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FAQs - Campus Conversation: Research at WVU in the COVID-19 Era

Q. If we have the lab space to spread people out (e.g., a 10’ diameter per person), can we have students in our labs in the fall or even summer?

A. Summer lab plans have to follow the guidance on the Research Office website and should be approved by the dept chair and the college who will submit them to the research office for approval. We are currently developing plans for the fall. At this time, only graduate students can work in labs; undergraduates can be approved on a case-by-case basis under extraordinary circumstances through the research office. https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance/return-to-research-summer-guidelines.

 

Q: Any guidelines/requirements for field/community-based research that does not require on-campus facilities?

A. Yes - those guidelines are found here: https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance/field-research-sop. We are currently working on guidelines for field work that involves an overnight stay or out of state travel.

 

Q: What is the definition of high-risk individuals in the guideline. Does it include someone living with seniors over 65?

A. Please see the CDC guidelines for the latest information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html. From the research re-start guidelines: Older individuals or those with underlying health conditions or who live with older relatives or those with underlying conditions should not return to campus, but rather should continue to be provided with tasks that can be performed remotely. See https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance/return-to-research-summer-guidelines

 

Q. What steps are we taking to move towards a non-contact clinical research encounter? Currently, we have roughly 3,000 telemedicine/phone consultations a day that may change the way we conduct a standard of care/research visit. To the best of my knowledge, the two typical requirements in a research visit is an interview and/or physical exam. For studies that require a physical exam, what process(s) do we need to create to handle these protocol deviations?

A. If you have to change your in-take procedure from in-person to remote, you should file an IRB amendment per the guidelines issued on March 17, item #4 (https://www.hsc.wvu.edu/news/story?headline=health-sciences-clinical-research-guidance-covid-19) and more information about this is in the FAQs located here (https://coronavirus.wvu.edu/researchers/faqs-for-researchers/)

 

Q. When will the libraries reopen and when will interlibrary loan resume?

A. The library will remain closed over the summer, however they have staff in the facilities retrieving physical items and scanning (articles) and mailing (books) as requested. Currently we are mailing to student and faculty homes. ILL of digital items continues apace. ILL of physical items has ceased as most libraries around the country sit empty and so no one is loaning. In cases where faculty need a book we don’t own, the library will buy it – preferring digital where possible, ordering print if that is all that is available. 

There are two emergency libraries open now:

1. Hathitrust of which we are a paying member. What they have done is to open to us all books normally under copyright restriction to the world, but now open to our campus for those items that we own in print (essentially bringing our print collection online). All these are discoverable through our catalog. There is no deadline on this. We are to notify HathiTrust when access to our physical collections is restored and then they will turn it off.

2. Internet Archive – (http://archive.org). Their site indicates the emergency library will “soon close” but does not give a date. They opened it up as a short-term effort for helping students globally and at different levels (high school through university).

 

Q. Do the Phase 2 guidelines apply only to on-campus research? Are we permitted to do all forms of off-campus research during Phase 2, including human subjects research?

A. You can do non-human subjects field research, but at this time cannot do off-campus human subjects research.

 

Q. All software licenses are provided only for on-campus desktop computers. Can we expect a blanket waiver for installing this software on laptops?

A. WVU doesn’t have the authority to waive licensing restrictions so we will have to adhere to the licensing restrictions on whatever software is purchased. That being said, those terms can be very different for each package. If someone needs assistance in determining what license to purchase for the location that they would like to install, they can submit a request here (https://wvu.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/1976/Portal/Requests/ServiceDet?ID=14076) and we can review it with them. Sometimes we just have to ask the vendor.

 

Q. Will we be allowed to use core facilities?

A. Yes, core facilities are a part of the phase 2 reopen.

 

Q. So students will be permitted to work (with restrictions) in the laboratories, but faculty cannot be in their office to assist, as needed?

A. The policy on office use has been updated and if you are approved to be on campus as part of phase 2, you can be in your office for the express purpose of helping students or waiting on an experimental run. See https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance

 

Q. Will the IRB office be including new questionnaires to include protection/protocols discussed today? Or do PIs need to include this?

A. We have links to various screening criteria on the website under the non-HSC human subjects restart document: https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance/non-hsc-human-subject-research

 

Q. If graduate students request an extension, but the grant monies have expired, is there an alternative funding source for supporting their assistantship?

A. There is no funding available at the university level, but a particular department or college may have funding available and faculty should work with their chairs and/or deans. Faculty are also encouraged to see if their current grant qualifies for a supplement (https://www.cogr.edu/institutional-and-agency-responses-covid-19-and-additional-resources). APLU is also advocating with funding agencies to offer cost extensions, but there are many competing interests for federal funds, so this should not be relied on as a potential solution.

 

Q. Will IRB protocols need to be adjusted?

A. It depends - if the only change you are making is to adhere to University guidelines on coming onto campus and safely conducting your research (e.g., everyone must wear a mask), then no. If you make a change to how you do the research (e.g., from in-person to remote) then yes. See https://coronavirus.wvu.edu/researchers/faqs-for-researchers/

 

Q. Any chance of relaxing the F&A rates from on-campus to off-campus since we are mostly working off-campus?

A. No - to qualify as off-campus, research has to meet very strict criteria and temporarily working at home does not qualify. Off-campus rates exist to acknowledge that one has to pay rental fees to use non-university space. In the current situation, the university is still paying for the researcher's lab and office with the plan of returning the researcher to those spaces as soon as it is safe to do so.

 

Q. What is the policy on meetings in the buildings?

A. No meetings in the building - all meetings should continue to be conducted remotely.

 

Q. How should employees handle experiments with long gaps in the middle, such as 1-3 hour incubations, if they are being advised not to use their offices?

A. Office use policy has been updated and this is allowed.

 

Q. How does this apply to student research for class projects?

A. Class project-related research cannot be conduct in-person this summer.

 

Q. What are rules for off-campus research and how do they differ from on-campus?

A. The rules are very similar and the only adjustments might be for remote field research where you are the only person in the middle of a forest - you do not have to wear a mask. See the field research guidelines here: https://research.wvu.edu/covid-19-guidance

 

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