This message has been distributed to all UT employees with Principal Investigator (PI) status, as well as all UT graduate students and postdocs.
Dear PI Colleagues,
This week, we’ve begun to see an increase in positive COVID-19 cases within our undergraduate student population. This is concerning but not unexpected. That said, expected or not, there’s nothing easy about COVID-19, and our thoughts and best wishes for a fast recovery are with everyone in our community who’s been diagnosed.
At the same time, I know many of you may be wondering how the detection of new cases will affect our plans to permit on-campus undergraduate research. Together with the Fall 2020 Planning Executive Committee, I will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments closely to determine whether we’re still well positioned to bring a limited number of undergraduates back into our research spaces in the coming weeks.
And though cases are increasing, we feel we can still safely conduct research on campus. The university’s robust testing plan and capacity have allowed us to identify these cases quickly, both on and off campus. This, in turn, has helped us isolate those who are sick and provide them with resources while notifying close contacts so that they can be tested as well. Our goal is to uncover as many cases as possible as fast as possible because that offers our best chance for slowing the spread on campus. As more tests are completed, new cases will be reflected on UT’s COVID-19 dashboard daily.
I’m also encouraged that very few researchers working on campus have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March. It can’t be overstated that I credit each of you for adhering to our cohort schedules and workforce density limits. I truly believe that your willingness to follow our health and safety guidelines is what’s kept our teams safe.
And that’s why it’s still important to follow Research Level 3 guidelines. We’ll be maintaining current density and scheduling requirements for the foreseeable future until we are confident that relaxing those guidelines won’t lead to increased risk. Please continue to wear masks when indoors, maintain 6' distance when possible, and check your symptoms daily before coming to campus. If you’ve been using the Protect Texas Together app to monitor your symptoms, make sure you’re using the full version of the app, which provides case count updates from the UT dashboard. (The beta version of the app is no longer updating, so please uninstall it and install the full version.)
I also urge you to volunteer regularly for proactive community testing. Experts know that many COVID-19 cases go undiagnosed among those who are asymptomatic, but it’s still possible to spread the virus to others who may be at risk for developing serious and life-threatening complications. Regular testing is critical. These tests are quick, painless, and free of charge. Please remember that if you are advised to isolate, you have leave options available.
If you have questions, thoughts, or concerns, please do not hesitate to discuss them with your associate dean for research. As always, I want to do whatever I can to support you and your teams in your research endeavors, but, now more than ever, my goal is to make sure you can do it safely.
Alison R. Preston, Ph.D. Interim Vice President for Research
This communication is from Principal Investigators – Official. View this email online.