UW Research

COVID-19 Guidance for a Safe Return to In-Person Research

On August 31, 2021, the President and Provost announced updated UW guidance regarding vaccination and also  the current face mask requirements:

Mask Requirements

  • Effective August 14, 2021 (see Governor Inslee’s vaccination proclamation 21-14.1), the University is reinstating an indoor mask mandate for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. A mask or other suitable face covering is required indoors when other people are present and in all public and common areas, such as lobbies, hallways, stairways, restrooms, elevators and shared vehicles. There are exceptions for fully vaccinated instructors in which the mask interferes with communication and when a physical distance of at least 6 feet between the presenter/instructor and others can be maintained.
  • This mandate will remain in place until further notice and this page will be updated as new guidance is provided.

Vaccination

  • Vaccinations required for all students and personnel
    On August 18, 2021, Governor Inslee issued proclamation 21-14.1, requiring all employees of Washington higher education institutions to be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021, as a condition of employment unless a documented medical or religious exemption is approved.
  • The proclamation applies to all UW employees whether on-site or remote, however, the information on this page applies to staff, academic student employees and student employees only. The Office of Academic Personnel will communicate about how the proclamation applies to faculty and academic personnel.
  • This mandate will remain in place until further notice and this page will be updated as new guidance is provided.

The contents of these messages are also posted on uw.edu/coronavirus, which remains your best source for extensive, updated information on the UW’s policies and plans, as well as details on where to get vaccinated and current case counts in the UW community. Additionally, there are UW Medicine policies specific to its facilities and operations.

Guidance for Researchers: How to Revise your Return to In-person Research Plans

All PIs and Laboratory heads must revise their Return to Research Plans and have the revised plans approved by the process your unit has used in the past (department chair, dean’s office, etc.).  Here are some steps you can take to get prepared:

New Regulations

  • Masks are required for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. A mask or other suitable face covering is required indoors when other people are present and in all public and common areas, such as lobbies, hallways, stairways, restrooms, elevators and shared vehicles.
  • All students and personnel are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to confirm that they are fully vaccinated before returning to in-person work.
  • Daily symptom attestation is no longer required, however, individuals should self-monitor and should not come to work if they are ill.
  • COVID-specific cleaning and disinfection are modified. The new guidelines are found here.
  • Lab density restrictions for COVID are no longer in effect.

In most cases, the new Return to Research Plans will be greatly simplified compared to the existing plans. These revised plans must contain the following elements:

  1. List of all research personnel working in person.
  2. Plan for each individual working in-person to attest to their vaccination status and for the PI to keep a log of vaccination status. (Note: PIs are required to keep the log but can only log vaccination status for those who offer that information voluntarily. We are not allowed to ask anyone about their vaccination status.)
    • For those listed in Workday, they should use the Workday system; supervisors will be able to generate a report of vaccination status.
    • All personnel are required to attest to their vaccination status by Sept. 10. More details on the vaccination verification process will be communicated as it is finalized, and personnel who need to submit additional information — either to prove vaccination status or to document a medical or religious exemption — will be contacted.
    • University personnel submit a COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Form in Workday. Personnel who do not have access to Workday will be provided an alternative method by their supervisor.
    • UW Medicine medical personnel are required to be vaccinated unless declaring an authorized exemption but follow the UW Medicine vaccination policies and procedures.
    • Students submit a COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Form on the Hall Health Center website. Students who are employed by the University must submit both the student and personnel COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Forms.
    • Those not listed in Workday, including volunteers, should fill out and submit to the PI a vaccination attestation form as explained in the FAQs here.
    • Plan for apprising all laboratory members working in-person of the new regulations.
    • Existing plan for accommodating personnel at high risk for COVID-19 should remain in place. Accommodations should be requested through the UW Office of Human Resources.
    • Existing plan for responding to exposure or illness should remain in place.

For those carrying out research with human subjects, be sure to follow specific guidelines posted here.

Guidance for Fieldwork

For those conducting fieldwork, ensure that your field research activities are accounted for in your COVID-19 Prevention Plan; COVID-19 precautions may also be incorporated into a more general Fieldwork Safety Plan. In addition, researchers should reference and follow the below precautions around travel, as applicable:

EH&S is available for consultation and to assist in risk assessments if more stringent quarantine and testing frameworks are needed for specific fieldwork operations.

How do you prep for a safe return to in-person research?

  • If you have not yet done so, get vaccinated and encourage others in your research group to do so if they are able. The vaccines being administered are safe and effective, and you can be vaccinated at any provider at no cost. Remember that you may not ask anyone if they have been vaccinated, but you can offer to share your status.
  • As needed, start preparing members of your research group who are not currently working onsite for a return to in person work.
  • Work with your unit (department, school, or college as appropriate) to follow their process for members of your research group who are not currently spending time onsite.