The guidance below is effective immediately and supersedes previously published guidance for community-based research activities and programs. Faculty should remember that many research staff and trainees may need time to adjust their schedules with this new guidance, so they should give their team members adequate time to implement any changes.

Summary

  • Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned once or twice daily but the requirement for frequent general surface sanitization has been removed.
  • Research staff, participants, and community members must still follow relevant self-screening guidelines.
  • Remote is still strongly preferred, but in-person meetings and events may occur when important to support study progress.
  • Faculty are responsible for monitoring their study teams and for complying with this guidance.
  • Approval of study/unit-specific monitoring plans is no longer required by the university.
  • There are no COVID-related restrictions on types of personnel who may participate in in-person research activities.
  • There is no restriction on work-related domestic travel (exceptions are possible for essential university-sponsored and supported international travel).

In-Person Meetings Events and Gatherings

  • Remote communications are still strongly encouraged when possible. 
  • In-person meetings for research purposes are now permitted when important to support the study process as long as all participants adhere to facility guidelines, including wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, when applicable.
  • We recommend holding all gatherings in large and/or outdoor spaces, whenever possible.
  • For outdoor events, masking is encouraged but not required for anyone who is fully vaccinated.
  • Masks are required at indoor gatherings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status or the size of a meeting or gathering.
  • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask and physically distance themselves at both indoor and outdoor events.

Food & Drink

  • Food and drink may be consumed in indoor private/semi-private environments and outdoor events.
  • Food and drink may be consumed in some indoor public environments where seats have been pre-positioned for appropriate physical distancing of six feet.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to maintain a 6-foot distance from all others when eating or drinking, regardless of setting.

Density Restrictions and Physical Distancing

Physical distancing will be the only density restriction in place. Pre-COVID activity or occupancy levels are no longer a factor. Six feet physical distancing is still recommended by the CDC and directives from some city, county or private establishments may call for 6 feet physical distancing.

Hand Hygiene and Disinfecting Surfaces

The CDC has updated its guidance to emphasize hand hygiene and de-emphasize frequent surface cleaning: CDC – Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility. Therefore, we continue to recommend frequent hand washing, and once or twice per day sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces (e.g. doorknobs, elevator buttons, coffee machines), and are eliminating the recommendations for general surface sanitization.

Self-Screening

All research participants should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to the event. Participants may use the visitor screening tool or other COVID screening tools developed by the research team. Evidence of a successfully passed screening should be given to the activity organizer on site. Active temperature monitoring is not necessary.

All WashU personnel should complete the daily WashU screening portal or an equivalent screening protocol prior to the field visit. No one should participate in a field research activity or come to campus if they are symptomatic.

Plans, Monitoring, and Compliance

Research investigators are responsible for ensuring that everyone on their team (including new personnel, trainees, and students) is adequately trained and is following these guidelines. The university no longer requires plans for pandemic-related research unit function, or revisions to such plans, to be submitted to the School or Department for approval. However, Department/Division leaders remain responsible for ensuring/monitoring the safety of their personnel, operations, and facilities. They may choose to continue to require study/unit-specific plans or other measures to support safety and research success in their areas. Research teams should internally communicate plans for remote versus in-person research functions to team members, and monitor their impact upon safety, participant satisfaction, and research progress. Research team members may discuss concerns with their study principal investigator, research unit manager, division director, department chair, the Senior Associate Dean for Research, or submit concerns to the OVCR.  

Personnel

There are no COVID-19 specific restrictions on the types of personnel that can work on community-based research, provided there is sufficient space for personnel to interact with 6 feet of physical distance. Until schools and daycares are operating at near-normal hours, investigators should continue to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of research personnel, such as those related to childcare or transportation. 

Travel

Work-related domestic travel can resume and no longer requires pre-approval by the chancellor or the provost, a dean, executive vice chancellor, or vice chancellor. Schools, departments, and units may have other pre-approval processes unrelated to the pandemic. 

Effective August 1, 2021, faculty, staff, and graduate/professional students (on an individual basis) may resume university-sponsored and supported international travel in accordance with the university’s standard international travel policy. All international travel is subject to changes in travel conditions and public health guidance. This policy update does not override any school or department-level restrictions on travel. For questions, contact itoc@wustl.edu.