COVID-19 FAQ for Researchers

This page will be updated regularly as new guidance and information is shared by state and federal entities. Please use the UO webform to submit questions you have and check back to this site frequently.

NOTE: The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) also has a helpful FAQ.

Research Facilities and Lab Safety

Section last updated July 13, 2020 at 1:10pm.

What research activities are currently permitted? How do I obtain approval to conduct research?

Please review OVPRI’s Staged Approach for Restarting Research Activity for a comprehensive overview of our current stage and permitted activities, guidance, and approval processes for pursuing research that cannot be conducted remotely. Each progressive phase/stage allows for more research activities to occur than earlier phases/stages. Note that all earlier phase/stage activities remain permitted.

All research activities must comply with OVPRI enhanced cleaning and distancing guidance. All human subjects activities must follow Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI COVID-19 Recovery Stages. All research involving travel must seek approval from Travel IMT.

I am conducting research activities approved for Phase 0. What are the expectations for conducting work and submitting recovery plans?

We expect that all essential research activities covered under Phase 0 will be conducted using the established best practices for cleaning and physical distancing (see questions below).  PIs conducting only Phase 0 activities are not required to submit a Research Recovery plan.  However, if faculty seek to expand their work beyond essential research activities defined in Phase 0, they must first submit and receive approval of a Research Recovery plan.

If Phase 0 activities involve face-to-face human subjects research (e.g., COVID-19 face-to-face human subjects research), you are also required to follow the instructions for Contract Tracing in the Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI COVID-19 Recovery Stages.

UPDATED What are the basic standards that all research groups should employ for cleaning protocols and physical distancing?

PIs and wet/dry laboratory personnel should follow all standard cleaning and operation protocol for working with infectious agents. 

In addition, all research groups should comply with the following protocol:

  1. Wearing appropriate PPE designated for your research group’s operations and removing it safely.  In addition to complying with university guidance mandating face coverings, researchers conducting face-to-face human subjects research (HSR) should wear gloves and other protective barriers as appropriate, such as face shields, eye protection, and/or lab coats.
    1. Note: Lab coats and laundering services as provided by the UO Lab Coat Program.
  2. Routinely decontaminating surfaces that were used for lab work or were frequently touched (benchtops, equipment buttons/handles/lids, drawer pulls, workstations, doorknobs, faucets, etc.). Decontaminating surfaces using cleaners that the EPA has approved for other environmental surfaces, such as an EPA-registered disinfectant (refer to list N here) or 70% ethanol solution.
  3. Prohibiting eating, drinking, and the use of shared cell phones or ear buds.
  4. Washing hands upon entering and before exiting research areas.

If your team is using 70% ethanol, please ensure you are following EHS guidelines for safe use and storage, given that it is a class IB flammable liquid. Please follow Environmental Health and Safety’s guidance for physical hazards. Please call the central EHS contact line (541-346-3192) with questions.

In addition to cleaning protocols, ensure that your staff are all following physical distancing guidelines. Current UO guidance mandates maintain 6ft physical distance at all times and requires a minimum of 200ft2 per person while conducting research.  This may require you to stagger shifts of team members.

NEW Do I need to use a lab coat?

There is no requirement to use a lab coat where it is not otherwise a standard for the type of research activity being performed. However, we strongly encourage everyone conducting on campus research activity to utilize the UO lab coat program, which provides lab coats and laundering at no cost to research labs, teaching lab staff, and departments. Learn more about their services here.

Someone in my research group believes they have been exposed to COVID-19. Where can I find guidance on how to report this concern and how to ensure safety for other members of the team who need to come to the lab to maintain critical functions?

Please see the following guidance developed by Human Resources: Supervisor Guidance for Employee Exposure Concerns.

I need to exchange paper documents related to my research with team members to be able to continue critical research activities. Is this safe? What is the best practice for exchanging materials?

We recognize that researchers may need to access or exchange boxes of paper files to continue essential activities. This can be conducted safely if you follow guidelines for social distancing and cleaning. Please see the following guidance from EH&S. 

    • Reasonable protective measures for mail-handlers are expected to be gloves and good hand/face hygiene (i.e., washing hands frequently, not touching one’s face). Ensure that team members wash hands before and after handling materials, disinfect touch points, and follow other guidance from EHS and CDC. 
    • If exchanging paper items that do not need to be urgently reviewed, team members may place them in a safe but isolated place in their home (e.g., a locked garage) for a 2-3 days before handling them
    • EH&S can provide an evaluation for any department wishing to obtain specific guidance on this. Please contact Steve Stuckmeyer or Adam Jones to initiate. 

The CDC, the World Health Organization, and the US Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail in part because mail has “been moved, traveled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature.” According to our EH&S team, there is also at least one research study that indicates the virus may live as long as 24-hours on cardboard surfaces.

I do not feel comfortable coming in to conduct research activities. What resources are available to help me?

Please consult the COVID-19 Resources for Faculty and Staff on the Human Resources webpage and work with your HR Partner as needed to address this concern.

I have suggestions for how to safely ramp up research activity on campus for later phases of re-opening. Where do I send these suggestions?  

We appreciate the advice and insight from our community of researchers. Please email your suggestions to vpri@uoregon.edu.  

Research Grants, Contracts and Competitive Awards 

Section last updated July 15, 2020 at 1:10pm.

Federal Guidance and Resources

The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) published a useful matrix on Federal Agency Guidance on COVID -19's Impact on Proposals and Awards that addresses late proposal acceptance guidance, allowability of salaries and other project activities, SAM registration, other project costs, and trainee programs. We are regularly publishing updates to specific guidance from several federal agencies listed below.  In addition, COGR released as Research Ramp Up Roadmap we encourage you to review.

My sponsored research now requires the use of PPE and face coverings for human subjects research. Are these allowable costs to charge to a grant?

If the PPE would not typically be required and not typically provided by the unit, then it is likely an allowable cost since it would be required to complete the HSR and scope of work for the award. Please consult with SPS Post-Award to confirm allowability. 

If the PPE is usually required and is already routinely provided by units for lab work under their ICC or general supplies, then the cost would not be allowable. 

What about my upcoming grant proposal? Will it still be submitted?

UO’s Sponsored Projects Services (SPS) will continue to provide comprehensive services pertaining to grants, contracts, and competitive awards. The unit is working remotely and submitting proposals without interruption. Please create an EPCS record for any anticipated grant submissions to help SPS manage workloads.

Sponsors are providing guidance regarding extended deadlines and late submissions due to COVID-19. This guidance is rapidly evolving and at present questions are being handled on a case-by-case basis. Please see the list of federal guidance above that we are working to update as often as possible. 

What if I need an extension of my proposal submission deadline?

Many federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, have extended deadlines or are permitting late applications within a certain window. 

The Council on Governmental Relations published a useful matrix on Federal Agency Guidance on COVID -19's Impact on Proposals and Awards that addresses late proposal acceptance guidance, allowability of salaries and other project activities, SAM registration, other project costs, and trainee programs.

Please contact your pre-award SPA if you believe that you have a COVID-19 related reason for needing an extension not covered under existing sponsor extensions. 

My research activities have been disrupted and I need to request an extension of my start-up funds or internal UO grant funds. How do I request an extension?

For start-up fund extensions, contact your department head to initiate the process.

For extensions on OVPRI internal awards, please contact Research Development Services at rds@uoregon.edu.

For extensions for other internal award programs, please contact the appropriate office (e.g., CAS, CSWS, etc.).

New opportunities are being released daily, and we will keep these FAQs updated with as many relevant funding opportunities as possible. Please contact Research Development Services (rds@uoregon.edu) for assistance in developing a competitive application. 

RDS staff have developed an advanced search of all COVID-19 related funding opportunities using the Pivot database. ~160 opportunities currently appear in the search. Opportunities not yet in Pivot or that do not address COVID-19 or coronavirus explicitly are listed in the table below. 

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

SPONSOR

PROGRAM

FUNDING

DEADLINE

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / Arison Arts Foundation

Artist Relief Fund

$5,000

Six deadlines through 8/20/2020

Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA)

Broad Agency Announcement

Negotiated after white paper stage

7/31/2020 and 10/31/2020 (white paper deadlines)

Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA)

Division of Research, Innovation, & Ventures (DRIVe) Easy Broad Agency Announcement

$750,000

Applications accepted through 2/3/23

Centers for Disease Control Improving Clinical and Public Health Outcomes through National Partnerships to Prevent and Control Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Disease Threats Avg. of $1M per year for 5 years 7/31/2020

Department of Defense (DOD)

Request for PPE in Response to COVID-19

NA

Information accepted on a rolling basis

Department of Energy (DOE)

Invitation for COVID-19 Scientific Questions

DOE Resources

Accepted on rolling basis

Economic Development Agency (EDA) CARES Act Recovery Assistance Funding Varies Accepted on a rolling basis

National Institute of Health (NIH) - NIA, NIAID

Investigator Initiated Extended Clinical Trial (R01 Clinical Trial Required) (PAR-20-139)

Not limited

9/13/20 and others

National Institute of Health (NIH) - NIAID

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) regarding the Availability of Emergency Competitive Revisions for Research on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (NOT-AI-20-034)

Must  reflect your needs.

Applications accepted through 3/25/2021

National Institute of Health (NIH) - NIA, NIMH, NIMHD

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Competitive and Administrative Supplements for the Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NOT-GM-20-019)

$125,000 (direct costs)

Applications accepted through 5/1/2022

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Dear Colleague Letter on the Coronavirus Disease (RAPID funding)

$200,000

Check with program officers

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Dear Colleague Letter: Request for SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposals Addressing COVID-19

$256,000

Check with program officers

National Science Foundation (NSF) - DUE

Note: Division of Undergraduate Education is seeking proposals on the impact of COVID-19 on undergraduate education

 

Accepted on a rolling basis

Pac-12 SAHWBI 2021 Grant Cycle up to $25,000 8/3/2020

 

Can NIH Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status be extended due to disruptions from COVID-19?

Yes.  Please see the NIH guidance on submitting this request here.

What steps can I take now that will help get my research projects and lab up and running and well-funded once the coronavirus crisis ends?

  1. Keep track of and document expenses caused by the shutdown of your sponsored research. This would include any materials and supplies you may have generously donated to support the COVID-19 response effort. We have records from the forms you submitted, but if your lab completed the PPE inventory donation form as a part of a larger department donation, please try to estimate and track your individual contribution. It is also important to track costs of keeping your projects viable while in a suspended state. Some of the federal funding agencies have indicated a willingness to consider administrative supplements to existing awards when our research labs reopen.
  1. Reach out and maintain communications with the program officers who oversee your awards. Decisions about administrative supplements will likely be made at the program level. They will appreciate hearing from you about the status of your current project. However, it is premature to make supplemental requests now. Wait until you know the full impact of the shutdown on your ability to complete your funded work. With respect to flexibilities on NIH grants, this blog and video from Mike Lauer is especially helpful in explaining NIH’s policies.
  1. Keep submitting new proposals. The $2 trillion stimulus bill just passed by Congress includes major new funds across multiple agencies for research that addresses COVID-19 including NIH, NSF, DOD, DOE, NIST, and NEH. Many of these agencies will expedite decisions on these awards, most notably the RAPID program administered by NSF. As for non-COVID-19 research, it may seem counterintuitive to seek funding for new projects while existing ones are idle, but OVPRI urges you to do so. The federal funding agencies continue to encourage proposals in all areas of science. Deadlines have been extended for certain programs. Research Development Services (rds@uoregon.edu) would be thrilled to help you find funding opportunities and prepare your proposals and SPS (sponsoredprojects@uoregon.edu) is excited to work with you to finalize and submit your proposals to external sponsors.

I need to recruit and hire a GE or staff position to complete critical work on a sponsored project. How do I proceed?

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, UO has instituted a hiring freeze on currently posted positions and any new positions units planned to fill. The hiring freeze applies to all positions, including temporary, graduate employees (GE), and student employees. The duration of this freeze will be assessed on a regular basis as we move forward. This change is effective immediately.

You may submit an exception request. Please find all details related to the hiring freeze, and the process for submitting an exception request on the HR website.

UPDATED Can I continue to charge time to a sponsored project if project personnel cannot travel or need to work remotely?

We continue to ask that everyone who can work remotely do so. This may require a shift in project priorities to accommodate activities that can be conducted remotely. Any aspect of a project that can be conducted while working remotely can be charged as work time to a sponsored project account. In the event that employees cannot conduct grant-related work, their time cannot be charged to a grant. Please contact vpri@uoregon.edu if you believe that you will need to reduce hours or lay off personnel prior to taking any action. We are not currently restricting access to research facilities, although faculty members and staff must practice social distancing and increased research lab cleaning and hand washing.

UPDATED I have upcoming project-related travel and/or fieldwork? Will I still be able to go?

The UO has suspended all non-essential university travel, domestic and international. Project-related travel must be postponed or canceled unless a travel waiver has been granted. For information on UO travel or to seek a travel waiver, visit the COVID-19 travel page. Many workshops and conferences have been postponed, canceled, or will be held remotely. For more information, please check with the event organizer.

What if my travel is canceled and I have non-refundable costs? Can I charge them to my award?

When an emergency or natural disaster prevents travel and non-refundable costs cannot be applied to future travel, sponsors allow these costs to be charged to sponsored awards. Cancellation and change fees can also generally be charged to sponsored awards but require confirmation from the sponsor. Refundable travel costs remain encumbered but are not charged to an award account until ready to reuse.

The federal government and the state of Oregon have not yet issued guidance for travel cancellations on sponsored awards. We will provide updates as soon as possible.

UPDATED My research has been disrupted due to COVID-19.  What will happen to my award funds?  Will the funds still be available to complete the project when I can resume my project?

Yes, the funds will still be available. If changes caused by the UO remote education model or other disruptions leave insufficient time remaining for your period of performance, please request a no-cost extension (NCE) from the sponsor to ensure there is time to complete the project. There is a high likelihood of getting an extension. Sponsor-specific guidance is listed below and more will be disseminated as soon as possible.

  • NIH: The agency will continue to publish opportunities for funded extensions and/or one-time administrative supplements to current awards targeted at institutions in particularly impacted areas. Visit the NIH website for guidance.
  • NSF: Each NSF award allows for a one-year grantee-approved (SPS) no-cost extension. Further extensions must be approved by NSF. If anticipated, this should be discussed with the NSF program officer. Visit the NSF website for guidance.

I am currently on an NIH training grant and am unable to work due to laboratory disruptions. Will I still receive my stipend payments?

Yes. The NIH issued guidance (NOT-OD-20-086) that institutions may continue to provide stipend payments to fellows and trainees who may be unable to work as a result of or related to COVID-19. Sponsored Projects Services (SPS) will be reaching out to the PIs and DGAs of all active NIH training grants (T32 and F grants) to confirm that payment of stipends should continue as usual. SPS will manage notification of grant management officials for each active training grant.

Can I still charge participant support costs to my award for conference or training events that have been canceled?

This depends on the type of participant support.  Please see the following scenarios:

  1. Participant travel allowances: These costs should be handled the same as other travel costs. When an emergency or natural disaster prevents travel and non-refundable costs cannot be applied to future travel, sponsors allow these costs to be charged to sponsored awards. Cancellation and change fees can also generally be charged to sponsored awards but require confirmation from the sponsor. Costs that can be applied to future travel should be moved to a non-sponsored fund until they are utilized for travel.
  2. Participant registration fees: Participant registration fees are usually refundable for canceled events.  If not, please contact SPS (sponsoredprojects@uoregon.edu) to have them confirm allow-ability to charge the project for any non-refundable portion or cancellation fee with the sponsor.
  3. Participant stipends: This will depend on the nature of the event.
    1. If a short-term educational or research activity, conference, workshop, etc., has started, but is now postponed or canceled, payments can be made to the participants for the completed portion. 
    2. In the case of a long-term educational experience, stipend payments are typically made along milestones or on a schedule.  Payments can be made to participants for completed portions.  For incomplete portions or future involvement, please contact SPS to have them confirm allow-ability with the sponsor.
    3. In a case where travel plans were made but canceled prior to the participants engaging in the activity or program, follow the guidance for travel cancellations.  In these instances, stipends are likely not allowable.  Please reach out to SPS for additional review and determinations.

Research Involving Human Subjects 

Section last updated July 13, 2020 at 1:10pm.

UPDATED What are the current restrictions for human subjects research (HSR)?

Research with human subjects that can be facilitated remotely and does not require participants to travel or engage in face-to-face interactions with individuals outside of their household is permitted.  Limited face-to-face human subjects research may begin in UO stage 1 after receiving IRB approval and approval of a Research Recovery Plan. In addition, limited face-to-face human subjects research specific to COVID-19 may begin in UO Stage 0. Please see the next questions for guidance on permissible activities and provisions.

NEW How can I adapt my study for remote engagement?

