Research Continuity Planning for COVID-19

 

REMOTE WORK/ESSENTIAL PEOPLE AND OPERATIONS

1. Can I remove items from my research lab to work remotely?

You cannot remove sensitive research equipment, animals, or specimens from the lab without specific approval from your chair and dean. However, computers, storage devices, and notebooks can be relocated for remote work.

Posted: March 23, 2020

2. Will I be able to access my office/lab during the “stay-at-home” period?

Buildings will be locked and accessible using your key card. We ask that only the essential personnel identified in your contingency plans access the building or laboratories.

Posted: March 23, 2020

3. Do I need a written letter authorizing entry into the lab?

At this time, we have not been told that individuals require documentation to access on-campus research facilities. We do have, however, a master list of all essential individuals generated by each unit’s PI and Deans. If your name has not been submitted as essential personnel, we strongly encourage you to stay at home.

Posted: March 23, 2020

4. What constitutes "essential personnel" in my lab?

It is up to the PI or Lab Director to determine who is essential to continuing the critical components of the research. Critical research components are those activities that are required to preserve samples, animals, or functionalities critical to the long-term preservation of your lab or those supporting critical other projects.

Posted: March 23, 2020

5. What if an essential person working on-campus is diagnosed with COVID-19? The PI will work to identify another person to fulfill the essential duties.

Individuals who test positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should report this to the Office of Research Safety and Environmental Health and Safety via the University of Chicago Accident and Incident Reporting System (UCAIR) to initiate an investigation that will inform next steps.

Posted: March 23, 2020

6. What do I do if my status changes from non-essential to essential personnel?

Your PI is responsible for designating essential personnel. Any status change should be reported to your Chair and/or Dean.

Posted: March 23, 2020

7. Will staff who cannot work remotely be paid for the duration of the stay-at-home order?

Staff employees – both benefits and non-benefits eligible employees, including temporary and seasonal staff employees and those who are part of collective bargaining agreements – will be eligible for up to six weeks, based upon regularly scheduled hours, of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 during the Spring Quarter, including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care.

Below is information for specific populations, all of whom will receive some amount of payment:

 

Posted: March 23, 2020

8. Do you anticipate a complete lock down in the future?

As of March 23, 2020, we are unaware of any plans for a complete lock down.

Posted: March 23, 2020

 

CORE FACILITIES AND CENTRAL SUPPORT

1. What Core Facilities will be available during reduced operations?

Secure Data Enclave will remain operational and able to process requests and analyses. https://securedata.uchicago.edu/

Animal Resource Center (ARC) will maintain critical operations with a limited staff. For more information, go to https://voices.uchicago.edu/animalresources/basic-page/contingency/.

Research Computing Center computing systems (Midway, Midway2, MidwayR, GM4 and DaLI) will continue to be operational. Researchers will continue to have access to their data. For more information, go to https://rcc.uchicago.edu/faqs-coronavirus.

Posted March 16, 2020

2. What support will be available for plants, animals, and cells used in my research?

The University will offer support to priority plants, animals, and cells to the greatest extent feasible. For more information, see the ARC page: https://voices.uchicago.edu/animalresources/basic-page/contingency/

Posted March 16, 2020

3. Will liquid nitrogen delivery continue in the event of a total shutdown?

We will continue liquid nitrogen delivery as long as is feasible, and this task has been assigned to essential personnel who will continue working during a mandated lockdown or shelter-in-place order.

Posted March 16, 2020

4. Will the Office of International Affairs (OIA) be open, and can we still apply for Optional Practical Trainings?

OIA will remain open virtually. All international students at the University are assigned an OIA adviser based on their division or school, with whom they can schedule an appointment via Zoom, by telephone, etc. We continue to receive and process recommendations for OPT (Optional Practical Training). More on the latter point can be found via our website and a list of FAQs, which is updated daily to account for the changing situation: https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/news/oia-faqs-coronavirus-updates

Posted March 16, 2020

 

HAZARDOUS WASTE

1. Will chemical waste pickups continue during research ramp down and “Stay at Home” order?

Yes. Weekly chemical waste pickups will continue as scheduled with pickups from the University of Chicago Medicine buildings occurring on Wednesdays and the University of Chicago campus buildings on Thursdays. If the pickup schedule changes, Environmental Health and Safety will notify the laboratories in advance via the Laboratory Safety mailing list.

To sign up for the Laboratory Safety mailing list:

  1. Visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web
  2. Log in with your CNetID and Password
  3. Select Search for Lists
  4. Type in Laboratory Safety
  5. Select laboratory-safety@lists.uchicago.edu
  6. Select Subscribe under List Options on the left side of screen

Posted: March 22, 2020

2. We are in the process of closing our laboratory, what do we do with waste chemicals?

Please place all chemical waste in a leak-proof container that is compatible with the material and prepare it for disposal per the details found at Labeling-Hazardous Waste Containers.

All waste containers should be kept in the laboratory’s designated collection location (satellite accumulation area), which may be a fume hood, cabinet, or other designated location in the laboratory.

Once chemicals are appropriately containerized and labeled for disposal, follow the standard procedure by entering a waste pickup request on the EHS Assistant program. For more information, refer to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Procedures policy.

Posted: March 22, 2020

3. Where do we get containers to store chemical waste in?

The hazardous waste vendor is able to supply larger waste containers (5 gallon, 15 gallon, 30 gallon, or 55 gallon).  Requests for these containers may be made in the EHS Assistant program when entering a waste pickup request by selecting the “Order Replacement Containers & Labels” button.

If you only need supplies and do not require a waste pickup, contact Environmental Health and Safety at safety@uchicago.edu.

The hazardous waste vendor will not supply containers smaller than 5 gallons. Laboratories must obtain containers smaller than 5 gallons from the Fisher stockroom or purchase them through BuySite.  Laboratories may also reuse empty chemical reagent containers, provided the container’s previous contents are compatible with the waste materials and the original labels/markings have been removed or defaced.

Posted: March 22, 2020

4. Our laboratory has recurring weekly waste pickups, how do we suspend these while it is ramped down?

Contact EHS at safety@uchicago.edu to let us know that you will no longer require recurring hazardous waste pickups.

Please email safety@uchicago.edu when the laboratory resumes operations to reestablish the recurring waste pickup schedule.

Posted: March 22, 2020

5. Is it acceptable to dispose of non-hazardous chemicals by throwing them in the trash or pouring the in the laboratory sink?

The University’s Hazardous Waste Disposal Procedures policy prohibits disposal of chemicals via trash or drain disposal without prior documented approval from either Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) or the Office of Research Safety (ORS).  All chemical waste which have not been evaluated by EHS/ORS must be treated as hazardous waste and you should submit a hazardous waste pick up request via the EHS Assistant program

If you have any questions regarding this FAQ, please contact EHS at safety@uchicago.edu

Posted: March 22, 2020

6. Will biohazardous waste pickups continue?

Yes.  Potentially infectious waste pickups (red bag/bin waste) will continue as normal during this period.   Please contact your Facility Manager if you need to suspend or make changes to the pickup schedule.

Note:  Facilities with recurring potentially infectious waste pickups will still be charged a mobilization fee from the waste vendor even if no waste is removed.

Posted March 16, 2020

7. Due to asynchronous staffing for our laboratory staff, the individual who normally signs potentially infectious waste manifests will not be present during waste pickups; can anyone in the laboratory sign the waste manifest?

No, per state and federal regulations only individuals who have completed the online Potentially Infectious Waste training module in the last three years may sign waste manifests.  If you anticipate needing to sign waste manifests or would like multiple people trained as manifest signers, then please complete the online Potentially Infectious Waste training available at: ehsa.uchicago.edu/training.

Posted March 16, 2020

 

COVID-19 RESEARCH

1. Can I propose new research projects related to COVID-19?

Yes, new projects can be considered.

Posted March 16, 2020

2. Is existing COVID-19 research continuing?

Yes, current COVID-19 research projects are continuing.

Posted March 16, 2020

3. Are related entities Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory following the same guidelines for research continuity?

See their COVID-19 Update websites for current status:

Posted March 16, 2020

 

TENURE

1. Are there plans to extend clocks for tenure-track faculty during a research shut down?

We recognize that the impact on your ability to conduct research as planned may be considerable.  Though the effects on tenure-track careers will be variable, the most equitable and straightforward way to mitigate the possible impact on your research is to offer tenure-track faculty whose current term ends after September 1, 2020 the possibility to delay your reappointment or promotion review by one year, except for faculty whose tenure review has already begun.  In addition, tenure-track faculty whose current term ends before September 1, 2020 and whose review this year was or is successful may choose to delay their next scheduled review by one year.  Extensions will be provided on an opt-in basis.  During Spring Quarter, an extension request form will be sent to all deans to distribute to eligible tenure-track faculty.  Anyone who wishes to make use of this extension must return this form to the Provost by July 1, 2020.  For more information, see this memo from Provost Ka Yee C. Lee and Vice Provost Jason Merchant.

Posted March 25, 2020

 

GRADUATE STUDENTS AND POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLARS

1. Will graduate students and postdocs be paid during this time if they cannot go to their research labs or facilities?

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers will continue to receive their scheduled Spring Quarter funding as planned. We understand that these unprecedented disruptions are challenging, and we assure you there will be no interruption to your stipend or pay. We expect that our research activity can continue, even as most people on campus shift to remote work. You should be in touch with your Principal Investigator, faculty supervisor, or Lab Director about how you can advance projects remotely. For more information, see this message from Provost Ka Yee C. Lee.

Posted March 16, 2020

 

HOW CAN I HELP?

1. Can I donate blood during the stay-at-home time period?

Yes. Please call 773-702-6247 to schedule an appointment with the blood bank.

Posted: March 23, 2020

 

2. How do I donate personal protective equipment (PPE) to the medical center?

The University research community is collecting supplies for the medical center. In particular, there is an urgent need for surgical masks, N95 masks, and sterile cotton-tipped swabs (specifically BD #220531). Donations can be dropped off at KCBD Room 1220, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Please fill out this form to track your items. More information is available here.

Posted: March 23, 2020