COVID-19: OSU Research FAQ for Principal Investigators and Laboratory Managers

What can researchers do to prepare for disruptions caused by COVID-19?

Updated March 23, 2020

Maintaining research continuity is a critical function and should continue. However, all researchers who are able to work from home should do so until further notice. Some OSU employees will be required to continue working in OSU facilities around the state, including in labs and research spaces, to deliver critical services. Researchers who are not designated to continue working in an OSU facility should work from home to facilitate social distancing.

Other research and business continuity considerations:

  • Work with your OSU Human Resources Strategic Partner to complete your unit’s continuity plan. This plan will include identifying essential personnel and assuring they know what to do in the current state of minimal operations. It also will include communication planning, including the sharing of cell phone numbers among members of your work and research team.
  • Identify research priorities to be addressed in the state of minimal operations.
  • Inventory and perform advance testing to ensure remote internet access to files, data, servers, etc.
  • Prioritize research experiments, as appropriate.
  • Be on the lookout for information regarding human and animal subject research. Plan for the potential need to modify activities.
  • Plan for potential disruptions to research acquisitions, imports, exports and transfers.
  • Plan for remote proposal submission.
  • Review the university’s current travel guidelines on the COVID-19 website before making travel plans.

Is there any guidance from funding agencies?

Updated March 23, 2020

Some agencies have specific guidance, while others do not. We will update this site with agency guidance as available. The below links contain some new information.

What is the impact on research proposal deadlines and award actions/subawards?

Updated March 15, 2020

We expect that OSU’s Office for Sponsored Research and Award Administration (OSRAA) will be able to submit proposals, negotiate and accept awards, issue subcontracts/subawards, and submit and process other sponsor requests even if staff are working remotely. OSRAA email and voice messages will be monitored during this period of remote work, please contact us via email or phone. In-person services are not available. Our experience is that federal agencies are very flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances beyond our control. However, if agencies are officially closed, proposals will most likely remain in a queue, pending resumption of agency operations as has been the case during federal budget-related shutdowns.

My project has a compliance function.  Will all compliance functions be operational?

Updated March 23, 2020

All OSU research compliance functions (Environmental Health and Safety, Biosafety, Human Research Protection Program, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Conflict of Interest, Small Boat & Dive Safety, etc.) are fully operational. 

Given the need to practice social distancing, research that involves human subjects must be limited. Effective March 21, 2020, in-person research study visits must be discontinued unless those visits have a direct therapeutic benefit to the subjects and are essential for the subjects’ health and safety (more information to help this determination can be found here: https://research.oregonstate.edu/irb/covid-19-information).  This directive applies to research conducted by OSU researchers at any site worldwide.

If you have questions, please consult the appropriate department web pages for contact information and relevant FAQs, for example see  Human Research Protection Program COVID-19 information and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) COVID-19 information.

If a conference has been canceled, but I have non-refundable travel and/or hotel costs, can these be charged to a conference or travel grant?

Updated March 15, 2020

NSF is working with federal partners on a number of travel proposal and award-related issues pertaining to COVID-19. NSF will release that information and provide guidance as information becomes available. In the meantime, the university will honor costs associated with canceled or postponed OSU-sponsored travel or conferences by employees or students. For expenses related to travel that has been canceled and that is funded on a grant index, we will consult with the funding agency to see if they will reimburse costs incurred.  If it is determined that the funding agency cannot provide reimbursement, the university will reimburse for those expenses. Please retain documentation of the determination and submit with your travel reimbursement request.  Be sure to request your travel provider to waive any postponement fees, or provide a refund and waive any cancellation fees, which many are doing at present.

I am involved with a conference, travel award, or field work that is taking place in the coming weeks and will require travel. Should I continue with plans for the trip?

Updated March 15, 2020

All non-essential OSU-sponsored travel is suspended at this time, including international travel and domestic travel. Also, OSU is strongly discouraging all travel, including essential OSU-sponsored travel and personal travel. OSU-sponsored travel includes all travel related to research projects sponsored by various funding agencies, including federal agencies. If you have a scheduled OSU-sponsored trip in the next few months, or are considering one, please reach out to your department/school/college leadership as well as the Research Office with details on the work you have planned. Details may include information on circumstances around the planned trip, the timing, the location, the mode of transportation, whether or not social distancing is possible, and information about the circumstances that might necessitate an exception. If you are planning on travel later in the spring or summer, it may be possible for you to book travel on refundable fares. Please contact the Research Office to see if prior approval or documentation is required by the sponsor.

Are all OSU research facilities currently open?

Updated March 23, 2020

Until further notice, every laboratory should transition to minimal operations (e.g. “idle” mode). This level of operation should require only infrequent and short-term visits by critical personnel. Critical activities would be those that maintain the continued viability of large and complex projects, as well as unique specimens and collections; plants and animals or cultures; highly specialized analytical, manufacturing; computing facilities; and field-based facilities and laboratories. Researchers should consult with their department heads, deans or the vice president for research, as appropriate, to discuss research facilities that support essential research and to determine how best to transition labs and facilities.

What is the best way to prepare my laboratory for potential next steps in response to COVID-19-?

Updated March 23, 2020

Every researcher should complete ongoing experiments as expediently as possible while engaging fully in social distancing. Researchers planning to start new experiments should consider approaches that allow for the cessation of operations with little notice while retaining the relevancy of the data collected up until that point.

The staff in my laboratory chose to stay home but there is no work that they can perform from home that will benefit the grant that is providing the salary. Can I continue to charge salary costs to the grant index?

Updated March 23, 2020

There may be situations where you find that a grant-funded student or staff member is not able to perform their duties, and you may have questions about continuing to charge their time to your grant. We are working with granting agencies to clarify how they want to address these concerns and will provide updates.

Some new guidance is available (see for example, NIH Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding and NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17) though many questions remain. We continue to track developments. Please do not change labor distributions until we have clearer guidance.

My project requires purchase of parts from an affected country, and I can no longer expect the parts to be delivered on time. Replacement parts from U.S. sources are more expensive but I need to proceed. Are there any special considerations in this case?

Updated March 15, 2020

We currently have no available guidance on whether the additional costs will be allowable, and we recommend that you use your best judgment when making these decisions. Prior approval from the sponsor may be required, so please contact OSRAA in these cases. If you decide to move forward with incurring additional costs, please retain detailed documentation and make the Research Office aware so that we can track all such instances in case there is an opportunity for reimbursement.

If my lab, office or facility has personal protection equipment (PPE), how do I report our inventory?

 As you are aware, personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies required by health providers in Oregon are running low. It is essential that we collect supplies from all units and all facilities throughout the university. Therefore, please read carefully below and respond immediately to Mike Bamberger, OSU's emergency manager. Mike is responsible for the university-wide response on helping with the PPE matter. Mike’s contact information: michael.bamberger@oregonstate.edu; W: 541-737-4713; C:  541-758-9126.

Please inventory and collect all of the following items:

•          N95 masks

•          Surgical (ear loop) masks

•          Safety glasses/goggles

•          Gloves (latex or nitrile)

•          Disposable gowns

•          Cloth gowns (that can be laundered)

•          Scientific swabs (to take nasal cultures

Mike will coordinate assembling the university's inventory and notifying the State PPE Officer of availability. Please send him a list of all PPT supplies that your lab, office or facility has in stock. If you already sent information to Staci Simonich or the Research Office, let Mike know and he will double-check the information he has from the Research Office.

We are aware that some PPE supplies may be required to meet the needs that are deemed critical to maintaining OSU academic, research and operations.  In reporting your inventories to Mike, indicate whether you believe reported supplies are critical or non-critical/surplus.

Mike will track what is reported and collected by each department/point of contact and coordinate pickup of items. If not needed, PPE supplies will be returned after the immediate crisis. Please be advised that we have no solution for reimbursement at this time. We will certainly do what we can to address losses units face, but our first priority must be meeting this urgent public health need. By state law, all supplies must be inventoried and made available to coordinating state authorities as soon as possible. The impact to grants and research will have to be addressed when operations normalize.

How can I contact the Research Office with a COVID-19 question?

Updated March 15, 2020

Please send an email to: COVID19_RO@oregonstate.edu.