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Oklahoma State University
OSU Research

Office of the Vice President for Research

Research Continuity Guidance for OSU Researchers, Laboratories and Facilities

Please note: This page is for research specific guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. For general university guidance, please click here.

The intent of this communication is to provide guidance to researchers for operations affected by COVID-19.

Impact on Central Research Services:

Animal Care:

  • The centralized animal care program (Animal Resources) has a disaster preparedness plan that includes pandemic preparations to ensure maintenance of essential animal husbandry services.
  • Research teams are responsible for maintaining all aspects of animal care in PI-managed facilities (e.g. ranches and departmental farms) and non-centralized facilities (e.g. Life Sciences West) with consultation of specific disaster plans as needed.
    • Any questions about the facility-specific disaster plan for animal care should be directed to the IACUC office at 4-3592 or at iacuc@okstate.edu.

Research Compliance (including Animal Care, Biosafety, Human Subjects Research, Radiation Safety, and Laser Safety):

Research Computing:

  • Computing resources (including Pete and Tiger) at High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC) continue to be available.

University Research Services:

  • University Research Services is operating under normal conditions.

Graduate Research Assistants:

The OSU Graduate College recommends that GRAs and their faculty supervisors follow current CDC guidelines

For questions or additional guidance, e-mail one of the following:

Recommended Actions for Mitigating the Impact on Your Research:

  • Principal Investigators and research leads should develop a plan in case a significant percentage of your workforce is out sick or unable to come to work. For example, consider altering work schedules to meet the demands of the laboratory while limiting close contact with others.
  • Students, post-docs, staff, and faculty involved in research projects should consider how to gain remote access to information such as literature, existing databases, and research-related files and work remotely. 
  • Consider using remote work technologies such as VPN (for work at home) and video and teleconferencing as an alternative for in-person meetings (prepare multiple options for communication).  
  • Depending upon the nature of your research, you might consider prioritizing work that can only be carried out in your research facility, and collect all data and analyze remotely later.
  • Consider rescheduling experiments or activities that would be ruined or invalidated if interrupted. Staff absences, limitations of supplies, external support services, and other factors may be unpredictable and outside researchers’ direct control during these disruptions.
  • If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and it is feasible to freeze or otherwise capture samples at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often and analyze them later.
  • Identify procedures and processes that require ongoing personnel attention (e.g., cell culture, animal studies) and develop plans to protect against possible disruption.
  • If your research plans require modifications to an IRB, IACUC or IBC approved protocol, immediately contact the appropriate committee office to get the review process started for the required modifications.
  • If a communication plan for your research group is not already in place, ensure that you have accurate and updated contact information for all members so everyone receives timely information.
  • Consider cross-training research staff or colleagues who conduct similar activities to fill in for those who may be out sick or unable to come to work.
    • Ensure that fill-in personnel have the appropriate training and tools needed to safely and competently execute assigned duties.
    • Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions for fill-in personnel.

Safety considerations:

  • Identify personnel able to safely perform essential activities and ensure that individuals performing critical tasks have been adequately trained, and understand emergency procedures.
  • Ensure all personnel know whom to contact with technical or safety questions.
  • Avoid performing high-risk procedures alone due to lack of personnel.
    • When working alone is necessary, exercise maximum caution.
    • Notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone for an extended period of time.
  • Ensure that hazardous materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals) are secured.

Preventive measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Remind team members to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
    • Decontamination of your workspace may be appropriate if an active member of your team is exposed, develops symptoms, or is diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms, follow OSU guidance for contacting appropriate medical professionals.
  • Routine environmental cleaning is recommended. Laboratories and other groups should regularly disinfect commonly touched areas (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, telephones) with effective disinfectants.

General Considerations -- Applicable to all Research, Scholarship, Creative Activities: 

  • Persons who are sick or have any reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or any infectious disease, should not come to work.
  • Consider posting a sign in/sign out process so it is clear who has been in shared spaces at what time. In the event that a member of the research community tests positive for COVID-19, this will allow the university to identify those who may have been exposed.
    • Sign-in logs should be retained by the PI/facility for at least 21 days so that they can be shared with the university and Public Health Authorities, if necessary.
  • Follow CDC guidelines for appropriate social distancing, protecting yourself and others through frequent hand washing, etc.
  • Regularly disinfect your work area. Approved disinfectants include:          
    • 95% ethanol with a 1 minute contact time (*a flammable liquid)
    • 70% isopropanol with a 1 minute contact time (*a flammable liquid)
    • 2 – 10% bleach solution with a 1 minute contact time (*an eye and skin corrosive).

Federal Agency Quick Links:

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Department of Energy (DOE)

Department of Justice

US Department of Agriculture

Contacts for Questions or Concerns: