One year after the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses ramped down research and scholarship in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan plans to further expand its research operations next month.

Given the decrease in virus transmission rates throughout the university community, effective April 1, laboratories and research spaces across the three campuses may begin to operate at a density capacity that safely allows for at least 6 feet of social distancing between personnel.

There no longer will be density requirements or mandates to maintain 144 square feet per person beginning April 1, according to a March 17 announcement from Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham to the U-M research community.

“Our labs and research spaces have consistently proven not to be a source of virus transmission, which is really a testament to our faculty, staff and students, and their ongoing commitment to public health practices,” said Cunningham, the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

“Face coverings and social distancing are still a requirement for our university community, regardless of their vaccination status, and it is important that we all remain vigilant so that we can maintain our expanded research operations.”

Operational capacity for research will remain at 75 percent through March 31.

The university also plans to expand its in-person human research activity next month. All human research studies categorized as Tier 3, which have been paused since last spring, may apply for and resume in-person activity as early as April 1.

Studies that involve human subjects and are able to complete their goals remotely are encouraged to continue in that manner, Cunningham said.

If researchers intend to transition from remote to in-person activity, they must resubmit their Human Research Activation Checklist to the U-M Human Research Activation Committee, she said.

The Office of the Vice President for Research also has developed a Research Re-engagement webpage that includes more information and FAQs about the university’s plans to safely expand research and scholarship activity.

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