Strategies for continuing human subjects research without face-to-face interaction include:

  • Engage in remote data collection research activities, via modalities such as telephone, mail, secure web platforms, or secure video platforms, like Zoom. 
  • Researchers are encouraged to use secure resources supported by UO such as:
  • Remember that recruitment and consent procedures may need to be amended to account for changes in your research administration and/or new risks associated with privacy and confidentiality that are introduced with the use of remote technologies. 
  • See below to determine when an amendment may be required when adapting your research for remote administration.
  • Research Compliance Services is available to provide guidance and support to find solutions.

UPDATED What types of face-to-face human subjects research are permitted?

Activities listed under UO Phase 0, UO Phase 0.5, and UO stage 1 are permitted. Researchers need to consider both their own research teams and their participant populations when developing and implementing prevention measures that align with CDC recommendations. All individuals visiting campus for any studies my wear a face covering to comply with UO policies.

Research activities must follow best practices (see the following questions) to ensure physical distancing, screening for illness, and enhanced cleaning. 

See the comprehensive Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI Research Recovery Stages regarding:

  • additional investigator responsibilities,
  • contact tracing disclosure and tracking requirements,
  • requirements for conducting face-to-face interactions including inclusion/exclusion criteria for participants,
  • guidelines for submitting amendments and event reports.

Researchers must first secure approval from the Research Recovery IMT group and the IRB before conducting these limited face-to-face human subject research activities.

NEW I have new human subjects research that will study the effects of COVID-19 but the activities with human subjects are not described in Stage 1.  Is this allowed?

Human subject research that is directly studying the coronavirus/COVID-19 is permitted under Stage 1 and is not subject to the same restrictions from the OVPRI.  These studies must secure IRB approval and UO travel approval (if applicable) before proceeding.  When submitting to the IRB, the protocol will need to demonstrate the direct study of COVID-19 and account for any provisions from the Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI Research Recovery Stages that are appropriate and relevant for the research design.  Any activities that can be facilitated remotely, should.

UPDATED What are the HSR guidelines for participants being “symptom free?”

We recommend that researchers use the standards outlined in the UO self-check procedures.

UPDATED What provisions do I need to make to my face-to-face human subjects research under UO stage 1?

You will need to evaluate and revise research operating procedures as well as train research team members to ensure the:

UPDATED What do I need to address when recruiting and screening participants?

It is expected that you incorporate additional procedures and criteria for screening participants during recruitment and prior to their arrival on campus.  Procedures must be approved by the IRB if these are not already addressed in your IRB approved protocol. 

Procedures must include the following:

  • Inform participants of cleaning and distancing protocols to be implemented in your study.
  • Inform participants that all visitors to campus are required to wear face coverings as per UO policy. Inquire if a face covering will need to be provided to the participant upon arrival.
  • Inform participants that they will be asked to review and complete a Contact Tracing Disclosure Form before they can be consented to participate. See FAQ below for additional details about contact tracing disclosure requirements.
  • Screen participants for illness and/or travel prior to arrival and encourage participants to practice illness prevention. We recommend using the standards in the UO self-check procedures.
  • Provide prevention and mitigation information to participants prior to research visits (if possible).
  • Provide contact information so participants can notify the research team prior to arrival if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness so they can be rescheduled.

What about contact tracing and the possibly of having to disclose confidential participant information?  What do I need to do?

You need to anticipate that it may be necessary to disclose personally identifiable information about a participant in order to comply with public health contact tracing program requirements. A Contact Tracing Disclosure Form was created to include disclosure language about this institutional requirement and the inherent limitations to confidentiality that contact tracing may present.

Before an individual is consented to participate in the research, they must review and complete the Contact Tracing Disclosure Form. 

See the comprehensive Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI Research Recovery Phases for more details about contact tracing procedures.

Do I need to amend my human subjects protocol and/or seek IRB approval when preparing for COVID-19?

In general, you must adhere to your IRB approved protocol. Below are guidelines for when an amendment to an already approved IRB protocol may be required and when an event report may be required.

