People will likely have concerns about coming back into the RSCA environment. Faculty must ensure that they, students, postdocs, and other staff feel safe and heard regarding their comfort level to reenter the RSCA environment. If people are uncomfortable, let them know that you and the institution are doing everything possible to keep them safe.
Know where to find safety and mental health information (see Resources section). Remember that gentle encouragement, support, and good communication will go a long way towards helping everyone feel comfortable about reentering an RSCA environment.
If individuals (faculty) feel uncomfortable participating in research, scholarship and/or creative activities, they should alert their chair/head or dean; if students, their faculty supervisor or dean of students; if staff, HR.
CDC guidelines state that people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should take extra precautions.
Remember that health information is confidential; do not ask people if they are at increased risk for severe illness. Instead, provide access to information about the CDC guidelines and communicate a plan that requires each person to run through a basic self-health checklist, daily.
If individuals identify any of the following common symptoms they should stay home, monitor their health, and if needed, contact their care provider. In addition, UNCG requests that individuals who experience COVID-19 symptoms or contract COVID-19 complete the UNCG COVID-19 Self-Reporting Form (see Appendix A for additional information). Common Symptoms of COVID-19:
The SARS-Cov-2 virus is highly transmissible. Controlling proximity and duration of exposure are two ways that the risk of transmission of the virus can be mitigated in an RSCA environment.
Proximity. People should practice physical distancing and work/interact at least 6 ft apart. Distance markers, removal of office furniture, and designation of “off-limits” space will help create a physically distanced environment.
Duration of Exposure. To minimize proximity and duration of exposure, reduce the overall density of people in the environment at any one time, and over time. Consider having people alternate their workdays and /or work in shifts. In a laboratory setting where two or more people may be sharing space for prolonged periods of time, consider designating each person a 10ft working radius.
Lab Re-Entry Safety Checklist. The UNCG Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has developed a Lab Re-Entry Safety Checklist. The checklist can be found in Appendix B. Use this checklist if you are reentering the lab, starting work, preparing for research to resume, or contemplating working alone, or if you need emergency or EH&S contact information.
COVID-19 Training. UNCG requires that all personnel (faculty, staff, students) who participate in the ramp up of new, or resume established research, scholarship and / or creative activities, complete the online COVID-19 Training module. The online training module can be found here. Please work with your Department Chair/Head/Director to manage your COVID-19 training certification requirements.
Ramping Down Activities. We must be prepared, if the public health situation warrants, to rapidly ramp down research, scholarship, and/or creative activities. Think seriously about how you will ramp down your RSCA activities if infection occurs in your environment. How will you coordinate and communicate the process to your people? Identify what RSCA activities are essential to prevent catastrophic loss of data, models, continuity. Who needs access to university infrastructure to conduct essential RSCA? What university infrastructure is needed to continue essential activities? What activities can be done remotely?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) especially N95 masks that are used in clinical health care settings are in short supply. As RSCA ramps up, there will be rare instances where N95 masks will be the only way to mitigate fully the risk of viral transmission. The PPE that laboratory research personnel utilize (surgical or cloth masks, gloves, lab coats, face shields, eye protection, disposable gowns) will, when employed with physical distancing, decrease transmission of the virus. UNCG has established a central resource repository, from which departments/units can request PPE. If you have additional questions about how to obtain PPE through the central repository, please contact your Department Chair/Head. Masks / Face coverings are required to be worn in public spaces on the UNCG campus.
Enhanced cleaning/disinfection practices. A simple way to reduce transmission of the virus is to keep things clean. Encourage people to wash their hands frequently. Identify high touch areas (see Appendix C for some suggestions) and equipment that should be cleaned frequently, at least at the start and end of the day. Be sure to consult specialized cleaning/disinfection protocols for RSCA surfaces and equipment (e.g., desks, lab benches, tables, chairs, computers, musical instruments).
Communication is the key to stopping the spread of the virus if infection occurs in your environment. Familiarize yourself with the institutional illness reporting process (Appendix A). Assure people that there is no stigma associated with contracting the virus. There will not be any repercussions. The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is the institution’s top priority.
Meets minimum risk mitigation requirements, when possible.
*Controlled, Off-Campus: Non-UNCG data collection site that has developed COVID-19 guidance for operations consistent with CDC guidance (e.g., educational institutions, health care clinics, etc.)
Meets minimum risk mitigation requirements, when possible.
**Uncontrolled, Off-Campus: Data collection sites not subject to CDC operational guidelines (e.g., home visit sites, street corners, downtown gallery space, etc.)
Chair, Dr. Nick Oberlies – Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dr. Amy Adamson – Biology
Dr. Susan Calkins – Office of Research and Engagement
Dr. Mitch Croatt – Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dr. Keith Erikson – Nutrition, IACUC
Dr. Jennifer Etnier – Kinesiology
Dr. Lisa Goble – Office of Research Integrity
Dr. Laurie Gold – Kinesiology, IRB
Dr. Kim Littlefield – Office of Research and Engagement
Dr. Yashomati Patel – Biology, IBC
Dr. Hemali Rathnayake – Nanoscience
Dr. Terri Shelton – Office of Research and Engagement
Melanie Stadler – Environmental Health Science, Biology, Graduate Student
Dr. Danielle Swick – Social Work
Mr. Derek Toomes, MFA – Art and Interior Architecture
Dr. Martin Tsz-Ki Tsui – Biology
Mr. William Walters – Contracts and Grants