A Note On COVID-19 and Field Operations
Travel restrictions, stay-home orders, and suspended campus operations are altering field work and outdoor coursework plans for the coming season. While it may be tempting to physically isolate in a wilderness setting, there are currently additional risks associated with remote work. Field work brings close contact with colleagues in vehicles and field housing, limited access to sanitation, and interactions with members of local communities near field sites. If a crew member becomes ill in the field, it may be difficult to isolate them from others, send them home early, or access timely medical care. In addition, first responders, search and rescue volunteers, and hospitals may have reduced capacity to respond to an incident or injury in the field.
Approval of essential work
Under guidance from the Office of Research, PIs should consult with their Chairs, Deans, and Directors to determine which of their field activities are essential during reduced operations, and which activities should be postponed. Work involving Boating and Diving or access to a UC Natural Reserve will require special approval from those programs.
If you are continuing essential field work, make adjustments to protect the health of your field team:
- Ask participants to monitor their health (bring a thermometer), and to stay home if they are sick. Include flexibility in your planning, in case you need to send somebody home or end the trip early.
- Adjust work protocols, travel plans, and sleeping quarters to allow at least 6 feet of physical distancing. Consider taking separate vehicles and assigning separate equipment to each person.
- Update your field safety plan and carry a hard copy in the field. Pay special attention to the change in operating status of medical facilities.
- Encourage good hygiene: wash hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and properly discard tissues.
- Bring adequate soap and water for handwashing, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant.
- Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces and shared equipment.
- Follow CDC and local recommendations on masks or other face coverings. Some municipalities may recommend or require masks in public spaces.
- If individuals will be working alone in the field, update your Working Alone SOP and follow your communication and check-in plans. Ask a supervisor to monitor the news from home and update you on relevant changes. Keep in frequent communication with land managers.
- Monitor travel updates from Global Affairs and register your travel with UC Away.
Resources related to field operations during the COVID-19 pandemic
- UC Field Safety Newsletter for March 2020
- UC Davis Coronavirus Campus Information
- UC Office of the President: COVID-19 information for UC employees
- Office of Research: Research Continuity and Planning for COVID-19
- UC Davis Graduate Education Guidance
- UC Davis Global Affairs Q&A Related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- UC Davis Boating Safety Program
- UC Davis Natural Reserves
- Travel & Entertainment: Reimbursement for Travel Impacted by Coronavirus UC ANR Coronavirus Information
- State of California Stay at Home Order