As part of the larger university effort to plan for the possible arrival and containment of the coronavirus COVID-19, Miami University researchers are urged to consider the impact physical absences from campus might have on their work. (H/T to Case Western Reserve University, who allowed us to adapt their information for use at Miami.)
Among the scenarios to consider are the following:
- Two-week self-isolation of PI
- Two-week self-isolation of one or more research staff
- Period of remote work for all faculty and staff, lasting 2-6 weeks
- Partial shutdown of university operations, lasting 2-6 weeks
To plan for the possibility of any of the above scenarios, please think through your answers to the following questions and take appropriate steps to mitigate the potential impact to your research.
- Do you have any studies involving participants, animals, ingredients, or experiments that would be adversely affected? If so, what plans can you put in place to: 1) allow those studies or experiments to continue or 2) mitigate the effects of pausing those studies or experiments and resume them later?
- What notice will you need to give sponsors or regulators if research is paused or delayed beyond a two-week period?
- Do you have standing purchasing orders that would need to be modified?
- Are there human resources issues that would need to be addressed?
- Would there be an impact on your collection, analysis, or storage of data?
- Do you have regulatory approvals in place that might expire during a potential interruption to normal operations? Can these approvals be renewed early?
- Do you have collaborators who will need to be notified of any interruptions to normal operations?
- Will any reports be due to sponsors during a potential interruption to normal operations?
- Would the interruption to normal operations warrant a no-cost extension for any of your sponsored projects?
- What costs would be incurred in implementing various mitigation plans?
Human subjects research
- Does your protocol require in-person participation or treatment? If so, can it be modified for remote participation?
- Does your protocol require in-person monitoring? If so, can it be modified for remote monitoring?
- Would your data or results be affected if your participants had to self-isolate or if they contracted COVID-19?
- Should your participants be screened for COVID-19 as part of your inclusion/exclusion criteria?
- Will the location of your study remain open and available to participants?
- Has the location of your study implemented any prevention procedures that will affect participation in your study or affect the ability of your study to proceed?
- Any modifications made to protocols need to be submitted to the IRB for approval prior to implementation. You should also consider whether such modifications also need to be reported in ClinicalTrials.gov.
Environmental health and safety
- Do you have lab staff with unique knowledge? If so, is it possible to cross-train other staff?
- Does your lab operate machines that use active cooling through liquid gasses, dry boxes, or inert boxes using gas blankets? What would happen if materials like liquid gasses, CO2, nitrogen, or dry ice become unavailable?
- How frequently are you saving or freezing samples of cell cultures? Do you have long-term experiments that might benefit from more frequent preservation?
- Do you have the requisite local knowledge to do controlled shutdowns of complex machines or devices, such as NMRs, without on-site help from the vendor?
- Have you shared the locations and amounts of materials that are air-, water-, or otherwise-unstable with the following for observation in case of lab closure:
- Your department chair
- Environmental Health & Safety
- Research & Innovation COVID-19 webpage
- Miami University COVID-19 announcements and resources
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Coronavirus information webpage
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidance on travel and meetings
- OMB memorandum on administrative relief for recipients and applicants of federal financial assistance directly impacted by the novel coronavirus COVID-19
Please note that as of now, Research & Innovation and all its sub-units are operating as usual. Should Miami University enact optional or mandatory remote work, we will keep our research community informed about subsequent effects on our operations.
Updated 03/12/2020 at 11:59am to replace link to NSF “Dear Colleague” letter with link to webpage with comprehensive information about NSF’s response to coronavirus.
COVID-19 images by U.S. Army and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).