The Research Office

Wilson Hall
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-2762
(248) 370-4111
research@oakland.edu

COVID-19 Research Continuity Guidance

COVID-19 Research Continuity Guidance

The following is guidance from the Research Office regarding the conduct of research during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information will be updated as conditions evolve.

General Guidance

Plans are in place to ensure that research can continue for as long as possible. Specifically,

  • Faculty, staff, and postdocs engaged in research are permitted to continue that research until or unless there is official notice otherwise. Principal Investigators should designate which of their laboratory staff are essential to the continuity of the research.
  • Graduate students whose research takes place in University labs will continue to have access to those facilities in consultation with their faculty advisors. Graduate students with appointments as Research Assistants should contact their faculty advisors to discuss any changes to the activities of the research group.
    • Graduate students supported by federal grant awards will be paid as usual, even if they are not designated as essential personnel by the PI.
  • As a precaution, we encourage all researchers to begin planning for a complete disruption of research. In case we move toward those kinds of decisions, Department Chairs should work with their faculty and report to their dean and the Research Office to indicate specific disruptions of service, access, or activity that would be catastrophic (scientifically or financially).
  • All PIs with an active grant are being contacted individually to discuss any challenges or concerns.
  • Also note that the Research Office is actively reaching out to sponsors to ensure continuity of existing projects and to obtain the latest information regarding proposal deadlines and review processes. Updates will be made on this website.
Research Continuity Guidance for Laboratories

University officials continue to monitor worldwide disease-related developments. Important information and updates for the OU community are provided here: https://www.oakland.edu/coronavirus/. The Research Office has assessed the status of our research infrastructure and can address the particular concerns that researchers will face as the disease spreads. The continuity of your lab’s operation and research facilities can be preserved for as long as possible through a set of recommended actions.

Animal Care:
Animal care services will be effectively maintained. Any PI-managed care will continue to be the responsibility of the research team.  Please see the recommended actions below.

Environmental Health & Safety:
Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is operating under normal conditions. Should the University close, EH&S 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. Oakland University Police (248) 370-3331 can contact EH&S staff 24/7 if emergency assistance is required for any hazardous material incident.

Human Subjects Research:
All face-to-face contact on research studies is temporarily suspended, unless it absolutely must be undertaken now. If the research must be undertaken now, then attempt to replace in-person recruitment and data collection with remote procedures. Reference update policies here:  https://espace.oakland.edu/course/view.php?id=1342 and please bear in mind that this information is changing frequently. So, check for updates. If there are questions about any changes to participant risk, please contact the IRB staff, referenced below.

The IRB has waived the modification requirement for adding the following language to all screening/eligibility questionnaires.

  • Have you traveled outside of the US within the last 14 days? If yes, where?
  • Have you or members of your household been sick with flu-like symptoms, diagnosed with COVID-19 (disease caused by the Coronavirus) or asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to the Coronavirus?
  • Are you currently experiencing any flu-like symptoms?

If these questions are adopted by investigators, they should be documented in the screening or eligibility script in the same manner to every potential participant. For more information, please see https://espace.oakland.edu/course/view.php?id=1342

To access the e-space document referenced above, you need to login with your OU NetID information and click the "Enroll Me" button.

Research Compliance:
Research compliance committee reviews will proceed, but may take longer than usual.

Research Computing:
We expect that research computing services will remain largely unchanged. Bear in mind, however, that the expectations on UTS are extraordinary as all classes switch to online delivery with very short notice. So, help may take longer than usual, even though we anticipate no risk to your data.

Office of Sponsored Programs:
The Office of Sponsored Programs is able to submit proposals even though most personnel are working remotely. Agencies may be flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances, but typically that leniency only applies to actual school closures. Because the university is fully operational, it is unlikely that deadlines will be waived. If the federal agencies themselves close, deadlines typically still apply; proposals simply wait in a queue for retrieval by the affected agency staff upon resumption of operations. Please do not assume that deadlines will be waived.

Federal agencies are currently drafting a procedure outlining allowability of costs associated with COVID-19 disruptions. We will update the OU Research page as more information becomes available. For non-federal sponsors, each sponsor must be addressed individually unless they offer broader guidance. Please reach out to our post-award office for assistance with this.

As we hear from funding agencies on any special considerations and any allowable deviations from typical grants and contracts procedures, we will disseminate this information to the OU research community and directly to the affected PIs.

Recommended Actions for Mitigating the Impact on your Research

  • Principal Investigators should develop a plan in case a significant percentage of your workforce becomes ill or is unable to come to work. Consider altering work schedules to meet the demands of the laboratory while also limiting close contact with other people
  • Students, post-docs, staff, and faculty should gain remote access to information (e.g. literature, existing databases, and research-related files) and work remotely whenever possible.
  • Use remote work technologies such as VPN (where absolutely necessary) and video and teleconferencing as an alternative to in-person meetings. Prepare multiple options for communication.
  • If possible, pause laboratory-based experiments and begin data analysis, which could happen remotely.
  • Re-schedule experiments or activities that cannot be interrupted. Staff absences, supply limitations, absence of external support services, and other factors outside your control could interrupt those activities, thus resulting in lost time and resources – and enhanced risk to investigators for no results at all.
  • 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 so more often now – for analysis later, while working remotely.
  • Identify procedures and processes that require ongoing, regular personnel attention (e.g. cell cultures, animal studies) and develop plans to both protect against possible disruption while bringing as few people to campus as possible.
  • Research meetings involving students and other staff are encouraged provide a remote access option (e.g., Google Meet). Students (undergraduate or graduate) should not be required to return to Grounds to participate in research labs, meetings, or to perform research duties unless they are essential personnel.
  • If your research continuity plans require modification to an existing IRB, IACUC, or IBC protocol, please contact the appropriate committee office to begin the review process for the required modifications.
  • Ensure that you have accurate contact information for all members of your research team so that everyone can receive timely and accurate information.
  • Ensure that all critical spaces and monitored equipment have appropriate protocols and staff contacts available to Facilities if systems should go into alarm.
  • Consider cross-training research staff to fill in for personnel who are out sick or unable to come to work.
  • Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies that may be affected by global shipping delays.

Contacts for Questions or Concerns:
Sponsored Programs: Andrea Buford – abuford@oakland.edu
Animal Care: Janet Schofding – schofdin@oakland.edu
Human Subjects: Judette Haddad – haddad@oakland.edu
Compliance: Rebecca Sandborg – sandborg@oakland.edu
Laboratory Safety and Compliance - luongo@oakland.edu

Research Continuity for Research in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education

Perhaps more so than in the bench sciences, each project in the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, education, arts, and field-based research has a unique scope and shape. Research norms and practices vary significantly; a literary scholar faces different challenges from a person working with children in schools, and a studio artist will confront different obstacles yet. So, please contact The Research Office for guidance unique to your particular situation.

IRB and Human Subjects Research:
Beginning March 12th , the Chief Research Officer has suspended all human subject research studies that involve direct subject contact, unless the research absolutely must be undertaken now. Human subject direct contact must be paused until further notice in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aspects of the research that do not involve direct human subject contact may continue. If there are questions about any changes to participant risk, please contact the IRB staff, referenced below.

The IRB has waived the modification requirement for adding the following language to all screening/eligibility questionnaires.

  • Have you traveled outside of the US within the last 14 days? If yes, where?
  • Have you or members of your household been sick with flu-like symptoms, diagnosed with COVID-19 (disease caused by the Coronavirus) or asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to the Coronavirus?
  • Are you currently experiencing any flu-like symptoms?

If these questions are adopted by investigators, they should be documented in the screening or eligibility script in the same manner to every potential participant. For more information, please see https://espace.oakland.edu/course/view.php?id=1342.

To access the e-space document referenced above, you need to login with your OU NetID information and click the "Enroll Me" button.


Office of Sponsored Programs:
The Office of Sponsored Programs expects to be able to submit proposals even if personnel are working from home. Agencies may be flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances, but typically that leniency only applies to actual school closures. Because the university is fully operational, it is unlikely that deadlines will be waived. If the federal agencies themselves close, deadlines typically still apply; proposals simply wait in a queue for retrieval by the affected agency staff upon resumption of operations. Please do not assume that deadlines will be extended.

Federal agencies are currently drafting a procedure outlining allowability of costs associated with COVID-19 disruptions. We will update the OU Research page as more information becomes available. For non-federal sponsors, each sponsor must be addressed individually unless they offer broader guidance. Please reach out to our post-award office for assistance with this.

As we hear from funding agencies on any special considerations and any allowable deviations from typical grants and contracts procedures, we will disseminate this information to the OU research community and directly to the affected PIs.

Research-Related Travel:
Travel-related reimbursements and planned research-related travel (e.g., conference attendance, data collection, archival research, in-person meetings with research partners) are particularly important for field-based researchers and their projects. If you must cancel travel, first seek waivers and refunds directly from the airlines and hotels; your Assistant Dean may be able to help you with this process. If airlines and hotels are not issuing waivers or refunds, employees can submit expense reimbursement requests through normal channels after the date of travel.  Researchers who currently find themselves outside the country and presently unable to return should contact their department and the Research Office. Some sponsors have released guidance on reimbursement related to COVID-19 canceled travel; this information will be posted on The Research Office website.

Deviations on sponsored projects are an important issue right now. As we hear from federal funding agencies on special considerations and allowable deviations on current grants and contracts, including information on reimbursements, we will disseminate the information to the OU research community through this website. For non-Federal grants, we will need to approach each sponsor individually, unless they issue broader guidance. Please let us know if you would like us to do that, using the contact information below.

Faculty, staff, and students planning future grant-funded travel should consider delaying the purchase of tickets, given various travel restrictions. When travel is essential, we encourage the use of University-based options for making those travel arrangements rather than putting those charges on personal cards, to avoid the need to seek reimbursement.

Other Research Related Supports:

  • Ordering and receipt of research and field related supplies and materials may be delayed.
  • Processing of visas by the federal government may be delayed, resulting in delayed appointments and global travel for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.
  • Core research computing facilities will continue to be available.
  • Core facilities and other fee-for-service resources may not be fully functional.
  • Library services that can be provided remotely, such as online journals, reference service via chat, interlibrary loan, and instructional scanning will continue to be available, even though the Library is required to close as a public space.
  • Support from Facilities Management and contract service providers may be delayed.

Recommended Actions and Considerations for Mitigating the Impact on Your Research Team

  • Faculty, staff, and postdocs engaged in research are permitted to continue that research, excluding direct interaction with human subjects as noted above.
  • Principal Investigators can designate some of their research team members and postdocs as essential to the continuity of their research.
  • Principal Investigators should develop a plan in case a significant percentage of your project staff is out sick or unable to come to work. Work assignments may need to be shifted for some staff and other project investigators to accommodate work from home options.
  • Project Investigators and paid staff (e.g., postdocs, research assistants) are expected to continue to fulfill their job responsibilities; however, accommodations in work location and duties should be made when possible.
  • We anticipate that in most cases, graduate students whose research takes place in the University’s labs will continue to have access to those facilities in consultation with their faculty advisors. Graduate students with appointments as research assistants should be in touch with their faculty advisors to learn about any changes to the activities of their research group.
  • Offsite work options and reassignment of project duties should be planned to allow the research to advance.
  • Research meetings involving students and other staff are encouraged provide a remote access option (e.g., Google Meet). Students (undergraduate or graduate) should not be required to return to Grounds to participate in research labs, meetings, or to perform research duties unless they are essential personnel.
  • Faculty are also encouraged to alter work schedules for staff, faculty, and postdocs to meet the demands of the projects while limiting close contact with others.
  • If a communication plan for your research team is not already in place, ensure that you have accurate and updated contact information for all team members so everyone receives timely information regarding changes to data collection procedures and project timelines.
  • Consider cross-training research staff or other investigators who conduct similar activities to fill-in for those who may be out sick or unable to work. Ensure that these personnel have the appropriate training and supervision to execute the assigned duties in light of compliance requirements (e.g., IRB). Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions for fill-in personnel.

Recommended Actions and Considerations for Mitigating the Impact on Your Field-based and Applied Research Projects

  • For faculty whose research is impacted by travel constraints, the inaccessibility of research subjects or sites, and the widespread cancellation of professional activities, please be in touch with The Research Office or your Research Development Officer to discuss reconfiguring your research agenda for the coming months.
  • Faculty affected by the disruptions brought on by COVID-9 should identify and prioritize work that can be done in lieu of planned but necessarily cancelled research plans. Please also begin to think through with your Chairs any long-term effects that such consequences may have on your academic and professional goals.
  • To the extent possible, ongoing and planned research projects should continue to advance, acknowledging there may be considerable restrictions and access issues for field-based work, and the restrictions on direct interactions with human subjects noted above.
  • Investigators should not assume that data collection will proceed as planned, and thus should develop contingency plans for cancellations, travel restrictions, and other access issues. Adjustments to the timeline and sequencing of activities will likely be needed for field-based projects in active stages of data collection.
  • For projects that need to adjust data collection activities and/or project completion or intervention activities, carefully document such changes to the protocol and the reasons for those changes (e.g., limited access to participants due to location closure, travel restrictions, staff shortage). Some of those changes may require IRB or sponsor approval, and/or updates to pre-registration in the case of research trials. This may be particularly salient for field studies that involve experimental or longitudinal study designs, and those which are sponsored. If your research plans require modifications to an IRB or data security plans protocol, please contact the appropriate committee office to get the review process started for the required modifications. Some modifications may not require approval. For details see https://espace.oakland.edu/course/view.php?id=1342 .
  • For sponsored projects, PIs should communicate with their Project Officer for guidance and approval for adjustments to project timelines, scope of work, or site changes. Sponsor pre-approval will likely be required for significant changes to the project. Your Research Development Officer can assist with this process, if you like.
  • For non-sponsored research and/or studies with more flexible timelines, investigators should consider postponing field-based projects and in person data collection efforts.
  • Depending upon the nature of your research, you might consider prioritizing work that can be carried out remotely (e.g., writing, literature review, analysis of de-identified data).
  • 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). Students, postdocs, staff and faculty involved in research projects should be encouraged to gain remote access to information such as journals, existing databases, and research-related files so that they can work remotely as needed.
  • For projects that previously included plans to go into the field this spring or summer, researchers will need to develop a revised timeline for data collection or alter the data collection plan to another format (e.g., on-line, by phone).
  • Maintain regular communication with study partners, subcontractors, and study sites to stay abreast of their own health risk status and local policies and procedures. It is important to recognize that other agencies and organizations (e.g., schools, community centers, agencies, organizations) may also have their own restrictions on staff time, travel, and access to data collection sites or otherwise restrict your access to participants.
  • Investigators should carefully review their data security plans with all students and staff on the project to ensure compliance with those plans in the event some individuals on the project need to work remotely. Data security and data-related compliance agreements (e.g., IRB) should be maintained during this and all other times. UTS is available to provide consultation on remote storage and data access, within the constraints of approved data use and security procedures.
  • Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies and materials that may be affected by global shipping delays.

