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On-Campus Research Activities Status Change


The rapid unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic requires the university to accelerate its response to this unprecedented challenge. In order to protect the health and safety of our community, research leaders should immediately begin preparing to suspend all non-critical ON-CAMPUS research activities by March 18.

The actions we will be taking include:

  • suspending all non-critical on-campus research activities by March 18th;

  • research activities will be limited to only critical procedures or processes that require regular attention to maintain the long-term viability of the research project, laboratory, reagents, animals, and equipment;

We understand that this will be disruptive to the scholarly activities of faculty, students and staff, and we will work to support your efforts.

Be assured that our colleagues in Environmental Health and Safety and University Laboratory Animal Resources, have robust continuity plans to support the University's research enterprise during this time. In addition, the research support services offered by the Office of Research & Innovation, including the Institutional Review Board, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and our Sponsored Projects teams remain fully functional using remote work protocols. We will work with Shipping and Receiving to ensure that supplies required for critical on-campus research activities can be received and delivered.

For the most up to date information please visit the ORI Research Preparedness website for more details on the status change of ON-CAMPUS research activities. If you have not done so already you should immediately complete your research contingency plan immediately and share it with your department, college, and the ORI.

Additional Information

  • Why are these steps being taken?

    • The purpose of the research ramp down is to depopulate our campuses. The data unambiguously support the positive impact of social distancing on public health. Further, the sooner and more vigorously social distancing is implemented, the smaller the number of cases and the more lives are saved. As the cities, counties, and state governments enact closures in our region, and across the nation, we cannot take this less seriously than the rest of society. In fact, we should take the lead in doing the right thing. Our goal is to reduce population to core on-campus staffing levels for all activities including research.

  • What are considered "critical" research activities?

    • The obvious challenge with this process is to distinguish activities that are "critical" on-campus research activities. The justifications of essential activities listed below illustrate principles that underly the designation. Other activities might be considered essential but would need to represent the same level of necessity to operations.

    • On-campus "critical" research activities are those that if discontinued would:

      • pose a safety hazard

      • negatively impact the care of patients in clinical trials

      • cause the loss of irreplaceable data, samples and animal populations

      • cause irreparable harm to critical equipment in facilities and laboratories

      • prevent insight and response to the COVID-19 pandemic

    • All other on-campus research activities are considered non-critical.

    • Determination of “critical” research activities should be done with discussion and approval of the Department Head/Chair followed by approval of the Dean/Research Dean. As the Institutional Official, the Executive Vice Provost for Research & Innovation will provide final approval.

    • If you have not done so already you should immediately complete your research contingency plan immediately and share it with you department, college, and the ORI.

  • Who will be allowed to perform these "critical" research activities?

    • No undergraduates or external visitors are allowed in our on-campus research facilities.

    • Only faculty, staff, and graduate students will be allowed to perform critical research activities.

    • Faculty, staff, and graduate students should be immediately identified, if not done so already, and shared with your department, college, and the ORI.

    • The ORI's research contingency plan provides researchers with a template to list faculty, staff, and graduate students, list critical research activities, and directions on how to share this important information.

  • When will this restriction on begin?

    • Effective March 18th, access to labs will only be available for faculty, staff, and graduate students who perform critical procedures, processes or equipment management that require regular personnel attention to maintain laboratory viability (e.g. liquid nitrogen tank filling, animal support, maintaining shared computational equipment).

  • Practice social distancing while performing critical on-campus research activities

    • Even essential work in labs should be staggered so that minimal laboratory personnel are present at any one time.

    • The most stringent social distancing should be practiced. Frequent handwashing and disinfection cleaning protocols should be implemented for the limited number of researchers that will be in on-campus research spaces.

  • What about my sponsored research funding?

    • Please continue charging to grants as normal; there is more guidance on federal awards to be found on the ORI's Research Preparedness website.

  • What can my research team do?

    • We encourage you to take this time of limited access to on-campus research facilities to focus on the research activities that can be completed remotely, such as writing research papers and reviews, preparing grant proposals, accessing and reading the scholarly literature, and analyzing data.

    • Ensure you have access to contact information for your students, postdocs, and staff, and review contingency plans and emergency procedures within your group.

  • What about the disruption to my students work and my career advancement?
    • We are fully aware of the difficulties this suspension of non-critical on-campus research activities will pose, and we will work closely with the funding sponsors, federal agencies, external evaluation bodies, and with Drexel's academic units to minimize the impact on your professional advancement and the advancement of your students and staff.

  • If you have further questions, please contact your department head/chair and your Associate Dean for Research.