Dear UCR campus community,
Effective immediately, the UCR Research Ramp-up Committee has approved all laboratories on campus with an updated Work Site Specific Plan (WSSP) to increase their personnel density up to 50% of maximum occupancy. The decision applies to all labs, including dry/computational labs which may have been closed up to this point, and all lab personnel — faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate/undergraduate students.
Yesterday, Governor Newsom’s Office announced the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 1.5%, the lowest in the nation. Last week, Riverside County moved into the COVID-19 orange tier. These positive developments provide the context for the Research Ramp-up Committee’s decision. We will continue to follow state, university, and health authorities’ guidelines as they may evolve in the near future. This means continue to ramp-up activities if conditions improve, but ramp-down them if outbreaks happen on campus.
PIs of labs that are already active must update their WSSPs to reflect the change; PIs of labs that were inactive due to the COVID-19 pandemic will need to submit WSSPs to Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for approval.
The process to update WSSPs is straightforward and requires minimal PI action if the lab is already operating in person.
Please note the following three anticipated scenarios for PIs with a current WSSP on file:
- For no change in rooms/buildings and no change in approved personnel, no action is needed from the PI/supervisor
- For no change in room/building but adding personnel, PIs must ensure lab personnel review and sign off on the WSSP, and then return the signature (last page of the form or last page in the online system) to EH&S
- For changes in both room/building and adding approved personnel, PIs must edit the room/building section of the form, ensure new personnel review and sign off on the WSSP, and return the signatures and updated form to EH&S.
Lab PIs returning to campus for the first time since the pandemic began must visit the WSSP page and submit a full WSSP for their space/area of responsibility.
Labs that arrive at the maximum 50% capacity are required to implement rotations or other processes to ensure maximum capacity is never exceeded. Further, all personnel approved to work in the labs must (1) undergo training (unless they have already taken it); and (2) complete the UCR symptom monitoring survey every day they will be working in the lab. PIs will be responsible for the safety and security measures in place in their labs; anyone may report a lack of compliance through the EH&S site survey.
I would like to remind you that returning to the lab is voluntary for students; no student will be required to return. Students returning to the lab must agree to follow the WSSPs of their lab PIs.
A good many of our faculty have been patiently awaiting an expansion of lab capacity. I thank the Research Ramp-up Committee for its efforts at coming to this decision that brings us closer to our full research capacity and, in particular, allows more of our students to receive the hands-on lab experience necessary for their education.