Research updates for the new semester

From: Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
Sent: Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, 10:02 p.m.
To: KU Lawrence faculty and academic staff; KU Lawrence postdocs and graduate students; KU Lawrence grant coordinators

Dear KU Research Community,
As the first day of the fall semester approaches, I want to thank you for all the steps you’ve taken during the spring and summer to modify your research activities to optimize the health and safety of our community. Your care and cooperation have helped prevent outbreaks on our campus and allowed vital research and creative activity to continue to the extent possible in our necessarily more restrictive environment.
Thousands of students will start classes on Monday – many of them in campus buildings that have been carefully prepared by KU Operations staff. The safety of those students and the faculty and staff who will be on campus to meet their learning and living needs relies, in part, on the research community continuing to follow the protocols that have contributed to our success so far.
Please review the rules that continue to govern on-campus research, noting that action may be required as we transition to a new semester.
Updating lab + fieldwork reactivation plans
Anyone approved to return to on-campus research must submit a lab reactivation plan. Forms must be completed by principal investigators or faculty supervisors for research, approved by department chairs or center directors, and forwarded to the Office of Research. All lab personnel must complete appropriate training, such as COVID-19 Return to Work Safety 101.
Similarly, essential and time-sensitive fieldwork or travel may be permitted but also requires approval from department chairs or center directors and completion of a fieldwork or other travel safety plan that covers both activities at the site and travel for researchers to and from the site.
Please audit your lab and/or fieldwork safety plans and resubmit for approval if personnel are joining or leaving your research team this fall.

Continuing responsible human subjects research
KU’s Human Research Protection Program looks forward to continuing to support responsible inquiry with human subjects. Please be certain to apply for reactivation or activation of research involving in-person interactions with human subjects. If it is possible to meet research objectives without face-to-face interactions, we encourage you to continue using approved remote procedures.
Temporarily reassigning research space (NEW)
One of the most effective risk mitigation strategies for COVID-19 is to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet whenever possible. However, this limits activity in some laboratories, slowing research and potentially hampering training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. At any one time, KU may have empty lab space because of faculty turnover and fluctuating research funding. To promote safety and increase the efficiency of research operations, deans, directors and department chairs are encouraged to temporarily reassign vacant space.
Learn more about procedures and timelines for temporary reassignments
Protecting KU
As we welcome students back to campus, it’s more important than ever that we recommit to measures and mindsets that prioritize safety for all and ensure the long-term health of our research, learning and service missions.
KU’s overarching health and safety requirements — including wearing face coverings, taking a COVID-19 test if you’ll be on campus for any reason before Sept. 7, using the CVKey app to gain access to campus buildings, and maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from other people — apply to members of the research community as much as everyone else. It remains true that all research and administrative work that can be done remotely must not be conducted in campus buildings, and no outside visitors are allowed in campus research facilities unless approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research.
Success will take all of us working together. Let’s protect ourselves, each other, the broader community, and this university where we teach, learn, explore, discover and change the world.
Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research