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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Updates

Information for researchers

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Questions? Email:

University Research and Compliance Office at comply@k-state.edu
PreAward Services at research@k-state.edu
Office of Research and Development at ord@k-state.edu

Public Health Precautions for the K-State research community

On March 15, President Myers announced that the university was moving to limited operations on all campuses. Keeping in mind the need for social distancing, everything that can be done remotely should be done remotely. Faculty and staff members should not be on our campuses unless they are performing operations deemed essential that can't be done remotely. Those who need to return to a campus to get necessary equipment or materials should work with their unit heads to get that accomplished by end of day Friday, March 20.

Preparing Your Research Program

Our philosophy as researchers is that we value all our faculty, staff, and students who are part of our research activities that comprise a vital part of our land-grant mission. These are very extraordinary times, and I ask each research leader to develop and implement lab shut down and continuity plans that are in the best interests of their team members. Our goal should be to survive this pandemic to continue to do research in the future. 
 
There are, however, mission-critical activities that must be continued in order to preserve life and safety for our researchers and to meet Federal guidelines on activities involving human and animal subjects. Any animal studies underway at this time will be continued to completion of the study per Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) policies. If a study must be terminated for any reason, the IACUC must be contacted in advance for approval: cdoerr@k-state.edu.
Animal colonies, herds, and insect colonies must be maintained according to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). A list of all current animal activities is being compiled from IACUC and the Comparative Medicine Group, and PIs will be contacted. Continuity of Operations Plans (COOPs) need to be developed and implemented by faculty and directors for all animal facilities.  
 
Any shut down or hibernation of equipment or a laboratory must be done in accordance with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) (see Lab Hibernation Plan form). Our mission-critical facilities will be secured and maintained per SOPs and regulations. COOPs should include communication plans with critical vendors for deliveries.
This list may not be all-inclusive: 
  • Any superconducting magnets will be maintained per manufacturer’s specs (e.g. NMRs, MRIs). 
  • Any inert atmosphere boxes, reactive materials, incubators, sensitive/time-sensitive samples/studies including critical cell, bacterial, plant, and algal lines, and other biological samples and specimens must be maintained according to SOPs. 
  • All maintenance of mission-critical research must be performed in accordance with CDC COVID-19 social distancing SOPs. 

Committee Guidance on Protocol Approvals

During the COVID-19 suspension of normal activities, and in accordance with federal guidance, the University Research and Compliance Office and the Comparative Medicine Group recommend that the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee(IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and Institutional Review Board (IRB) conduct business as follows:

IACUC

  • Reduce meeting frequency from 2 meetings/month to 1 meeting/month that will be held on the 1st Thursday of the month (or earlier if needed)
  • Meetings will be held by ZOOM virtual meetings
  • Priority will be given to reviewing/approving:
    • Minor modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Major modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Just-in-time review of new protocols that have been approved for funding by a granting agency
    • Renewal/continuation of an expiring protocol that already has animals in house
    • New protocols aimed at developing vaccines/therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  • Review/approval of new animal care & use protocols will be deferred until after the priority items listed above have been acted upon.

IBC

  • Full committee meetings will be held on an as needed/case by case basis.
  • Meetings will be held by Zoom virtual meetings
  • Priority will be given to reviewing/approving:
    • Minor modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Major modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Just-in-time review of new protocols that have been approved for funding by a granting agency
    • New protocols aimed at developing vaccines/therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  • Review/approval of new IBC protocols will be deferred until after the priority items listed above have been acted upon.

IRB

  • Full committee meetings will be held on an as needed/case by case basis -
  • Meetings will be held by ZOOM virtual meetings
  • Priority will be given to reviewing/approving:
    • Minor modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Major modifications to existing approved protocols
    • Just-in-time review of new protocols that have been approved for funding by a granting agency
  • Review/approval of new protocols will be deferred until after the priority items listed above have been acted upon.

When you email in your protocols, please indicate which of the above categories your new application or modification falls into . This will ensure that we approve items in a timely manner.

If you have any questions, please contact the University Research and Compliance Office at comply@k-state.edu.

The PreAward Services staff will continue to provide normal proposal services, including submission, as well as continue to process awards and agreements and negotiate contracts to ensure the continued on-boarding of new and continuing project awards, but will be doing so through telework.
 
The OVPR website includes staff contact information. However, in lieu of leaving voice-mail messages for a specific staff member, you are encouraged to send a direct email to them, or to research@k-state.edu, which is monitored by multiple individuals.

A typical checklist to prepare your Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP):
  1. Identify emergency personnel and ensure they know what to do in the event of suspended operations.
  2. Remind lab personnel of your communications plan or create one if not in place.
  3. Identify priorities in case of restricted access.
  4. Ensure remote access to files, data, servers, etc. and backup your data.
  5. Secure any biological or other perishable reagents for a potentially extended period of inaccessibly.
  6. Prioritize experiments.
  7. Plan for remote proposal submission.
  8. Check travel restrictions (university and sponsor) before making any travel plans.

Download a typical checklist to prepare your Continuity of Operations Plan (.DOCX). 

Here are a few simple scenarios in which to consider these impacts:

  • As a PI, what would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if I had to self-isolate for two weeks?  Do I have a COOP for my research team?
    • Do all of my research team members have home/cell/office phone numbers that are up to date on my call tree?
    • Do all of my research team members have all the important contact information for the university? Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), department, the other team members?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if one or more of my research staff or students (graduate or undergraduate) had to self-isolate for two weeks?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if K-State advised all faculty, staff, and graduate/undergraduate students to work remotely?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if K-State partially shut down operations?
    • Contact the appropriate office with questions about continuity of research:  URCO, Comparative Medicine Group (CMG), EH&S, PreAward Services (PAS).
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if the event duration were two, four, or six weeks?

Here are a few ways to begin assessing the potential impact of the novel coronavirus on your research in any of the above scenarios:

  • Are there any studies involving participants, animals, ingredients, or experiments that would be adversely affected? If so, what plans should be put in place to allow for them to continue or allow for them to be stopped and later resumed in the least impactful way?
    • Contact URCO, CMG, or EH&S for additional input/assistance.
  • What standing purchasing orders or human resource issues might be impacted?
  • Would data collection/analysis/storage be impacted – have my team and I been backing-up our data?
  • What costs would be associated with these impacts?
    • If some/all of my team were not able to be present, do they have remote access?
  • What regulatory approvals will expire soon and might be impacted if they are not renewed? Can they be renewed early? Do I need to modify my protocols to account for these potential issues or changes in research or experiments?
    • Contact URCO, Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) about policies and due-dates. The plan is to have these committees continue to meet if we have ongoing experiments and the university remains open.
  • Are there any collaborators that need to be notified?
    • Am I a subcontractor on a grant or contract? Notify Paul Lowe in PreAward Services (PAS): plowe@k-state.edu.
  • What sponsor reports or deadlines might be due during this time period?
    • Inquire with your department or college accounting office or PAS: plowe@k-state.edu.
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts.
  • Would the impact of these actions warrant a for-cost or no-cost extension request for any of my sponsored projects?
    • Inquire with your department or college accounting office or PAS: plowe@k-state.edu.
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts.
  • What notice might I need to give sponsors or regulators if the research is going to be paused or significantly delayed beyond a couple of weeks?
    • Inquire with your department or college accounting office or PAS: plowe@k-state.edu.
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts and keep documentation.

Once you have considered the impact for each of these scenarios, please take appropriate steps to make sure your research program is prepared. 

If you have any questions, please contact Cheryl Doerr at cdoerr@k-state.edu.

Additional Considerations for Animal or Human Subjects Research

  • Is the location of the study remaining open and available for participants to be present?  Has the location implemented any procedures for human subjects to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that will affect participation in your study or the ability of your study to proceed?  
  • Does your protocol require in-person participation?  Can it be modified for remote participation?
  • Does your protocol require in-person monitoring?  Can it be modified for remote monitoring?
  • Should your participants be screened for the novel coronavirus as part of your inclusion/exclusion criteria?
  • Would your data or results be affected if your participants had to self-quarantine or if they contracted coronavirus?
  • Does your protocol for animal husbandry and management require regular monitoring?

Remember, any modifications you make to your IRB, IBC, or IACUC protocols as a result of preparation for the coronavirus need to be submitted to the URCO at comply@k-state.edu and approved before implementation.

Additional Considerations for Environmental Health and Safety

Most considerations for environmental health and safety would only come into play should critical lab staff with unique knowledge be unavailable or a short-term (2-6 week) closure be required. A Lab Hibernation Plan should be developed and critical information shared with EH&S, your department, and posted on the lab(s) door(s) or entryway. A few other considerations for you:

  • Do you have a limited number of critical lab staff with unique knowledge?  Are there others in your lab who can be cross-trained?
    • Develop your COOP so everyone knows what will be done and by whom.
  • Does your lab operate machines that use active cooling through liquid gasses, dry boxes, or inert boxes using gas blankets?  What would happen if materials like liquid gasses, CO2, nitrogen, or dry ice become unavailable?
  • How frequently are you saving or freezing samples of your cell cultures?
  • Do you have long-term experiments that might benefit from more frequent preservation?
  • Do you have the requisite local knowledge to do controlled shutdowns of complex machines or devices such as NMRs without on-site help from the company?
  • Have you shared with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) the locations and amounts of materials that are air, water, or otherwise unstable for observation in case of lab closure?
    • Do you have chemicals with limited shelf life that may become hazardous within 2-6 weeks?

For questions about EHS, or to report locations of unstable materials, please contact Christina Aguilera, cmaguilera@k-state.edu.

Research Computing

Beocat provides high performance computing services to the campus. It is free to any researcher in the state of Kansas. Beocat is committed to being fully functional while the university is in limited operations. Information on Beocat can be found at beocat.k-state.edu. If you have time-sensitive research dealing with COVID-19, please contact Dan Andresen at dan@k-state.edu for prioritized access to Beocat resources.

Federal Guidance (updated April 1, 2020)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Council on Governmental Relations
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Justice Programs (DOJ)
National Security Agency (NSA)
Department of Energy (DOE)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA)
United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity
Department of Defense (DOD)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Department of Health and Human Services 

Department of the Air Force

*All guidance is subject to change.

If you have any questions, please contact:

University Research and Compliance Office at comply@k-state.edu
PreAward Services at research@k-state.edu
Office of Research and Development at ord@k-state.edu 

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