  • No Submission Requirements: IRB review and amendments to previously approved research are not required when:
    • Implementing or enhancing cleaning and disinfecting protocols and/or amending communication methods with research team members and human subjects to prevent the spread of illness.
    • When participant for inclusion and the modified activities required in Section III., B.  do not conflict with the IRB approved protocol materials.
  • Protocol Deviation Requiring Event Report Submission: Investigators may implement temporary changes immediately and then submit an Event Report Form as soon as possible. Temporary changes might include:
    • Adding or changing research procedures temporarily (e.g., from in-person to telephone)
    • Conducting a research visit outside of an established time frame in the approved protocol
  • Protocol Change Requiring Amendment and Approval: IRB review and approval of an amendment is required prior to making changes beyond a deviation, such as:
    • Making long-term or permanent changes to research methods that are designed to continue after COVID-19 restricted.
    • Adding a sub-study and/or revised methods to study COVID-19 in ongoing research.
    • Adopting changes for future use, such as using online surveys for the remainder of study when they were not previously approved or the research previously included in-person interviews only
    • When participants for inclusion and/or the modified activities required above in Section III., B. conflict with the IRB approved protocol materials.

In all cases, clear documentation of deviations, amendments, and other adjustments due to COVID-19 should be made in your research records. Contact Research Compliance Services (researchcompliance@uoregon.edu or 541-346-2510) if you have questions specific to your research.

What type of PPE is required for conducting face-to-face human subjects research? 

Under UO stage 1, face coverings and disposable gloves must be worn by all research personnel and face coverings must be worn by all research participants while conducting face-to-face HSR.  Eye protection and lab coats are recommended (please see here for details about the UO lab coat program). 

Can I charge the PPE and face coverings required for HSR to my grant?

If the PPE would not typically be required, and not typically provided by the unit, then it is likely an allowable cost since it would be required to complete the HSR and scope of work for the award.  Please consult with SPS Post-Award to confirm allowability.

If the PPE is usually required and is already routinely provided by units for lab work under their ICC or general supplies, then the cost would not be allowable.

Are research participants required to wear face coverings? 

Yes. Beginning on June 15, all persons on campus are required to wear a face covering. Please discuss this requirement, and the participant’s willingness and access to a face covering, during pre-screening calls.  If a participant is unwilling to comply with the requirement to wear a mask, they should be excluded from participation.

How is RCS prioritizing work given increased volume and limited reviewer availability during the COVID-19 outbreak?

RCS will continue to process all incoming submissions for human subject research review with prioritization given to the following areas:

  • New research protocols related to/studying COVID-19
  • Protocol amendments associated with changes due to COVID-19
  • Continuing reviews
  • New or amended protocols from students that are associated with degree-related priorities
  • Reviews associated with grant or sponsor requirements and award administration
  • Other rush requests, with justification

Investigators should clearly communicate their request for a prioritized review, with explanation and desired timeline when submitting to RCS. While RCS cannot guarantee a specific review timeline, this information will assist RCS in identifying and supporting these requests.  

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) continues to meet (remotely) twice per month and continues conducting reviews using expedited procedures per regulatory requirements. RCS continues to advise and facilitate determinations and IRB review for all submissions in the most timely manner possible.

When submitting priority transactions to RCS, investigators are asked to clearly communicate their request for a prioritized review that includes an explanation for the request and desired timeline. This will assist RCS in their efforts to best support these requests.

I want to get IRB approval in place for future research that includes activities not permitted under the current OVPRI Stage.  Can I get IRB approval?

Yes. Researchers may propose activities that are outside of the permitted activities under the current recovery stage.  While these will continue to be considered by the IRB, if approved, the approval will be issued with a contingency that restricted activities cannot commence until the OVPRI recovery stage permits.  The researcher will be encouraged to design the research in a way that generally aligns with the provisions in the Guidance on Engaging in Human Subject Research during OVPRI Research Recovery Stages when appropriate.

How has Research Compliance Services’ and the UO’s Institutional Review Board's day-to-day work been affected?

Research Compliance Services (RCS) and the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS), which serves as the UO’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), are currently continuing operations and are working remotely to sustain operations. However:

  • Office hours and in-person consultations are suspended; all trainings and workshops are cancelled until further notice.
  • Based on the scale of the community outbreak, there may be a delay in service to our research community.
  • Other directives by federal and public authorities may require the modification of research activities in the future.

Please continue to communicate with RCS via phone and email (researchcompliance@uoregon.edu or 541-346-2510), and our team will respond as soon as possible.

Can I still provide human subjects payments to research study participants in the event that research is interrupted and they cannot complete the study?

Participants should be compensated for their participation and, whenever possible, compensation should be made in the case of cancellation or rescheduling needs resulting from illness or disruption due to COVID-19. Compensation, including payment and incentives for ongoing research, may continue using remote procedures. Research teams may need to create revised internal systems for compensation and gift card distribution and should consult with BAO as needed. In all cases, clear documentation of altered processes due to COVID-19 should be made in the research records.

Prorated compensation, including payments, are typically communicated with during the informed consent process. Studies should adhere to that schedule and payment should be made consistent with the amount of participation and the proration schedule. However, if proration was not described and/or studies are longitudinal in nature, please contact RCS (researchcompliance@uoregon.edu) to discuss how to manage adjustments to compensation for human subjects. 

Researchers should employ sanitation efforts and appropriate PPE to reduce risk of exposure and disease spread to both research teams and study populations when working with hard materials; please consider if alternative methods can be used (e.g., electronic gift cards). See the above FAQ regarding amendments vs. deviations if you need to adjust your method of compensation or contact RCS with questions.

Can you recommend preferred disinfectants to use in a human subject research setting?

Diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions, with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. See the CDC website for a complete list of CDC recommendations on effective disinfectants and procedures.

Are there special considerations or mitigation plans for the collection of biological samples from human subjects that must be followed?

The precautions we use for handling biological samples under all circumstances are sufficient for preventing the spread of COVID-19. These include:

  • Wear gloves when obtaining and handling samples
  • Practice sanitary handling, processing, and destruction of samples
  • Wash hands before and after working with samples
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when obtaining or working with samples
  • Continue to monitor information from the UO, OHA and CDC websites for updated information about prevention and precautions

UPDATED Research Recovery Planning

Section last updated July 13, 2020 at 1:10pm.

My research recovery plan includes travel. When should I submit my Research Recovery plan and Travel Exception Request?

To allow adequate time for review, please submit your research recovery plan at least 1 week prior to your travel date.  If planned travel and research activities are not permitted under the current UO stage, please wait to submit a research recovery plan until 4-6 weeks of your intended date of travel, as allowances and guidance rapidly change.

UPDATED Lane County is now in Phase 2.  Why is UO Research not aligned?

We remain obligated to operate under the governor’s executive order for universities which do not map directly onto phases for each county. The different UO phases/stages are developed with input from various stakeholders and are aimed to balance allowable research activities with risk mitigation within the UO research environment.  Research should focus only on the activities defined for each phase/stage  in our guidance and your approved UO research recovery plan. Everyone who can work at home should continue to do so.

I am a PI with multiple projects. Do I submit a plan for each project or a plan for my entire group?

Faculty PIs are only permitted to submit one recovery plan for their entire research group. 

How many people from my group can conduct research each day?

In UO phase 0.5, each faculty PI lab may have up to 2 fully trained personnel conduct essential research functions per day. Shift working that exceeds 2 people per day is not permitted. PIs may not have more than 2 researchers in on-campus spaces even if such space allows for physical distancing. This requirement is to keep person density across campus facilities at a minimum.

During UO stage 1, faculty PI research teams may have up to 50% of their approved personnel conduct work on campus or in the field at a given time. For groups with 4 or fewer people, the number of approved personnel permitted at one time will remain the same as in UO phase 0.5. 

To ensure physical distancing and to limit the total person density on campus, research spaces must provide at least 200 square feet per person for simultaneous occupancy (i.e., for 2 people to share one space, it must be greater than 400 square feet and be of a layout to support appropriate physical distancing).

Can plans include research activity during off-work hours?

Yes, however such activities must be safe to conduct with 1 person and with awareness that campus-support services are much more limited than normal, including on-campus staffing of incident response specialists. Additionally, personal safety after-dark is an increased risk due to few people navigating campus and near-campus pathways; building access should only be by well-lit routes and with access to telephone communication (https://map.uoregon.edu/s/night-safety).  As such, PI plans must indicate that any off-hours work must be safe to conduct and a mechanism to ensure safety (e.g., the individual conducting work off-hours texts or e-mails the PI or safety coordinator before and after conducting the research activities) must be included. Users who are not fully trained may not conduct work outside of regular business hours. 

Who is notified when a recovery plan is accepted?

Upon approval, the PI and all named trained lab members listed in the Recovery Plan are notified.  The list of all PIs with approved plans can be accessed here.

How can I train personnel in my lab on new techniques while maintaining physical distancing?

We encourage research groups to be creative in identifying new strategies for training personnel on new lab techniques and to share best practices with the Research IMT.  Recommendations to date include the development of training videos and the use of tools, like GoPro cameras, to demonstrate techniques for new users and to evaluate and provide feedback as new users perform these new activities in real-time. 

What are some tools for monitoring and ensuring compliance for personnel to maintain adequate physical distancing that I can include in my recovery plan?

Some examples of tools that have received approval include:

  • Use of online calendars or Google sheets to coordinate scheduling activities
  • Daily virtual/Zoom calls
  • Signage and sign-ups
  • Texting and communication between members of the faculty research group
    • Including check in with PI before/after activities – especially during after-hours use

What are recommended laboratory cleaning procedures that I can include in my recovery plan?

Some examples of procedures that have been approved include standard guidance provided by CDC and UO EHS, such as using 70% ethanol or other disinfecting wipes, keeping disinfection spray bottles near all shared spaces, using cleaning checklists and requiring handwashing on entering and exiting lab spaces.

What are recommended mechanisms for monitoring compliance for lab cleaning that I can include in my recovery plan?

Some examples of tools that have received approval include:

  • Checklists to complete before and after starting work
  • Log sheets for use
  • Posting cleaning protocols, schedules, and highly visible paper logs for all shared spaces/instrumentation. Example log sheets and signage are available here.

How can research groups obtain necessary cleaning supplies?

Science Stores has increased their inventory of cleaning supplies and should be able to fulfill most orders quickly. Science Stores can help with item pickup and ordering as well. https://blogs.uoregon.edu/sciencestores/

What information should be included on lab signage?  Are there templates available?

Pl plans must indicate that signage regarding disinfection protocol for shared spaces, equipment, and instruments will be posted/circulated. EHS developed several examples that are available here. Depending on the layout of your lab space, you may also need to consider signage to direct flow of individuals in and out of lab (e.g., one-way traffic signs will be posted on the office doors to control traffic flow). We encourage you to post occupancy limitations for shared office/breakroom space. Additionally, please use Occupied/Unoccupied signs for microscope rooms, cell culture rooms, and small equipment rooms that have a one person maximum.

My research team works with human subjects and does not typically use PPE. How can we now obtain necessary PPE?

Science Stores has increased their inventory of basic PPE. You can access their inventory and place orders at: https://blogs.uoregon.edu/sciencestores/ 

Please keep in mind the lead time for certain items, such as surgical masks, may be several weeks and you will need to plan accordingly for those types of activities. 

I have upcoming fieldwork that involves travel. Research IMT approval on a UO Research Recovery Plan is required before submitting my request to Travel IMT. If my travel plans are not in the immediate future, how far in advance should I submit my Research Recovery Plan?

Travel guidance continues to change on a frequent basis. Please only submit plans involving fieldwork requiring travel within 3 months of the scheduled trip. 

Note: You may complete all sections of the research recovery plan, excluding fieldwork, if you need approval to immediately begin activities not involving travel. 

Can trained undergraduates be included in my approval personnel list for my research recovery plan?

In some cases, especially for early career faculty, well-trained undergraduates may routinely already carry out important research activities. In such instances, they are only permitted to conduct research functions for which they are already trained and that can be completed safely given the limited on-campus campus-support services, including on-campus staffing of incident response specialists. We stress that undergraduates are students first and researchers second. Activities performed by undergraduates must fall under the critical research activities of the PI.  Undergraduate research or thesis progress is not considered critical in UO phase 0.5.

What steps are required for engaging with Research Core Facilities for essential research activities?

Please consult with Research Core Facility directors in developing and implementing your Phase 0.5 Recovery Plan. The following statement should be included in all PI plans involving RCFs: Access to core facilities will be coordinated with RCF directors following their approved procedures and policies for Phase 0.5 activities.

Animals in Research 

Section last updated March 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.

I have animal subjects. What will happen to them in the event of a disruption to a project?

Care for animal subjects will be administered in accordance with established continuity plans and in compliance with all regulations. In the event of a complete campus closure, authorized personnel will ensure the continuation of animal care.

Please take steps to ramp down any current animal research activity beyond husbandry and veterinary care.

 

If you have general questions relevant for the entire research community, use the UO COVID-19 web form.