MU Research and Creative Activities Restart Plan

Colleagues,

As the state of Missouri begins to reopen under state and local guidelines, University of Missouri leadership will evaluate and communicate plans to resume various operations and functions. The paramount principle is the health and safety of our communities, especially of vulnerable individuals. As outlined by state and federal officials, we will take a phased approach to reopening. The goal of this communication is to outline the steps for resuming research activities and provide guidance to researchers, who, in addition to following the guidelines outlined in this document, will be expected to create specific plans for their activities and personnel. Additional resources and guidance for our research community to facilitate research continuity during the coronavirus outbreak can be found at the ORED Research-Related Updates Regarding COVID-19 page. Please be aware that if there is a significant increase in infections, it may be necessary to return quickly to essential research activities only, or even to more restricted operations.

As research activities are resumed, protective measures will remain essential. After careful and thorough review of the information below, as you may begin the return to work authorization through eCompliance. An example list of questions included on the authorization can be found here.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time.

Mark McIntosh's Signature
Mark A. McIntosh, PhD
MU Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development

 

Updates as of: May 18, 2020 11:19 AM


The following guidelines are provided by University of Missouri Public Health Authorities and University of Missouri Health Care (MUHC).

Note: All guidance is subject to modification as new information, data or best practices become available.

Underlying Principles of Responsible Behavior during COVID-19 Pandemic, Return to Campus

  • Maintain social distancing – 6-foot distance between individuals
    • All public spaces such as classrooms, corridors, laboratories, studios, recreation areas, common spaces of residence halls, elevators, stairwells (walking past another person within 6 feet in a non-crowded hallway for instance is not generally an exposure risk).
    • Attention to occupancy, keeping low density of people in all spaces
    • Configure furnishings to enforce distance, use 6-foot markers in waiting lines and other public spaces
  • Use of face coverings and personal protective equipment, at times when it is not possible to keep a 6-foot distance. 
    • It is unacceptable, in the vast majority of cases, to not maintain social distancing.
    • The CDC recommends face coverings even when social distancing is in place. The university will only require that practice if such a requirement set by local public health officials.
  • Hand hygiene – Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.  If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol.)
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Appropriate cleaning measures of shared surfaces in a university facility – important maintenance and individual responsibilities in shared spaces (i.e. laboratories, workshops, studios and residence hall rooms, etc.).
  • Self-monitoring of personal health symptoms twice daily.
    • CDC Corona-virus self-checker symptoms   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
    • Temperature checks
      • Before you take your temperature:
        • Wait 30 minutes after eating, drinking, or exercising
        • Wait at least 6 hours after taking medicines that can lower your temperature, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin.
      • If temperature is 38.0°C (100.4°F) or greater it is considered abnormal.
  • When self-monitoring identifies symptoms and/or fever (6 a. or 6 b.):
    • Stay home, call health care provider (SHC, if student) for guidance regarding testing
    • If advised to get COVID-19 testing (“targeted testing”):
      • Stay home until test results known
      • If negative COVID-19 test – follow health care provider advice regarding return to activities
      • If positive COVID-19 test:
        • Stay home, self-isolate, wear a face covering if around roommate or others
        • Cooperate with contact tracing by public health officials
        • Follow most current CDC guidance regarding return to class/work

Phased Approach to Research/Creative Activities
The research activities deemed essential at present range from maintenance of equipment, to maintenance and/or propagation of living organisms, to active COVID-19 research. Increasing the level of research beyond essential activity depends on

  • Access to an adequate and reliable supply of appropriate PPE, including any that may already be required by IACUC or biosafety protocols.
  • Recalibration or certification of certain equipment, particularly related to safety, before resumption of use.
  • Access to necessary research supplies and materials, including ordering, shipping, receiving, and delivery to normal building delivery locations.
  • Access to supplies of research animals, including necessary animal care activities.

In addition to potential supply chain issues, all of these activities are dependent on availability of staff at the department, college, and university levels. Therefore, the expansion of research activities beyond the present level must be connected to the presence of support staff on campus necessary to support research operations. The target date for initiating the expansion of research and creative activities beyond current “essential” levels is May 20, 2020. Preparatory activities such as lab cleaning, instrument activation/calibration, supply ordering, etc., may commence on May 18, 2020. However, all conditions applying to research activities after May 20 also apply to preparatory activities. No new research should be initiated before May 20.

Access to and protocols for use of shared resources such as libraries, computing facilities, core facilities, etc. will be determined by the management of each facility.  The phased research restart plan includes guiding principles, a decision tree, and operations and safety criteria:

Research and Creative Activities Restart Plan graphic

Note: This plan relates to research and creative activities that require on-campus facilities. It is in addition to any procedures implemented by the University of Missouri System for the phased return of personnel, including those in high risk categories. The System has issued guidance that, in the earliest group of returning employees, “no employee should be required to work on-site if they have valid health concerns until we can evaluate the results of expanding the number of employees working on-site.”

 


Goal - Develop a phased restart plan for research and creative activities that keeps everyone safe. 
In this document, “research” is defined as encompassing all research and creative activities.

Principle 1: Follow the local, state, and national public health directives to shelter-at-home and implement risk mitigation. 

  • Following the MU campus directives, university leadership is fully engaged and campus units are coordinating plans for a safe, phased-in approach to increasing research and creative works activities on campus when appropriate and according to CDC guidelines to prevent a potential resurgence of COVID-19. The guidelines for these coordinated plans beginning May 20 will be posted (ADD LINK) and will be updated regularly at this site.
  • Even as the local and state Shelter-In-Place restrictions are modified, higher risk groups—like older faculty and staff, or those with underlying health conditions—will likely need to shelter at home longer.
  • Nationally, public health authority (PHA) directives became more restrictive over time (recommendations, urgent recommendations, requirements, stricter identification of essential businesses and closures, clarification of allowable activities like exercise, more restrictive social distancing directives such as closing of parks and beaches, outdoor face coverings, etc.). We can expect that “loosening” will look like a similar process in reverse.

 

A six-phase approach has been developed for the University of Missouri:

 

External and MU Conditions

Summary and Metrics
Phase 1:

Situation unknown and changing; COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise; testing limited; PPE shortages; stay at home orders in place at university, local, state or federal level.

  • Access is restricted to only the maintenance of critical research and creative activities with a lab/situation-specific risk mitigation plan.
  • Estimated 5 to 10 percent of normal activity.
Phase 2:

COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise; testing limited; PPE shortages; stay at home orders continue to be in place at university, local, state or federal level.

  • Access is restricted to critical and high priority activities such as COVID-19 rapid response. Normal research space occupancy should be maintained at no more than this level.
  • Estimated 15 to 35 percent of normal activity.
  • Most universities, including MU, are currently operating in this phase.
Phase 3:

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations flatten then drop; COVID-19 testing capacity increases; PPE shortages still exist; public health authorities & Governor relax restrictions on ‘essential workers;’ local schools still closed / teaching remotely; stay at home orders lifted by local, state, or federal level, but the university is restricting access due to ongoing threat of community spread in the region.

  • Access is, allowed for time-sensitive research and creative activities with a lab/situation-specific risk mitigation plan.  
  • Estimated 35 to 50 percent of normal activities.
Phase 4:

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decrease; COVID-19 testing capacity near needed capacity; PPE more widely available. University lifts stay at home orders and partial access is granted to campus facilities under continued observation of risk mitigation strategies.

  • Access is allowed for new research and creative activities to be initiated, including work by postdoctoral and graduate student researchers, if it has been identified as a priority locally by the appropriate dean and department chair and a lab/situation-specific risk mitigation plan has been submitted. 
  • Estimated 50 to 70 percent of normal activities.
Phase 5:

New cases of COVID-19 are low; COVID-19 testing is at needed capacity; PPE availability normal;University further expands access to campus facilities but classes still on-line; disease prevention and containment strategies employed (e.g. self-monitoring, social distancing, hand hygiene, adequate testing, contact tracing).

  • Access is allowed to resume most research and creative activities.
  • Estimated 70 to 90 percent of normal research activity.
Phase 6:

Effective treatment strategies or vaccine widely available and used in combination with widespread testing and identification of new COVID-19 cases with no public health agency of government restrictions.

Represents a return to full campus activity.

Conclusion: It is fair to expect that between “only essential/minimal activity outside of the home” and “return to business as usual,” there will be intermediate phases of increased access, with two to three weeks between phase changes, with the possibility of returning to a more restricted phase should COVID-19 infections again rise. A six-phase approach has been developed and details can be found in the MU Decision Tree document.

Principle 2: Protect the health and safety of the faculty, students and staff, emotional as well as physical, as research and creative activities resume.  Protect the health and safety of our clinical patients and human research subjects.

  • The University of Missouri has established guidelines in Campus Repopulation Framework and the Recommendation for Summer 2020 For Research for Undergraduate and Graduate Students.  These must be followed by all units on campus.  
  • Safety within laboratories and workspaces must be rigorously maintained, with adequate access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other safety related supplies where required by the research protocols. Campus Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) must be made aware of all research activities within university spaces (e.g., VC of Facilities Gary Ward or building coordinators as appropriate). Lead researchers must identify who among their workforce are considered to be essential personnel (and their corresponding replacements/backups), and a process should be established whereby researchers who feel uncomfortable about their work situation can anonymously report their concerns.
  • Given that the relaxation of access constraints is locally determined, it may be especially challenging to ramp-up projects that are distributed across sites or which depend on international collaborations.
  • Limited access is likely to persist for some time, and researchers will need to adapt to longer term limited access. A full return to business as usual could take many months.
  • Continue to follow travel restrictions as set forth by the CDC/federal guidelines. Lifting of travel restrictions, such as those that limit international travel or restrict non-essential travel, are necessary before field research can recommence. This also includes human subject field research that must be conducted in person.  Field research needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis and given rigorous social distancing plans.
  • Human subject research occurring on campus needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis and approved by research leadership.
  • Creative activities (e.g., music and art studios) and other scholarly pursuits need to be considered on a case-by-case basis and given rigorous social distancing plans. 

Conclusion: Researchers should plan as best they can for the inherent uncertainty of changing circumstances related to in-person research and creative activity spaces.

Principle 3: Protect the careers of early-stage researchers.

  • To the extent that it is possible under the public health authority directives, as access restrictions are relaxed, priority to return to research spaces (including studios and restricted data bases housed in MU’s libraries) should be given to those researchers who cannot work remotely and are under time constraints to complete degrees, term appointments (e.g., postdoctoral researchers), or for tenure and other career reviews. This also includes requirements set forth to graduate (such as recitals) assuming they cannot be done online.
  • Extension of the tenure clock should be considered (See campus document).

Conclusion: University of Missouri will be cognizant of the consequences of reduced access to research spaces, including on-campus offices, and the dramatic impact this will have on careers, particularly of young researchers.

Principle 4: Implement a fair and transparent process for granting access.

  • While it will be the decision of the individual schools and colleges, the conditions and priorities for granting access should be rational, non-arbitrary, and made public.
  • Guidelines will vary for the different kinds of activities in research space; i.e., the guidelines for a life sciences laboratory will differ from an art studio space.
  • While the vast majority of people who have been granted access must follow the social distancing rules and maintain low density within research spaces, a small amount of non-conformity is inevitable. Enforcement will be by periodic inspection of authorized spaces by facilities management, the auditing of card key swipes, and the engagement of Deans and Department Chairs applying discipline to violators.

Conclusion:  See Decision Tree approach/Decision making process that details the steps for determining access to research labs, studios, library resources, etc.

Principle 5: Ensure as rapid a research restart as the public health conditions permit.

  • To implement social distancing and to reduce density of research personnel in university research spaces, consider scheduling staggered work days or work shifts, plan to enable EH&S, custodial, and facilities support to allow the operation of laboratories, research facilities, libraries, archives, collections, etc.
  • Plan in advance for supply chain issues on restart. Under no circumstances should safety be sacrificed due to lack of adequate supplies, such as the type and quality of PPE or availability of sanitizing products.
  • Comply and adhere to responsible safety practices as dictated by the CDC and MU.
  • Ensure Core Facilities, Shops, and Fabrication Lines are engaged and enabled to support ramp-up in advance of need.
  • Keep local infrastructure, lab layout, in mind when restarting departments. 
  • Researchers and building managers have to work in concert to ensure that local infrastructure and physical layout of research spaces within building are considered during ramp-up.

Conclusion: Develop flexible work schedules, plan in advance for any supply chain issues, prepare research facilities in advance of need, and coordinate across faculty and building management.

Principle 6: Undergraduates are students first, researchers second.

  • See Recommendation for Summer 2020 For Research for Undergraduate and Graduate Students document
  • Engagement of undergraduates in research should only be permitted under the most exceptional of situations. These may include the situation in which (1) the undergraduate student is an essential team member for the project, (2) the project itself has been authorized for access, and (3) the work of that student must be performed in person in the research space, and (4) no other work can be assigned to that student that can be performed remotely. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion:  Undergraduate students should adhere to directives from the MU campus guidelines for returning to campus.

Principle 7: Prioritize support for finding cures and preventions for COVID-19, and in assessing the economic, political, and cultural impacts of the virus, while increasing the safe access to all human subjectsto clinical trials for their conditions.

  • Critical clinical research has continued, while non-critical research was suspended, which affected many researchers conducting both federally funded and industry-funded research
  • A great majority of available clinical research resources have been dedicated to COVID-19 studies. This is likely to continue in the near future and should be prioritized.
  • Leadership involved in human subjectclinical trials willdevelop and endorse guidelines for conducting research during each of the six identified phases. Leadership will carefully consider the ability of the proposed research restart plan to effectively mitigate risks such that human subject safety and trial integrity are maintained.
  • Researchers conducting human subject clinical trials will develop plans for their individual projects to address what will happen if the university returns to a more restrictive phase categorization.
  • The clinical trial participants, investigators and research must respect all university health system and campus COVID-19 precautions.
  • Central to any decision regarding restart of research activities, ensuring the safety of clinical trail participants, investigators and research personnel is paramount.

Conclusion: There is important research taking place in our research units regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce, and it should be prioritized as broader clinical research activities are resumed.

 


Phased Criteria of Priority Research Areas

  • If university leadership announces moving campus to a less restrictive phase (higher numeral), faculty need to obtain permission to expand activities (see Decision Tree after Table). Those projects previously approved as “essential” should re-register under these guidelines so that all research activities in these renewal phases may be tracked effectively.
  • Campus may move through activity phases in both directions and revert to more restrictive phases should conditions worsen. Research activity approvals will be filed and automatically reactivated should campus leadership decide to revert back to a more restrictive phase.
  • Conditions at MU that trigger consideration of moving to a different phase are given in bold in the second column.
Table for Decision Tree Phased Criteria of Priority Research Areas
  External and MU Conditions Summary & Metrics Criteria
Phase 1:

Situation unknown and changing.
COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise

Testing limited, PPE shortages

Stay at home orders in place at university, local, state or federal level

Only research deemed critical is allowed
Researchers must be designated as Critical to be on site

On site campus research activity estimated at 5-10% of normal

Research facilities and field stations are closed, except where personnel are required to protect life safety and critical research infrastructure/capability (maintaining cell lines, animal health, instrumentation, etc.).

  • Minimum staffing.
  • Authorization for one-time access to faculty offices to pick up books and materials, shut down instrumentation, etc. delegated to deans.
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: continue study visits for participants currently on therapeutic interventions that were on-going pre-pandemic and are deemed necessary for participant safety and welfare.  Initiate COVID-19 therapeutic clinical trials. 
Phase 2:

COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise, testing limited, PPE shortages

Stay at home orders continue to be in place at university, local, state or federal level

On-campus access allowed to maintain research capability or prevent catastrophic disruption

COVID-19 related research encouraged

Researchers must be designated as Essential to be on site (Permission letters and photo ID should be carried)

On site research activity estimated at 15-35% of normal

Research access limited to social-distanced essential personnel only for priority research activities:

  • Life safety and critical research (as stated above). 
  • “Critical Research”, where a delay would have significant financial impacts or catastrophically disrupt the project or protocol (including avoiding necessary euthanasia of research animals).  Completion of ongoing critical projects - no “new” projects can be initiated on campus.
  • COVID-19 related rapid response activities (e.g. testing, ventilators, construction of PPE, etc.)
  • Prioritize core facilities that support COVID-19 research
  • Field Research: Prioritize seasonal data collection or experiments close to completion where pause or deferral would lead to “catastrophic loss” of research results. Undergraduates are not approved to participate.
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: continue study visits for participants currently on therapeutic interventions deemed necessary for participant safety and welfare.  Continue COVID-19 clinical trials.  No new studies can be initiated, no new enrollment of participants in ongoing projects.
  Preparations for next phase  
  • Necessary core facilities are staffed and operational
  • Labs are able to purchase and receive necessary supplies
  • Social distancing, facial coverings, cleaning measures understood and in place (e.g. face coverings for all on-campus personnel required) (See below for ACUC-specific notes)
Phase 3:

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations flatten, then drop
COVID-19 testing capacity increases
PPE shortages still exist

Public health authorities & Governor relax restrictions on ‘essential workers’

Local schools still closed/ teaching remotely for rest of academic year

Stay at home orders lifted by local, state, or federal level, but the university is restricting access due to ongoing threat of community spread in the region

Definition of “critical” relaxed to include time-sensitive research

Explore options for Humanities & Social Sciences

All research activities that can be undertaken remotely should continue

On site research activity transitions to an estimated 35-50% of normal

Plans for sudden return to Phase 1 in place

Deadline-driven research activities:

  • Animal experiments where there would be a loss of time-sensitive cohorts – e.g. in age-related studies or drug/surgery interventions.
  • Seasonal data collection such as field and agricultural work, experiments close to completion, or deadline driven, whose pause or deferral would lead to catastrophic delay or loss of research results.
  • Animal experiments where a delay would result in euthanasia or loss of a colony.
  • Prioritize access for graduate students and postdocs within one year of completing their degree/term of appointment.
  • Prioritize research for completion of grants with end dates within 6 months (where funding agency has not granted leniency).
  • Prioritize research where preliminary data is required for impending (< 3 months) national-level grant submissions
  • Core facilities: restart facilities based on sufficient ‘customer’ demand (approved projects) where work cannot be done remotely.
  • Humanities & Social Sciences: Explore options for expanded on-campus library research options (e.g. paging services, where faculty and grad students nearing degree completion can order books and other materials to pick up from campus location). Prioritize researchers with deadlines (tenure, book contracts, degree completion, etc.) for access to Ellis (rare books/materials) on a limited basis. Some monitored access to offices for those at critical career points (tenure, promotion).
  • Field research: expand approvals depending on what current restrictions are in the counties where field research is to be conducted.
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: resume projects for completion of grants with end dates within 6 months (where funding agency has not granted leniency); and resume projects where preliminary data is required for impending (< 3 months) national-level grant submissions.  Externally funded therapeutic clinical trials "open to enrollment" before research activities were put on hold may resume if enrollment is competitive.  Projects meeting above requirements will be reviewed on a case by case basis following submission and approval of the Human Subject Clinical Trial Request to Resume Research form.  No new studies may be initiated.  No new enrollment for ongoing studies unless project meets above requirements.
  Preparations for next phase  
  • Core campus functions are staffed and operational to handle increased load (ACUC, EH&S, Biosafety)
  • More core facilities are staffed and operational
  • Labs are able to purchase necessary supplies
  • Social distancing, face covering, cleaning measures understood and in place
Phase 4:

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decrease COVID-19 testing capacity near maximum of needed capacity, PPE more widely available

Further relaxation of restrictions - standards for return to normal

University lifts stay at home orders and partial access is granted to campus facilities under continued observation of risk mitigation strategies

Gradually expand # of people on campus while maintaining social distancing

Critical new on-campus research allowed, but labs/groups only allowed to operate at 50-70% total personnel capacity, with social distancing.  All research that can be done remotely should continue to be, including all seminars, group meetings, etc. All common areas will be restricted for use by appropriate social distancing requirements.

On site research activity transitions to an estimated 50-70% of normal
  • Allow access to offices for faculty, post-docs and grad students on application 1-3 days/week. Must maintain social distancing and maximum occupancy per building.
  • Field Research - expand on case by case basis (depending on local conditions/restrictions at field sites, travel restrictions, ability to travel safely and ability to social distance at field sites)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences - allow use of libraries, archives, labs, and collections to limited numbers of researchers using hygiene and social distancing protocols. Access to offices can be allowed with social distancing practices in place (see above).
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: resume enrollment for ongoing projects with therapeutic Interventions.  Initiate new therapeutic projects on a case by case basis following submission and approval of the Human Subject Clinical Trial Request to Resume research form (Recommended approval form be uploaded to project in eCompliance)
Phase 5:

New cases of COVID-19 are low
COVID-19 testing is at maximum needed capacity
PPE availability normal

Further relaxation of restrictions - standards for activity based on ability to social distance

Childcare options available for parents?

University further expands access to campus facilities, but classes still on-line and disease containment strategies (e.g. adequate testing, contact tracing) not complete

Continued expansion of research on campus while maintaining social distancing

Critical new on-campus research allowed, but labs/groups only allowed to operate at 70-90% total personnel capacity, with social distancing

All research that can be done remotely should continue to be, including all seminars, group meetings, etc.

On site research activity estimated at 70-85% of normal

  • Field Research - further expand on case by case basis (depending on local conditions/restrictions at field sites, travel restrictions, ability to travel safely and ability to social distance at field sites)
  • Access to offices allowed generally, with attention to risk mitigation
  • Access to libraries, collections, studio spaces, performance spaces and labs with social distancing and disinfection of materials
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: expand initiation of new projects with therapeutic interventions. 
Phase 6:

Vaccine widely available and used in combination with widespread testing and identification of new COVID-19 cases, with quarantining

No or minimal state restrictions

All types of on-site research are allowed

On site research and creative activity normal at 85-100%

  • Restart normal research operations, including open museums and libraries, field research and human subjects research.
  • Human Subject Clinical Research: resume in person non-therapeutic projects, initiate new in person non-therapeutic projects.

FAQs

At this point the determination of the appropriate in-person activity level depends on your reponses to the series of questions below, using the phased criteria for priority research areas (see Table above). Any plan of work will have to be approved by your department chair or director, and College or School, using the Return to Work Authorization form (https://ecompliance.missouri.edu/login).

