Summer 2021 Research Operations Guidelines & Resources

Beginning June 7, 2021, PSU is moving to Research Operations Level 1. Under Level 1, laboratory and studio population density restrictions are relaxed as long as physical distancing (six feet between individuals) can be maintained. With some exceptions, most face-to-face human subjects work may resume, provided HRPP, or IRB protocols are approved. Travel to field sites in group vehicles is allowed provided everyone wears a mask or face covering and the vehicle’s cab maintains high airflow. More detailed information on the University’s return to Research Operations Level 1 is available below. Please visit the University’s Coronavirus Response site for information not explicitly about resuming research and creative activities on campus.

Under Research Operations Level 1, RGS will require faculty and staff members to submit requests to return to research via department request forms. Department request sheets should be sent by department chairs or directors to every other Friday. Faculty members who would like to submit requests for new personnel or access to a new location should follow established procedures by submitting requests to unit spreadsheets. Please do not submit renewal requests for individuals RGS has previously approved to work in a given lab, studio, or field location.

Vaccination Questions | Return to Research Requests | Human Subjects Work | Fieldwork | Building Access | Travel | Laboratory Door Signage

Overview: How will Level 1 restrictions affect research at Portland State?

  • Please continue to use departmental request forms for submitting research requests.
  • Only submit requests for new personnel or access to new locations.
  • Most face-to-face human subjects work can resume if the HRPP or IRB approves the protocol and after approval by the Restarting Research Committee.
  • Remote work is still encouraged, but work in offices, laboratories, studios, or other workspaces is permitted.
  • Workspace density limits are relaxed, provided physical distancing (six feet between individuals) is maintained.
  • Essential travel is possible with supervisor approval using the normal travel authorization process.
  • If traveling for research purposes, submit a request using the departmental request form. 
  • People may meet indoors in groups of up to 25, provided everyone wears a face mask or covering and six feet of physical distancing is maintained.
  • Masks or face coverings are still required indoors while on campus.
  • Conduct pre-shift/meeting symptom checks and stay home if presenting symptoms.
  • Continue following cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • Prepare for the potential of a return to Level 2.

Vaccination Questions

  • RGS encourages everyone eligible to get vaccinated. For information on PSU's vaccination policy, please visit the Coronavirus Response page.
  • Supervisors cannot ask employees or students about their vaccination status related to their activities as PSU employees.
  • If employees volunteer this information and it is relevant to work conditions, that information can be used to plan operations.

Return to Research Requests

  • RGS will continue to use the return-to-research request process to track who is working in research and where they will be working. This process supports contact tracing efforts and the development of safety plans intended to prevent transmission.
  • Requests will not be reviewed with the same rigor as applied in Level 2 operations.
  • Return to research requests and the completion of the COVID-19: Maintaining a Safe Workplace training module are still the only mechanisms for obtaining access for students to building and laboratory spaces.
  • Submit requests to your Chair/Director using your unit's current tracking sheet for research requests. RGS provides a unit template for departments' use, to copy and edit as needed.
  • Chairs/directors must then submit departmental requests to RGS every other Friday: June 11, June 25, August 9, etc. Chairs/directors: Please share the link to your department's sheet via an email to, and remember to clearly indicate which rows or tabs have new requests.

Human Subjects Work

  • Most face-to-face human subjects work can resume if the HRPP or IRB approves the protocol and after approval by the Restarting Research Committee.
  • Interviews and other methods that do not require close interaction with research subjects may resume.
  • Medical or similar procedures that require prolonged close contact should still be avoided.
  • Work with vulnerable subjects should closely adhere to CDC and OHA guidance and, whenever possible, be conducted in an outdoor setting.
  • Follow CDC guidelines.
  • Conduct pre-shift symptom checks of researchers and participants and postpone interactions if symptoms present.
  • Researchers can require voluntary study participants to be vaccinated to participate in a human subjects study.
  • Proof of vaccination should be provided by attestation only; do not request to see vaccination cards or vaccine passports, etc.
  • If you have any questions, contact


  • Travel to field sites in group vehicles will be allowed if every passenger wears a mask or face covering and attention is paid to maintaining a high airflow in the vehicle's cab.
  • However, if the vehicle is not owned by PSU and everyone in the vehicle has volunteered that they're fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single shot of the J&J vaccine), then the choice to wear masks is at the discretion of the group.
  • Conduct pre-shift symptom checks, and stay at home if symptoms present.
  • For decision-making while at the field site, follow OHA/CDC guidelines.

Building Access

  • Access to buildings on campus will still require a PSU ID card.
  • Faculty and staff members can expect regular building access using a PSU ID Card.
  • Students, volunteers, or other non-PSU-affiliated individuals need approval through the RGS return-to-research request process. In addition, they will need to complete the COVID-19: Creating a Safe Work Environment training module available via D2L.
  • Additionally, non-PSU-affiliated individuals will need to have the department they're working with request an Affiliate Account through OIT and procure an ID card before being granted building access.


  • Essential travel is possible with supervisor approval using the normal travel authorization process.
  • RGS does not need to approve travel. Visit Viking Travel's website for their Pandemic Travel Update and Travel Guide, etc.
  • If the travel is for field research, then a plan should be submitted to RGS as per our normal COVID-19 procedures so RGS can ensure proper planning for safety and help with contact tracing if a COVID-19 exposure occurs.
  • If traveling out of state, review the specific state and country guidelines and COVID-19 requirements.
  • Remember that depending on local conditions and conditions where you are traveling that you may be required to self-isolate for 10-14 days.

Laboratory Door Signage

PSU has made great strides to standardized safety information provided outside of each laboratory door. However, each lab door needs to ensure that their placard is up-to-date and that proper emergency contact information is provided on the placard. If your sign needs to be updated, please fill out the Lab Placard Information Collection Form, and EHS will get you an updated sign. Other information provided on the sign that needs to be correct include:

  • Chemical hazard information
  • Other special safety conditions in the lab include radioactive materials, lasers, open IACUC protocols, biohazardous materials, etc.

If there are special and/or temporary conditions taking place in your lab space, please make sure you have an updated and current Research in Process sign affixed to each of your lab doors.

If you have any questions about laboratory door signage, please reach contact EHS.

Research Town Hall: What to Expect During the Summer as PSU Moves to Research Operations Level 1