Contacts for Questions or Concerns:

Guidelines for Human Subjects Research

Temporary Stoppage of In-Person Research Procedures
Considering the current public health concern with the fast spread of the Coronavirus, and the recent actions taken by the state of Michigan, the Oakland University is mandating a temporary stoppage of all in-person human subjects research procedures, effective immediately.

The Research Office and the OU IRB will consider exceptions to the temporary stoppage in any of the following circumstances:

  • There are direct benefits to participants in your research that are of therapeutic value, and there is no alternative way to deliver those benefits.
  • In-person procedures are required to immediately eliminate hazards to participants or others.
  • It would increase the long-term risk of participation to participants to stop in-person research procedures.

To be considered for one of these exceptions (or another based on similar principles), please contact Dr. David Stone, Chief Research Officer at dstone@oakland.edu, Dr. Judette Haddad, IRB Manager at haddad@oakland.edu.

If you are granted an exception, please see the IRB recommendations below.

Actions to be Considered by Researchers
Based on the stoppage, researchers conducting human subject research need to consider the following:

  • Call or email participants to cancel or postpone any scheduled in-person data collections that do not meet the stoppage exceptions listed above.
  • Replace all in-person recruitment and data collection methods with remote procedures.
    • Recruitment can be done via email invitations, phone calls, online invitations
    • Data may be collected through phone or on-screen interviews, web conferencing, or online survey/questionnaire.
  • For online data storage and sharing, please follow the UTS guidelines at https://www.oakland.edu/uts/common-good-core-resources/options/

If the changes need to be done immediately, researchers are encouraged to make the changes and then report the changes to the IRB staff by submitting an amendment to the approved research project within 10 business days.

IRB Recommendations for Research with Exceptions from the Stoppage:
For the purposes of in-person data collection and follow-up visits that have been granted exceptions from the stoppage, the IRB asks researchers to call participants before the scheduled in person visit and ask the questions listed below. 

  • Have you traveled outside of the US within the last 14 days? If yes, where?
  • Have you or members of your household been sick with flu-like symptoms, diagnosed with COVID-19 (disease caused by the Coronavirus) or asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to the Coronavirus?
  • Are you currently experiencing any flu-like symptoms?

Researchers can add the questions above without the need to submit an amendment/modification to the IRB.

Researchers must document these questions and the follow-up process that will occur (according to best-available public health resources) should a participant give an affirmative answer. Such actions could include a participant not being eligible for the study, re-contact/re-scheduling for contact at a later date.

The above changes will be in place until further notice and may expand as more information is known.

For questions regarding IRB projects, please contact the IRB staff, Judette Haddad, PhD haddad@oakland.edu or Kate Wydeven kwydeven@oakland.edu.

For additional information regarding the Oakland University response and guidance regarding Coronavirus and COVID-19 disease, please visit https://oakland.edu/coronavirus/.

Funding Agency Information

Notifications:


COVID-19-Related Funding Opportunities:


List of Funding Agency Websites for COVID-19 Information:

Council on Governmental Relations (Compendium of institutional and agency responses to COVID-19)

USDA

Department of Energy

Department of Justice

National Institutes of Health

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Defense

National Science Foundation

Office of Management and Budget

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Humanities

 

Virtual Research Town Halls

Message from Dave Stone, Chief Research Officer

Dear Research Colleagues,

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have raised many questions among researchers at the university. Throughout this crisis, I have been actively participating in the ongoing emergency management efforts on campus. I have also been in regular communication with chief research officers around the country about how they are handling matters on their own campuses. Andrea and I have also been in touch with federal agency staff and leadership over the last two weeks so that we understand how they are trying to manage their research portfolios and address these challenges within existing, and in some cases changing, policy frameworks.

Beginning on April 7, I will host a regular series of virtual town halls. These sessions, which will be run through Google Meet, will be an opportunity for me to tell you what I know and to answer your questions, to the extent I can. If you have questions or concerns, please join us. While we will take questions via chat during the meeting, it will be helpful if you pose questions on the registration form so we can do our best to provide you with accurate information.

If you want to participate and haven't already received an invitation, please sign up below, and you will be sent connection details for the Google Meet.

In the meantime, stay safe.

dave

Dates and Times of Virtual Research Town Halls

Notes from Town Halls

June 12, 2020

GENERAL UPDATES

  • The university anticipates that the Governor will issue additional executive orders that could affect reopening in the next few days, so conditions may change soon. It’s possible some or all of the current rules of operation could change.
  • We’ve now had research open for over a week, and it’s going really well.
  • Doors were being staffed by temps. Starting Monday, they’ll be staffed by grad students.
  • Four buildings are currently open (EC, MSC, Hannah, DH), and we’re exploring expanding to other buildings. Staffing them is an issue.
  • Each building open for research is required to have supervisors on site. Currently using lab managers and lab staff as supervisors, and this is going well.
  • Cleaning is working fine.
  • To come in to conduct research, remember that your safety and security plan must be filed and approved, and you must submit the health screening form every day before coming in.
  • PPE continues to come in. Cora and Pat put in large orders.  They’re delayed, but coming.
  • We expect to launch official guidance and templates for beginning field research shortly.

NIH / PRELIMINARY DATA

  • NIH announced Tuesday that for the application rounds beginning May 25 and the fall review cycle, they’re going to be allowing preliminary data as a post-submission document (at least for calls that allow preliminary data), up to 30 days prior to the scheduled study section meeting. This is in recognition of the fact that most labs have been shut down for at least a couple of months, making it harder to collect preliminary data. They’re allowing a one-page update for single component applications, or one page for each component of a multi-component application. Post-submission preliminary data is not allowed for emergency or urgent revisions, since they don’t go to study sections.

SIGNAGE FOR RESEARCH AREAS

  • Cora has assembled a list of posters and signage which might be helpful for the various research departments. Signs can be requisitioned from Cora's EHS page and some downloaded from CDC. 
    • Signs and Social Distancing - Printables are available on EHS web-site: oakland.edu/ehs
    • You can requisition hand washing and social distancing posters via the PPE Requisition process (top right on the EHS webpage).
    • Cora recommends the following CDC posters:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/cloth-face-covering-building-entrance.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/stop-the-spread-of-germs-11x17-en.pdf

  • Please note that research personnel are not permitted to assemble in a conference room or break rooms. These rules are specific to the guidelines issued by the Research Office and do not apply at this time to the rest of the university. (One of the signs is for proper procedures in Break Room areas.) 
  • In the EHS link there is also the ability to order masks and face shields. These items are for conducting university business only. There should be a more detailed announcement on ordering masks and face shields very soon.

GRANT ADMINISTRATION

  • Our office could have as many as 60 no-cost extensions. Reach out to Andrea Buford to determine how, when, and why you might pursue a COVID-related NCE. 
  • Work-share meets Sponsored Programs: Our expected summer ramp-up in proposals is underway.  Administrative staff around the university are on 32 hours/week.  Since our work does not happen in a vacuum, it is important to give us LOTS of warning that a proposal is coming in.
  • Andrea Buford is now signing all documents that Bonnie Kwit used to sign, since Bonnie retired.

HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH

  • When in-person human subjects research is allowed to resume is driven by state rules. Only lab research is authorized at this time.  We are monitoring what other Michigan universities and universities nationally are doing.  We are hopeful that by fall there will be mechanisms to do some in-person research, but whether that is possible will be numbers driven. 
  • If you can redesign your study to gather data virtually, we encourage you to do that.
  • IRB is currently accepting new applications for human subjects research, if the research will be done virtually.
  • Contact Judette Haddad with questions.

