We appreciate the thoughtful comments and concerns raised in response to our communication on March 13, 2020, which provided guidance on developing research continuity plans. We understand that additional guidance is needed and our office is preparing a more detailed FAQ, which should be available on March 18, 2020.
The status and impact of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and it is imperative that researchers at UConn and UConn Health take action to reduce COVID-19 exposure and spread. In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the University is expected to maintain social distancing by reducing the density of people working in our research laboratories, facilities, and programs. Researchers will begin immediately to ramp down research activities, including laboratory, animal, and non-therapeutic human subjects research. Where possible, research activities that can be accomplished remotely can continue. In developing your plans to ramp down research, it is also currently anticipated that critical activities, such as maintaining animals, unique reagents, and essential equipment and materials, can continue until further notice; however, researchers should develop plans to support and continue critical activities with minimum staffing and in accordance with CDC guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. Additional guidance regarding clinical trials, non-therapeutic human subjects research, and animal research will be available in the forthcoming FAQ.
As we work to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that undergraduates and graduate students working in research facilities and laboratories are able to exercise personal agency regarding their health and well-being. Their supervisors are expected to make appropriate accommodations without engaging in undue influence, coercion, or retaliation. Research staff should work with their supervisors to support individual agency within the requirements to sustain critical operations. Unless notified otherwise, researchers should follow existing sponsor guidelines for allowable and unallowable charges on grants. Our office is actively engaged with sponsor agencies and regulatory bodies and will post updates on the University’s COVID-19 page related to Research.
We understand the difficulties this minimal on-campus activity will pose to research projects and initiatives; however, we must prioritize the safety, health, and well-being of our community and work in concert with public health officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship