Research and Sponsored Programs

Procedures for Field Research and Boating with COVID-19 Impacts

Updated August 6, 2021

The intent of this standard operating procedure (SOP) is to minimize the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission and protect the health and safety of personnel conducting research activities at field sites. Failure to follow this SOP may result in suspension of field research.

    • In response to recent CDC guidance, masks are now required for everyone on UToledo campuses, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals are not required to wear masks while alone in their office or while eating.  Masks are not required outdoors. 
    • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated shall continue wearing masks while on campus and maintain physical distancing of 6 feet indoors.

1.  Faculty, students, technicians and other staff must not be compelled to engage in travel or research activities that they are not comfortable with. Research members should contact The Environmental Health and Radiation Safety Department if they have safety concerns (

2.  Field research procedures must include:

     a.  List of all personnel, their contact information and an emergency contact.
     b.  Description of the research activities and what precautions are being undertaken to limit potential disease transmission
          (i.e., personal protective equipment, social distancing).
     c.  Contingency plan for carrying on research if one or more personnel becomes sick or is no longer willing to risk conducting the research.

3.  If non-UToledo agencies or research partners are actively engaged in the research, the research should be engaged using the guidelines that are the most stringent unless expressly permitted by the partner agencies.

4.  If travel will be reimbursed through university or grant funds, express permission must be granted through your College Dean  If permitted to travel, register your travel plans here:

5.  Basic safety standards are expected for vehicle usage.  If more than more person traveling in a vehicle, all individuals should wear a mask.

     a.  Unvaccinated individuals should consider traveling by vehicle by themselves to limit exposure to others. 
     b.  If any group member is unvaccinated or if anyone in the lab group prefers to continue wearing a mask while 
           conducting field research the following protocols should be followed for vehicle use.

    • For travel from, to, and at the work site, limit vehicle occupancy to no more than one half of the vehicle’s seating capacity.  Two masks, one disposable and one cloth, are to be worn in vehicles when there are two or more people. If possible, travel with windows open. High touch areas (e.g., truck keys, door handles and steering wheel) must be disinfected before and after the field day.

6.  If boats are to be used, each boat will have a maximum number of total personnel allowed on the vessel at any time. Adherence to basic safety standards is expected and occupancy is not affected by vaccination status.

7.  Remote field studies that require lodging and/or long-term stays.

     a.  Remote field work changes the risks of exposure to COVID-19 in positive and negative ways. Traveling to a remote
           work site often brings individuals from multiple locations to the same location enhancing risk when people arrive
           but limits external exposure after arrival.

    • Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for all individuals considering long term or remote field studies. 

     b.  If any field crew members choose to wear masks and socially distance because they are not vaccinated or for personal
           preference, the crew should establish protocols to maintain social distance as much as the circumstances allow. 
     c.  If a member of the field crew presents COVID-19 symptoms the following steps are required.

    • Cease field work for that individual until the individual can be tested.
    • Unvaccinated individuals should self-quarantine for 14 days unless they test negative for COVID-19 or have been approved to return to work/research activities by their health care provider.
Last Updated: 8/6/21