Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 and MSU Research Continuity - SUPERSEDED
Authoritative information on the Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak may be found at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization. The CDC also has provided general guidance on Keeping the Workplace Safe.
More specific policy guidance applicable to MSU includes:
- Institutional directives from President Samuel Stanley, M.D. and other university officials are updated there frequently. Pending stabilization of the infection spread and the responses to it, MSU researchers are strongly urged to check at least the Latest Updates site every day, before commencing work.
- Information provided by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and by the Ingham County Health Department.
Through the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation, MSU seeks to avoid—and where necessary, ameliorate—adverse effects on the course of research due to the novel coronavirus / COVID-19. Such effects may either be direct (i.e., COVID-19 infection) or indirect (e.g., degradation of laboratory, art studio, or other safety).
Protecting the health of the general public, research subjects, students and all MSU colleagues is, and must remain, the clear first priority.
Following the protection of human health, other special considerations may guide interventions for impact avoidance or amelioration. They include:
- Stewardship responsibilities for live animals;
- Preservation of research data, creative works, and related infrastructure;
- Effective compliance with statutory research requirements;
- Stewardship of financial resources provided by funders; and
- Respectful treatment of students and junior personnel whose career prospects are threatened by unanticipated restrictions on research or creative activity.
Changes in the operations of specific units or activities can be found in the links to the left. Individual faculty members, departments, schools, colleges, and other units who are experiencing or foresee such impacts are invited to contact individual units or OSVPRI central staff members as early as possible.
OSVPRI Continuity of Operations
All OSVPRI units remain operational. Many staff members are working at home in accord with the guidance from the MSU Office of the President.
Researchers who have need for out-of-hours assistance, or who cannot reach any needed research-related contact, may call any of the following numbers—24 hours per day, seven days per week:
|Out of Office Needs||Contact Number|
|Police / Fire / Ambulance Emergency||911|
|Urgent Animal Care||517-884-8527|
|Prof. Paul M. Hunt
Senior Associate Vice President, Research & Innovation
|Prof. Doug Gage
Assistant Vice President, Research & Innovation
Laboratory Research – Activities Can Continue with Special Precautions and Modifications
Research in laboratories is currently permitted to continue, although increasing safety precautions to reduce potential coronavirus exposure should be implemented. Reduced staffing can be anticipated, and working alone in potentially hazardous environments will continue to be prohibited.
Animal Care support services will continue, but only to maintain current populations of animals. Please see the Animal Care section for details dated March 17, 2020 as well as a new policy on visitors in animal areas.
Research related to human subjects is temporarily restricted effective immediately. Please see announcement dated March 16, 2020.
Work off site on grant-related activity (e.g., publications) is permitted under acceptable effort reporting.
To maintain research continuity, investigators are encouraged to prepare SOPs for activities, so that if further interruptions occur, work can resume when conditions permit.
Given the significant changes to normal operations, planned research activities should be reviewed by chairs. Communication to the college level can be made where there are broader implications of these decisions to continue or suspend activities.
Although no determination has been made, a suspension of all campus non-essential research is possible. The situation is extremely fluid, so faculty should begin planning for this eventuality immediately. For more detail see SVP Hsu’s message of 3/16/2020.
Advanced Planning for Possible Closure
In light of possible further restriction of on-campus laboratory work, all MSU faculty and research teams should conduct immediate planning for significant reductions or suspension of on-campus research activity.
Plans should include:
- Development of a full shut-down procedure for the laboratory, in case it is needed.
- Requirements for maintaining critical animal, plant and cell culture resources and reagents.
- Acknowledgment that all individuals, regardless of student or employee status, may decline, during the current COVID-19 outbreak, to conduct on-campus laboratory work, and moreover may do so without fear of retribution.
- Emphasis that all MSU faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom and/or other video conferencing tools to permit telework.
- Implementation of a room sign-in/sign-out sheet at the door of each room occupied by the research group.
- Implementation of a requirement for group members to refrain from all laboratory work if they have respiratory or flu-like symptoms,
- Restriction of laboratory access, particularly for children, those known to be at special risk, visitors, and all others without a defensible need to enter.
Interruption of laboratory work (here taken to include farm-based activities) obviously poses special issues, including those related to human subject protection, animal care, and chemical, biological, and radiological safety. Should the decision to restrict non-essential research be made, we can anticipate that exemptions will be rare.
Collectively, we are all aware that very important research and scholarly activity (e.g., data analysis, manuscript preparation, progress reporting, invention disclosure, refereeing, etc.) can be conducted remotely. Hence, MSU expects research stipendiary and salary support for funded project participants will be continued during the COVID-19 response period. Federal guidance on this matter is understood to be in development, and it will be shared when available.
Protecting the health of individuals in the face of epidemics has been a recognized necessity within the research and creative scholarship landscape for centuries – e.g., Newton's departure from Cambridge University during a bubonic plague outbreak is widely known.
Today, our actions may appear extreme, but the irreducible bottom line is: protecting the health of the general public, research subjects, students, colleagues, and oneself is, and must remain, the clear first priority.