PI ACADEMY

  • At this point, we don’t know if inviting PI Academy mentors to OU in the fall is a possibility. Leanne DeVreugd is working on the best way to run PI Academy with limited travel and limited travel budgets.  Contact her with questions.

STUDENT RESEARCH

  • Is it possible that undergraduates will be allowed back in labs in the fall?
    • They are not allowed now. In the fall, if the state moves to phase 5, it is possible.  But if infection numbers go back up, we could move back to phase 3.

WORKING HOURS

  • Is it possible to have weekend access to my building/office to do technical work (computer setup, etc.)?
    • When the university is open is not under the control of the Research Office. In general, if you’re a faculty member and can do work remotely, expect to do it remotely.  If you have to come to the office to pick something up or use a computer program that only runs at work, you can do that.
  • Is it possible to work 8-5 without a break 12-1 assuming that no two people are working in one room for more than four hours? There is no cleaning activity in the labs. The requirement of breaking for 1 hour is making it more difficult.
    • Yes, this is okay.

CLEANING AND PPE

  • To get cleaning supplies for a lab, work with the supervisor/lab manager in your building.
  • Facilities will be offering a Spic and Span product which is on the EPA list.
  • Everyone in building common areas is supposed to be wearing masks, including the cleaning staff. If you see staff who aren’t, you can let Pat Engle know date, time (or name) and building.

COMPUTERS / SOFTWARE

  • Is there an option in the works for graduate students (or faculty) to use "virtual computers" to remote access software that's available on campus computers? We’ve worked with UTS to try the remote desktop connection for a grad student and I haven't had success.  There has to be an "individual" computer available for them to use.  It's easy for faculty to do with our office computers, but it seems that grad students need non-lab computers such as an office computer for remote access.  I'll try following up with UTS again, since this was a month or two ago.
    • Yes, please work with UTS.
  • What is the university doing to provide a more stable computer environment for all the large online classes being planned for the fall?

HIRING

  • During the hiring freeze, researchers are allowed to hire staff if paid for by a grant.

COLLABORATORS ON CAMPUS

  • What are the mechanisms to allow industry collaborators come to campus to see research results?
    • Write the plan up in your safety and security proposal. Make sure you can maintain social distancing.  The collaborators will need to fill out health screening forms before coming to campus.  We are working on a way for non-OU people to fill out this form electronically.  In the meantime, there is a PDF form.  Contact Lori Simoes for information.
    • If it’s possible to meet with collaborators off campus, that would be easier.
    • No-cost extensions on industry funded projects may also be possible. Contact Andrea Buford.

June 2, 2020

RETURNING TO RESEARCH

  • See e-news email from Sue Willner; sign up for distribution with Sue (willner@oakland.edu)

OU Reopening Guidance:

Once you have completed your safety and security plan, you must submit it for review and approval by attaching it to the following online form: https://eforms.oakland.edu/PerfectFormsSSO/player.htm?f=wQgAgAgE. Plans will be reviewed first by the appropriate Research Development Officer on behalf of the Research Office.

Before anyone can return to campus for research work, they must first complete the required Return To Work online training. When you have completed this training, you must also fill in the Google document referenced at the end of the training materials. Once approved to return to campus, each person planning to come to campus on any given day must first complete a confidential online screening form.

BASIC LOGISTICS

Researchers can only be in buildings / labs from 8 AM – 5 PM. Safety supervisors will be present during these hours to assist as needed and monitor safe practices.

LAB USE

  • Researchers who have approved safety and security plans will be able to reopen their labs, for shift work between 8 AM - noon, and 1 PM – 5 PM. Cleaning will occur between noon and 1 PM, and at 5 PM.
    • Shift work: Work must occur in shifts, from 8 AM – noon, and 1 PM – 5 PM. One person can work both shifts, however the two same people cannot work back-to-back shifts in the same place. Shift staff must change to adhere to safety guidelines.
  • Labs and buildings will not be open after 5 PM.

OFFICE USE

  • Offices should NOT be used for any reason other than to get supplies or access software or do work only accessible from campus. If work can be completed remotely and/or using VPN access, please continue to work in this manner (and not in your office).

ENTRANCES

  • There will be one entrance to MSC, Dodge, and Hannah. Researchers will get an email explaining where to enter.
  • Entrances will be staffed and personnel must clear the entry check point. Researchers should be on the approved personnel list and have submitted their daily symptom check form. Researchers need to show the approval email sent to them after completing the form.
    • People who need to be on the approved personnel list should be included in the researchers Safety and Security Plan.
  • Researchers can exit from any door.

PPE

  • OU has a limited number of masks to provide. It is recommended that researchers use a mask they already have, and/or indicate if they need masks provided in their safety and security plan.
  • Other PPE and cleaning supplies will be provided, however we expect that most labs already have the necessary cleaning supplies to adhere to guidelines.
  • Masks are required – see CDC guidelines available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
  • Gloves are not required.

CLEANING

  • Researchers are responsible for cleaning INSIDE their own lab space.
  • Garbage from inside the lab should be tied up and placed outside the lab. External cleaning staff will manage garbage from there.
  • External cleaning staff will manage cleaning outside of labs and in public, shared spaced. These staff will NOT be cleaning inside of labs.

UNDERGRADUATES

  • No undergraduates allowed on campus at the current time.

VISITORS / COLLABORATORS

  • Visitors are not allowed. Collaborators are allowed, but must be approved (on Safety & Security Plan) and must complete the health screening form before coming to campus each day.

CONCERNS

  • Any concerns about safety, adherence to guidelines, etc. should be reported using the Behavioral Concerns form, which will be posted on OU’s COVID-19 page.
  • Direct link: https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?OaklandUniv&layout_id=3
  • If someone is exhibiting a threatening or aggressive behavior, the researcher should call the OUPD.

LAB GROUP MEETINGS

  • Lab group meetings should be conducted remotely, or outdoors with appropriate social distancing and safety practices.

RESEARCH IN OTHER LOCATIONS (outside a lab)

  • Contact Dave Stone (dstone@oakland.edu)

May 20, 2020

REOPENING RESEARCH LABS

Reopening research labs will be part of a gradual culture change on campus.  We are working hard to establish guidelines to allow researchers on campus as soon as possible.  More guidance on reopening labs and guidelines is forthcoming.

Guidelines are coming from the Governor’s executive orders and university policies.  We must adhere to these.  The executive order guidelines supersede the research practices that were in place when only the essential workers list existed for on campus work.  We are working to provide clarity and guidelines for PIs to meet all requirements.

Most notable from the executive orders is that undergraduates are not allowed into labs or to conduct research activities on campus at this time.  OU’s general counsel has confirmed this.

Visitors are also not allowed.  If you are collaborating with a person from another place who does need to visit campus in order for you to conduct your research, please contact the Research Office to provide details on your situation and options will be considered.  Per the general counsel, a volunteer is considered as a visitor – to access a lab, they would have to be paid and essential to the research to be let in to do it.

All PIs will need to submit a safety and security plan to reopen their lab and demonstrate how they will meet the guidelines.  A template will be provided soon to help answer questions.  We are currently waiting for direction on requirements at the university level, such as policies and procedures on checkpoints, monitoring going in and out of buildings, lab and building cleaning, daily symptom checks, and training on all of these things.  Plans will be reviewed by the Research Office staff, Chairs, Deans, and a higher level university committee or some larger group, and must be approved before a researcher can work in their lab.

There will be mandated training to meet all guidelines and protocols.  If a PI’s proposal is approved, the lab will reopen when training is completed.

We anticipate that work may occur in shifts (example 8 AM – noon, cleaning for 1 hour, 1 PM – 5 PM, cleaning for 1 hour), with buildings closed after these hours and on weekends.  It is likely that buildings will have people monitoring entrances and exits, researchers will need to track their symptoms, and guidelines will be in place for social distancing, cleaning, use of PPE, and other related research requirements.

Additionally, air conditioning systems are being examined for safe circulation of air.  If you have concerns about this system for your own lab, please include that in your proposal to reopen your lab so it can be investigated.

People who were going in before as essential personnel to care for animals, equipment or cell lines can keep going in for now, but they are going in under the basic operations definition, not research.  People can also run in to get stuff, but not to work.

TEACHING AND LAB WORK

For questions related to teaching labs, contact Anne Hitt (hitt@oakland.edu).

FACULTY HIRING

Question:  What is the most recent situation with ongoing faculty hiring? Any danger of rescinded offers?

Answer:  Offers have been going on and negotiations are ongoing. To my knowledge, no danger of offers being rescinded.

Question:  Are we expecting untenured faculty layoffs at OU? It has begun happening at some schools.

Answer:  Questions such as this should be addressed to the Provost’s Office.

IN PERSON HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH

Question:  Guidance for research with sensitive communities (e.g. Native American communities) - Should we consider this type of research out until a vaccine is found?

Answer:  Currently no face-to-face research is being conducted.  Contact Judette Haddad (haddad@oakland.edu) to discuss your research needs as related to in person human subjects research.  It is difficult to comment about practices for specific communities, however we expect more guidance will come out as we anticipate entering a phase of social distancing while conducting in person human subjects research.

ONGOING INITIATIVE (COMPUTING)

Question:  Has there been any progress with the computing facility and advisory board?

Answer:  Currently Dave Stone and Lori Tirpak are working on the advisory board.  We are in a holding pattern until Dell will be able to access campus and install the hardware.  Access to the Dell testbed, which is primarily intended to see how necessary software packages are likely to perform (and not for the conducting of actual research, except as this helps to configure hardware/software for subsequent research uses; see example use cases at https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-us/solutions/high-performance-computing/HPC-AI-Innovation-Lab.htm) is possible, but Dell is understandably swamped with requests and its staff are mostly working remotely as well.  Faculty who believe they have a need to access the testbed should put in a ticket with UTS using the subject line “HPC Support,” and UTS will assign it to an appropriate staff member.

TRAVEL

Questions:  What is the current policy on international-related research? Are we allowed to collaborate with international researchers who may be working under different rules?  Are we able to travel locally to obtain materials?  Are we able to travel out of state?

Answer:  Currently, the university has restricted travel.  For any travel, you will need to adhere to university policy and the governor’s executive order guidelines.  To discuss further, contact David Stone (dstone@oakland.edu).

If you are able to conduct research virtually with local, national, or international collaborators, we encourage you to do so!

OTHER QUESTIONS

Question:  How will the thesis defense/dissertation hour for graduate students (M.S. and PhD students) be affected? Will these be moved to an online platform?

Answer:  Questions such as this should be addressed to the Provost’s Office.

Question:  Will PI Academy happen in the Fall?

Answer:  We hope so! We are not yet making a decision for the coming semester about PI Academy.

Question:  How will OU provide PPE to individual labs? Will PPE be purchased centrally and distributed, or should each lab put in an order and either charge a central account or be reimbursed from such an account?

May 11, 2020

GETTING RESEARCH GOING AGAIN

Question:  Is physical distancing bench research anticipated at all before August 1? Many of our labs naturally have physical distancing already in how we work at different bench stations and in different rooms.  What is timing for restarting research?

Answer:  Social distancing will be essential in labs. We are hoping for a June date, however all decisions and timeline will be based off of the governor’s orders.  Manufacturers were allowed to start up again under the governor’s most recent executive order. That is not the case for colleges and universities. The task force on reopening research is in the process of developing guidance on what research can resume and when, but all of that guidance is dependent on factors outside of our control. Until the state government and the local public health authorities say it is safe for people to come back to campus, and until the university has released its own guidance, we will not be able to say much about how a return to research might look like, or when it might occur. In any case, it is unlikely to happen before June at the earliest.

Question:  How will we ensure that our students have the time in the lab, once we're allowed to open, so that they can finish their theses (M.S. & Ph.D), and Honor's College and capstone (B.S.) requirements, so that they can graduate on time?  What will “Working distancing” requirements be?

Answer:  When the government gives us the okay to have research labs open, we will require that all PIs have a plan for how their graduate students will be deployed, what shifts will be planned, and other logistics to make sure the lab meets appropriate health and safety social distancing requirements. We need to put basic practices into action first before we can open up the labs for undergraduate researchers.

Question:  Can you tell us how to stay in sync with state and county requirements?

Answer:  We will post guidelines to meet requirements when we have more information. Templates will be provided for PIs that need to create a research space management plan. 

Question:  What is the deal with the "spending freeze" that was announced recently? Will we be able to acquire materials and supplies for research conduct this summer?

Answer:  PIs who have funding already in a grant should be able to spend that money for supplies accordingly. Major equipment requests that require department or institutional funds will likely require a separate (and more detailed) decision making process.

FUNDING

Question:  Is there any disruption to study section or programmatic review of NIH/NSF proposals in the next year (how are June (NIH R15) and Oct. (NSF all) applications going to be reviewed)?

Answer:  NSF had already transitioned to mainly virtual panel reviews and has not announced any disruptions to its review process. NIH had begun to explore such a move last summer, and has expanded its use during the current pandemic. They are also conducting reviews on schedule.

Question:  What does the future funding environment look like when considering federal vs. private/non-profit?

Answer:  Nobody knows what the funding environment will look like once we’re past the pandemic, or at least once things have returned to a more normal state. As we noted in the last town hall meeting, the federal funding picture is clouded by the fact that: (a) 2020 is an election year, and Congress will likely want to wait until the election is over to decide what it wants to focus on in next year’s budget; and (b) Congress is doing a lot of other heavy lifting in a situation it’s never encountered before.  Expect that there will be one or more continuing resolutions, leaving funding levels more or less where they are now, from the start of the new federal fiscal year in October at least through the end of 2020, and possibly into January 2021 depending on the results of the November elections.  Also, NIH reviewers (and probably others, but not verified) have been instructed not to speculate about the potential effects of COVID-19 on the feasibility of a research plan. In other words, proposals are to be evaluated the way they always were.

Question:  Is there any funding available now for research on/about the COVID crisis?

Answer:  This is a good idea to address with your OU Research Development Officer and your program officer at your funding agency. It might be useful to provide a safety plan with your proposal, although it is not yet an official requirement from funding agencies.

Question:  Has OU ever secured a grant from the NIH and regardless of the answer to that question are they at this time severely limited in funds due to the Covid-19 virus?

Answer:  Yes, we’ve received many millions of dollars in research funding from NIH, some of which is still ongoing. No, their funding is not limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question:  Is there any financial support available for our Graduate Students? Many of our graduate students are international and do not live at home. They still need to pay rent, utilities, etc. These students are reliant on TA-ships to support themselves over the summer. With lab courses canceled, these students no longer have jobs or income during the summer. Are there resources or other on-campus work available to these students so they can make ends meet?

Answer:  As the Provost announced on May 12, more than 10,000 eligible OU students have received payments from funding provided under the CARES Act. If students are assigned to externally funded research projects, many sponsors are allowing the grants to continue paying them, even if they cannot work on grant-related tasks for the moment.

Question:  Do I need to provide a COVID plan for my upcoming grant proposal?

Answer:  Most sponsors are not asking for COVID-specific plans in new proposals at the moment. Contact your research development officer or a program officer at the sponsor to which you’re applying if you’re not sure whether such a plan is needed.

OTHER

Question:  When/if new faculty hires will get offers?

Answer:  Current searches are moving forward, however hiring practices for next year are still being discussed.

Question:  What resources will be available if we must teach on-line in the fall of 2020?

Answer:  Online teaching resources are provided by e-LIS (https://oakland.edu/elis/) and CETL (https://oakland.edu/cetl/).  For more information, direct questions to the Provost's Office.

Question:  Given the news about infections in the cruise ships, central AC seems like an efficient passage for the virus to travel long and fast in any close space. What can the university do to make sure that our campus building AC won't become a transmission source of infection?

Answer:  We are currently waiting on a plan and logistics for AC and related equipment. It is part of current discussions.

Question:  Is travel in the fall (international and/or domestic) expected to be allowed?

Answer:  It is unlikely that travel, especially international travel, will be allowed in the fall.  Contact Dave Stone (dstone@oakland.edu) to discuss specifics if travel is essential for conducting your research.


April 29, 2020

RESEARCH AND THE UNIVERSITY MISSION

Research is a critical part of the University’s mission and strategic goals. Research is a main area of focus, to the extent that we can get it back up and running as we also ramp up teaching and mission critical aspects of the University.

REOPENING CAMPUS AND LABS

A Task Force is working to create policies and procedures for reopening research across campus when appropriate.  There will be a huge culture change and the reopening will develop in phases, with the most critical starting first, then expanding.  Only at the end will undergraduates be able to be involved.  Researchers will need to prove and demonstrate they can follow the rules and procedures before opening their labs up for additional personnel.  Research labs and research decisions are being made separately from teaching / classroom decisions, however, the leaders from both sides are sharing information as needed.

It is estimated that labs will gradually be opening toward mid-June. Reopening is contingent on state guidance, university policies, appropriate approval from the Research Office or other administrators, and availability of PPE.

Each person in charge of a lab or research space will need to meet the requirements set for reopening. More details will be provided as available, however researchers may expect to provide detail on:

 -- How they will schedule personnel in their labs

 -- How they will manage social distance and respect safety guidelines

 -- How they will get and distribute appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

 -- How they will clean the lab / research space

 -- Confirm that their work can be done without violating the rules and policies in place

It is likely that each researcher’s plan will be shared and reviewed by the Research Office, Deans, Associate Deans, and/or Chairs as appropriate to keep everyone informed and address any issues.  It is expected that this review will take place as quickly as possible.

Per the governor’s order, PPE is required in all enclosed work spaces.  The University is working on efforts related to gathering PPE and exploring safety testing (such as symptom checks) and will share updates as available.

TRAVEL

Per University policy, travel is restricted. Find travel information at the OU COVID-19 response website: https://www.oakland.edu/coronavirus/.

If you need to travel to conduct your research (i.e., to field sites, national laboratories, archives, libraries, museums, other institutions, etc.), the Research Office recommends contacting the specific site(s) you need to visit to see when (or if) they will be open, and what their operating constraints might be.  Understand that each state (and each institution within a state) will likely have different timelines, guidelines, and procedures, so make sure to check with each site you plan to visit.  Expect that access may be limited, especially for smaller facilities (reading rooms, etc.) where social distancing needs may restrict the number of people who can enter the space at a given time or how long they may be allowed to remain in it.

If you need to travel to conduct research, please contact Dave Stone directly to discuss options (dstone@oakland.edu). The Research Office intends to continue to support faculty travel as appropriate, once travel restrictions are lifted and depending on availability of funds.

PAYMENT FOR RESEARCH / STUDENT WORKERS

If you have staff and/or students on a grant, payment should continue as planned.  Try to give them work to do remotely, or if staff are on the essential personnel list, they can go in.  Please encourage your students to work on papers, data collection, etc.  Direct anyone with questions (ex. Assistant Dean, director) to Andrea Buford (abuford@oakland.edu) or David Stone (dstone@oakland.edu).

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

No in-person work with undergraduate students should take place currently.  A safe research culture must be in place before undergraduates get involved. For undergraduates who are current personnel, focus on remote work.  Funds from the student travel awards are controlled by the Provost’ office, and the message of redirecting these funds to more general support for student achievement will be passed along to the appropriate staff there.

IN-PERSON HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH

The Research Office staff is closely monitoring guidelines from the CDC and federal agencies to inform appropriate practices for in-person human subjects research.  Judette Haddad (haddad@oakland.edu) or Kate Wydeven (kwydeven@oakland.edu) will provide protocol updates and can answer questions.

Regarding lifting the ban on in-person procedures, institutions are waiting for further notice from the CDC and their own states about COVID-19 restrictions.  Exceptions to the restrictions are being given to what is considered as "essential research."  The Indiana University has a helpful Essential Research Activities online form to determine if the research qualifies for an exemption.  Here is the link:

https://research.iu.edu/coronavirus/essential-research-activities-form.html

In addition, research involving drug surveillance activities, especially those that are mandated by the states, are also considered essential research and allowed to be conducted at this time.

ONGOING NSF FUNDING / CONTACTING PROGRAM OFFICERS

Is COVID-19 going to decrease NSF's funding budget for this year or coming years?

We don’t know what the federal budget for fiscal 2021 is going to look like – Congress hasn’t yet begun to work on it, and this is an election year.  Before the COVID pandemic hit, forecasts were for relatively modest increases for federal research and development programs.  We probably won’t know much until after the November election, as legislators are likely to wait to see what happens before making any budget commitments, and the final numbers may not be known until after the new Congress convenes in January.  But Congress has been supportive of research in the face of  administration attempts to cut funding, and a number of academic groups are actively lobbying for additional stimulus funding to support research.

Nor is there a definitive answer about how NSF or other federal agencies are going to allocate their FY2020 funding.  If you have concerns, we recommend that you contact your research development officer, though do so judiciously. The Research Office is available and willing to help you craft emails or schedule phone calls with a program officer to ask appropriate questions and address concerns that you may have.

CLUSTER HIRES

The selected cluster hire programs are:

  • H2OU: Freshwater Sustainability in an Era of Global Change  
  • Engineering Solutions for Neuromorphic Computing

Conversations are being lined up to discuss how to support these programs.

For faculty whose cluster suggestions were not selected, we encourage you to start and keep building up your efforts.  Deans across campus were favorable to all proposed ideas, but some were not far along enough yet to pursue.  Contact the Research Office if you want to pursue the cluster hire conversation.

HPC (COMPUTING) CLUSTER

The computing cluster hardware is on campus.  We have two system engineers within UTS working with the HPC cluster.  Next steps are still to be determined with Dell and set up.

PI ACADEMY

At this time, the Research Office intends to continue the PI Academy.  This Fall will begin the 4th year of this program.  The format of the program is not yet determined.  For current PI Academy members planning visits with their mentors, we ask that they pause travel until restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, work in appropriate virtual ways with your mentor.  Contact Dave Stone (dstone@oakland.edu) for additional guidance.

LIBRARY RESOURCES

For updates about the Kresge Library Open Access publication fund, we recommend that you contact librarian Julia Rodriguez (juliar@oakland.edu).


April 7, 2020

Link to recording of WebEx

ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL

To keep research going, designated research faculty, postdocs, graduate students and some undergraduate students are on the Essential Personnel list, and will be allowed to access campus.  This list is maintained by the Provost and OUPD. A letter has been sent to Chairs/Deans to be provided to approved essential personnel, and this letter can be used to verify your status.  If you feel that you or someone should be added to this list, contact David Stone at dstone@oakland.edu.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT / HOT WATER SHUTDOWN

Campus personnel are continuing to maintain essential equipment, including at the BRSF.

