Research & Coronavirus
Research continues at the state’s land-grant research university. Each PI is responsible for establishing social distancing and other safety protocols in relation to research.
The Office of Research and Economic Development encourages researchers to also visit the Council on Governmental Relations FAQ page for up-to-date information on how COVID-19 impacts federal awards.
If research activities can be continued at home, they should be done from home. On-site research that is not essential and that can be deferred should be deferred.
Essential research activities that require a presence on campus or at university facilities or that require travel may continue, with the approval of your dean. Examples of essential research activities includes:
- Animal care (for teaching and research animals).
- Maintaining the integrity of research facilities, specimens and data.
- Actions necessary to maintain ongoing research but only to the extent that the action can’t be delayed and failure to take the action will result in material loss of research already performed or undue harm to human subjects.
- Research related to COVID-19.
Essential research activities that require people to be on-site in university facilities must have approval from a dean or the vice president for research and economic development and must take necessary precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
PIs and supervisors should also review contingency plans for curtailment or shutdown of operations in the event further restrictions or closures are necessary. Please be prepared and anticipate that there could be additional changes to this rapidly evolving situation.
Building are closed but ORED is continuing to provide all services although most staff is working remotely. Contact ORED staff by email, phone or Zoom.
Federal agency guidance on research administration topics continues to evolve. The agencies are working on providing common guidance in this difficult situation, but some of the “thornier” issues are still a work in progress. We will update the community regularly to keep you informed of additions and changes.
The Council on Governmental Relations is maintaining a FAQ website regarding COVID-19 that contains good, up-to-date information.
The Sponsored Program Office in ORED remains operational and can help with specific questions related to COVID-19 as well as with requests and pre-approvals from funding agencies. Please contact Sponsored Programs at email@example.com.
The IACUC Office requests you review your Facility Emergency Response Plan, specifically the University Closures due to Severe Weather or for other reasons, Personnel Unavailability, & Feed and/or Bedding Shortages sections.
Please contact the IACUC office if you have any concerns about insufficient staffing or have unexpected insufficient staffing so we can help you find a solution.
Also, please review the sufficiency of your on-hand food supply, in case of shipping delays.
Campus Veterinarian Contact
- 24-Hour Emergency Line: 208-885-1187
- Office Phone: 208-885-8958
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
IACUC – Animal care procedures should continue, with duties divided as much as possible to allow for social distancing. Animal care staff should stay home if they experience symptoms of illness. Facility managers should contact the IACUC if they expect to have insufficient staffing or have unexpected insufficient staffing so we can help you find a solution.
IACUC protocols – Should procedures need to be changed due to unavailability of research personnel, please submit an amendment in VERAS prior to changing the procedures. Contact the Attending Veterinarian at email@example.com or 208-885-8958 or the IACUC Coordinator at IACUC@uidaho.edu or 208-885-7258 for assistance with submission and help determining alternative solutions.
Our IRB office is still staffed and working. To update IRB protocols including changes to procedures due to social distancing, such as recruitment methods, survey methods, delayed testing procedures, etc., please submit amendments in VERAS and wait for approval prior to changing your procedures. Should you need assistance or have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-885-6340.
Shared facilities may remain operational but work that can’t be completed with adequate social distancing should be deferred whenever possible. Some facilities may require operational or access changes in response to COVID-19 and should communicate these changes to impacted users. Users should directly contact facilities of interest for up-to-date status.
During this period of fluidity, please keep in mind the following concepts:
- Consistency: For a cost to be allowable, it will require consistent treatment across all funding sources. That is, a cost will not be deemed allowable if it would not be treated the same using any other type of funding.
- Prudence: The federal government follows the “prudent person” test when evaluating whether costs charged to federal awards are reasonable. If a cost item, in its nature and amount, does not exceed that which would be incurred by a prudent person under the circumstances at the time the decision was made to incur the cost, the cost is reasonable. In other words, if a cost strains the bounds of reasonability, it probably will not be allowable.
- Documentation: It is very likely that guidance from the federal government and university on award administration may shift over time. Maintain documentation on why a certain decision was made, what options were reviewed, all receipts, relevant emails, etc. A cost might be deemed allowable if you can show that it was logical (i.e. “reasonable”) at the time given the available guidance.
- Responsibility: Faculty and staff working on grants have the responsibility to do everything possible to ameliorate problems when reasonable. Keep a close eye on cancellation deadlines and apply for refunds and vouchers, as appropriate.
Research activities that can be conducted away from campus are encouraged. Other than computers, storage devices, lab notebooks and papers, no materials should be removed from laboratories without prior approval from your chair, dean and Vice President for Research and Economic Development. This includes specimens, chemicals, animals or sensitive equipment.
Each PI, facility manager and supervisor is empowered and expected to make decisions about research and laboratory operations that are essential and should continue and who needs access to facilities to continue these operations. These managers and supervisors should seek approval from their dean or the VPRED to continue these essential operations and must take steps to ensure adequate social distancing and prevent COVID-19 transmission.
These decisions may require changing access to facilities, operating conditions and other changes that could impact student research. PIs and supervisors are encouraged to find solutions to enable student success (remote work, alternative schedules or plans) even if access needs to be restricted.
Students and other trainees who do not want to be physically present in shared research spaces due to COVID-19 concerns should not be required to be.
NSF is making adjustments in response to COVID-19, including some changes to submission deadlines. All PIs are encouraged to review agency guidance and double-check information on agency websites as changes are made frequently.
Travel for research is subject to the same restrictions as any other university travel. Research travel should be mission critical and should be approved by your vice president (or his or her delegate — in the case of the Provost, deans are delegated with travel approval).
Researchers should carefully consider their need to travel for research and defer any travel that can be deferred. Travel for research that needs to proceed should employ strategies to minimize risk of coronavirus transmission (reduce number of participants, use transportation and housing strategies that reduce personal interactions, etc). Even high priority research may not justify travel if strategies to mitigate coronavirus risk can’t be implemented.
As long as travel restrictions are in place, all travel needs authorization and must be justified as essential. Travelers should not rely on blanket travel authorizations approved before travel restrictions went into effect.