March 15, 2021 - 5:23pm

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 96 Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities

Announcing Phase 3 of Research Ramp-Up

Dear Bruin Community:

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your diligence complying with the guidelines of our Research Ramp-up Phase 2, which began on June 8, 2020. I’ve been impressed by your dedication to your research and your teams, and buoyed by your determination to prioritize safety.

After careful deliberation of the most recent guidance issued by the L.A. County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) (PDF), and considering the decrease in COVID-19 cases in L.A. County, the UCLA COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force (CRRTF) has determined that research ramp-up can begin the move from Phase 2 to Phase 3, effective immediately. The below content is lengthy, but I encourage you to review it closely.

Researchers in Laboratories

  • All Principal Investigators (PIs) that intend to initiate or continue laboratory-based research after March 15, 2021, are required to submit a NEW, Phase 3 Research Operational Plan (ROP), listing all personnel and outlining strategies for maintaining a safe environment. All Phase 2 ROPs will be voided on March 31, 2021. Original ROPs can no longer be amended.
  • Phase 3 ROPs must be approved by the department chair and dean (or dean’s designee) in order to commence or continue research during Phase 3.
  • Space density will increase from 25% to roughly 50%, which corresponds to one person per 125 square feet or two people per laboratory bay. In addition, enclosed offices may be occupied by one individual. Space density should not be confused with research activity, which may be up to 100% so long as personnel density does not exceed 50%, subject to the undergraduate limitations noted below.
  • Masking and physical distancing requirements currently in place will continue.
  • A workgroup is currently evaluating the impact of vaccinations on whether all members of a research group may return to laboratory work if all have been vaccinated. At this time, safety measures and protocols are not influenced by vaccination status. A subsequent message will be sent in the event of changes to the Phase 3 protocols.
  • Activities that can be performed offsite are required to remain offsite.
  • Lab meetings and other meetings with more than two individuals must still be carried out via remote mechanisms (e.g., Zoom).

North Campus Research and Creative Activities

  • The move to Phase 3 for North Campus includes access to office spaces and reopening studios, labs, rehearsal rooms, and other collaborative research spaces in accordance with LACDPH guidelines; this includes art, design, and music/theatre practice rooms with mitigations for individuals and small group activities.
  • North Campus research activities will ramp up to a reasonable extent after careful evaluation by chairs and deans. These activities may include non-employees engaged in research activities, based on LACDPH and campus considerations, and subject to the undergraduate limitations noted below.
  • All PIs that intend to initiate or continue research and creative activities after March 15, 2021, are required to submit a NEW, Phase 3 Research Operational Plan (ROP), listing all personnel and outlining strategies for maintaining a safe environment. All Phase 2 ROPs will be voided on March 31, 2021. Original ROPs can no longer be amended.
  • Phase 3 ROPs must be approved by the department chair and dean (or dean’s designee) in order to commence or continue research during Phase 3.

Libraries

Limited reopening of the Charles E. Young Research Library and the Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library was addressed in a March 9, 2021 BruinPost from CRRTF co-chairs Michael Beck and Michael Meranze.

Clinical Trials and Human Subjects Research

Phase 3 introduces no changes to clinical trials and human subjects research, which continue to rely on the expertise of department chairs and deans in balancing the potential benefits of the research to the patient or participant with the infection risks. However, as with laboratory research, all current Phase 2 ROPs for human subjects research performed in non-clinical spaces will be voided on March 31, 2021 and must be replaced by an approved Phase 3 ROP.

Fieldwork and Community-Based Research

Similarly, fieldwork and community-based research will continue remotely to the extent possible during Phase 3.

Undergraduate Researchers

The initial move to Phase 3 makes no changes to the involvement of undergraduate students in research activities. Those undergraduate students added during the initial research ramp-up in summer 2020 may continue to be listed and work under their PI’s Phase 3 ROP, but no new undergraduates may be added at this time. The CRRTF is carefully considering this matter and we hope to have an update after Spring Break.

Research Town Hall

I will host a virtual town hall this Thursday, March 18 from 2:15 – 3:15 p.m. to present additional information on UCLA’s current efforts to resume on-campus research activities under COVID-19 restrictions and address questions about Phase 3. You may submit questions in advance to [email protected]Register here to receive Zoom details about the town hall, which will also be livestreamed and available on-demand. A video recording of the town hall will be available for viewing at the UCLA Research and Creative Activities website after the event.

In the meantime, please visit my UCLA Research Ramp-up website for detailed information about:

While easing restrictions is an encouraging step forward, it remains critical that personnel reporting to campus continue to follow public health mitigations such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings, complete the required symptom monitoring survey, and participate in regular COVID-19 testing and community screening as detailed in the UCLA COVID-19 Community Screening Protocol (PDF). Any researchers working on campus and not receiving regular email reminders about testing should sign up for UCLA’s Community Screening Program.

I thank you again for your patience and determination during these long months. Feel free to contact me with your questions at [email protected].

Sincerely,

Roger Wakimoto

Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities