Arcadia University Guidelines for Restarting Research

The guidelines outlined here are a resource for faculty, staff, and research students as we restart our on-campus research programs. The goal is to resume summer research activities in a safe, responsible, and sustainable manner. Please recognize that these guidelines are for reopening labs and other research-related spaces following campus closure, and extend to research activities during the regular academic year, which begins on August 31, 2020. The guidelines were developed in compliance with Governor Wolf’s “Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania”, The Pennsylvania Department of Health, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We should consider these guidelines as a first step toward resuming pre-pandemic research activities, though it will likely be a considerable amount of time before we return to full research activities.

Guidelines for Reopening

Governor Wolf’s plan involved transitioning Montgomery County from the “red” phase to the “yellow” phase on June 5, 2020, which allowed for the reopening of a number of public and private businesses, and from “yellow” to “green” on June 26, 2020, easing restrictions further. The “red” phase allows for “Life-Sustaining Businesses Activities,” while the “green” phase emphasizes the need to continue telework whenever possible, but allowing business activities to resume in a limited capacity and businesses/schools must follow safety requirements, CDC and Commonwealth Guidance. In this sense, on-campus research at Arcadia can be conducted if it is considered essential for research program viability.

An individual research plan must be completed for each faculty member that is requesting a return to campus, a template of the plan will accompany these guidelines. This plan must be submitted to and approved by the Restarting Research Committee (RRC) before research activities are resumed. The document/s should be sent to Karen Dudley, RRC Chair, at russok@arcadia.edu. The template will include faculty and student information, location of research spaces to be used, approximate square footage of research space if more than one person will be working at the same time, plans to maintain social distancing when appropriate, communication plan with other members of shared spaces, and disinfection procedures.

Continuation of Remote Work

As we begin to reopen our research spaces, faculty and students should continue remote work whenever possible. All research activities (i.e., data analysis, lab meetings, discussions) that can be completed by working remotely, should continue to be conducted in this manner. Only essential benchwork or in-person programs should be initiated during this reopening phase. Faculty should consider all aspects of their research programs and only those experiments, procedures, and projects that are of the most critical importance should be conducted at this time.

Sponsored Research Projects

Any sponsored projects needing to utilize on-campus space (art studios, offices, etc.) to comply with their award terms and provide specific deliverables will follow these guidelines and submit an individual research plan.

Human Subjects Research

For human subjects to come for a campus research visit, these general guidelines must be followed, and the researcher must submit an individual research plan to the Restarting Research Committee that details the specific protections for human subject research. Participants should not come to campus if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms. Public Safety must also be notified when study participants and researchers will be on campus.

Protecting Vulnerable Populations

Arcadia University is committed to the health and wellbeing of all employees and students, including individuals from vulnerable populations. Resources to consult for guidance include your advisor/supervisor, graduate program director, or Human Resources, as applicable. Questions regarding accommodations may be directed to Disability Support Services (Students) or Human Resources (Faculty and Staff).

Basic Science Laboratories

Individual research plans must be submitted for each faculty member, including detailed descriptions of social distancing plans for individual labs, shared spaces, and common areas.

Training for all Faculty, Staff, Students

Faculty, Staff, and Students must complete the required modules of the CITI training course "COVID-19: Back to Campus (Fall 2020)" and include certificates of completion with their individual research plan.  

  • Optional Modules "COVID-19: Human Subjects Research" and "COVID-19: Working with Patients Infected or Suspected with COVID-19" must be completed for those doing in-person, human subjects research.
  • Optional Module "COVID-19: Safe Lab Reactivation (Animal Research)" must also be completed for those working in the animal labs and conducting animal research.

Policy for Graduate Students

Graduate students should follow all aspects of the protocols outlined in the individual research plans developed by their faculty mentor. Additional requirements are:

  1. Submission of the Restarting Research Student Form.
  2. In the individual research plan, faculty should complete question 7, describing how they will provide oversight as students resume research activities.

Policy for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students may be allowed to return to laboratories and other research spaces on a case-by-case basis.  Faculty supervisors must submit an Individual Research Plan which includes the undergraduates who will be coming to campus. Faculty supervisors must justify how the research is critically important for the student’s course requirements, future career/educational path, etc. Because we are functioning in all-modes, please do not indicate that on-campus work is required for a student to complete a course or other academic requirement. Undergraduate students who will be working in lab spaces alone ideally should have their faculty supervisor available in the building in the event of an emergency.  If the faculty supervisor is not available, the student should be aware of a full-time faculty or full-time staff member from the department who will be available in the building while the student is working there.  If that is not possible, the student should be aware of a full-time faculty or full-time staff member from another department who will be available in the building while the student is working there.  A schedule showing who is available in the building in the event of an emergency will be worked out by faculty supervisors in collaboration with their departments to ensure that a student is not conducting research alone in the building. This schedule will be easily available to all students working in the building. Undergraduate students who have been approved to return to campus for research must follow the health and safety guidelines that have been set forth by the University.

Additional requirements are:

  1. Submission of the Restarting Research Student Form.
  2. In the individual research plan, faculty should complete question 7, describing how they will provide oversight as students resume research activities.

Social Distancing and Related Procedures

Strict social distancing and proper PPE utilization are required while on Arcadia’s campus. At minimum, face masks must be worn at all times while on Arcadia’s campus. Social distancing includes maintaining a 6 ft. radius in all offices, research labs, shared lab spaces, and common areas such as bathrooms, mailrooms, and hallways. Most, but not all, of the lab spaces in Boyer Hall and other buildings on campus are unlikely to allow for more than one person to be in a research room at a time. If more than one person will be in the same research space at one time, the approximate square footage of the shared space must be included in the individualized research plan. In addition, the faculty member must include a detailed plan to ensure a 6 ft. distance is maintained between members while in the shared space (or petition for an exemption to this policy as indicated in Question 3d in the individual research plan).

Disinfecting Research Spaces

The specific procedure for the disinfection of research spaces should be described in each faculty’s individual research plan and should be in compliance with related University policies. Special consideration may be needed for equipment commonly used in each lab (i.e., microscopes, analytical equipment) and the compatibility with University approved disinfectants.

Violations to Policy

Given the importance of these guidelines in maintaining the health and safety of our colleagues, violations may result in the suspension of research activities, discipline under the student handbook, faculty handbook, or progressive discipline policy as appropriate. The Research Restart Committee will be available to review reports of any violations.