1. Is your research allowable based on one or more of the priority criteria listed in the Table above?

Question 1. For a given phase, does your research fulfill any of the above criteria?
If yes, go to question 2.

If you answer yes, go to question 2. If you answer no, you need to maintain your research in ramp-down until a permissible phase is reached.

2. Safety standards and risk mitigation--can you accommodate all of the safety standards below?

Question 2a. Can you regularly inform personnel that if they are sick or experiencing even mild symptoms of illness, they are required to stay home?
If yes, go to question 2b.

Questions 2b. Can you maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times when researchers are in the laboratory? Maximum occupancy will be building-specific and determined by those directly responsible for research facilities. Recommendation is given for no more than 2 – 3 people per 1000 sq ft of laboratory space providing adequate distancing can be maintained during activities. Occupancy can be increased by implementation of work shifts. Social distancing will preclude training new techniques to others, unless it can be accomplished while maintaining at least 6 feet distance or video-based alternatives for instruction exist. It will also preclude techniques that need more than 2 hands, unless an alternate approach can be devised. It will also preclude dangerous experiments that require two people in close proximity. In some cases, it will require strict scheduling.
If yes, go to question 2c.

Question 2c. Can you carry out frequent laboratory decontamination procedures? This requires access to disinfecting solutions or wipes, and a schedule to wipe down surfaces regularly, wipe down common equipment before and after use, and wipe down lab benchtops before and after use.
If yes, go to question 2d.

Question 2d. Can you maintain personal safety with appropriate personal protective equipment and frequent handwashing?
If yes, go to question 3.

If you answer yes to all of these questions, go to question 3. If you answer no, you need to maintain your research in ramp-down until Phase 6 is reached.

3. Personnel

Question 3a. Do you have personnel available to carry out the research? It may be difficult to hire new personnel under the current situation.
If yes, go to question 3b.

Question 3b. Are the personnel you need to do the experiments willing to come into your facility to carry them out in a safe manner? You cannot pressure or require them to work, unless they are critical personnel for specific tasks. In that case, you still cannot ask them to do more than is required by their designation.

Question 3c. Have your personnel been trained in disinfectant procedures; particularly in the case of shared equipment usage?

If you answer yes to questions 3a – 3c, your plan of work meets guidelines for carrying out in-person research, pending approval by your department chair or director, and College or School. Upon approval, please be sure to minimize the number of personnel in your research space at any one time and prioritize experiments needed to meet an impending deadline.

If no, you need to maintain your research in ramp-down until Phase 6 is reached.

Enforcement

  • It is the responsibility of every PI to ensure that their lab personnel follow all safety guidelines, are cognizant of appropriate disinfecting procedures, and adhere to approved research plans.
  • Maximum occupancy will be building-specific and determined by those directly responsible for research facilities, e.g. chairs, center directors, and building managers. Recommendation is given for no more than 2 – 3 people per 1000 sq. ft. of laboratory space providing adequate distancing can be maintained during activities. Occupancy can be increased by implementation of work shifts.
  • Compliance will be enforced by those directly responsible for research facilities. The formation of a COVID-19 Safety Committee is encouraged for each research facility.
  • Non-compliance will result in a written/email warning, and if not remedied an enforced ramp-down of activities will be instituted.
  • MU will provide an anonymous hotline for lab personnel to report non-compliance with safety guidelines or scope of research.

 


Our goal is to provide a framework for units to establish guidance for research operations during the COVID-19 crisis. The following bullets are a working document to restart research at Mizzou:

  1. Establish guidance for risk-based determination of the maximum number of individuals who can work in the laboratory while maintaining risk mitigation and social distance practices. Department Chairs/Center Directors will work with Associate Deans for Research/Deans to establish guidelines that are specific for the workspaces identified in the research supervisors Return to Work authorization.
  2. Establish building-specific guidance. For example, no more than 1 person in an elevator at a time. Minimize use of common space, gathering, break, or study areas. Individual units will develop specific building guidelines for the use of common spaces, following the general principles for social distancing and public health set by campus and the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
  3. Establish guidance for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure risk mitigation. In general, face coverings should be worn by all employees who cannot effectively social distance. Workers are responsible for providing their own face coverings and follow CDC guidelines regarding their use [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html]. If specialized PPE is required by the nature of the work being done, it is the responsibility of the unit or laboratory director to provide the required equipment.
  4. Establish guidance for situations that warrant elevated precautions and reduced activity such as a change in the number of CoV2 cases in Boone County.Monitoring of community spread will be conducted by MU Health leadership (Office of the Chief Medical Officer), who will provide periodic reports to campus leadership and the research community. Elevated CoV2 cases may result in increased restrictions as detailed in the MU Decision Tree section above.
  5. Establish criteria for personal health monitoring. Each returning worker will be instructed by their supervisor to follow CDC guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html), including the recommended use of the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html). Workers will be required to report to their supervisor. Supervisors will communicate to workers that the federal government and the CDC recommend that vulnerable individuals, with underlying health conditions or those who live with, or care for, anyone who is elderly or who has an underlying health condition should continue to shelter in place.
  6. Establish criteria for a person who has had a fever or other symptoms to return to work. Follow CDC guidelines, emphasizing the symptom-based strategy (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html). Employees will be encouraged to take their own temperature twice each day, once before work and again after work - if you are providing the equipment for taking temperatures, you may mandate this practice. Employees should not enter the workplace if exhibiting symptoms typical of COVID-19 or if they have been in known contact with someone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees who feel ill or have any COVID-19 symptoms during the work day should contact their supervisor, be separated from co-workers immediately, sent home, and, whenever possible, be allowed to work from home. Importantly, employees should contact their healthcare providers.
  7. Individuals who have a known exposure to CoV2 should not come to work until they are cleared by a medical professional.For workers in a non-clinical (e.g. research or office) setting, follow “CDC recommendations regarding Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure,” as applied to an “individual who has had close contact (< 6 feet) for a prolonged period of time,” – i.e. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html. Employees who have tested COVID-19 positive, or report any symptom of COVID-19, should not return to the workplace until they are free of all symptoms for at least 72 hours, without the use of any medication that might mask symptoms (i.e. fever-reducing medicine, cough medicine, etc.), and have been cleared by a medical provider.
  8. Establish criteria for individuals to use shared equipment. For example, disinfecting procedures and PPE requirements for accessing, using and cleaning the equipment. Research leaders will be expected to follow CDC guidelines for shared use of equipment and facility resources (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html). Specific cleaning guidelines and expectations should be placed in areas of shared instrumentation by the facility supervisor. This will be critically important when handling sensitive pieces of equipment where cleaning materials might cause damage. 
  9. Increase custodial staff coverage so that door handles and other commonly touched things (bathrooms and elevators, for example) can be disinfected multiple times a day.Custodial staff should clean research unit (e.g. lab, creative workspace) doors once daily, using CDC approved techniques (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html).  Individual lab/workspace members should develop and carry out an additional plan for cleaning equipment and other high-touch surfaces, following CDC guidelines. Staff should assume all surfaces are contaminated. It is unreasonable to expect every surface within a building to remain uncontaminated for any period of time. All it takes is one sick person to contaminate a surface. This includes door knobs, push bars, countertops, sink handles, trashcan lids, bathroom stall door locks, toilet flush buttons/handles, paper towel dispenser handles, ice machine scoops, coffee urns, meeting room computer/keyboard and mouse, chair arm rests, refrigerator handles, microwave handles and buttons, copier, vending machines, drinking fountain buttons, remote controls, light switches, hand rails (indoor and outdoor), and elevator buttons.
  10. Most meetings should be held on Zoom if possible. If in-person meetings are needed, the individuals meeting should be six feet apart.
  11. Do not use shared office or break areas unless social distancing can be maintained according to the guidelines established for each facility.
  12. Establish a training program to instruct individuals on best practices for safety and containment and require that all individuals who are performing research or creative activities in university facilities receive this training. Establish a mechanism for evaluating the effectiveness of the procedures and the overall compliance of users. Per AAMC, a CITI training module for COVID-19 is in preparation. As these opportunities are made available, individuals will be expected to complete the modules as a requirement for returning to work. Unit leaders will develop plans for local compliance monitoring and reporting.
  13. University of Missouri Behavior Guidance During Pandemic
    Subject to modification per new guidance from federal, state and local public health officials, other new information, resources or best practices as they become available.
    • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet between individuals
      • Maintain that distance in classrooms, corridors, laboratories, studios, recreation areas, common spaces, elevators, stairwells. (Walking past someone within six feet in a hall way is not considered an exposure risk.)
      • Pay attention to total density of people in a space.
      • Configure furnishings to enforce distance. Create 6-foot markers for waiting lines and other public spaces
      • Following Boone County Health Department guidelines and input from Dr. Steve Whitt, MUHC Chief Clinical Officer, use face coverings when it is not possible to keep a 6-foot distance.  (CDC guidelines recommend wearing cloth face coverings at other times and individuals may choose to do so.)
      • Virtual meetings are preferred. If a meeting must be in-person, it must be in a room which permits attendees to be six feet apart.
      • Break rooms/lunch rooms and gathering areas are closed for social gathering. They may be used for food and drink preparation and consumption (one at a time, or multiple people as long as 6-foot social distancing can be maintained).
      • People should travel to sites with one person per vehicle. If that is not possible, all people involved should wear a cloth face covering and certify they have not exhibited symptoms similar to COVID-19, according to CDC guidelines.
    • Hand hygiene: Frequent 20-second handwashing or 60% or more alcohol hand sanitizer.
      • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.  If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol.)
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
    • Appropriate cleaning measures
      • The university is tracking continual cleaning of shared surfaces
      • Individual responsibility for wiping surfaces is needed for shared spaces.
    • Self-monitoring of personal health
      • Watch for symptoms (CDC coronavirus symptom self-checker)
      • Temperature check guidance
      • Temperature is 38.0°C (100.4°F) or greater it is considered positive.
        Before you take your temperature:
        • Wait 30 minutes after eating, drinking, or exercising
        • Wait at least 6 hours after taking medicines that can lower your temperature, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin.
    • Take immediate action/report if symptoms
      • Stay home
      • Call health care provider (Student Health Center, if student) for guidance regarding testing
      • If advised to get coronavirus testing, stay home until results are known
      • If test is negative, follow health care provider advice regarding return to activities
      • If test is positive:
        • Stay home
        • Self-isolate
        • Wear a face covering around others
        • Cooperate with contact tracing by public health officials
          Strictly follow guidance regarding return to class/work
      • If you think you’ve had contact with a person identified as testing positive or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please seek advice from your doctor or another health professional and follow their advice. You can contact HR and Mizzou’s Incident Command Team if you need assistance with self-isolation.

