COVID-19 Update: Reopening Research Today
05/05/2020, 12:15:01 PM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

Chancellor Khator charged the Task Force on Reopening UHS to develop a strategy on how UH will stage the reopening of our facilities and operations. The Task Force is co-chaired by UHV President Bob Glenn and myself. Please visit the Special Task Force page for the Guiding Principles for Reopening and Questions to Answer Before Reopening.

Reopening the campus for research is the first of four phases, as explained in Chancellor Khator’s email to the UH community last week. Today is the first day when faculty are allowed to return to campus to conduct research both in laboratories and other research-designated space. I cannot overemphasize the importance of following the guidelines to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. The requirements and guidelines are published on the Reopening Research page. Please note that the Harris County Judge has elaborated on her extension of the Stay Home directive by excluding individuals engaged in the limited reopening that the Governor previously announced. Below are a few related topics that I would like to share with our UH community.

Requesting Access

Permission to work on campus is required to return to conduct research in labs and other research space. There is an online Access Request Form on our Reopening Research page that must be submitted and approved prior to coming to campus. The form asks for both a list of personnel and for the building/rooms (a separate form must be submitted for each building access is requested for). The form must be submitted by the faculty for anyone they supervise, in particular, access for graduate students must be requested by their supervisors. The approved requests will be shared with Facilities Services and Environmental Health and Safety so that they can deliver the appropriate services. Even if you only plan to come in occasionally, it is necessary that you complete the form.

Access to Training

Anyone returning to campus must complete the online training that can be found on AccessUH. If any of your lab members who wish to return to campus do not have access to the AccessUH TAP training module, contact your department chair and Raysa Caba ( Those without an active appointment are not included automatically in the University training and need to be added manually through the Person of Interest (POI) process. HR agreed to move fast on this if you send them the names and PeopleSoft ID numbers. Include your department chair in the email you send to Raysa Caba since this process is usually initiated by the department and so they will need to know.

Cleaning Research Spaces

As you return to your research spaces, make sure you adhere to sanitation requirements: Disinfect research areas and frequently touched surfaces (lab benches, doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, keyboards, microscopes, etc.) at the end of each shift prior to the next shift arriving at the workplace. Designate one or more individuals responsible for cleaning and disinfecting and have them initial on the daily work schedule that they completed the cleaning. To request permanently installed hand sanitizer dispensing stations for approved lab openings, please submit a FIXIT request.

Reporting COVID-19 Cases

If someone in your research group has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 and has been in university research space up to 14 days prior to diagnosis, immediately inform Cris Milligan ( so that a decision can be made whether professional lab sanitation should be arranged.

VPR Virtual Office Hours

We are continuing our weekly VPR Office Hours. The next session is on Friday, May 8 at noon (please note the time). I hope you will be able to join us. The number of participants is increasing from week to week. Last Friday, we had 81 individuals attending the session. I look forward to talking with you this coming Friday.

You can access the event through the Research & Innovation Teams site where you will also find channels for topic-specific questions you might have for our directors. I would like to encourage you to post questions prior to the event in our VPR Office Hours channel.

Questions and responses are visible to everyone at UH. If you have project- or team-specific questions that you do not want to share with others at UH, please contact our units directly. Area-specific email inboxes for DOR offices are listed on our COVID-19 Additional Resources page.

Faculty Café

We are offering bi-monthly 50-in-5 Faculty Café sessions on University Research Explained that focus on available funding opportunities in response to the coronavirus crisis. The second online session on this topic is scheduled for Friday, May 8, 1 p.m.–2 p.m. Please mark your calendar and register for the event.


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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