This recommendation was prepared by the COVID-19 IUB Campus Task Force on Research Restart whose members are listed below. The committee is chaired by Jeffrey M. Zelski, Interim Vice Provost for Research and Interim Associate Vice President for Research.
- David Baxter, Professor of Physics and Chair
- Edward Comentale, Associate Vice Provost for Arts and Humanities Research, OVPR
- Kay Connelly, Associate Dean for Research, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering
- David Daleke, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Health Sciences; Assoc. Dean of the Graduate School
- Mary-Lynn Davis-Ajami, Associate Dean, School of Nursing, Bloomington
- Carrie Docherty, Associate Dean for Research, School of Public Health-Bloomington
- Gretchen Horlacher, Assistant to the Dean for Research and Administration, Jacobs School of Music
- Stephen Jacobson, Professor of Chemistry
- Pete Kollbaum, Associate Dean for Research, School of Optometry
- Lissa May, Associate Dean for Instruction, Jacobs School of Music
- Scott Michaels, Professor of Biology
- Brea Perry, Associate Vice Provost for Social Sciences, OVPR
- Rowland Ricketts, Associate Dean, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design
- Kosali Simon, Associate Vice Provost for Health Sciences OVPR
The purpose of this document is to provide Indiana University Bloomington faculty and administrators with general public health considerations and guidelines for resuming on-campus and remote research activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The underlying premise is that all public health recommendations by the state, county, and university must be met before face-to-face research can restart either on or in remote locations affiliated with the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The health and safety of the campus research personnel is the utmost priority. This document falls under the broader Indiana University Research Restart Policy.
General Public Health Protocol for Research
The following public health protocols will be universally adopted in all IUB-affiliated public research settings to prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19. All research personnel must have reporting lines to establish the dissemination and utilization of these principles.
- Wear a mask. Indiana University will be providing two cloth masks to all personnel. These should be worn while at work in all laboratories, studios, and other areas where interpersonal interaction cannot be completely avoided. This excludes working alone in private offices.
- Stay home if you feel sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or have symptoms, these should be reported to the PI or research supervisor.
- Maintain social distancing. Researchers must aim to maintain a 60 sq. ft. circle or > 6 ft. linear distance between themselves and others at all times.
- Wash your hands frequently. Soaps and hand sanitizers are strong deterrents against viral transmission and should be employed as frequently as possible.
- Avoid touching your face. Viral entry into the body can be reduced markedly by avoiding facial contact with infected hands. Minimizing face-hands contact will minimize opportunities for infection.
- Sanitize work surfaces. Follow guidelines for cleaning work surfaces, especially in common areas. If you touch it, clean it.
COVID-19 Transmission Prevention Training
COVID-19 basic transmission prevention training is required for all IUB research personnel. The following link provides updated guidance and a certificate course through the NIH that all researchers should perform prior to a return to research activity.
Following this basic training, researchers should be able to identify a) how to properly put on, wear, and remove a mask; b) the differences in wear time and care for cloth versus paper surgical versus N95 masks; and c) the type of research setting where PPE is required and how to properly don, doff, wash, or dispose of PPE appropriately; and d) how to maintain social distancing.
Specialized training based on type of research (e.g. human subjects, field-based) is recommended and will be required as part of the university's COVID-19 response.
Methods for frequent screening for COVID-19 will be provided at the university level. These may include a) temperature, pulse ox, symptoms questionnaire; b) messaging for screening frequency and locations c) processes and hotline for information and reporting COVID-19-related concerns involving on-campus or remote research activities and d) the process for participating in contact tracing and serology antibody testing. These processes and all COVID-19 mitigation and containment policies, guidelines for best practices, cleaning protocols, and record keeping should be managed through the Indiana University Coronavirus website (https://coronavirus.iu.edu/).
Research/Creative Activity Space Public Health Considerations
- Demarcate common space from the research/creative activity space
- If not separated by physical partitions, use yellow caution tape or yellow tape on the floor to mark off the “exterior” boundaries of the research space
- Create spaces to house all personal items (external clothing / bags / umbrellas) separately
- Entrance to all buildings with research space should have a handwashing station or hand sanitizer available and a no-touch trash receptacle. Research environments should have similar access for researchers.
- Establish a process to enter and exit research space
- Open the door with a paper towel to protect your hands
- Employ COVID-19 screening methods (university screening, temperature or pulse ox, symptom questionnaire)
- Close the door with a paper towel to protect your hands
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, and before exiting the research environment
Phased Research/Creative Activity Restart Considerations
Research/creative activity restart at IUB is recommended to occur in two phases beginning on June 1. The first phase requires faculty to develop a research/creative activity restart plan that is in compliance with CDC and university guidelines. Before restart, this plan must be approved at the department chair and/or dean level. For individuals/units not ready to restart on June 1 per these requirements, a soft reopening may occur on June 1 to stage and prepare for full return to research/creative activity activities by July 1. Under these considerations, access to research/creative activity space on June 1 should be given to building managers, center/facility directors with required staff, research group representatives staging for the restart, and those with specific grant or degree deadlines that have approved plans for compliance with university and CDC guidelines for COVID-19 function. Special considerations should be given to the following:
- High-Risk Groups. Researchers belonging to this category should have the ability to opt out, work from home, or consider ways to modify their research protocol, or delegate responsibilities to minimize putting themselves or research subjects at risk. This group is defined by the following characteristics:
- Those age > 65 years
- Research conducted in large group settings
- Those with underlying medical conditions (particularly those associated with higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease or mortality, e.g., asthma, chronic lung disease, chronic renal disease undergoing dialysis, diabetes, serious heart disease and liver disease).
- High-Risk Locations or Genres. Researchers involved in higher risk remote research should be provided appropriate PPE, undergo training in the use of PPE, have access to a hand washing station or hand sanitizer, and sign an informed consent to the risks involved in conducting the research. Higher risk research categories and considerations include:
- Human subjects research involving a high-risk population
- Human subjects research conducted in community-based settings (e.g., CRE, CTSI, PCORI)
- Field research (See Appendix: Restart of Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities – Field Research)
- Research/creative activity with travel to COVID-19 “hot spots.” This is defined as a region where cases are increasing or have not declined for at least 14 days, or regions in phase one or two of reopening. Travel guidelines and restrictions should be universally applied, monitored, and communicated, e.g., similar to how the university handles international travel restrictions. Travel to “hot spot” regions (e.g., to conduct COVID-19 specific research) should go through an additional IRB and IU approval process, and require a reporting structure, and a policy that provides guidance about when or if to quarantine the researcher upon return and when to provide COVID-19 and serology testing.
- Research/Creative Activity Responsibility and Accountability. Principal Investigators, staff, and research students must take responsibility for limiting the spread of COVID-19. Research supervisors should monitor and ensure their research staff comply with all COVID-19 public health and research-related protocols.
- Adhere to COVID-19 safe practice research policies, procedures, and guidelines applicable to research genre and location
- Complete all necessary COVID-19 training
- Notify institutional IRB of COVID-19 protocol changes
- Ensure use of CDC-approved disinfectant (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html)
- Be diligent in reporting symptoms or positive COVID-19 test results to supervisor and all key university officials (email@example.com). This includes following instructions regarding isolation and informing your supervisor or department head of the diagnosis, as well as close contacts.
- Each research/creative activity unit should identify a COVID-19 safety manager responsible for interpreting guidance, monitoring building entrance/exit activity, maintaining a list of active employees and their COVID-19 health status, as well as assisting in addressing issues of non-compliance
Research/Creative Activity Restart Protocol
The first phase of research/creative activity restarting on June 1 allows facilities operators, center directors, staff, and research group representatives and those with approved restart plans to initiate return to full activities by July 1. These personnel should:
- Plan for supply chain issues on restart. Under no circumstances should safety be sacrificed due to lack of adequate supplies, including but not limited to PPE, disinfectant wipes, and other cleaning supplies. Ben Hunter, Associate Vice President for Public Safety can assist in getting these supplies (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Ensure core facilities, shops, and fabrication equipment are engaged and ready to support work ramp up.
- Ensure that all personnel, including building occupants, other IU personnel, contractors, and visitors, follow guidelines for safe working conditions.
- Stage the return to research/creative activity to minimize overwhelming the system and risking unnecessary exposures to personnel and allowing lessons-learned in early stages of the restart to guide full ramp up.
- Assist research/creative activity personnel (faculty, students, scientists and staff in core facilities and shops) in securing the necessary resources and knowledge to support research and fabrication in a safe manner.
The protocol for full research/creative activity restart as of July 1 is based firmly on public health and CDC guidelines regarding social distancing, disinfecting solid surfaces and PPE. Each research/creative activity group must submit a brief restart plan for department chair and/or dean approval by filling out the form at https://research.iu.edu/coronavirus/return-to-on-campus-research-form.html. Research cannot restart without an approved plan. In addition, research/creative activity facilities and personnel should:
- Wear a university-issued or comparable face mask at all times in the common research laboratories, studios, shops, technical facilities, common areas, communal offices, and hallways.
- Adhere to 60 sq. ft. per person or > 6 ft. linear social distancing guidelines for research/creative activity space and common offices. For narrow walkways and stairways, uni-directional traffic patterns should be designated with floor tape where such a pattern is feasible and traffic density is likely to lead to frequent close passage of personnel.
- Develop a checklist for restarting research/creative activities. Develop restart/safety plans. Plans should be flexible enough to enable the swift ramp down of research/creative activity to an earlier phase in response to changing circumstances. Researchers should:
- Allow research/creative activity that can be conducted remotely to continue to do so. Only come to research/creative activity space to execute experiments or perform functions that cannot be accomplished remotely.
- Plans must comply with campus guidelines for masking, personal hygiene, physical distancing requirements (60 sq. ft. or > 6 ft. linear distance), appropriate PPE use, and should provide for the lowest density of people reasonable to carry out research. Gatherings, including group meetings, and even one-to-one discussions should continue to occur virtually. Time spent in proximity of individuals at less than 60 sq. ft. should be minimized to the greatest possible extent.
- Stagger work schedules (e.g. shifts) to maintain low personnel density. Research teams utilizing shared space must coordinate and stagger their work schedules. In no case should the reduction in density result in “sole operator” conditions that would not have been allowed prior to the pandemic. A buddy system (in person or virtual involving mandated periodic phone contact with someone off-site) may be used in cases where social distancing requirements would preclude true two-person operation.
- Engage in twice daily cleaning/sanitizing of personal research/creative activity workspaces, once prior to starting work and again after work is completed.
- Conduct handwashing as frequently as possible, especially following contact with public surfaces (e.g., elevator buttons, hand railings, door handles) according to CDC guidelines.
- Clean shared equipment prior to and following use.
- Minimize interactions around equipment that is used by multiple personnel.
- Identify suitable signage and other markings that should be deployed in research/creative activity and common spaces to aid personnel in maintaining appropriate distancing and sanitary practices when they return to work.
- Allow research personnel considered in the high-risk categories for contracting Covid-19 as defined by the CDC to remain off campus at this time.
Recommendations for Close-Proximity, Non-High Risk Human Subject Research
In addition to the general research restart recommendations described above, human subject research where a researcher and human subject might both inherently not be high risk yet increased risk is present due to close proximity, additional safety considerations should be employed. Namely:
- Research personnel with human subjects contact should be screened daily for COVID-19 risk and infection prior to contact with subjects.
- Subjects should be screened for COVID-19 risk and infection by phone/electronically upon visit scheduling/appointment reminders as well as the day of the appointment. Any additional navigation or cautionary instructions should also be provided.
- Subjects should wait in their car or outside the building until the time of their study visit. Any waiting areas must maintain the 60 sq ft. rule (e.g. block off chairs in waiting areas).
- Instructions/directions should be provided to subjects at the building door to minimize traffic to the research area.
- Temporal spacing of subject visits should be enlisted when possible.
- Subjects and researchers must both wash/sanitize hands upon entering and exiting the research area.
- If possible, researcher should wear N95 mask; subject must wear a new surgical mask provided to them at the research visit.
- Researchers are recommended to wear short sleeves and no wrist jewelry to aid hand washing.
- Sanitizing of instruments (e.g. clipboards, pens, testing equipment, etc) must be done prior to and following use, ideally in front of subject.
- If possible, protective barriers (e.g. plexiglass) should be placed between the subject and researcher.
- Researchers must abide by all IRB provided guidance associated with COVID-19. Implementation of social distancing guidelines, infection control measures (such as masks and physical barriers), and screening procedures are not considered changes to the IRB approved study and would not require an amendment. Additionally, certain modifications to consent procedures (e.g., having the conversation over the phone provided you will still retain a signed copy of the consent), and other similar modifications also do not require an amendment. However, changing procedures in other ways (e.g., eliminating visits or substituting procedures), requires amendment submission and IRB approval prior to research conduct.
Interaction Management for Humanities Research
The primary criteria surrounding restarting research by humanists involve safe access to offices and meeting rooms in busy multi-use buildings, library and other circulating materials, research objects, and technology for concentrated thinking, sharing work, and facilitating exchange. Researchers, administrators, and facility directors must work together to:
- Secure and sanitize all office buildings on a daily basis for easy and safe entry and exit
- Ensure appropriate security monitoring and reporting system at all faculty buildings
- Facilitate reservation and cleaning of spaces for appropriately distanced faculty exchanges of different group sizes (one-on-one, 5-6, and 12-20)
- Develop and post clear signage for all faculty spaces regarding allowable personnel in each
- Provide safe disinfecting materials so personal, shared, and group spaces can be cleaned by users between meetings
- Coordinate safe access to library and research materials; work with libraries, but this may involve home/office delivery, temporary material quarantines, and reserved visiting times for faculty
- Develop and monitor appropriate cleaning protocols for all publicly shared and circulating items
- Equip all spaces with no-contact screen-sharing technology and train all users on systems
- Provide clear and coordinated messaging about access protocols as well as inclusionary principles of belonging
Recommendations for Creative Activity in Music, Theatre and Dance Performance
Voice, dance, stage movement, and wind instrument performance generate projected aerosols that require increased social distancing and cleaning challenges. These issues should be addressed in accordance with rapidly evolving research on the major.
Jacobs School of Music Practice Protocols
The practice, rehearsal, and performance of music poses special problems in controlling the transmission of COVID-19. Research is incomplete around the dissemination of the virus while singing and playing brass and wind instruments. We are also concerned about the potential multiplying effect of the virus when groups of musicians rehearse over long periods of time. We stress the importance of guidance from medical and public health experts in the coming months. Therefore, in this first phase, Jacobs will only reopen the East Studio Building and the Simon Center, and only to small groups of faculty (preferable one, but possibly two or three) who demonstrate that their creative activity or research cannot be conducted away from campus and is essential.
Phase 1 (June 8)
- We will use facilities only in the East Studio Building and in the Simon Center. Other facilities (for instance, halls and practice rooms) should not be used at this time. (We may grant one exception for the use of an organ in the Music Annex.)
- In these buildings, we will screen applications for the individual use of faculty studios through the Dean’s Office. Faculty may only use their studios alone according to best practices (as detailed earlier in the document) for entering the building and entering their studios. Studios will need to be empty for at least five days before anyone else may enter.
- We will develop a protocol with our audio engineering faculty for the use of the Joshi Recording Studio and the potential use of Auer Hall for faculty to make recordings beginning in August.
- We will work with our faculty librarians to develop policies about sharing copyrighted materials and other library items via scan, with the provision that these materials are destroyed after use. We will also develop protocols for distributing hard-copy materials according to developing policies by IU Libraries, including curbside exchanges and materials quarantine.
We will move to a second phase when we have sufficient medical and public-health research around musical performance activities. Additionally, because most of our creative activity spaces are also classrooms, we need to coordinate our recommendations with those from other restart committees (especially “Special Delivery” and “Strategic Space Utilization” and the Jacobs administration) to develop protocols. Moving to a second phase requires, at minimum, solutions to these problems:
- Locking practice rooms. At present, approximately 15% of these rooms can be locked.
- Developing cleaning protocols for shared instruments (piano, organ, percussion, harp).
- Developing a schedule for heavily used performance rooms (practice rooms, halls, many classrooms) so that they remain empty for a specified time between uses.
- Receiving reliable information about how far performers need to be apart to rehearse jointly. Solutions will consider the types of performance, the rooms they use, how long they may rehearse, and the feasibility of using UVC devices to clean the air.
Department of Theater, Drama, and Contemporary Dance Protocols
- 1. Delimit blocking and choreography for actors, dancers, stage combat, and movement with clear physical boundaries/grids outlined in facilities.
- 2. Schedule scenic studios with limited capacity and staggered shifts; require spit shields and masks (or commensurate PPE) for team efforts.
- 3. Require social distancing for audiences at live performances at least six feet apart (Ruth N. Halls Theatre is two full seats between each audience member (even if attending together) and one full row between. The Wells-Metz Theatre and Studio Theatres will require three full seats and one row between except in the balcony. The Monroe Bank Art Gallery will limit to 12 people at a time with six-foot distance between.)
- 4. Grant early access for faculty and students in all studios and theatre spaces with designated protocols and supervisor permission/oversight. Production Manager in Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance will authorize schedules in consultation with the Chair.
- 5. Grant early access to faculty spaces to Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama via requests to the Chair or Production Manager. Access to graduate student cubicles will be staggered and allowed only by schedule for essential work via the Production Manager.
- 6. Limit rehearsals for ensembles of more than 17 performers at a time with the director and stage managers making up the other 3 permissible in spaces. The Studio theatre, A200 & A207 spaces may have no more than 10 ensemble members, 1 director and 1 stage manager at rehearsals. Locker rooms and dressing rooms require at least one station between and only permitted if daily sanitation by custodial staff is provided.
- 7. Stagger practice and rehearsal times to enhance social distancing effectiveness. This will require the ability to lock practice rooms. All rehearsals in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center are to be scheduled only via the Production Manager.
- 8. Develop a schedule of practice room and studio use to ensure shift/staggered usage times to guarantee at least 30 minutes’ downtime between uses.
- 9. Acquire and use cleaning supplies appropriate for studio machinery, Marley dance floors, tap floors and theatre electronics, instrumentation, studio machinery and equipment will be outlined in cleaning protocols for each space. Props, weapons, costumes and individual work objects (i.e. body mics, scissors, tools) and costumes/shoes will follow sanitation protocols outlined in department documentation and in compliance with IU mandates. Wigs will be prohibited until further notice as will the application of stage makeup on another person.
- 10. Provide digital access software to all scores, scripts and prompt books. When hard copies are required in Theatre & Dance they will be shipped to the individual homes or collected for distribution via a designated Academic Specialist.
Common Area Protocols
- Follow designated hallway traffic patterns that insure social distancing
- Eliminate congregation in common areas (including restrooms) to maintain 60 sq. ft. per person or > 6 ft. linear separation. Consider cordoning off common areas to avoid social distancing challenges. Appropriate signage should be posted to define common area occupancy consistent with the 60 sq. ft. or > 6 ft. linear distance rule.
- Limit personnel in elevators to maintain 60 sq ft or > 6 ft. linear distance rule, e.g., one person per passenger elevator and two persons per freight elevator.
Restart of Field Research
This document provides considerations and suggestions for field research, which commonly occurs in applied sciences, social sciences and humanities. Field research, or fieldwork, is defined as the collection of primary data outside a laboratory, library, or conventional workplace environment. The approaches and methods used in field research vary across disciplines, but may include face-to-face interviews, direct observation, participation in the activities of research subjects, focus group discussions, observation of documents, and collection of biomarkers. Field research often includes both qualitative and quantitative dimensions.
Field research may or may not involve human subjects. Field research that does not involve potential contact with human subjects (e.g., observations of animals in their natural habitat) must first follow university regulations regarding travel. Additionally, field researchers are subject to IU research restart regulations and the local protocols at the field site, whichever are more restrictive. These guidelines apply to interactions in laboratories or office settings, including maintaining social distance from coworkers, use of PPE, disinfection of shared and high-touch equipment, and so forth. In all cases, an approval process is required at the department chair or school level, as well as the campus, to insure safety in the field environment. The form can be found at: https://research.iu.edu/coronavirus/return-to-on-campus-research-form.html.
Considerations for field research involving human subjects:
The IRB or another oversite committee should carefully assess safety and monitoring plans for each project requiring field research with human subjects. This would become another layer of approval required prior to starting or restarting field research.
It is critical to maintain clear and effective communication with both participants and field research staff. Prior to entering the field, all participants and potential participants should be notified about the work being done in their community. Communications should provide information about the precautions being taking to ensure the safety of research staff and participants.
Modes of communication may include email, mail, or phone contact, and should occur prior to in-person contact where possible. If not possible, posting of information in public places where recruitment or other observation will occur is strongly suggested, unless it would compromise the integrity of the research AND research staff will be able to adhere to social distancing protocols. Additionally, participants should be notified of all COVID-19 related precautions and procedures during the consent process.
All field research staff must undergo comprehensive training on safety protocols and best practices for minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission during contact with human subjects in the field. A training module should be developed with certification required, similar to training in the responsible conduct of human subject research. Most field research will require additional training materials that are project specific.
All field research staff should be equipped with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant for their own use and for participants. Field research staff should also be supplied with a thermometer to monitor their temperature.
All field research staff must conduct and submit to supervisors a daily self-screening checklist to ensure they have had no COVID-19 symptoms and no contact with persons known to be infected. They must also administer the same screening checklist to participants prior to beginning an interview or observation. If field research staff are required to enter a participant’s home, all members of the household must be screened prior to entering.
If any field staff do not pass the screening checklist, they must be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to work. If participants do not pass the screening checklist, they will be referred for COVID-19 testing. Data collection with the participant cannot proceed for a minimum of 14 days and until there have been no signs of fever for 72 hours.
Participants will be asked to notify research staff if they test positive for COVID-19, and field research staff will be required to do so. These individuals will then be referred to IU and/or the public health department for contact tracing. Additionally, participants will be notified if any field research staff test positive for COVID-19 within the incubation period and will be asked to quarantine and be tested.
In all cases, entry into a particular field location must adhere to local, state, and national regulations. In many instances, it may make sense to implement additional types of phased entry for field research. For example, it may be possible to adjust a project timeline so that more adversely affected locations can be entered later in the project. Also, participants could be screened for vulnerability (e.g., age, preexisting conditions) and their participation could be deferred until later in the project.
The specific protocols required for field research will vary depending on the project, but the following practices should be in place when at all possible:
- All field research staff should wear masks and gloves when in the presence of participants. Equipment should be in place prior to approaching a participant.
- Participants should be offered masks and gloves (in a sealed plastic bag packed at least five days prior to use).
- Any equipment that touches participants (including writing utensils) should be sanitized in view of the participant before and after use.
- Research staff and participants should sit at least 6 feet apart during observation, interviewing, or other methods of data collection that do not require direct contact. This may require use of recording devices.
- Special protocols for visually or hearing-impaired participants (where normally not excluded from participation) should be considered.
Field research with human subjects is vulnerable to nonresponse bias. Potential participants will be understandably fearful of interacting with field research staff who are not known to them. This may be particularly true of high-risk populations (e.g., older adults, people with preexisting health conditions), which introduces the problem of systematic bias. To minimize refusals and thereby preserve the scientific rigor of field research, it is critical to communicate often and effectively with participants, to maintain the highest standards of safety, and to be flexible with regard to the mode of data collection and types of data collected to the extent possible.