 


Workers

  • Understand that ramping-up research does NOT mean business as usual
  • Perform daily self-assessment for symptoms
    • If you have experienced symptoms of illness in the past 24 hours, do not come to work.
    • Notify your supervisor of absence due to illness.
    • Consider calling the COVID-19 Resource Nurse: 573-476-2178
  • Practice good hygiene – wash hands often; cover coughs and sneezes
  • Maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others at all times
  • Continue to carry-out appropriate tasks remotely
    • Computer work and other tasks that can be carried-out effectively from home
    • All group meetings should be conducted via remote-access applications, such as Zoom, unless approved otherwise by your supervisor
  • Self-quarantine if you have close contact with an individual diagnosed with active COVID-19 infection; notify your supervisor; and do not return to work until you have been approved
  • Notify your supervisor immediately if you are diagnosed with active COVID-19 infection

Building entrance

  • Post a sign at each entrance that lists concerning symptoms, including:
    • Fever (temp ≥38.0°C/100.4°F) and /or chills
    • Headache
    • Cough (new onset, not explained by another condition)
    • Shortness of Breath or difficulty breathing (new onset, not explained by another condition)
    • Unexplained muscle aches
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of sense of smell or taste
    • Nasal congestion (different from pre-existing allergies)
    • Eye redness +/- discharge (pink eye, not allergy related)
    • Unexplained fatigue
  • The sign should advise the worker to not enter the building if any of the symptoms are present, and to consider having a medical evaluation
  • Have hand sterilizing gel dispenser accessible for use by entering workers

Assigned Workspaces (research labs, office areas, studios)

  • Minimize physical interactions through strategies such as shift-work and alternate-day scheduling
  • Maintain social distancing –density of individuals should allow at least 6 feet distancing for all present in the room
  • Cloth face coverings are recommended in work areas where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • Wear disposable gloves when using common equipment
  • Require daily sterilization of high-touch surfaces, using CDC-approved techniques (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html)
    • Doorknobs
    • Refrigerator/freezer handles
    • Common work surfaces and computers

Required Actions if a Worker is Diagnosed with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Infection

  • Notify the worker’s supervisor or the MU Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) office (https://ehs.missouri.edu/) on an urgent basis
  • Do not allow the worker to return to work until he/she is approved to do so in writing by a physician and the worker’s supervisor
  • Determine the date that the worker was last present at work and the rooms and common areas visited by the worker that day
    • If it has been more than 7 days since the person with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary
    • If it has been 7 days or less since the person with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 visited or used the facility, proceed as follows:
      • Close-off areas visited by the ill person
      • Open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the visited areas
      • Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection of the visited areas
      • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas and equipment used by the ill person, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces
  •