
  • Do not relax physical distancing practices and other precautions such as face coverings except when emergencies or limitations associated with certain travel modes make it impossible.
  • No one should participate in off-site research if they are feeling ill, have a temperature greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or if any household member is experiencing flu-like symptoms.
  • When developing a Plan:
    • Review the COVID-19 Field Protocol Worksite Planning Checklist.
    • Prepare a list of all personnel (team members) with contact information, and at least one emergency contact per team member. For data security reasons, please maintain this information separate from the Plan.
    • Gather and organize information about the site, such as physical location (address or geo-coordinates if there is no physical address), COVID-19 safety guidelines, requirements, precautions and measures, and any documents evidencing permission from the Authority that controls site access confirming their approval to conduct UCI research.
    • What precautions and control measures (i.e., face coverings, gloves, equipment disinfecting protocols, physical distancing, etc.) will be used to limit the potential for virus transmission while traveling and conducting the research?
      • What procedures will team members use to disinfect high touch surfaces, shared equipment, and vehicles used for transport?
      • Will team members conduct a daily self-monitoring procedure to check for COVID-19 symptoms? What do they do if they have symptoms and to whom do they report this?
      • What is the procedure for care/treatment if one or more team members become sick? Will they self-quarantine?  How will team members be informed?  Will the Plan Owner create a contingency fund to help ensure appropriate space for self-quarantine?  Will the Plan require COVID-19 testing for sick team members?  Can the research continue without the sick team member?  What should other team members do if they had recent contact with the sick team member?
      • Is there a contingency plan if one or more team members decide to discontinue their participation at any time (for any reason) during off-site activities?
      • Will team members maintain an easily accessed (e.g., a shared Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, etc.) daily activity log to record work locations (public or private venues where team members conducted research), operational anomalies that resulted in contact with persons other than team members, and other data related to team member safety?
      • If team members will bring their own food and water/liquids, how will these items be stored and accessed? To avoid confusion and minimize the potential for virus transmission through accidental sharing, clearly label all items.
      • If the off-site research location is remote and the UCI team will join teams from other institutions, will team members who travel and work together stay in groups as a physical distancing measure? Will meals be scheduled to help prevent incidental contact with other groups?  What about sleeping quarters?  How will contact with society outside of the site be kept to a minimum?  Will certain team members be assigned responsibility for procuring food and other supplies?  What precautions will be in place to protect their team members when they return to the site?
    • How will compliance with the Plan be monitored? By whom?  How will the impacts of non-compliance be mitigated?
    • When traveling to, from and at the site:
      • Will stops be minimized to reduce the potential for contact with non-team members?
      • How will team members maintain personal hygiene standards consistent with CDC COVID-19 guidelines?
      • For longer trips involving group transportation using vehicles, what precautions will be used to maintain physical distancing? If two or more people will occupy a vehicle, will there be an empty seat (or other separation) between occupants?  Will they always wear face coverings?  What are the procedures for disinfecting vehicles?  Personnel should follow UCI physical distancing and face covering guidelines to the greatest extent feasible, and consider additional precautions where appropriate.
      • Carefully consider how to implement physical distancing procedures and other precautions when using boats, vessels, trains, airplanes, or other forms of group/mass transportation. What guidelines or requirements have operators implemented?
      • Depending on travel plans and circumstances, it may be possible to create a “testing bubble” for team members who will travel and work together at the site. A testing bubble is a group of individuals who have tested negative for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in their blood.  The California Coronavirus COVID-19 Testing Task Force provides information about free testing being offered statewide.  Other states and countries may have similar testing resources available.