On April 24, the hot water line that supports H-VAC (including in research buildings) will be shut down. The Research Office is working to with individual faculty to make sure temperature tolerances will be ok during this shut down. The shut down is expected to last 2 weeks.

IN-PERSON HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH

All in-person human subject research is stopped in the wake of the governor’s stay at home order. If you are able to complete your data collection virtually instead of in-person, you may file an amendment with the IRB to make this change.  At this time, it is unknown when in-person data collection will resume – this depends on governor’s orders as would the ability to or requirement for the use of PPE in human subjects research.  Judette Haddad (haddad@oakland.edu) or Kate Wydeven (kwydeven@oakland.edu) will provide protocol updates and can answer questions.  There is also extensive information on the IRB website.

GRANT SUBMISSION, PROCESSES, POST-AWARD

The Office of Sponsored Programs is still fully functional and submissions should still be completed through working with your Research Development Officer and Grant Officer.  Few federal agency funding deadlines have changed, but changes can be found via research.gov or your agency’s website.  It is unknown what will be done with agency review processes at this time, however this function is often done remotely anyway so review timelines may not materially change.

NO-COST EXTENSIONS

At this time, federal agencies are saying that no-cost extensions will proceed as normal and PIs should submit at the normal deadline.  If you are filing for a no-cost extension, work with your grant officer to explain that COVID-19 precautions prevented you from doing your work.  Document what work was stopped or stalled due to these precautions, what couldn’t be done, and what needs to be done.

Note that working remotely is not sufficient justification for an extension – you must explain why working from home was insufficient for you to complete the project (ex. you couldn’t access equipment).

PAYMENT FOR RESEARCH / STUDENT WORKERS

Payment should continue as planned.  Please encourage your students to work on papers, data collection, etc. if they cannot access your lab or carry out work that is more directly related to your research project.  Students may not, however, be paid more than they would have been paid had this circumstance not arisen.  Direct anyone with questions (ex. Assistant Dean, director) to Andrea Buford (abuford@oakland.edu) or David Stone (dstone@oakland.edu).

COVID-19 RELATED RESEARCH PROJECTS

If you are currently working on a project related to COVD-19 or related health and safety efforts, please contact your research development officer.  There are a number of agencies and foundations with calls out to support this type work.

TENURE CLOCK

At this time, no formal announcement has been made about pausing or stopping the tenure clock.  This determination, if/when decided, will be shared by the Provost’s office.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19’s Impact on Federal Awards
(Modified from the Council on Governmental Relations)

 

General Operations

  • What services will be available during this period?

(4/3/20)  All services offered by The Research Office at Oakland University are available, even though staff are working remotely.   However, due to this remote work, additional time may be required to prepare, review and submit proposals and other award-related actions. Please contact us as soon as possible via your OU email with any proposal or award needs and questions so that we can provide the best support possible to you.

We are continually updating our website and e-space with COVID-19-related news as it pertains to research.  We also make announcements on our twitter feed and using the Research News weekly newsletter.

 

Proposal Submission

  • I am self-isolated, working remotely, quarantined, or at home caring for a sick family member.  Will the sponsors grant me an extension of the proposal submission deadline?

(4/3/20)  Maybe. Most federal agencies, including NSF and NIH, do not grant prior approval for late submissions. Nor have we seen very many agencies issuing blanket deadline extensions.  Nonetheless, there are existing policies that address extenuating circumstances.

Current guidance for NIH and NSF can be located at NIH Late Submission Policy and Special Exceptions to NSF's Deadline Date Policy  (PAPPG 19-1). 

No university knows for sure yet how any particular sponsor will interpret OU’s position that the university is open but working remotely when they evaluate extension requests. We strongly encourage you to discuss your specific situation with both your agency Program Officer and your Research Development Officer as soon as possible.

We also suggest monitoring the Council on Governmental Relations Compendium of Agency Responses related to COVID-19. This site is updated regularly and may be helpful to you in your planning.

(4/6/20 Update)  Each agency is handling proposal extensions differently. Some agencies are moving deadlines while others are approving extensions on a case by case basis.  Check your agency website and with your RDO to confirm the most current due date for your proposal. If you feel you will be unable to meet an existing proposal deadline, follow the solicitation's guidance for contacting the agency to request an extension. Requests should clearly explain how COVID-19 is impacting your ability to submit on time; remote work should not be the only basis for requesting an extension as multiple agencies have indicated that remote work should not make it impossible to complete work or meet deadlines.

 

Travel Charges, Including Cancellation Costs

  • Are travel cancellation costs due to COVID-19 allowable as direct charges to sponsored projects?

(4/3/20)  Yes, these costs may be charged to sponsored projects.  To do so, however, you must have requested a refund from the airline/hotel, been denied that refund, and have documentation of that denial.  It is essential that you document all transactions related to cancellations fees, refunds, etc. and forward this documentation to your Grants and Contracts Officer as soon as possible if you would like to charge your grant.

Please note that several airlines and hotels are waiving travel cancellation fees during the coronavirus emergency.

  • I was reimbursed for the airfare that was charged to my grant.  My travel is now canceled.  What do I do?

(4/3/20)  If an airline ticket or other travel cost has been charged to a sponsored project, you have already received reimbursement for that cost, and your trip has been cancelled, the payment must be credited to the grant. Please contact your Grants and Contracts Officer to determine the best way to do this.

  • If a traveler can return home from domestic or foreign travel but at much greater cost than usal, is the additional cost allowable on the grant?  Does it matter if the country of origin has a CDC-level warning?

(4/3/20)  Yes, the additional cost is allowable, regardless of the country of origin. Change and/or cancellation fees are allowed as long as the circumstances were outside of your control and the original purpose of the travel was for the direct benefit of the award.

  • Can travel insurance be charged to grants?

(4/3/20)  Yes. Travel insurance is a university reimbursable expense for all business travel.  Therefore, where the sponsor allows it, it can be charged to grants. 

  • I am a PI on a project that involves collaborators participating from around the country and world.  I have already incurred expenses for space rental and hotel and there will be a sizeable cancellation penalty.  Can I charge these fees to the grant?  And can I pay the travel fees for my collaborators?
  • Does it matter if I elected to cancel the gathering simply because it was prudent to do so – absent a stay-at-home order? 
  • Does it matter if the gathering was to be held in a CDC-Level 3 location? 
  • Does it matter if the event was cancelled because my institution will no longer allow it?

(4/3/20)  If you believe it would be unwise to hold the meeting, you should confer with your Program Officer and the sponsoring agency Grants Management Specialist to decide whether to cancel the meeting, postpone the meeting, or convert the meeting to an on-line format.

You should make this request in writing via email to your program officer with a copy to Sponsored Programs at abuford@oakland.edu.  For most agencies, the university Grants and Contracts Officer must also approve changes such as this; we are happy to co-sign your letter to indicate our support of your request.  In that request, discuss the basis for the proposed cancellation (prudent circumstances, CDC level 3 location, or institutional determination that university emergency procedures will not allow the organizer to attend.) 

For your participants’ sake, make a firm decision early enough to enable them to take advantage of discounts offered by airlines or hotels related to COVID-19 changes or early cancellation deadlines (particularly for hotels).  In addition, your decision to cancel the gathering may assist some participants in obtaining institutional support for their cancellation costs. 

If the funding agency approves the cancellation, the non-refundable costs for the venue may be an allowable charge to the project if those costs were included in the awarded budget.

In general, the costs for participants should follow the funding stream originally intended to pay for their attendance.  If your grant was reimbursing all or part of the participation costs for all attendees, it may be appropriate to also charge some or all of their cancellation fees to the grant. If participants were covering their own attendance costs, then they would be responsible for covering any cancellation costs based on their institution or employer’s policy.

