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Principles for On-Campus Research by Undergraduate Students during COVID-19

  1. Undergraduates are students first. The primary reason for their participation in research is the significant benefit to the student as an educational experience. PIs who recruit students to their research teams must recognize the additional responsibilities that this entails.  
  2. All work that can be done remotely should be done remotely. To the extent possible, research experiences for undergraduates should be designed or modified so that on-campus activities are not required.
  3. To decrease risk to the Lawrence community, it is preferred that undergraduates not be encouraged to travel to the area solely for the purpose of engaging in on-campus research activities.
  4. PIs owe an enhanced duty of care toward undergraduates who must be on campus to participate in research, compared to graduate students and other research personnel. This means that PIs are responsible for:
    • Ensuring training of the student in safety protocols to minimize the risk of viral transmission, and ensuring that they and their other research personnel model strict and willing adherence to these protocols.
    • Holding regular and frequent supervisory meetings with the student; supervision should not be delegated completely to a graduate student or to other research personnel.
    • Asking the student periodically about their level of comfort with being on campus.
    • Transparent communication with the student during onboarding about whether the student’s position can continue remotely if on-campus work is discontinued (at the instigation of the student, the PI or campus authorities).
  5. Undergraduate researchers will be less experienced, and laboratory safety risks should be considered carefully. For example, PIs should consider whether social distancing in the lab can be maintained while assuring adequate student training and supervision for hazardous procedures.
  6. PIs must consider potential risks to the campus community and other research personnel. This means communicating expectations for behavior on and off campus during the period the student is engaged in research. The Center for Undergraduate Research has developed a new version of the undergraduate research contract that includes such expectations. Alternatively, PIs could consider their own contract with the student in which the student agrees to:
    • Timely disclosure of contacts with infected individuals.
    • Timely disclosure if the student feels unwell or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
    • Avoid violations of social distancing norms (e.g., attending parties that involve large groups and close contact).
    • Avoid nonemergency travel away from Lawrence.
    • Timely disclosure if roommates’ contacts or behaviors increase the risk for exposure.