Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Research Updates for 07/23/20

Memo from Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Matthew Mench regarding research continuity during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Guide to COVID-19 Infection Response in Research Labs, Studios and Creative Spaces: the attached document (also online)  details the necessary procedure for dealing with a case of COVID-19 infection or suspected infection.  This document builds on the more general campus guidance for when a case of COVID-19 is reported, and is designed to assist department heads and lab directors.

Checklist for Achieving Safe Voluntary Hibernations or Required Shutdowns for Research Laboratories: Should a laboratory or creative space need to temporarily closed, achieving a safe hibernation is critical. The attached checklist (also online) is designed to help lab directors ensure a safe transition to a hibernation, including posting their hibernation sign on the lab hallway door (door sign).

Masks in the Lab: Research labs, studios, and other open access rooms are considered to be common areas, and following university policy, masks should be worn at all times in labs when more than one person is in the lab.  If the lab has situations where cloth facial coverings for public health safety are not appropriate, an exception should have been noted and approved in the health and safety plan previously submitted to continue lab operations.  

Policy on Visitors to the Lab: When a PI is hosting a visitor (e.g., technical support, collaborative researcher, etc.) from off campus, there are now two required steps:

  • Administer the self-screening form via email prior to the visit to determine if the visitor may come to campus (attached and online at utk.edu).  Self-screening should occur every day of a multi-day visit.  Also, should a visitor fail the self-screening during their intended visit, this event must be reported to department head/center director and ADR/center director, so that it can be reported to the university emergency operation center, because the “self-isolation form” for the university only applies to our staff, faculty and students, and not our visitors.
  • Log the visitor in using the Laboratory Visitor Self Screening Documentation ,so as to assist with future contact tracing, if needed. The form is a simple request for information and should be completed the day of the visit (or first day of a multi-day visit).
    Please be aware that this additional process is only for use with visitors to research laboratories and groups and not for other types of visitors to campus, or visitors participating in human subject research described below.

IRB and Human Subjects Research Guidance: The Human Research Protection Program and Institutional Review Board have developed a process to be used with persons who plan to visit campus to participate in human subjects research which is described on irb.utk.edu.

Updates, FAQs, new proposal opportunities, and past messages from the Office of Research and Engagement’s website. Campus-wide information can be found on utk.edu/coronavirus.

Thanks for continuing to help us all move safely forward!