Ecology Research Center (ERC) Guidelines

Part 1: First principles

  1. With the recognition that the situation is changing rapidly, we underscore that everyone working on research through Miami University must follow federal, state, local, and university rules and guidelines for safe practices.
  2. These guidelines serve as a complement to the comprehensive “Return to Research” guidelines prepared by the Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) that stipulates the conditions under which research can commence in the summer of 2020.
  3. Researchers should use the best technology available to monitor their health and refrain from activity with any indication of illness.
  4. The use of face coverings and the maintenance of social distancing is necessary in any indoor public area. Researchers should wash hands and wipe door handles with sanitizer when entering or leaving buildings and specific rooms. Sanitizer will be placed near all entrances/exits however users should always carry their own supply.
  5. The ERC will be locked more often than usual. A user form must be on file for all users. That form should identify who will be on the property and stipulate the areas used, the timing (date range, typical times of day) and approximate frequency. When deviations are required, they should be reported to the manager within 24 hours.

Part 2: Outdoor research by solitary researchers

  1. Researchers should always keep a safe distance from other people. Current guidelines are 6 ft but on a windy day, this must be increased to 10-12 ft.
  2. Researchers do not need to wear face coverings but should still be careful to cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  3. To the extent possible, all tools, equipment or other apparatuses should be assigned to a user for their exclusive use. These items should be sanitized after each use and, if they are stored at the ERC, they must be in designated place that is arranged with the manager.
  4. Any items that are shared among researchers should be sanitized before and after use and as they move between users. For ERC items, researchers must notify the manager (by text of email) when and how each item was used.

Part 3: Outdoor research with shared space or equipment

  1. Researchers working together must wear face coverings and maintain safe distances from one another. Current guidelines are 6 ft but on a windy day, this must be increased to 10-12 ft. For work that requires close contact among individuals, the group should be in an identified pod or field team.
  2. As much as possible, each individual should have their designated set of tools, equipment and apparatuses. Shared items should be sanitized before and after use and as they move between users. Items must be stored in a designated place approved by the manager. For ERC items, researchers must notify the manager (by text of email) when and how each item was used.
  3. Any common-use equipment or tools, including utility vehicles, power washers, garden tractors, and mowers must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by contacting the ERC manager (text or email). Obviously, the manager will work to accommodate any last-minute needs. During the period of COVID-19, only one individual may use them at a time. All items should be sanitized before and after use. Researchers must notify the manager (by text of email) when and how each item was used.
  4. Use of large equipment or trucks must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance by texting or emailing the ERC manager. Ridership is limited to one person or one person per seat row. When riding with others, face coverings should be worn. A supply of paper towels or sanitizing wipes should be kept in the vehicle for cleaning. Commonly touched surfaces (steering wheel, handles, doors, keys, radio, etc.) should be sanitized before and after use. In the event that researchers need to use public toilets, extra wipes or paper towels should be used to minimize contact with any surfaces or handles after hands are washed.

Part 4: Use of common indoor space

  1. Researchers who plan to use any indoor space, should discuss their needs with the manager and the director of the ERC.
  2. For researchers requiring regular use of indoor space, specific areas will be designated and marked so that social distancing can more easily be maintained. Researchers will be required to sanitize the area before and after it is occupied.
  3. Occasional users should discuss their needs with the ERC manager, who will provide guidance as to the areas that are available and designated times when they will have exclusive access to those areas. It is always possible to contact the manager when something is needed at the last minute or in an emergency situation.
  4. There are areas in the Ecology Research Building that can potentially become congested, particularly near the entrances. Use caution when nearing these doors and announce your intention to walk into or through these areas.

Part 5: Safety challenges

  1. No sharing of cups, water bottles, cutlery, or any related items is allowed. Each person should bring any items that they might need to use and take them home each day. Any food left in a common area (snacks, lunches, etc.) should be in a labeled bag and placed such that no one else will have to touch or move it to reach their items.
  2. Supplies of sunscreen, insect repellent, lotion, etc. should not be shared. Researchers are advised to keep a personal supply of these items with them or in a designated area within the facility. Researchers with serious allergies should alert their PI and the manager of the ERC. They should provide their own prophylaxis. Any of these types of items stored in common areas should be clearly labeled.
  3. It is important to remember that dehydration and sunstroke can occur in the summer. Researchers should always bring a supply of potable water. The ERC will have disposable cups available for use and all of the hydrants on the property carry potable water. Wipe the handles after use. Do not touch the nozzle with your mouth or face; rather, put the water in a water bottle or cup before drinking.
  4. Researchers working outdoors should schedule times and places for cool-down periods and breaks, while respecting any designated research areas, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing.

Part 6: Room capacity

Based on the guidelines provided by the ORI, the ERC Building has the following capacity:

  • Room 101 - Classroom: 6 persons
  • Room 102 – Manager’s office: 1 person
  • Room 103 – Rotating office: 1 person
  • Room 104 – Entryway: 1 person
  • Room 105 – Conference room: 2 persons
  • Room 106 – Storage: 1 person
  • Room 107 – Equipment area: 2 persons
  • Room 108 – Weather staging room: 1 person
  • Room 109 – Animal room: 1 person
  • Room 110 – Restroom: 1 person
  • Room 111 – Restroom: 1 person

The rooms in the ERC are interconnected and access to some rooms requires moving through other small rooms. The signage that stipulates room limits will also warn users to this possible disturbance.

Contact Us: ERC Guidelines

Jeremy Fruth
ERC Manager
513-464-3164 or 513-529-5634

Ann Rypstra
ERC Director
513-785-3238 or 513-280-2052