COVID-19 Update: Next Phase of Human Subjects Research, Health Safety Requirements and More
05/22/2020, 11:35:01 AM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

Governor Abbott issued executive orders this week to ease restrictions. Travel restrictions were lifted yesterday, therefore air passengers from the states of California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Washington, and the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami, will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival in Texas. Any mandatory self-quarantine already in effect as a result of the previous executive order is also terminated, effective immediately.

With the easing of restrictions, the risk of infection could increase. Our best defense against infection remains wearing a face mask, daily health checks, frequent handwashing and following the social distancing rule. I would like to remind you of these important risk mitigation measures, which are mandatory for those who come on campus.

Below, I address a question that I have received multiple times about when we will ease restrictions on human subjects research that we allow on campus.

Human Subjects Research: Next Phase

Human subjects research still has a number of restrictions. While it is too early to give a timeline when we can ease some of the restrictions, we are starting to think about guidelines that would allow research on human subjects where the intervention cannot be done without violating the social distancing rule. Our office would like to hear from those of you who conduct human subjects research where you could bring a single subject who is not in a higher risk group to your research lab to work in closer proximity, for instance, to attach sensors. Please contact Kirstin Holzschuh ( if you fall into this category and are interested in working with us to develop guidelines that would keep both the subjects and your lab members as safe as possible.

 Wearing Masks

We continue to hear about individuals on campus who violate the requirement to wear face masks. I urge you to follow this rule not only for your own protection but also to make others feel safe while on campus. This is a safety requirement. Environmental Health & Safety conducts lab inspections, and if members of your lab are found in violation of this requirement, it will be treated as a safety violation. This can result in the revocation of the privilege to work on campus.

Daily Health Checks

A daily health check is required of individuals prior to coming on campus. Make sure your lab members understand that if they experience any of the COVID-19 related symptoms, they are not allowed to come to campus. They need to immediately contact you, as their direct supervisor. Ask them to notify their local or state public health authority or healthcare facility promptly so that they can coordinate consultation and referral to a healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidelines. If they receive a diagnosis of COVID-19, they should complete the Reporting COVID-19 Diagnosis form on the UH COVID-19 page. If the individual was in the lab during the two-week period prior to a positive diagnosis, the lab space would need to be disinfected, and everyone who was in contact with the individual would need to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms. Contact Cris Milligan ( for assistance with this.


There are also still a number of individuals who come on campus without having completed the online training modules. There are two training modules that must be completed prior to coming on campus. This training is required of those who went through the access request approval process and for individuals who want to come on campus only once, for instance, to pick up something from their offices or access printed materials in the Libraries.

Voluntarily on Campus

At this point, individuals who come to campus do so voluntarily, except those who are essential personnel. We asked each PI to get explicit agreement from each of their lab members before adding them to the access request list. I want to emphasize that any individual who volunteered to return can reverse their decision to come on campus. I would like to ask you to check with your lab members regularly to make sure that they continue to feel comfortable being on campus. If they no longer feel comfortable, make sure they understand they can reverse their decision to work on campus. If they still have concerns that cannot be addressed in such a conversation, including non-compliance issues, tell them to use the Fraud and Non-Compliance Hotline.

Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer | | 713-743-4736

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