 

Remote Work

  • If employees must have their home as their work location, can they still be paid by a grant?

(4/3/20)  Yes, as long as the employees can work successfully in the remote environment, salary can continue to be paid from the project. Supervision must follow current  OU practice established for the COVID-19 circumstances, including acceptable forms of work verification for hourly staff and those requiring direct supervision (e.g., requiring the employee to be on an electronic messaging system, or to email their supervisor with arrival or departure times).

If employees cannot successfully work from home (e.g., the nature of their duties requires them to work on-site or they do not have home Internet or access to a computer) and alternate duties that benefit the project cannot be identified, then it may not be appropriate to charge the salary to the award. Contact your post-award Grants and Contracts Officer to discuss the details of your situation.

  • Can I charge supplies relating to telework (e.g. a laptop, printer, office supplies….) to my grant?

(4/3/20)  No. These types of expenses are considered administrative costs (indirect costs), and generally are not appropriate as a direct cost unless specifically approved by the sponsor. If you need to work remotely from home, please consult with your department to identify whether computing resources are available for you to borrow for the duration of the remote-work.

  • What happens if local, state, and/or federal government or other sponsor employees are unavailable to perform their duties as they relate to my proposal or award (e.g. prior approval requests, processing awards)?

(4/3/20)  This could definitely happen.  Funding agencies will issue guidance in the event that a change in work patterns or even a full work-stop occurs. The Research Office will share these updates as soon as we receive them.  Watch the website for the most up-to-date information, but we will also individually contact the investigators affected by a particular sponsor’s guidance.

  • If a student or an investigator needs to access a dataset with sensitive or private information from home in order to continue working on a project, how do we address privacy requirements?

(4/6/20)  University Policy 860Data Management and Information Security, is still in effect.  No university-sensitive data should ever be on your personal machine.  High-risk data includes, but is not limited to, HIPAA data and any personally-identifiable data; any other unpublished research is likely to be of moderate risk.  For both of these situations, the recommended strategy to allow investigators to work with their data is to use remote desktop.  Tutorials can be found here: https://oakland.edu/csits/tutorials/video-tutorials/ if you need help getting started with remote desktop.

 

Scope of Work/Deliverable Obligations

  • How will a pause in my research change my grant expenditures?

(4/3/20)  Agencies are beginning to release guidance for handling delays in research or program progress. Some agencies are allowing greater flexibility for charging costs that may be necessary to wind down and eventually restart research activities due to COVID-19-related interruptions. If you believe these unforeseen expenditures may affect your ability to accomplish the scope of work you promised the agency, please contact your Program Officer to discuss. We also recommend noting these impacts in your progress report. Your post-award Grants and Contracts Officer can assist in evaluating the financial impact on your grant of any changes you may need to make.

Note: All charges must still be reasonable and necessary for the performance of the project.

  • Am I able to travel to client sites to provide time sensitive services that are required by my contract?

(4/3/20)  Any travel must adhere to University policies as well as be in conformity with the Governor’s Stay Home; Stay Safe order.  As the epidemiological situation changes, these policies change.  So consult trusted sources frequently for updates.

  • My project has a very strict timeline, and I am concerned about a possible failure to perform within the agreed-upon scope of work. 

(4/3/20)  If the scope of work demands a precise schedule to make an experiment viable, then you should contact the Chief Research Officer (dstone@oakland.edu) to discuss the possibility of permission to be on campus to continue your research.  If, however, your work involves human subjects and must stop because of university policy and the Governor’s order, then carefully document instances where that schedule could not be met and the data resulting from that experiment may be unusable.   If it is not the case that scientific reliability is at stake but rather you’re concerned about good business practices, then it is likely that agencies will recognize the unique circumstances and be flexible if they can, including granting no-cost time extensions if needed.

You should reach out to the Program Officer as soon as you anticipate a delay and copy The Research Office (abuford@oakland.edu) on that email.

If your work is funded by industry or under a contract, it may be possible to invoke force majeure or other clauses to manage this disruption in services. Contact Sponsored Programs at abuford@oakland.edu  as soon as you anticipate a delay and we will assist you in determining appropriate next steps.  It is likely that we would be looping University Legal Services into those discussions, as well.

In all cases, Principal Investigators should keep detailed documentation regarding the basis for any work adjustments you decide upon, including any adjustments that may be required when business returns to “normal.”  This documentation will help us evaluate the specific terms of a contract in light of your particular needs.

  • Will agencies consider longer than usual no-cost extensions if they are needed to finish a project after disruption?

(4/3/20)  As of March 3, 2020, NIH will allow additional extensions beyond the first-approved 12-month extension for clinical trials and human subjects research that has been disrupted due to COVID-19. See NIH FAQ’s on Flexibilities for Applicants and Recipients.

Any no-cost extension necessary due to COVID-19 should be described as such in the request, and the impact on the originally approved timeline should be clearly described in the rationale for the extension.

  • I can’t get to the research site and the research will be affected.  Will the sponsor provide supplemental funding and/or additional time to complete the aims of the project?

(4/3/20)  Agencies are beginning to release guidance for handling delays in research or program progress. Some agencies are allowing increased flexibility for charging costs associated with winding down and then restarting research activities due to COVID-19 interruptions.  Nonetheless, these same sponsors have all noted that grantees and Investigators should not assume that supplemental funds will be available to cover these additional costs.

If your ability to accomplish your current scope of work has been compromised, please contact your Program Officer to discuss both a revised scope of work and potential for supplemental funds. Your Grants and Contracts Officer can assist in evaluating the financial impact on your grant of any changes you need to make.  These supplemental requests must flow through the Office of Sponsored Programs, just as they always do.  Please contact either your Research Development Officer or your pre-award Grants and Contracts Officer to begin that process.

  • I am having trouble submitting my progress report due to working from home.  Can I just postpone its submission?

(4/3/20)  Some agencies are extending deadlines while others are advising the PI to notify his/her Program Officer of the need to postpone the submission.

Agency notices, with updates as they appear, are posted to  The Research Office's COVID-19 Research Continuity site, under the "Funding Agency Information" header.  If your agency has not yet released guidance on this subject, contact your Program Officer.  Please be careful about this, though Both NSF and NIH have explicitly stated that delayed project reports will result in delayed receipt of continued funding. If you plan to postpone your submission, please notify SPA at gcsradmin@oakland.edu so we can track the new due date.

 

Salary Charges

  • Can salary continue to be charged if a PI is on a multi-day self-isolation period?  Does it matter if I am able (or unable) to continue to work while in isolation?

(4/3/20)  As long as you remain engaged in the project you can receive salary from grant funds. Significant disengagement is defined as absence from the project for more than 3 months or a 25% reduction in effort.

  • What if I am sick and cannot work on my project at all? Can my salary still be charged to the grant?

(4/3/20)  Yes. Sick leave and other paid absences that are permitted under OU policy may be charged to the grant.

  • What if the agency Program Officer or Grants Officer is unavailable due to COVID-19?  Can the people funded on my award continue to work and charge salary to the project?

(4/3/20)  Agency notices are posted to the COVID-19 Research Continuity Guidance page (under the "Funding Agency Information" header) on The Research Office website.  The situation is very fluid, so please check back frequently for updates.

 

Purchase of COVID-19 Related Items on Grants

  • Can supplies such as masks, wipes, gloves, etc. required as part of COVID-19 precautions be charged to my grant?

(4/3/20)  Materials and supplies purchased for the direct benefit of the project and solely for the project are allowable; however, supplies needed for general cleaning should be covered by a non-grant or departmental account.