Department COVID-19 Updates:
COVID-19 Research Planning UNL IRB COVID-19 response

COVID-19 Research Planning

On-campus, in-person instruction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln started Aug. 24. Before restarting research and creative activities, scholars must review the guidelines for reopening spaces and complete a reopening plan.

Employees are encouraged to continue to work remotely whenever possible even as some will need to return to an on-campus work environment. Protecting the health and safety of the campus, community and visitors will remain our highest priority.

Faculty and staff also are encouraged to join students in signing the Cornhusker Commitment, a pledge to follow healthy and safety measures to protect themselves and the entire Husker community.

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Operational Status

  • Abide by local health guidance.
  • Follow UNL health, safety policies.
  • Continue reducing workplace density.
  • Follow reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist.
  • Cloth masks available from unit leaders/department chairs.
  • International travel prohibited; domestic travel outside Nebraska highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval.

Guidelines and FAQs

Animal Care

UNL adheres to provisions of the Public Health Service policy, Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals; Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (ag guide); Animal Welfare Act and Regulations; and commitments detailed in our animal welfare assurance with the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. This includes advance planning for conditions that could arise as a result of a human pandemic (e.g., influenza) or outbreaks of novel infections (e.g., COVID-19 disease due to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) that could jeopardize the health and wellbeing of animals because of a lack of personnel to care for the animals and/or to conduct official Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee business.

Export Control

UNL’s Export Control and Research Compliance Services staff continue to operate per usual. All Export Control operations are conducted either via email or NUgrant/NuRamp, and staff are able to work remotely.

As the university restarts research activities, personnel are still encouraged to work remotely whenever possible. Off-campus work locations must meet the same physical and electronic security standards as the original work locations outlined in the export control determination or technology control plan. Any plans to work remotely, in this regard, must be approved by the Export Control Compliance Program. To assist Export Control staff accommodating COVID-19 requests, please take an extra moment to review the FAQs below. Following review, if there are any questions related specifically to your research and how it impacts your project, please contact the UNL ECCP at exportcontrol@unl.edu.

Research Data Access & Security

In many cases, remote work activity does not pose research data security concerns. However, research personnel must consider whether or not appropriate data security and confidentiality measures can be implemented for work to be conducted from off-campus locations. Please check with the Office of Sponsored Programs, Institutional Review Board and Export Control as appropriate to the type of research you are conducting.

Human Subjects Research

The institutional official, in consultation with the Institutional Review Board chair and Research Compliance Services, removed the suspension of in-person human subjects research July 6. However, research personnel are still encouraged to conduct human subjects research via remote activity whenever possible.

All in-person human subjects research protocols, under the auspices of UNL, will be allowed to resume activities on July 6. Research personnel are expected to follow all university policies and guidance or relevant federal guidance regarding the performance of in-person research protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details and guidelines are available on the UNL IRB COVID-19 webpage and FAQ.

Operational Status

The following guidelines address university operations until further notice.

  • Unit leaders must continue to abide by local health guidance. Updates on the COVID risk dial can be found on the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department of Health website.
  • University-sponsored international travel is prohibited; domestic travel outside Nebraska is highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval.
  • Through the encouragement of working remotely, flexible scheduling, and other flexible measures, unit leaders should continue to keep the density of individuals in a workplace to the minimum necessary.
  • Through September, investigators should continue following the reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist.
  • Cloth masks are available from unit leaders/department chairs.
  • The federal Office of Management and Budget has issued an extension on administrative relief due to loss of operations through Dec. 31. Investigators are urged to review the latest updates from UNL’s Office of Sponsored Programs.

Guidelines will be reevaluated regularly based on University of Nebraska policies; best practices recommended by the CDC and other leading health organizations (links provided at bottom of page); and according to local directed health measures.

Proposals

A curated list of COVID-19-related calls is available. This list is updated daily by the Office of Proposal Development, so check back often to view newly released calls. To request a specific call be added to the list, email Tisha Mullen, director of proposal development.

Sponsored Programs

The Office of Sponsored Programs is continuing to submit proposals remotely. Investigators are encouraged to contact their pre-award grant coordinators and post-award project specialists as needed. Many federal agencies are adjusting deadlines due to difficult circumstances. However, given the uncertainty, OSP encourages principal investigators to consider submissions early before the deadline dates.

Principal investigators are urged to review guidance from the funding agencies with which they work. General questions may be directed to unlosp@unl.edu.

Federal Agency Guidelines

Summer Appointments

The following protocol guides summer appointments as UNL remains under a remote work policy.

  • If an employee has approved summer funding from any source of funds and can safely perform their duties as identified in the awarded scope of work or summer appointment letter, regardless of whether onsite or remotely, the appointment should proceed as scheduled.
  • If an employee was scheduled for a summer appointment but cannot perform their duties as identified in an awarded scope of work, the unit is advised to contact the Office of Sponsored Programs, who will contact the sponsor’s contracting officer to request a no-cost extension to defer the summer appointment to a future period.
  • FAQ guide on summer appointments (updated 5/12/20)

Travel

To protect the safety and well-being of UNL researchers and the community at large, international travel continues to be prohibited. Domestic travel outside Nebraska is highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval. If travel within the state of Nebraska is required, researchers must speak to their supervisor before making plans. If there are UNL personnel in the location where you wish to go, consider utilizing those local faculty and staff instead of traveling.

When in-state travel is required to conduct critical research, employees must:

  • Follow appropriate social distancing guidelines, including in vehicles.
  • Limit the number of employees traveling to the same location. Employees must take separate vehicles to work sites.
  • Heed caution in areas where there is known community spread of COVID-19, including when stopping for food or fuel.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment for the setting.