COVID-19: Guidance
for the UD Research Community

LAST UPDATED: APRIL 3, 2020

COVID-19: Virtual Town Hall

The Research Office will host a Virtual Town Hall Tuesday April 7, 1-2 p.m., for important updates for the research community.

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RESEARCHERS FROM HOME

Current Guidance and FAQs

The University of Delaware continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 coronavirus and to follow the guidance of public health officials. Visit UD’s Coronavirus webpage frequently for updated information for the entire UD community.

Here, we provide UD researchers with guidance, considerations and actions you can take to prepare your research teams and facilities for potential disruptions. We also want to answer questions you may have about research activities in this rapidly changing environment. See the FAQs below, and send research-specific questions to UDResearch@udel.edu. For general questions, contact coronavirus@udel.edu.

COVID-19: VIRTUAL TOWN HALLS

 

View the March 31 Presentation

UD Research Update

Slide Download (PDF) Zoom Presentation

Latest Campus Research Communication Updates

Communication for UD’s research community from the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

April 2, 2020 – COVID-19: UD Research 4-7 Virtual Town Hall

April 2, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In an effort to keep our research community connected and informed, I invite you to our next Virtual Town Hall. We will cover a broad range of important updates, provide actionable guidance and address questions, as always. Please join us.

Research Office Virtual Town Hall
Tuesday, April 7, 1-2 p.m.

Thank you for your continuing collaboration and cooperation.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy,

Vice Provost for Research Signature
Charles G. Riordan
Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

 

COMMUNICATION ARCHIVE

 

COVID-19: VIRTUAL TOWN HALLS

 

View the March 24 Presentation

UD Research Update

Slide Download (PDF) Zoom Presentation

 

View the March 16 Presentation

Suspension of Laboratory Research

Slide Download (PDF) Zoom Presentation

 

March 27, 2020 – COVID-19: UD Research 3-31 Virtual Town Hall

March 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In an effort to keep our research community connected and informed, I’d like to invite you to our next Virtual Town Hall. We will cover a broad range of important updates and will address questions, as always. Please join us.

Research Office Virtual Town Hall

Tuesday, March 31, 1-2 p.m.

Thank you for your continuing collaboration and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Vice Provost for Research SignatureCharles G. Riordan Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

March 23, 2020 – COVID-19 Update: Virtual Town Hall

March 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In an effort to keep our research community connected and informed, I’d like to invite you to our next Virtual Town Hall. We’ll be covering a broad range of topics, from campus operations updates to grants administration, and ways you can help our local community at this time.

Research Office Virtual Town Hall

Tuesday, March 24, 1-2 p.m.

Thank you for your continuing collaboration and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Vice Provost for Research SignatureCharles G. Riordan Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

March 15, 2020 – Suspension of Laboratory Research

March 15, 2020

Dear Members of the UD Research Community,

As President Assanis announced this evening, all research laboratories and core facilities are ramping down immediately for a period of two weeks and potentially much longer. Access to these facilities will be limited to only critical activities such as animal care and maintaining unique reagents and cell cultures, essential equipment and materials. This suspension of operations takes effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

To handle this transition swiftly and in an orderly fashion, we are asking principal investigators and laboratory managers to complete information in BioRaft, the online platform managed by Environmental Health and Safety. An automated message will be sent from BioRaft to principal investigators and lab managers this evening asking to confirm that your laboratory is closed and to identify 2-3 essential personnel/PI who would need to have access if critical duties are necessary. If you are a principal investigator/lab manager and do not receive a message, please contact EHS Director Mike Gladle at mgladle@udel.edu.

We realize that you have questions and concerns. We are available to answer your questions and provide these key resources for your assistance:

Thank you for your cooperation and commitment to keeping our community safe.

Sincerely,

Vice Provost for Research SignatureCharles G. RiordanVice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

March 11, 2020 – Researchers Working with Human Subjects

March 11, 2020

TO: UD Researchers Working with Human Subjects

FROM: Charles G. Riordan Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

RE: COVID-19 Guidance for Human Subjects Research

An important source of visitors and human interactions on our campus is research with human subjects in our clinics and laboratories. At this time, research at UD involving human subjects should continue as previously scheduled with the implementation of additional preventive hygiene and screening protocols:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Cough/sneeze into your elbow. If you use a tissue, dispose of it right away. Stay home if you are sick and avoid contact with others.
  • Effective Immediately: Check with participants scheduled to complete a research visit in the next few weeks. This should be done as close to the scheduled visit date as is feasible and prior to starting research procedures the day of the visit. The following script and questions are recommended:

    Hi, I am calling from the University of Delaware in reference to your upcoming appointment on [Date] for [Study X].

