Research Reboot Phase 2

Posted on July 1, 2020 on behalf of the SMPH Office of Basic Research, Biotechnology and Graduate Studies:

Important update on Aug. 27: In order to comply with Smart Restart, SMPH HR needs the names of lab personnel added during Phase 2. The PI is no longer able to list the names of lab personnel on the OVCRGE form because Part 3 of the form is now read-only. Thus, after submitting the OVCRGE form, the PI should send the names of new lab personnel via email to the unit director (i.e., the person they list as collaborator on the OVCRGE form). The unit director should send the names of approved lab personnel to their unit’s SMPH HR representative so HR can centrally track who is approved to work on site.

ALSO SEE: FAQS: RESEARCH ACTIVITY AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As you are aware from the June 30 OVCRGE communication, we are now moving into Phase 2 of the research restart process. Details of what is allowed in Phase 2 are listed in the OVCRGE research site. There are three key changes for Phase 2:

  1. Face-to-face human subjects research is now allowed, subject to approval by unit directors and the SMPH human subjects/clinical trials process.
  2. Effective September 26, labs may again include undergraduates as researchers or student hourlies in their lab plans. (There was a pause in undergraduate research from September 16-25 but it resumed on September 26.)
  3. The density maximum has now been relaxed to 200 square feet per researcher.

Other restrictions that applied during Phase 1 research are still in place during Phase 2 and all activities that can be completed remotely should continue to occur off-site. Safety remains the primary goal during Phase 2 and all researchers should continue to be mindful of their surroundings in order to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of separation from others in the lab, wear a mask at all times unless alone in a closed room, and continue hygiene practices to help prevent viral spread.

Some frequently asked questions are addressed here:

How do PIs apply for Phase 2 research?  All research approved in Phase 1 is automatically approved for Phase 2.  The application process for three different situations are outlined below:

  1. If a PI had an approved Phase 1 plan and is not expanding the number of personnel in their lab, then they may continue their research in Phase 2. There is no need to update the lab’s plan on the OVCRGE site. Lab personnel approved during Phase 1 may expand the number of hours spent in lab without further approval as long as density restrictions and other safety measures allow such expansions.
  2. If a PI had an approved Phase 1 plan and is planning to expand their research personnel roster in Phase 2, they will need to use the OVCRGE online form to update their plans. PIs will simply modify their Phase 1 plans by answering questions in a new section of the form (Section 4). They will then select “It is waiting for feedback from department chair/director” for question 6 in section 4 and submit their revised application to their department chair, division chief, or center director.
  3. If a PI’s plan was not approved for research in Phase 1, he or she will apply for research access using the OVCRGE online form.

Who reviews amended applications? Unit directors (department chairs, division chiefs, or center directors) will review amended PI applications for expanded research during Phase 2. Once the unit director’s review is complete, the PI or the unit director must log back into the OVCRGE site and select “It has been approved by Dean/OVCRGE or their designee” for question 6 in section 4 to indicate that the application has been approved.

Can two people work in the same laboratory bay? Yes, but only when an exception is requested by a PI and approved by the unit director. Exceptions of this nature are expected to be rare and it is required that researchers maintain a minimum of six feet of separation at all times.

How many people will be allowed in spaces? The occupancy limit for a given floor of a building can be computed by multiplying the Phase 1 limit by 350/200 (this factor comes from the Phase 1 density limit of 350 square feet per researcher divided by the Phase 2 limit of 200 square feet per researcher). Individual rooms that are smaller than 400 square feet will be limited to one person per room.

Can face-to-face training occur during Phase 2?  Training of undergraduates or others in the lab may occur as long as the trainer and trainee maintain a minimum of six feet of separation at all times.  In cases where such distances cannot be maintained, an exception must be requested by the PI and approved by the unit director.

Do department chairs, division chiefs, or center directors need to submit updated unit plans to the Dean’s Office? No. However, unit directors will need to assure compliance with density restrictions as indicated in the Phase 2 guidelines. Unit directors are urged to communicate with Andrea Poehling (andrea.poehling@wisc.edu) in the SMPH Dean’s Office with any questions that arise while reviewing applications.

Sincerely,

Richard L. Moss, PhD
Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research, Biotechnology and Graduate Studies

Anjon (Jon) Audhya, PhD
Associate Dean for Basic Research

James Keck, PhD
Associate Dean for Basic Research Training