Keep Researching

Ramping Up FAQs

When is a ramp up reentry plan required?


Am I required to submit a ramp up plan to begin/resume/modify research, scholarship and/or creative activities (RSCA)?

You are required to submit a ramp up reentry plan if you are beginning or resuming research, scholarship or creative activities that involve:

  • human subjects or animals
  • lab research
  • field research
  • community engaged research

Or, if you have an existing approved ramp up reentry plan and need to modify the plan to:

add or modify personnel (undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral, research staff)
revise the frequency and/or duration of personnel work activity
expand utilization of research, scholarship or creative activity space/locations
expand utilization of instrumentation, core facilities, and other on-campus university resources

Is there a situation in which I would not need to submit a ramp up reentry plan?

A ramp up reentry plan is not required if:

  • RSCA activities will be conducted by a faculty member or staff individually (e.g., data analysis, writing) without any additional personnel in the RSCA environment (it is assumed that these activities are covered under a Department or Unit "Return to Work" plan), or

  • RSCA activities are performed wholly off-campus/remotely. Ramp up reentry plans are strongly encouraged when human subjects research is being conducted regardless of the location.

What if I find myself actively engaged in activities cited in Q1. and/or other personnel have joined me in the RSCA space that I supervise so that we can work together and I don’t have an approved ramp up reentry plan. What should I do?

Submit a ramp up plan as soon as possible. Ramp up reentry plans are used to document the activities that you plan to implement to keep your personnel and RSCA environment safe. A plan signifies your best efforts and due diligence to address and mitigate the risks associated with working amidst the threat of COVID-19 infection. The plan demonstrates your commitment to the number one priority of the university, keeping people safe.

Other "What if" Examples

I plan to write a book, conduct a literature review, conduct secondary data analysis, etc., on my own, in my own office - do I need to submit a ramp up reentry plan?

No, a ramp up plan is not required; this activity is covered in the Department or Unit Return to Work Plan.

I am collecting all of my human subjects research data remotely (e,g, Zoom interviews, online surveys) from my campus lab or office - do I need to submit a ramp up reentry plan?

Yes. If you are beginning/resuming human subjects research activities on campus (regardless of where the human subjects are) you must submit a ramp up reentry plan.

My student is working on campus on their research project, but I’m not planning to be on campus - do I need to submit a ramp up reentry plan?

Yes. Faculty are responsible for developing the risk mitigation plan that keeps the students/personnel safe in the RSCA environment(s) that you supervise. Please bring your graduate students into the process of developing the plan and provide access to the plan to all personnel that are named in it. The plan must be submitted by a faculty member regardless of whether it documents risk mitigation activities related to a student project/activity.

Ramp Up Reentry Plans: Development, Submission, Review, Approval, Revisions and Modifications


Where do I start to develop a Ramp Up Reentry Plan?

Read the Guide to Ramping Up RSCA and take a look at the plan template that navigates you through the information that is needed to develop a plan. Both documents can be found at: https://uncg.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1814161. A scrollable, html-version of the Guide to Ramping Up RSCA can also be found on the Keep Researching website.

One of the first steps is to determine the level of risk inherent in the activities that you will begin/resume. There are 3 categories of risk: Low, Moderate, and High. Examples of low, moderate, and high risk activities are described in the Guide to Ramping Up RSCA, detailed on the Keep Researching website. No matter what the risk profile, you will be asked to provide information about how you plan to mitigate risk. For human subjects research, there are example resources that can be used as models to develop your risk mitigation plans and other documentation such as the participant information form and participant COVID-19 and researcher COVID-19 screening forms. For lab, field, and community engaged research there are a series of leading questions found in the appropriate appendices, that when answered will manifest as the risk mitigation plan.

Ramp up plans for moderate and high risk human subjects research activities, both of which involve face to face/in person engagement with human subjects, must be vetted thoroughly. You should address every relevant issue/bullet in Appendix F. of the Guide to Ramping up Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA) as is appropriate for the nature of the activities that you will begin/resume. Present risk mitigation activities in detail. You must also provide a copy of required documents, tailored to your study, such as the COVID-19 screening form and IRB participant information form. Examples of these documents are provided in Appendix F of the Guide to Ramping Up RSCA.

How do I submit my Ramp Up Reentry Plan?

UNCG is using the InfoReady Review platform to manage the ramp up reentry plan submission process. The benefits of using this system are that it allows for electronic review and approval of plans, tracking and follow up; streamlining the process considerably.

The form that you need to complete and submit is listed under “Competition Files” on the right side of the Ramp Up Reentry Plan landing page and is named “Ramp Up Re-Entry Form.” The form is a word document that you can edit, save locally or to the cloud, and then upload when ready to submit the plan.

Who will review my plan?

Once submitted, the plan will route through a series of reviewers: your Department Chair, Associate Dean for Research or Dean, and the Office of Research and Engagement. The Office of Research Integrity will review ramp-up plans when animals or human subjects are involved.

Many plans go through at least one revision owing to questions/concerns raised by the reviewers prior to approval; don’t be discouraged if your plan is not approved after the first round of reviews. The mitigation of risk associated with COVID-19 is new to all of us and every detail is important and could mean the difference between safety and infection. The revision process often necessitates meetings between investigators and key reviewers to discuss how to best address risks. This group approach results in plans that are more complete and risk mitigation activities that are more robust and that ensure safer environments for participants and researchers than what would have been the case otherwise. If you are uncertain about how to describe the mitigation of certain risks, please reach out to your Associate Dean for Research if available. Many have approved ramp up reentry plans in place and can share relevant examples and tips. In addition, for those Schools/Colleges who do not have an Associate Dean for Research or for other questions, Dr. Kim Littlefield (kplittle@uncg.edu) in ORE is also available for advice prior to submitting a plan or in the process of revising a plan.

What is the difference between a revised and a modified ramp up reentry plan?

A plan should be designated as "REVISED" when it is returned during the review process. Revised plans should include a cover page that details how reviewer comments have been addressed when the revised plan is resubmitted.

A plan should be designated as "MODIFIED" when previously approved risk mitigation activities are being modified to accommodate additional activities, personnel, space or instrumentation use. A modified plan originates from an approved "parent" ramp up reentry plan. Modified plans should highlight the proposed modifications within the context of the original plan (i.e., copy the original plan, insert and highlight the proposed modifications, submit for review and approval).

How do I name my ramp up reentry plan file to convey the plan type?

File naming conventions are presented in the Guide to Ramping Up Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity: https://uncg.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1814161.

Append “New” to the file name for a first-time submission, “Revised” is used when you are responding to a prior review; “Modified” is used when you are modifying an already approved plan.

How will I know if my ramp up plan is approved?

You can check the status of your proposal by logging into InfoReady Review and clicking on “my submissions.” Depending on the volume and complexity of plans to be reviewed you can expect correspondence regarding your application within 3-5 days of submission. Notices will come from the following email address: Office of Research & Engagement InfoReady Review <support@inforeadyreview.com> and will likely have a subject line such as “Ramp Up Reentry Plan Approved.”

What happens after my ramp up plan is approved?

Before resuming RSCA activities all individuals must complete the UNCG COVID-19 training module. Please submit copies of the completion certificate to your department chair/head. Access to the training module can be found here: https://update.uncg.edu/work-on-campus/.

Three weeks after your new or modified plan is approved a progress report, solicited from the InfoReady Review system, is due. If your plan is not working (too many people in the RSCA environment, people aren’t taking the daily self-health assessment seriously, etc.), let the Office of Research and Engagement know via this report. They will provide assistance to revise the plan in such a way as to address safety concerns while advancing the RSCA. The report involves answering simple questions via text fields online through the InfoReady Review platform and is not time intensive. No separate, formal, detailed document is required.

Human Subjects and Community-Engaged Research & Contract-Funded Service Delivery Activities


Can I conduct human subjects research?

Yes. Because of the public health situation, it is recommended that research involving human participants be conducted remotely, if possible. However, situations will occur where remote engagement/data collection is not possible, face to face/in person data collection is necessary, participants must come to campus and/or human subject research participant engagement occurs in the community.

These situations are characterized as either moderate or high risk profile activities (see definitions and additional examples of moderate and high risk activities on the Keep Researching website). These situations will require the development of a detailed, thoroughly vetted ramp up reentry plan that describes the risk mitigation activities/measures that will be employed to help keep participants and researchers safe no matter how/where the research activities are conducted. Approval of moderate and high risk profile plans involving human subjects is granted on a case-by-case basis.

To date, no moderate or high risk plans have been barred from implementation. In several cases, faculty have been asked to delay implementation of a plan (based on poor public health indicators) or reduce the frequency of on-campus human subject participant engagement as a way to mitigate the risks associated with face to face engagement.

My project is new and was just approved by the IRB/IACUC/IBC - do I need to submit a ramp up plan?

Yes. IRB (Internal Review Board, human subjects research) review focuses on the ethics, data collection and study methodology and population to be involved in the planned research. Likewise, IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) focuses on animal welfare and typical safety concerns, and IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee) focuses on adhering to federal guidelines regarding safe and appropriate use of biological materials. The ramp up reentry plan focuses on and presents the risk mitigation activities that you will implement, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect participants/animals and the research personnel involved in the IRB/IACUC/IBC approved research activities.

Please note, IRB approval or an exempt designation is always required if you are conducting human subjects research. If you plan to conduct human subjects research on campus or in community settings, whether or not there will be direct contact with research participants and whether or not the research involves teams of people working together, you are required to submit a ramp up reentry plan. If your approved study involves no face to face contact with participants and among team members, and no activities will be conducted on campus or in the community, a ramp up reentry plan is not required.

My study was approved by the IRB previously, but we are making changes related to COVID-19. Do I need an IRB modification or a ramp up reentry plan?

An approved IRB modification is required to implement changes to human subjects research data collection methods.

A. If modified human subjects research data collection activities are implemented without direct contact with participants and/or among team members and off campus, a ramp up plan is not required.

B. If modified data collection activities are implemented with participants in a remote location(s) but you or your personnel intend to engage in these data collection activities on campus, a ramp up plan is required.

C. Reverting back to in-person or face to face human subject research data collection, whether on campus or in a community setting will require an approved IRB modification and either a new or a modified (see B. above) ramp up reentry plan.

Can I conduct community engaged research activities?

Yes. Community engaged research and scholarship activities will very likely require a ramp up plan. Please see Q2 above for possible exceptions, and refer to guidance on risk mitigation for community engaged research on the Keep Researching website (Appendix G). If uncertain about whether a ramp up reentry plan is required for community engaged research activities please contact Dr. Kim Littlefield (kplittle@uncg.edu).

Is there a difference in how risk is mitigated for community engaged research activities?

Yes. Community engaged research can occur on campus, at Controlled, Off-Campus sites - non-UNCG locations that have developed COVID-19 guidance for operations consistent with CDC guidance (e.g., educational institutions, health care clinics, etc.), and at Uncontrolled, Off-Campus sites - locations not subject to CDC operational guidelines (e.g., home visit sites, street corners, downtown gallery space, etc.). Risk mitigation activities must be tailored to the site/location at which the activities will occur. Detailed guidance can be found in Appendix G. of the Guide for Ramping Up RSCA.

Can I conduct grant or contract-funded service delivery activities?

Yes. Faculty who are engaged in grant or contract funded service delivery activities that bring community members to UNCG or UNCG personnel in contact with others in the community should complete a ramp up plan if for no other reason than to document what risk mitigation efforts that you will put in place to keep yourself, your personnel, and participating community members safe while on campus and/or to document the risk mitigation requirements of the off-campus site where you will be conducting your service delivery activities.

Can I travel to conduct research, scholarship and creative activities?

Yes. Field research warrants specialized risk mitigation considerations that are detailed in Appendix D. of the Guide for Ramping Up RSCA. Travel greater than 50 miles from the University, out of state, and international travel must be approved in advance by the Provost. The Office of Research and Engagement will notify you when the Provost approves the travel request.

Student Considerations


Can students engage in research activity at this time?

Yes, undergraduate and graduate students may engage in research activities as long as they are named in an approved ramp up reentry plan and they are comfortable with the risk mitigation procedures that have been put in place. Please include information if their participation is part of a grant, course, or related to their own progress to degree. Also, please note that for projects where IRB, IACUC, or IBC approval is needed, all students mentioned in the ramp up plan must have been cited in the approved protocol (or modified protocol as appropriate).

Can students submit ramp up plans?

No. Faculty supervisors must submit the ramp up reentry plan that describes the risk mitigation activities that will help to keep the students/personnel safe in the space that they supervise. It is strongly recommended that faculty develop the plan in collaboration with their research personnel so that the entire team knows what is expected to ensure everyone’s safety. If faculty will not be present while students conduct research, scholarship and/or creative activities, weekly meetings and safety audits are recommended to ensure approved risk mitigation procedures/plans are being adhered to. The faculty member who develops and submits the plan is responsible for the risk mitigation activities and outcomes in the research, scholarship and creative activity environment(s) that they supervise.

Do I need to submit a separate plan for every project I lead or student I supervise?

Submitting a single plan that includes all relevant activities/students/personnel will work well in most instances. However, if you have projects that require different risk mitigation strategies because their risk profiles vary, submitting multiple plans is recommended.

Should out-of-state, graduate student travel to present at a conference be reviewed and approved through the submission of a ramp up reentry plan?

Yes, a ramp up reentry plan should be submitted by the faculty thesis or dissertation advisor requesting approval, on behalf of the student, to travel to a conference to present their work. The plan should justify why in person travel is required and document the risk mitigation activities that will be employed by the conference sponsor to keep attendees safe and by the traveler during travel and while at the conference. If a virtual attendance option is offered, students are strongly encouraged not to travel. Ramp up reentry plans should convey that the decision to travel is informed by local and conference location public health metrics and should include a signed attestation that the student has voluntarily consented to travel in support of career development activities. Both the student and faculty advisor should acknowledge the possible necessity of quarantine upon arrival to, and/or return from, the conference. Travel greater than 50 miles from the University, out of state, and international travel must be approved in advance by the Provost. The Office of Research and Engagement will notify you when the Provost approves the travel request.

COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing and Impact on RSCA Activities


What should I do if I, or any of my team develop COVID-19 symptoms, have been around people with symptoms, or have tested positive for the virus?

Keep calm and report. While it is scary to think that you or someone on your team or in your laboratory may be infected or has tested positive for the virus there are resources to assist in getting you through the next steps.

  1. Supervisors should report an illness or positive COVID-19 test if brought to their attention directly by an affected individual through the COVID-19 Supervisor Reporting Form.
  2. Affected individuals should report an illness or positive COVID-19 test through the COVID-19 Self Reporting Form.

Both an affected individual and their supervisor should report using the above referenced forms. Reporting through these portals triggers evaluation by the case management committee. Supervisor and self-reports will be linked and affected individuals will be contacted with follow up information. Symptomatic individuals are encouraged to seek COVID-19 testing as soon as possible. Students (undergraduates and graduate students) may obtain a rapid COVID-19 test at Student Health Services, free of charge. Rapid tests are always confirmed by PCR testing and the results reported to the Guilford County Public Health Department and the University. Employees (faculty and staff) should contact their primary care physician to arrange a test or seek testing at a public health facility. Positive results will be reported by the Guilford County Health Department to the University.

Will the University shut down my research, scholarship and creative activities if I or a team member are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19?

No. The University will only step in to shut down your research, scholarship and creative activities if you are 1) intentionally conducting activities without a ramp up reentry plan, or 2) if your activities do not align with the approved risk mitigation procedures that were presented in your ramp up reentry plan. COVID 19 symptoms or positive tests will not shut down your RSCA activities if reported and managed quickly. There is no shame in contracting this illness. It is pervasive and is easily spread by asymptomatic individuals. Encourage your colleagues, team and lab group members to wear a mask, physically distance, wash their hands, and limit frequency and duration of close contact with individuals in and outside of the research environment to the extent possible.

Should I tell people on my team/in my laboratory group that someone has symptoms or has tested positive?

No, you should not tell anyone on your team or in your laboratory group that someone on the team or in the group has symptoms or has tested positive. Report the information through the supervisor form; encourage the affected individual to self report. Contact tracing and follow up instructions will be initiated and communicated by the Guilford County Public Health Department and University. This may seem unethical and even dangerous to not immediately notify the team or laboratory group. However, all communication with individuals who have been in contact with a symptomatic or infected person must be initiated by the Guilford County Health Department or University case management staff because of privacy issues. In addition, these entities will advise those they communicate with on the next steps that they must take. This may or may not involve quarantine or isolation or testing. Although it will be uncomfortable and feel like you are withholding important information from your team or group, these entities have the resources and tools to perform the contact tracing and the authority to direct further action.

What triggers someone to be contacted?

Close contact with a symptomatic individual 2 days prior to symptoms or close contact to a person 2 days prior to a positive test. It may not always be obvious why someone is being contacted or not being contacted. The case management experts encourage folks to trust the process.

My student tested positive, isolated, and is now feeling better? When can they come back to the laboratory?

Student health services (SHS) will medically clear a student after recovery from COVID illness if they have been seen/treated at SHS. SHS will provide documentation to the student; this documentation should in turn be presented to the faculty. UNCG student health services will also medically clear students who have not been seen/treated by UNCG SHS. Students must present the documentation that they receive from their provider to be medically cleared by SHS to return to class and other on campus activities.

Who should I ask for help?

Questions about IRB, IACUC, or IBC modifications should be addressed to Melissa Beck, Associate Director, Office of Research Integrity, mdbeck@uncg.edu.

Questions about Research Ramp Up Applications should be first directed to your department chair and/or associate dean for research. Additional questions about plan development or pre-submission review consultation is available by contacting Dr. Kim Littlefield, kplittle@uncg.edu in ORE.

Questions about reporting, testing, contact tracing should be directed to: Zach Smith (zrsmith3@uncg.edu) or Dr. Julia Jackson-Newsom (j_jackso@uncg.edu).