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

COVID-19 Research Planning

Beginning July 1, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will adopt new guidelines for campus operations. Details are outlined in Chancellor Green’s June 18 message.

As we take steps on our Forward to Fall Guiding Framework, we encourage employees to continue to work remotely whenever possible in July 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. Based on this, we will be operating on these central guidelines from July 1-31:

Operational status July 1-31

  • Unit leaders must continue to abide by local health guidance. Currently, the city of Lincoln is at Yellow on the COVID risk dial, meaning the city is under a moderate risk for the spread of COVID-19 and recommends distancing of least 6 feet and the use of face masks. This is likely to be updated during July. Updates can be found on the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department of Health website.
  • University-sponsored domestic and international travel will continue to be prohibited through July 31.
  • 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 July 30, investigators should continue following the reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist.
  • 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.

Recent site updates



Summer appointment guidance

The following protocol will guide summer appointments if UNL remains under a remote work policy due to COVID-19.

Recommended buddy system

Under current circumstances, it may be possible and encouraged for one person to work at a campus laboratory or research site. As a safety precaution, such workers are encouraged to notify at least one other person who will be outside the facility or not at the research site where they will be working so their location is known by others. If two or more people are needed to enter a research facility or site, they are encouraged to do so simultaneously while maintaining social distance. This will allow them to be aware of each other’s presence. Evening and weekend work is permitted if an alternative schedule better enables employees to follow social distancing guidelines and/or reduces the number of employees working simultaneously in one location.

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. If agencies are officially closed, proposals will likely remain in a queue, pending resumption of agency operations. This has been the case during budget-related shutdowns. Information will be posted here and on the OSP website. General questions may be directed to unlosp@unl.edu.

Are there recent requests for proposals around COVID-19?

Yes. 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.

Will ORED offer extensions on internal funding opportunities?

As UNL continues to develop and implement additional safeguards to protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, be assured that review and funding of ORED Internal Funding Opportunities will proceed as planned. Layman and Research Council applications with March deadlines are expected to be reviewed and awarded on schedule. ORED will continue to correspond with faculty interested in the Biomedical Research Seed Grant and Revision Award opportunities on a rolling basis as described in the RFA. ORED will be flexible regarding faculty need for active award period extensions and welcomes correspondence on a project-by-project basis as the impact of COVID-19 unfolds.

Where will my packages be delivered?

UNL is setting up a central receiving site to accept package deliveries. The address is 942 N. 22nd St. dock. Packages will be delivered and secured at 942 N. 22nd St.

Individuals waiting to receive critical items can call UNL’s Facilities Service Desk, 402-472-1550, to arrange for a pickup or delivery by Business Operations staff. The Facilities Service Desk is staffed 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for all service needs.

If you have packages scheduled to arrive from UPS or FedEx that contain perishables, notify Facilities Management Services that the packages are coming. Identify the individual(s) who should be notified upon their arrival to ensure delivery and pickup arrangements can be made in a timely manner.

The university operations team is working closely with the Office of Research and Economic Development to ensure all necessary research equipment and supplies get delivered directly to the needed locations. This will be addressed on a case-by-case basis under the coordination of ORED and Business and Finance.

U.S. mail and distribution services will continue uninterrupted and will be stored for pickup or delivery when requested. Individuals expecting a delivery from a vendor other than FedEx or UPS should contact the vendor to either update the delivery address to 942 N. 22nd St., 68503, or ensure the vendor has the phone number of individuals to meet at the site to accept delivery.

Deliveries from vendors other than UPS and FedEx will continue to arrive at the location provided when the order was placed. Please make sure to communicate with those vendors if necessary to provide a valid phone number for someone who will be present for the delivery or to request the package(s) be re-routed to central receiving at 942 N. 22nd St.

How do I work with export control and prepare to conduct research remotely?

UNL’s export control and research compliance services staff are operating per usual. All export control operations are conducted either via email or NUgrant/NuRamp, and all export control staff have the ability to work remotely.

Research teams are urged to make the necessary plans to move research activities to work remotely. Alternatively, the principal investigator may decide to initiate a study hold on all export-controlled research activities that cannot be performed securely from off-campus locations and/or are not essential to the completion of the project until further notice. Off-campus work locations must meet the same physical and electronic security standards as the original work locations outlined in the determination or TCP. Any plans to work remotely, in this regard, must be approved by the Export Control Compliance Program.

In an effort to assist export control staff who are accommodating COVID-19 requests, review the FAQ document. Following review, please contact exportcontrol@unl.edu with questions related specifically to your research and how the situation impacts your project.

How does COVID-19 affect human subjects research?

The institutional official, in consultation with the Institutional Review Board chair and Research Compliance Services, is removing the suspension of in-person human subjects research as of 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.

How does remote access affect research data access and security?

We recognize the importance of working remotely during this time. In many cases, remote 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.

How does COVID-19 affect research with animals?

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.

What are the travel guidelines for researchers?

Making travel plans

To protect the safety and well-being of UNL researchers and the community at large, international and domestic travel for university research purposes is prohibited through June 30. If travel within the state of Nebraska is required, researchers must speak to their supervisor before making those 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:

Obtaining personal protective equipment

Investigators must have adequate supply of appropriate lab attire and PPE (e.g., lab coats, gloves, gowns, eyewear, face coverings, etc.) before resuming operations. Those who need to obtain additional lab attire or PPE may work with unit leaders or associate deans for research to identify the best way to obtain items. Limited quantities of some PPE are available for purchase on campus and can be requested here.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have questions or concerns about how this emerging situation may impact research activities, contact Deb Hamernik, associate vice chancellor for research, at unlresearch@unl.edu.

Additional resources for UNL employees

Local, state and federal resources