Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activities

Click here for the KSU COVID-19 Information and Resources page and click here for other Office of Research updates. 

Any questions/concerns about the advisories listed below, please contact Kristine Nowak, Director of Research Compliance: knowak@kennesaw.edu.

  • Subsequent to the advisory from Human Resources, you may find that you or other personnel in your research groups do not have 24-hour access to campus buildings. Faculty can request building access using KissFlow (https://dooraccess.kennesaw.edu). 

    Any graduate students who do not currently have 24-hour access and ARE NOT recognized by KissFlow as a KSU employee will need an email request submitted to Door Access on their behalf and have to complete a background check before receiving building access. 

    For graduate students who do not currently have 24-hour access but ARE recognized by KissFlow as a KSU employee, faculty can use KissFlow to request such access for them if needed. Please contact Door Access (https://dooraccess.kennesaw.edu) or your Associate/Assistant Dean for Research if you need assistance with this process.

  • A research activity may be considered Critical if:

    • It is work related to COVID-19.
    • It is work keeping alive organisms and very valuable or hard-to-replace living specimens.
    • It is work to oversee and/or maintain very valuable or hard-to-replace equipment.
    • It is work that continues (not starts) experiments with substantial incubation times.
    • It is work to maintain the viability of crucial components with short shelf-life that cannot be easily reproduced or recovered.
    • It is an activity that is critical to any research participant’s life or well-being.
    • It is work that has a seasonal component and would delay progress for at least a year if suspended.
    • Suspending the activity would result in irreversible loss, both in terms of progress and funding.

     A research activity may be considered non-Critical if:

    • Suspending the activity results in merely delaying the acquisition of data and/or results.
    • Suspending the activity results in truncated data collection, but valid research findings (outcomes/impacts) can still be obtained by analyzing a reduced data set.
    • That activity involving organisms is not aimed at safeguarding the lives of those organisms.
    • Suspending the activity may result in the loss of fairly inexpensive and easily replaceable biological specimens.
    • Suspending the activity results in loss of non-substantial physical and/or monetary resources (e.g. materials, supplies, paid-for lab- or equipment-use time).
    • Suspending the activity may result in needing to repair fairly inexpensive and easily replaceable equipment.

    Note:

    PIs who are sponsored by NIH or NSF or other federal agencies should refer to those agencies’ guidelines at the following web-page and appropriate links regarding reduction of research activity:

    https://www.cogr.edu/institutional-and-agency-responses-covid-19-and-additional-resources

    PIs who are sponsored by other entities should keep their points of contact apprised of KSU’s up-to-date research guidance regarding reduction of research activity.

  • In order to protect the health, safety, and well-being of individuals in our community, undergraduates should not enter any Kennesaw State University facility to conduct research.  Faculty with undergraduates in their research groups should contact each student to determine what activities they can complete remotely to fulfill any course requirements for the remainder of the semester.  

    Research groups should begin restricting on-campus activities with the following considerations:  

    • PIs should identify non-critical activities which can be ramped down, suspended, or delayed.  Definitions of what constitutes critical or non-critical research activities should be discussed with one’s Associate Dean for Research, in consultation with the Vice President for Research, if necessary. 
    • Do not initiate any new experiments.  
    • Due to the potential limited staff available to handle packages, please carefully consider any new orders of supplies for research.
    • Work by members of a research group should be staggered in such a way to maximize social distancing. However, no researcher should be in a laboratory completely alone, for safety purposes.  
    • If critical to safeguard the research, ensure that you and your group have access to all necessary equipment to finish in-progress experiments.   
    • Within reason and safety, graduate students working on their theses and dissertation projects may be granted continued access to university facilities, following best prevention practices (social distancing, hygiene etc).  Faculty committees supervising thesis and dissertation projects should be flexible in allowing those students who decide they need to return home or socially isolate to do so without penalty. Faculty may need to provide alternative methods for students to complete their work in a timely manner, and for scheduling defenses using electronic technologies.  
    • Please remember that any animal or biological material protocol changes still need to be submitted for IACUC or IBC review as usual.  

    Research groups conducting research with human subjects should begin restricting on-campus activities with the following considerations:  

    • PIs should identify non-critical research which can be ramped down, suspended, or delayed.  Definitions of what constitutes critical or non-critical research activities should be discussed with one’s Associate Dean for Research, in consultation with the Vice President for Research, if necessary. 
    • Researchers should postpone or reschedule in-person interviews or focus groups, or make arrangements to find alternative forms of data collection using virtual methods.  
    • Studies with time-dependent factors, such as periodic monitoring of subjects on a particular regimen, will need to consider the effects of rescheduling on their study data and outcomes but operate with an abundance of caution for all involved.  
    • Researchers working at off-campus locations should verify procedures with their site contacts.  
    • Research with human subjects that is online or virtual may continue, including recruitment of new subjects.  
    • Online surveys that automatically collect data may be left open, and data analysis can continue remotely if data security plans do not prescribe otherwise.
    • Please remember that any changes to research protocols, including personnel, interview procedures, or data storage, should be submitted for IRB review via a modification request.

     

  • Best practices for research, including human subjects:

    For the time being, research activities will continue at KSU. This means that faculty, students (both graduate and undergraduate), and staff who currently work on any research projects may continue to do so if it does not compromise their own health and safety or of anyone participating in the research. Note that exterior doors will be locked during this period of low campus occupancy, so please plan accordingly.

    Because the status of research activities may change going forward, colleges are currently refining research contingency plans. We are identifying which personnel need building or room access to assure continuity of research in case policy dictates limited access to university facilities at a later point. This would include ONLY critical activities such as animal care, monitoring of sample storage (freezers), equipment maintenance that needs to be done on a regular basis, and periodic monitoring of lab areas to ensure safety and security. Below are some points for best practices to continue research while the university remains open but operating in a minimal staff condition.

    General Practices:

    • PIs should develop individual work plans with members of their research group to allow continuity of operations in case of illness or other restrictions on commuting to campus or access to lab spaces.
    • PIs should not penalize any members of their groups who need to isolate, stay home sick, or have time away from campus due to outside factors. Those with health conditions that preclude interactions must be allowed to stay off-campus.
    • Research groups should minimize in-person group meetings and maximize social distancing as much as reasonably possible. Microsoft Teams is a good way to have meetings over the internet; other services include WebEx which is available through UITS.
      Ensure good hygiene practices including regular cleaning of active areas (doorknobs, workstations, etc.).

    Research involving Students:

    • Students conducting research may continue to work on those projects, including using university facilities. However, PIs and faculty mentors should allow those students who decide they need to return home or socially isolate to do so without penalty.
    • Graduate students working on their theses and dissertation projects should be granted continued access to university facilities, following best prevention practices (hygiene etc).  Faculty committees supervising thesis and dissertation projects should be flexible in allowing those students who decide they need to return home or socially isolate to do so without penalty. Faculty may need to provide alternative methods for students to complete their work in a timely manner, and for scheduling defenses using electronic technologies.
    • Any questions or concerns, contact Amy Buddie, Director Undergraduate Research: abuddie@kennesaw.edu; or David Baugher, Senior Assistant Dean Graduate College: dbaugher@kennesaw.edu.

    Laboratory Research:

    • Students (graduate and undergraduate) may continue their work if feasible until further notice. This might be a good time to work on literature reviews or writing projects for those students who cannot come to campus.
    • Please remember that any animal or biological material protocol changes still need to be submitted for IACUC or IBC review as usual.
    • Whenever you leave a laboratory, or work is completed for the day, all chemical and waste containers should be closed, all equipment that can should be turned off, and all doors and spaces secured.
    • All PIs should continue to curate their lists of laboratory personnel who would ABSOLUTELY REQUIRE access if the university were to close. Continuing research for a thesis or an upcoming manuscript submission would not be considered critical under such circumstances. 
    • Have a plan in place to pause active research other than only the most basic functions to keep specimens alive, provide for their long term storage, or perform necessary routine maintenance of lab equipment (e.g. refilling machinery coolants, monitoring freezers).

    Human Subjects Research:

    • Researchers should postpone or reschedule in-person interviews or focus groups.
    • Studies with time-dependent factors, such as periodic monitoring of subjects on a particular regimen, will need to consider the effects of rescheduling on their study data and outcomes but operate with an abundance of caution for all involved.
    • Researchers working at off-campus locations should verify procedures with their site contacts.
    • Create plans for continuity of research if the university is completely closed in the near future. At that point, all on-campus in-person research activities should be suspended and have a plan for continuing-interaction studies that have time-sensitive components.
    • Online surveys that automatically collect data may be left open, and data analysis can continue remotely if data is not housed on a restricted-access campus-housed device or data security plans do not prescribe otherwise.
    • Please remember that any changes to research protocols, including personnel, interview procedures, or data storage, should be submitted for IRB review via a modification request at https://research.kennesaw.edu/irb/progress-report-form.php.
    • Any questions/concerns, contact Kristine Nowak, Director of Research Compliance: knowak@kennesaw.edu.
  • Research with Human Subjects:

    • If possible, PIs should consider pausing data collection with human subjects for the next 2-week time period.
    • If pausing would harm the integrity of the research, practice good prevention policies – ask participants not to come to campus if ill, limit human subject interaction with each other, use hand sanitizer etc. 
    • Any questions/concerns, contact Kristine Nowak, Director of Research Compliance  knowak@kennesaw.edu.

    Research involving Students:

    • Students conducting research may continue to work on those project including using university facilities. However, PIs and faculty mentors should allow those students who decide they need to return home or socially isolate to do so without penalty.
    • Graduate students working on their theses and dissertation projects should be granted continued access to university facilities, following best prevention practices (hygiene etc).  Faculty committees supervising thesis and dissertation projects should be flexible in allowing those students who decide they need to return home or socially isolate to do so without penalty. Faculty may need to provide alternative methods for students to complete their work in a timely manner, and for scheduling defenses using electronic technologies.
    • Any questions or concerns, contact Amy Buddie, Director Undergraduate Research: abuddie@kennesaw.edu;  or David Baugher, Senior Assistant Dean Graduate College: dbaugher@kennesaw.edu.

     

 

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