    • If the person does not answer, leave a message with instructions and the number to call back. If the person picks up the call, proceed with the following questions, which also should be asked at the beginning of their visit:

    With the current concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., we would like to ask you a few questions to ensure your safety and that of our researchers and campus community:

    1. Have you traveled in the past 14 days to any country on the CDC level 2 or 3 travel alert, currently China, Italy, South Korea, Iran or Japan?
    2. Have you been in contact with anyone who has traveled outside the U.S. and/or has been diagnosed with the coronavirus?
    3. Do you have any respiratory illness symptoms? Cold, cough, fever over 100°F, shortness of breath, etc.

    • If yes to any of the above, cancel/postpone the upcoming research appointment. If yes to questions 1 or 2, ask the individual to contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 1-866-408-1899 so they can be advised about self-monitoring guidance or discuss their symptoms.
    • If the subject presents symptoms upon arrival to the research visit, cancel/postpone the visit, provide them with a mask if available and ask them to contact their medical provider.
  • The above screening is not considered part of the research protocol and does not need Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval prior to implementation.

Questions related to human subjects research should be directed to the UD IRB at hsrb-research@udel.edu. General questions regarding UD prevention and response plans to COVID-19 should be emailed to coronavirus@udel.edu.

March 11, 2020 – Announcing Research Guidance and FAQ Resource

March 11, 2020

Dear UD Research Community,

The University of Delaware continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 coronavirus and to follow the guidance of public health officials. As President Assanis announced today, one person connected to the University of Delaware has tested positive for COVID-19 and all classes scheduled for Thursday and Friday are cancelled. Please visit UD’s Coronavirus webpage frequently for updated information.

At the present time, UD researchers can continue their research, including laboratory and core facility activities. However, this is an evolving situation and we want researchers to be prepared for the possibility of a significant disruption should the situation warrant.

The Research Office has developed a webpage with guidance, considerations and actions you can take to prepare your research teams and facilities:

COVID-19: Reducing Impacts to UD Research

We also include a number of Frequently Asked Questions and are available to help answer research-specific questions you may have at UDResearch@udel.edu.

The safety of the University community is paramount. Protect yourself and others from illness by washing your hands with soap and water frequently; don’t touch your face; and cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Clean frequently touched surfaces such as cellphones, door handles and countertops.

If students feel overwhelmed, they can contact the Center for Counseling & Student Development at (302) 831-2141 or (302) 831-1001 for after-hours emergencies, or Student Health Services at (302) 831-2226 or University Police at (302) 831-UDPD. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program within Human Resources at (302) 831-2171.

Sincerely,

Vice Provost for Research SignatureCharles G. Riordan Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

For PIs and Facility Directors

Research Continuity

Your Team’s Well-being.

The safety of the University community is paramount. Protect yourself and others from illness by washing your hands with soap and water frequently; don’t touch your face; and cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Clean frequently touched surfaces such as cellphones, door handles and countertops. If students feel overwhelmed, they can contact the Center for Counseling & Student Development at (302) 831-2141 or (302) 831-1001 for after-hours emergencies, or Student Health Services at (302) 831-2226 or University Police at (302) 831-UDPD. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program within Human Resources at (302) 831-2171.

Planning for Disruption.

All research facilities at all UD locations are shuttered until further notice. Access to these facilities is limited to only critical activities such as animal care and maintaining unique reagents and cell cultures, essential equipment and materials. Only personnel designated by their supervisors/PIs as necessary for essential research functions are permitted to enter campus facilities and should do so only as needed. The suspension of operations took effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

Thanks to all members of the UD research community for your cooperation in efficiently and safely ramping down activities. With this transition, only supplies necessary to keep essential research functions operational should be ordered until further notice. Please consider that these essential deliveries may be delayed during the pandemic and plan accordingly.

All research administrative support services—sponsored programs administration, regulatory affairs, research development, etc.—are available remotely.

Create your Research Continuity Plan as soon as possible.

  • Update contact information and make sure each member has the contact list.
  • Ensure remote access to files, data, servers with access to VPN and remote conferencing communications with Zoom. Test these tools from home.
  • Identify essential functions that must be continued, such as laboratory access for maintaining animal care or cell cultures. Make sure this information is on file through BioRaft (noted above). Note that only 2-3 personnel may be identified for this restricted access. Access to labs will be done in pairs with a standard protocol requiring the PI to be notified when a team goes into the lab, and again when the team has finished. No undergraduate researchers may be involved.

Bolster your Students’ Academic Continuity Plan.

We realize these disruptions are challenging. As an adviser and mentor, you have an incredible impact on your students’ wellbeing and continued success. Help your students stay on the path to learning and discovery. Consider what each member of your research group can do as facilities will be off-line for several weeks. Is it a time for data analysis? Or accessing Library resources digitally to conduct research? Students might focus on a first draft of a thesis, dissertation or manuscript. The group could work on peer-reviewed research articles, proposals and presentations. We look forward to hearing the creative, innovative approaches you are taking.

Research-Related Travel.

As of 3/15/20, all University-sponsored or affiliated travel, including domestic travel, is temporarily suspended until further notice. The University is also discouraging personal travel to reduce risks for exposure in other locations that may have presented higher risk.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

General
1. I’m concerned that an outbreak could affect the timely completion of my federally funded research project. Who should I contact?

Your first point of contact should be your program officer at the agency funding your work. Additionally, some federal agencies are providing further guidance. Please see the Council on Government Relations website for a comprehensive list.

2. Since courses have gone online, will graduate students and other researchers be permitted to continue to be on campus to conduct research?

All research laboratory operations are suspended, effective March 17, 2020, at 5 p.m. Graduate student education and research will continue using distance learning technology and digital access to Library resources and other tools.  

3. I already booked travel for a conference or for data collection that has been cancelled. What recourse do I have?

Recent guidance from the Office of Management and Budget allows awarding agencies to permit recipients to charge the full cost of cancellation for activities in support of the award. PIs and grant administrators need to check the guidance from their specific sponsor to ensure allowability. Do not assume additional funding will be available.

University of Delaware Procurement advises if travel was booked using Concur/World Travel, contact World Travel (1-855-215-8312). This phone number will take callers directly to a UD dedicated agent for assistance.

4. I’m working on a proposal that needs to be submitted soon — will research administrative support be available if campus access is restricted?

The Research Office ensures that its personnel have the capability to work from home. Every effort will be made to continue this professional support. Check with the funding agency’s website as under extreme circumstances deadlines may be modified. Please do not assume a deadline will change.

Human Subjects
1. Can UD researchers continue data collection in their IRB-approved studies?

Only if possible by remote means. In response to the declaration of national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cases linked to our community, UD researchers working with human subjects must halt all in-person research visits as of 03/16/2020. The only exceptions to be made are for protocols in which stopping an intervention (e.g., some investigational drugs) could be harmful to the research subjects. Principal Investigators requesting continuing visitation with subjects (either at UD or off-site) must submit an amendment to the IRB for review and approval addressing the specific risks of not continuing in-person research visits. All others can only continue if data collection can be completed remotely (via phone or on-line tools) as described in the corresponding question below.

2. Can IRB-approved protocols be modified to accommodate changes triggered by the COVID-19 crisis?

Yes. Investigators may implement changes to approved research prior to IRB review and approval if the changes are necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the subject. Specific changes that can be implemented immediately are:

  • Delay of visits and/or direct translation of in-person data collection to online/remote means, if feasible, without any other changes to the approved data collection. These changes are limited to data collection that can be moved to remote means with no changes on the research measures or procedures used (e.g., protocol is approved for in-person interviews and those interviews will be moved to phone or video calls with no other changes nor impact to risk to subjects).

Changes must be carefully noted in the research record as applicable and reported promptly to the UD IRB. Any other COVID-19-related changes to IRB-approved research protocols need to be submitted to the IRB via amendment and must be reviewed and approved prior to implementation

3. The safety of subjects in my ongoing trial could be affected if changes cannot be implemented immediately.

DHHS and FDA regulations require that all changes in IRB-approved research must be reviewed and approved before changes may be implemented. The only exception to this requirement is that an emergency change may be made without prior IRB review and approval if it is done to eliminate an apparent immediate hazard to a specific participant. Emergency changes must be reported promptly to the IRB for review.

4. I have an ongoing study registered in Clinicaltrials.gov. Do I have to make any changes to my registration?

Any changes made for research purposes to a registered and approved trial must be updated in the ClinicalTrials.gov registration within 30 days after IRB approval of the modification.

5. Can I stop my studies without IRB approval?

Yes, PIs can delay, stop and re-start data collection at their discretion without IRB approval unless any of those changes would affect risk to subjects. If the study is federally funded and the projected delays may affect your funding, the UD Research Office encourages you to contact your program officer for guidance.

6. I am a UD researcher conducting a multi-site study approved and overseen by another institution’s IRB (under single IRB review). What should I do about the study?

Contact the study’s primary PI to request guidance from the reviewing IRB and proceed accordingly. There is no need for immediate submission of amendments to the UD IRB when relying on the review and approval of another IRB.

7. Is the use of remote online tools secure to collect data from research subjects?

Yes, UD central IT recommends the use of Zoom for remote interviews. Zoom is a secured cloud-based platform that allows for secure data capture. You can search and download it from My UD. 

8. Is the UD IRB accepting and reviewing submissions?

Yes, the UD IRB staff and committee members are working normal hours. Email is checked periodically and the IRB staff are triaging the urgency of requests made to the IRB.

9. Who should I contact if I have additional human subjects related questions?

For additional information, please reach out by email to University of Delaware – HSRB <hsrb-research@udel.edu> or by phone at (302) 831-2137.

Animal Subjects
1. What measures are in place to protect research animals while campus access is suspended?

High-quality animal care remains a high priority and will continue to be delivered during campus disruptions.

2. Are there any changes to your IACUC procedures?

No change in IACUC procedures are anticipated at this time. Please continue to submit protocols and amendments as usual, and there will be no change in the schedule for meetings for full IACUC review.

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