Development of research activity levels
In our efforts to provide greater flexibility to our researchers in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UVM Strong Research and Graduate Education Working Group has developed a set of research activity levels. Because research activities are already monitored closely for safety, research offers a controlled environment where activity levels can be raised or lowered outside of other activities on campus. In addition, all active research projects are currently operating under COVID-19 safety plans that have been reviewed and approved by College, Office of Research, and Lab Safety/Risk Management personnel.
The purpose of our research schematic is to allow the research community to modulate its activities and adjust to changes in COVID-19 conditions while continuing to operate safely and protect important research assets. In the table below we present five levels of research activities—gradations that reflect pre-COVID-19 risk levels to the sorts of extreme COVID-19 risk levels we faced early in the pandemic. As potential COVID-19 risks increase, an increasing number of research activities are curtailed. The goal is to allow continued safe operation and the ability to increase or decrease activity without resorting to the complete shutdown of activities witnessed in spring 2020.
These metrics will be operationalized as follows:
- Working with a range of campus-, national- and state-level data from UVM and Vermont State health officials, each Friday the Vice President for Research and a team of experts will decide whether to alter the research-relevant activity level or leave it the same as the week preceding. Notification of this decision will be posted on the UVM Return to Campus webpage, the OVPR webpage, faculty/PI listservs, and to deans and directors.
- Lab/project directors will be responsible for adjusting activities to match the announced level.
- Research activity restrictions apply to all UVM locations. Facilities outside the greater Burlington area may petition through their director/dean for individual consideration.
In considering this system, it is important to note that:
- None of these determinations will overwrite State of Vermont decisions on permissible activities.
- Allowed travel must still conform to the Addendum Travel Restrictions adopted by the Board of Trustees for Fall 2020, and must continue to use the PeopleSoft travel permission process described in that Addendum.
- In addition, none of these levels supersede approved lab/research safety plans or any research compliance requirements. These activity levels are intended as general activity guidelines that crosscut a wide range of actual activities and projects. Individual approved lab safety plans take precedence over any implied permission in the table.