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SDSU Field Research Resumption Guidelines

The goal of this document is to minimize the risk of disease transmission and protect the safety of SDSU staff and others when conducting research activities at SDSU research farms/field stations and at privately owned farms.One person developing symptoms can result in quarantine of all those who have had contact with that person and could shut down an entire research station or compromise the work force of a private farm.

Personal responsibility: All personnel should be trained and requested to agree to follow infection control practices, adherence to university guidelines (health monitoring, PPE, distancing, etc.), perform a pre-work self-assessment for health and potential exposure, and always default to stay home if any health-related concerns arise.

Staff should not be compelled to engage in travel or lab activities that they are not comfortable with. PIs or team leaders should inform staff that they can request reassignment or alternative work arrangements if they have personal safety concerns. PIs must have a plan of action if someone within the research group or someone on a farm or research station develops symptoms or tests positive.

General principles and guidelines

  • Conduct as much work as possible from home while COVID-19 risks remain
  • Do as much work as you can safely do individually (i.e., solo travel and solo in-field work)
  • If the work requires more people, follow CDC guidance for social distancing and consider wind direction (don’t be downwind of a cough or sneeze)

Preparation and mobilization for field work

  • Use scheduling to minimize contacts with others at SDSU shops, storage buildings, labs when you are preparing for field work or returning from field work

Travel to and from field locations

  • Travel for field work in approximate order of increasing risks:
    • Campus locations
    • Plots and on-campus farm areas
    • Local travel to an off-campus site
    • Statewide day trips
    • Travel to field stations and research farms
    • Statewide or out-of-state travel requiring overnight lodging
  • In your vehicle and at the work site have easy access to hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes other supplies for personal hygiene, personal protection equipment if project functions require it.
  • At-risk individuals should always travel alone
  • Others may travel 2 per vehicle, but in different rows. Individuals are required to follow the current University and SDBOR face covering protocols.
    • Stop at state fuel dispensaries when possible. Otherwise use credit card purchases.
    • Disinfect all fuel pump handles and touchpads before and after use with in-vehicle wipes
    • If others are present at fuel stations, it is highly recommended to maintain a minimum 6 ft distance from others at all times at fuel stations. Individuals are required to follow the current University and SDBOR face covering protocols.
  • Biobreaks: Avoid contact with others. It is highly recommended to use surface sanitizer. Individuals are required to follow the current University and SDBOR face covering protocols.
  • Meals: Bring water and food as much as possible. Use curbside or window pickup options for purchased meals. It is recommended not to dine-in at restaurants.

Overnight lodging, including camping, hotels, and field stations

  • Some field work may require overnight lodging if travel distances do not allow workers to safely travel, work, and return in one day. Decisions about the length of travel requiring overnight stays will be made by the individual unit and should weigh the risk of exposure to COVID-19 with other risks, such as driving while fatigued. If overnight lodging is required we suggest that the following precautions be considered
  • For lodging in hotels, approvers should review hotel’s COVID-19 policy and verify consistency with SDSU policy
  • For lodging at SDSU field stations apply SDSU sanitation and distancing policies

Activities at field locations

  • Maintain social distancing as much as possible
  • Individuals are required to follow the current University and SDBOR face covering protocols.
  • Frequent disinfection of tools, general equipment, and other materials

Equipment use

  • The project leader or project staff should identify the needed equipment and arrange for its usage with site staff prior to arrival.
  • Equipment should be located in a common area accessible to the project to be used without any obstructions hindering their ability to begin operations
  • Equipment should be operated in a manner that follows all manufacturer’s recommendations, safety protocols, and social-distancing guidelines
  • Equipment will be returned to an agreed upon location
  • Once returned, areas of equipment that have been contacted by the operator, will be wiped/sanitized after its use. This may include, but not limited to handles, control knobs and levers, arm rests, the steering wheel and gear selection levers

Minimize contact with individuals not part of the “team.”

  • To the greatest extent possible, minimize interacting with others not part of the “team”
  • To limit contact with people not part of the team, use field and pasture “drive-bys” and “curiosity stops” in separate vehicles. Maintain distance in fields and/or use cell phones to communicate
  • You may be able to set up field plots in the absence of the cooperator using well defined markers
  • You may be able to do in-field diagnostics alone and then report your assessment to the client via cell phone

When contact is necessary with individuals not part of the “team.”

  • Inquire about their health status before coming in close contact
  • Use CDC guidance and common sense when interacting with people outside the group
  • Practice 6-foot personal distancing and note wind direction
  • Individuals are required to follow the current University and SDBOR face covering protocols.
  • No “ride-alongs” with stakeholders. Do not accept/agree to a ride in another person’s tractor, pickup, 4-wheeler, etc. Do not have a cooperator or client get in your vehicle
  • When loading seed boxes or other equipment with growers:
    • Use disposable nitrile gloves to protect your hands
    • Disinfect surfaces (disinfectant wipes)
    • Sanitize hands
    • Disinfect shared equipment, soil and forage probes, shovels, buckets, Ziplock bags, knives, clipboards, pens, etc