Important Information from UMD's Division of Research on the Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activity

Important Information from UMD's Division of Research on the Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activity

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus is implementing many new procedures and measures to address the current crisis. We want to assure you that the health and safety of our campus community is our highest priority and consideration. As a result, on March 21, 2020, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost imposed SEVERE RESEARCH RESTRICTIONS for campus research. Under these restrictions, the university is performing only essential and limited exempted research that must be approved by the Dean and VPR. Below are links to policy updates and resources regarding the University of Maryland’s evolving response to the situation.

Research Resources:

 

General University Guidance

 

Health Information Resources

 

Guidance Regarding Severe Research Restrictions:

Due to the health and safety risk to our campus community and to our region from COVID-19, and resulting directives from federal and state government officials severely limiting interpersonal interactions in any public spaces, our on-campus laboratories and core facilities were place under Severe Research Restrictions starting on March 21, 2020. These restrictions are expected to remain in place through at least June 1, at which time they will be re-evaluated.

Requests for limited exemptions from these restrictions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. A formal application process for exemptions is being developed by each college in collaboration with the Vice President for Research and will be managed by the office of the Dean. Exemptions will require approval by the College/School Dean and the Vice President for Research.

Severe Research Restrictions: With Severe Restrictions, all basic and animal research experimentation requiring a physical presence at UMD should cease as we move to maintenance operations: maintaining and caring for important instruments, animal colonies, cell lines, and other valuable resources. An exception to this is research related to COVID-19. Other limited exemptions for research requiring campus facilities will be approved at the Dean’s level and submitted for final approval to the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Please note that no one may be forced to come to campus to work. For those working in campus facilities, please remember at all times to continue to use proper precautions – wash hands, wear gloves, maintain 6-ft distance between persons, and wipe down lab benches or other surfaces. If you have concerns about your rights as a staff member or student, you may use this anonymous website to report your concerns: https://vpaf.umd.edu/ethics-integrity-and-compliance-reporting.

It is important to understand that we are taking this step in the interest of the health and safety of our community. UMD is not discontinuing research. It is temporarily limiting on-campus laboratory and other campus-based research activity through June 1 with some exceptions. All research work that can be done remotely (remote interviews, data processing, proposals, publications, patents, reviews, research group meetings, administrative meetings, etc.) is strongly encouraged.

Federal granting agencies are responding quickly and are introducing significant flexibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most updated guidance about these changes is provided on this website. Please reach out to your NIH, NSF or other agency program director as soon as possible with concerns and questions about grants and contracts regulations. Faculty should keep their collaborators (academic, private, non-profit, and community organizations) informed of any study-specific plans and actions.

Graduate research assistants and their faculty advisors should take steps to place research activities in a state where they can be restarted without loss of progress when restrictions are lifted. We understand that many of you may lose valuable time and resources, but we are living in very unusual and troubling times that demand adaptation.

We are not alone in this imperative. Most of our peers across the country are being forced to take similar measures. It is important that we at the University of Maryland do our part to “flatten the curve” of this pandemic.

Please note that federal agencies are introducing significant flexibilities due to the pandemic, including flexibilities for researchers and institutions related to grants administration, fiscal issues, and time periods for no-cost extensions, as well as delayed submissions and reporting. There is a continuously updated list of agency guidance provided on our website. Please reach out to your NIH, NSF or other agency program director as soon as possible with concerns and questions. Faculty should keep their collaborators (academic, private, non-profit, and community organizations) informed of their study-specific plans and actions.

Also see:

 

 


UMD Research Administration Support:


Proposal Deadlines.  In general, we expect that ORA will be able to submit proposals, even if personnel are working remotely.  Our experience is that federal agencies are more 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.  Updated information will be posted on the ORA website, if necessary.


Frequently Asked Questions.  Questions from our Principal Investigators and Research Administration staff can be submitted via our online form or sent to askresearchadmin@umd.edu. If we are unable to answer them, we will pass them along to federal agency staff for response. That information will be posted here to ensure broad access, and similar information from our peer institutions can be found here.  In the interim, we are providing general guidance for our researchers that will be updated as more specific information becomes available.
 

 

Checklist for Researchers:

What special planning should researchers carry out? 
We have included the following CHECKLIST to assist UMD researchers with planning.

CHECKLIST

 

University Research Guidance:  

With the new Severe Research Restrictions in place, please adhere to the following guidelines:

Access to Research Spaces.  On-campus laboratories and core facilities must begin transitioning immediately to implement Severe Research Restrictions. These restrictions are expected to remain in place through at least June 1, at which time they will be re-evaluated.

Core Labs and Facilities.  Please contact core facility personnel for updates regarding specialized core labs and facilities.

Prioritize Remote Access and Telework. At this time, it is important to prioritize research activities that can be done remotely (data processing, proposals, publications, patents, reviews, virtual research group and administrative meetings, virtual human subject interactions, etc.). All grant support and research administration services will continue to operate as normal but remotely, and we are anticipating a surge in these activities. All students, post-docs, staff, and faculty involved in research projects should ensure that they have access to information they need to work remotely. This might include, for example, access to literature, access to existing datasets and research-related files, and access to meeting software such as WebEx and Zoom.  More information is available on the keepworking.umd.edu website. Principal Investigators should host research staff meetings remotely, using similar approaches as for Remote Teaching of Classes. Visit keepteaching.umd.edu for guidance, strategies and resources to support virtual instruction. For additional online research resources, please visit the Integrated Research Resources on Campus (IRRoC) website.

For using university technology resources for HIPAA-covered work, please also see: HIPAA and the Use of Information Technology Systems at UMD.

For more information on electronic signatures, please visit the following resource: How to Add Digital Signature in Adobe Acrobat


Field Studies. Field, farm, and greenhouse projects with adequate social distancing may be continued.

See: Daily Risk Assessment for Field Research During Severe Research Restrictions

Research Safety, Personal Safety, and Security. Safety and security are critical for all of our personnel who must be on-site to continue critical research or those personnel that are designated as 'essential', performing activities that include animal care and maintaining essential equipment and valuable samples. The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability, and Risk (ESSR) is moving to offer virtual researcher training via Zoom and WebEx. More details will be provided to the research community. Contact labsafety@umd.edu for support and with lab safety related questions.

Also See:

 

Protection of Research Spaces. Please be vigilant regarding any suspicious activity and/or any unauthorized access to your research spaces. In the event that you do notice any suspicious activity, please contact the University of Maryland Police at 301-405-3555.


 

University Research Resources:

With the new Severe Research Restrictions in place, please adhere to the following guidelines:

Animal Care.  New animal studies should not be initiated at this time. Campus personnel involved in animal research should read the following information: Animal Research Guidance - March 23, 2020. Contact dlar@umd.edu with any questions related to animal care. Also see the following resources:


Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Updates on meetings, protocol submission, and submission processing will be posted on the IACUC website.


Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Use of Human Subjects in Research:  Studies requiring face-to-face interaction with participants with no direct drug or therapeutic benefit are to be postponed until further notice.  Changes to protocols due to adjustments in level of restrictions will be handled in an expedited manner. Please watch the IRB website for updates. Contact Joe Smith (irb@umd.edu) with questions.
IRB Guidance for Moving to Remote Interactions - March 21, 2020


Institutional Biosafety Committee. Updates on meetings, protocol submission, and processing will be posted on the IBC website.  We expect that the Biosafety Office will be able to process IBC registrations and amendments, even if personnel are working remotely.  Contact biosafety@umd.edu with any questions.


Research with Sensitive or Restricted Data.  Some research projects may involve sensitive data that have security controls mandated by the sponsor, policy, or federal law (examples: HIPAA, FERPA, Export-controlled, etc.).  If your project is subject to a data security plan or Technology Control Plan that precludes remote access, contact your department or college IT security administrator, or Division of IT, Gerry Sneeringer (sneeri@umd.edu).  If your project involves export-controlled technologies under a Technology Control Plan, please contact the UMD Export Compliance Office (export@umd.edu).  If it becomes necessary to communicate with the sponsor, please contact your contract administrator in the Office of Research Administration.  This guidance is intended for "on-campus" projects not involving Classified Information.  For projects conducted at an off-campus, secure facility, the Facility Security Officer or Director of the Facility will need to provide guidance to research staff and faculty.


Guidelines on Mail Delivery and Ordering Supplies. The University has shared Guidelines on Mail Delivery, HAZMAT, and Ordering Supplies.


Limited Submissions/Funding Opportunities.  In general, we expect new RFPs and solicitations to continue to be offered by foundations and the government.  Funding opportunities with a compressed timeline for submission will be distributed directly to faculty, and we will continue to distribute funding alerts on a regular basis. For information about COVID-19 funding opportunities, please visit the link below:

COVID-19 Funding Opportunities

In addition, we encourage you to check the UMD Limited Submission and Seed Grant Portal for regular updates.  


Proposal Resources & Training:  Resources forproposal development, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship will all continue as normal although some training and seminars will move online.

 

Material Transfer, Equipment Loan, and Donation Agreements:

For assistance with outgoing material transfer, equipment loan, and donation agreements contact UM Ventures (umdtechtransfer@umd.edu).

UM Ventures is a team of professionals with expertise in all aspects of technology transfer, intellectual property development and management, technology marketing, and license strategy and negotiation. UM Ventures can also assist with material transfer and donation agreements for UMD research tools and other intellectual property. Contact staff to schedule a virtual meeting https://www.umventures.org/about-us/directory/college-park



 

COVID-19 Wellness Resources:

Therapy Services:

  • 7 cups: free, confidential online chat therapy with trained listeners and counselors https://www.7cups.com/

Meditation:

Thoughtful Articles on Coping During COVID19:

Podcasts and Courses:

Virtual Arts Experiences:

Exercise at Home:

Maryland Department of Health FAQ on COVID:

World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Local & Regional Mental Health Resources: (in case staff prefer to go outside of the UMMC resources for assistance)

Addiction-Specific Support Resources:


Additional COVID-19 Research Resources:





This page was created on:

March 10, 2020


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Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541

Email vpr AT umd.edu
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UMD is the only major public research university inside the Washington, DC beltway