Research Status and Plans Entering the Fall Semester

August 27, 2021

MEMORANDUM

TO: Faculty/Researchers/Staff
FROM: Jack G. Baldauf
Interim Vice President for Research
Jack Baldauf
SUBJECT: Research Status and Plans Entering the Fall Semester

Texas A&M University is scheduled to continue in-person classes and research activities at full capacity for the fall semester. While Texas A&M does not require you to be vaccinated or to wear a mask, you are strongly encouraged to do your part to ensure a safer community by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask while indoors, frequently washing your hands, and disinfecting high contact surfaces. Vaccinations and testing are readily available on campus at no cost. To encourage vaccination, drawings for students who submit proof of vaccination will be held October 15, 2021, and students selected will be awarded funding for education expenses. Rules for the random drawing will be announced soon, along with an incentive program for employees.

University research activities adhere to The Texas A&M University System and University policies. To that end research activities will follow standard protocols. With that stated, it is essential to maintain a high level of diligence with respect to COVID-19 safety. If there are significant outbreaks of infection in laboratories, buildings across campus, or in the community, it may become necessary to curtail some research activities or permit only essential research activities.

Summarized below are recommended guidelines for research activities as we begin the semester. COVID-19 research guidance updates can be found at https://vpr.tamu.edu/research-guidance-during-covid-19/.

  1. Campus research follows standard protocols. Best practices to employ include:
    • Maintain good personal hygiene by washing hands thoroughly and frequently; practicing cough/sneeze etiquette; and avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Self-screen for new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 before coming to campus. Do not come to work if ill or exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Utilize hand sanitizer available at all building entrances and at access points for each floor.
    • Clean all door and cabinet handles, bench surfaces, keyboards, instrument control panels, etc. at the beginning and end of the day, or, if researchers are working in shifts, at the beginning and end of every shift.
    • Clean “high touch” items—hand tools, micro-pipettors, faucet handles, chemical and spray bottles, chair backs and arm rests, pens and whiteboard markers—between users.
    • Use an EPA-approved disinfectant that is effective against both COVID-19 and any biohazardous agents that may be in use. A list can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
    • Wear appropriate personnel protective equipment (PPE) when using disinfectants/cleaning, including eye protection and chemical-compatible impervious gloves.
  2. Domestically related research travel follows standard protocols for approvals. This requires approval by the unit head prior to departure. For more, read the travel guidance outlined by the administration.
  3. All international travel requests must be routed through Concur to obtain the required approvals prior to departure. For more information, see travel guidance.
  4. Clinical and human subjects activities that require in-person contact with research participants should continue best practices. Investigators should implement standard operating procedures including maintaining personal hygiene, use of appropriate PPE, cleaning/disinfecting of shared spaces/equipment, and infection control. Faculty, staff, or students should avoid over scheduling to reduce traffic in shared hallways and visiting centers.

All members of the Texas A&M community — students, faculty, and staff — are required to complete the COVID-19 Reporting Form if they receive a COVID-19 positive diagnosis, and/or have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Prompt reporting is important to allow for proper contact tracing, as well as to help with limiting the potential spread of the virus. For current information on actions to take if you test positive or have been in close contact, please consult University guidanceThis link explains what employees and students should do if they are sick or exposed to someone with the virus. Employees positive for COVID-19 or are quarantine can work remotely if able to continue meeting job expectations. Faculty and staff who are unable to perform their assigned duties may be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave afforded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Alternatively, employees may choose to use their accrued leave under normal University policy and procedures. These requirements apply regardless of vaccination status or if the person is asymptomatic.

Once again, COVID-19 research guidance updates and FAQ’s can be found at https://vpr.tamu.edu/research-guidance-during-covid-19.