Research Continuity Guidance

      Have questions or concerns? See the resources to the left or contact us:

      Most current communications:  Last Updated  03/23/2020 7:45 PM

      Update on Research Enterprise at UVA, Liz Magill (3/23/20)

      Update on Guidance, Melur Ramasubramanian (3/20/20)

      Mike Lauer, NIH video message "COVID-19 Resources for Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding"

      Due to the potential exceptional impact of the declared public health emergency, we want to assure our recipient community that NIH will be doing our part to help you continue your research. See a video message from Dr. Mike Lauer discussing the flexibilities available for applicants and recipients.

      Letter on Graduate Students, Anda Webb (3/19/20)

      Letter to Research Community, Melur Ramasubramanian (3/19/20)

      Update to Research Community, Liz Magill (3/18/2020)

      Letter to University Community, Jim Ryan and Liz Magill (3/17/2020)

      Letter to Researchers Using Animals (3/16/2020)

      Research Continuity Considerations for Research in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts and Other Field-based Research

      COVID-19 and Human Research Subject Studies Guidelines (3/15/20)

      From Provost Liz Magill (03/13/2020):

      Research continuity: We have plans in place to ensure research can continue.  

      • Faculty, staff, and postdocs engaged in research are permitted to continue that research. Principal Investigators can designate some of their laboratory staff and postdocs as essential to the continuity of their research.
      • We do not know how disruptive this virus will be and encourage anyone conducting research to begin planning for what to do if that research gets disrupted.  We have created a research continuity website with information on how services might be affected and recommendations for how to plan. 
      • All PIs with an active open research grant have been reached individually.  There will be additional guidance for social and behavioral sciences, as well as for patient care-based clinical trials, shortly.

      Research Continuity Guidance for Laboratories and Research Facilities

      University officials continue to attentively monitor worldwide coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19 disease related developments. Important information and updates for the entire UVA community are provided through the UVA COVID-19 page. Find useful FAQ's for faculty and staff here.

      The intent of this communication is to provide you guidance on preparing for significant disruptions to normal research operations because of possible widespread COVID-19 communal transmission. At this time, it is difficult to predict the scale and extent of the disruptions. However, we have an opportunity to plan now. Therefore, it is important that we use this time and plan effectively. We have reviewed the status of central services and have provided an assessment of how these services may be impacted to help you develop your strategic plan for the continuity of operations of your laboratory and research facilities through a set of recommended actions.

      --See Research Continuity Considerations for Research in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts and Other Field-based Research

      Impact on Central Services:

      Animal Care:

      • The Center for Comparative Medicine has a comprehensive and well-exercised preparedness plan to ensure that their essential animal husbandry services will be effectively maintained. 
        • P.I.-managed care will continue to be the responsibility of the research team; see recommended actions below.

      Environmental Health & Safety:

      • Environmental Health & Safety is operating under normal conditionsShould the University close, EHS will maintain mission-critical support functions such as radioisotope delivery, essential regulated waste management services, and reporting to regulatory agencies. Some support and consultation services will continue to be available, even if personnel are working remotely.

      Human Subject Research:

      • For all human subject research studies that involve direct subject contact, and that provide little or no potential benefit to subjects - human subject direct contact (face to face) must be paused until further notice in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic. This directive is being made to decrease exposure for our staff, faculty and learners as well as research subjects. All other aspects of the research that do not involve direct human subject contact may be continued. Find out more here: https://research.virginia.edu/irb-hsr/COVID19

      Office of Export Controls: 

      • Researchers should be particularly diligent in assuring compliance with export controls and sanction requirements when individuals who are normally on Grounds are working remotely from foreign locations. 
      • Office of Export Controls will continue to offer a full range of services. Please submit all requests to the listserv (export-controls@virginia.edu) for the fastest response.

      Research Compliance:

      • Research compliance committee reviews may be delayed.

      Research Computing:

      • Core research computing facilities (Rivanna and Ivy compute and storage) will continue to be available barring significant issues in the protected data computational resources (Ivy).
        • Facilities are dependent on other ITS services remaining operational

      Libraries:

      • Library services that can be provided remotely, such as online journals, Virgo, reference service via chat, interlibrary loan, and instructional scanning will continue to be available, even if the Library is required to close as a public space. LEO delivery will be canceled if departmental offices are closed.

      Facilities, Materials and Supplies:

      • Core facilities and other fee-for-service resources may not be fully functional.
      • Support from Facilities Management and contract service providers may be delayed.  
      • Ordering and receipt of critical supplies may be delayed.

      Office of Sponsored Programs:

      • The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) expects to be able to submit proposals, even if personnel are working from home. Agencies may be flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances beyond our control. However, if agencies are officially closed, proposals will likely remain in queue, pending resumption of agency operations.
      • As of Tuesday, March 10th we have no federal guidance on reimbursements. NSF just released an updated FAQ that said the federal agencies are still working on allowability of costs associated with COVID-19 disruptions. For non-Federal grants, we would need to approach each sponsor on a case-by-case basis unless they issue broader guidance.
      • OSP is reviewing questions, and awaiting sponsor guidance, relating to the allowability of costs associated with any disruptions to sponsored projects stemming from the COVID-19.
      • Contact your School’s Dean/Research Dean’s office with your questions and they will coordinate with OSP.
      • As we hear from federal funding agencies on any special considerations and allowable deviations on current grants and contracts, we will be sure to disseminate the information to the UVA community.
      • Find more information here: https://sponsoredprograms.virginia.edu/guidance-related-covid-19

      Visas:

      • Processing of visas by the federal government may be delayed, resulting in delayed appointments.

      Recommended Actions for mitigating the impact on your research:

      • Principal Investigators and research leads should develop a plan in case a significant percentage of your workforce is out sick or unable to come to work. For example, consider altering work schedules to meet the demands of the laboratory while limiting close contact with others.
      • Students, post-docs, staff and faculty involved in research projects should consider how to gain remote access to information such as literature, existing databases and research-related files and work remotely. 
      • Consider using remote work technologies such as VPN (for work at home) and video and teleconferencing as an alternative for in-person meetings (prepare multiple options for communication).  
      • Depending upon the nature of your research, you might consider prioritizing work that can only be carried out in your research facility, and collect all data and analyze remotely later.
      • Consider rescheduling experiments or activities that cannot be interrupted due to staff absences, limitations of supplies, external support services, and other factors outside of your direct control.
      • If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and it is feasible to freeze or otherwise capture samples at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often and analyze them later.
      • Identify procedures and processes that require ongoing personnel attention (e.g., cell culture, animal studies) and develop plans to protect against possible disruption.
      • If your research plans require modifications to an IRB, ACUC or IBC approved protocol, please contact the appropriate committee office to get the review process started for the required modifications.
      • If a communication plan for your research group is not already in place, ensure that you have accurate and updated contact information for all members so everyone receives timely information.
      • Research Groups should review the building systems and equipment monitoring alerts on file with Systems Control at Facilities Management for their research space, making sure that all critical spaces and monitored equipment have correct protocols listed, verifying that appropriate staff contacts are listed for alert if systems should go into alarm, and verifying that names and contact information are correct. Plan for monitoring redundancy and continuity as needed.
      • Consider cross-training research staff or colleagues who conduct similar activities to fill-in for those who may be out sick or unable to come to work.
        • Ensure that fill-in personnel have the appropriate training and tools needed to safely execute assigned duties.
        • Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions for fill-in personnel.
      • Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies that may be impacted by global shipping delays.

      Safety considerations:

      • Identify personnel able to safely perform essential activities and ensure that individuals performing critical tasks have been adequately trained, understand emergency procedures, and that all personnel know whom to contact with technical or safety questions.
      • Avoid performing high-risk procedures alone due to lack of personnel.
        • When working alone is necessary, exercise maximum caution.
        • Notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone for an extended period of time.
      • Ensure that hazardous materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals) are secured.

      Preventive measures:

      • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at minimum 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer may be temporarily unavailable due to supply chain demands.
      • Remind team members to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Decontamination of your workspace may be appropriate if an active member of your team is diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms, follow guidance for contacting medical professional.
      • Routine environmental cleaning is recommended at this time. Laboratories and other groups may also pursue disinfection of commonly touched areas (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, telephones) with effective disinfectants.

      Contacts for questions or concerns: