COVID-19 FAQs

Notre Dame Research is working with laboratories and facilities to help support operations, ensure access to accurate information, and to address disruption to research activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are COVID-19 research-specific FAQs regarding:

Access Travel Proposals and Grants Compliance Budgets Timeline / Future Planning Other 

Access 

Will this affect access to my research facility, laboratory, or the maintenance of critical components?

The University announced plans for the phased reopening of research laboratories, creative arts studios, and core facilities on campus on May 18, 2020. The University is currently in Lab/Studio Reopening Phase 3.

Given access may still be limited, please contact specific facilities to verify services offered at this time. During the student winter break access and hours could be impacted. Find more information on winter session guidance for research labs/studios.

Can undergraduate students conduct laboratory or studio-based research? 

Each research director must individually balance the benefits of providing undergraduate research experiences in the lab or studio against the recent COVID-19 related disruptions to research and the ongoing associated constraints on operations. 

Considering this announcement from the VPR, there may be circumstances where Phase 3 plans that included undergraduate students as researchers or study participants may need to be revised. To assist with this evaluation, Inclusion of Undergraduate Research Assistants in Laboratory & Studio-Based Research guidance is provided. Additional guidance for undergraduates during the student winter break is also available here.  

Travel

I have upcoming travel that is essential to my research. What should I do?

Until the end of the fall 2020 semester, University-related travel will be strictly limited to essential travel, regardless of whether the university is paying for it. Permission for all research-related travel must be approved by a Dean or Vice President. For additional guidance on travel-based research, click here. For questions related to research travel during the student winter break, review the winter session guidance for research labs/studios.  

Proposals and Grants

What guidance have sponsor agencies shared to date?

Many sponsors have formulated guidance (e.g. extended deadlines, grant expense implications).

Notre Dame Research Administration (NDRA) is actively collating a list of sponsors sharing COVID-19 related guidance. Due to the evolving nature of the situation, please check this sponsor guidance regularly.

A proposal I am working on will soon be due, will this affect me?

Although working remotely, units of NDRA are currently fully functioning and available, including pre-award services. Please email ndr-preaward-list@nd.edu or your assigned pre-award team member for specific questions. Many sponsors have provided extensions to proposal deadlines.

My progress report, final report, financial or closeout report may be delayed.  What should I do?

Several sponsors have communicated additional flexibilities to due dates resulting from COVID-19. Please check sponsor guidance, and communicate with your program and/or grants officer if possible, as well as your grants program manager in NDRA. 

Will peer review of my proposal be delayed?

Many agencies have moved to virtual peer reviews.

Will sponsors provide supplemental grant funding for additional costs and delays resulting from the COVID-19?

Some sponsors have communicated the potential for administrative supplements to funding. Please contact your sponsor program officer. 

Compliance

My research project requires approval of a compliance committee (IRB, IACUC, IBC, or RBB) how will this be affected by COVID-19?

Notre Dame Research Compliance services are currently fully functional and available. Please email compliance@nd.edu with any specific questions.

May I continue my human subjects research?

As research activities continue to ramp up, the University aims to begin a phased reopening of face-to-face human subjects research within its four-phase Lab and Studio Reopening Plan. The goal is to undertake vital research in the social sciences involving human participants, insofar as possible, while protecting the health and safety of all staff, trainees, and research participants. 

The Face-to-Face Human Subjects Research guidance posted here intended to assist researchers in their planning for a gradual expansion of human subjects research.

How can I minimize risk to lab personnel or subjects?

Please see the University's health and safety practices section and the University Health Services website for guidance.

How can I continue my human subjects research?

Any research procedures that do not require in person interaction (online data collection, data analysis, etc.) are not being limited at this time. If a study is already approved to be carried out remotely, there is no need to submit an amendment to the approved IRB protocol. If a study does not have approval for online interaction or data collection, an amendment may be submitted to continue the research online. Please contact Notre Dame Research Compliance about such changes at compliance@nd.edu.

Is the animal facility still be providing services?

The animal care facility, Freimann Life Science Center, is being maintained during the phased reopening of laboratories, studios, core facilities, and associated office spaces on campus. Please send any related questions to freimann@nd.edu

Budgets

If employees must have their home as their work location, will they still be able to get paid from sponsored programs?

Yes, if employees can work successfully in a remote environment, then their salary can continue to be paid on sponsored programs.  Most federal agencies have also adopted Office of Management and Budget guidance allowing the salary of idled employees to be paid from grants and cooperative agreements when such salary continuation is consistent with University policy across all funds.  Personnel funded by federal contracts or non-federal sponsored programs (industry, foundation, etc.) will need to be addressed on a case by case basis. For questions, please contact research@nd.edu.

Will funding agencies consider longer no-cost extensions if they are needed to finish a project after disruption?

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants to provide substantiation for any future no-cost extension request. Many sponsors have communicated regarding increased flexibility for no-cost extensions. Please work with your NDRA grants program manager or contact post-award-gpms-list@nd.edu.

If the agency program officer or grants officer is unavailable (or if the agency is closed) due to COVID-19, can grant personnel continue to work and charge salary to the project?

In most cases, you should be able to continue work until the period of performance and funding is exhausted. If prior approvals are required, NDRA grants program managers will work with you on prior approval requests. Some agencies have provided flexibility to prior approval requirements that do not involve a change of scope. Please work with your NDRA grants program manager or contact post-award-gpms-list@nd.edu.

I am a researcher on a conference grant which may be affected by COVID-19. I have already incurred expenses that may not be cancellable. Can I charge these to my award? And can I pay the travel fees and any associated costs for the collaborators that were planning on attending?

If due to the COVID-19 pandemic the principal investigator/organizer seeks to cancel the conference, the organizer should first confer with the program officer and grants management specialist (if appropriate) to decide whether to cancel the event, postpone the event, or convert the event to an online format. If a conference is canceled with the concurrence of the funding agency, the non-refundable costs may be an allowable charge to the project. Principal investigators should retain documentation of these communications with the sponsor.

Should I track budgetary impacts on my research due to the coronavirus, and if so, how?

Budgetary impacts due to COVID-19 may be internally tracked using the following Activity Code set by the Controller’s Office: 11019 "COVID-19 Related Costs." 

Timeline / Future Planning

My research contract has a strict timeline and I am concerned about a possible failure to perform within the agreed-upon statement of work. What should I do?

The researcher should reach out to the program officer or contracting officer as soon as a delay is anticipated. It is recommended that investigators actively document specific situations to provide a basis for any adjustments that may need to be requested at a later date. For specific questions, please contact research@nd.edu.

If I can’t get to my research site, or my research will be severely impacted by travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19, what should I do?

Many federal agencies recognize the difficulties inherent in the current situation and are working with institutions to facilitate the conduct of the project. Researchers should document the impact of COVID-19 on their research and contact their sponsor program officer or contract officer. For specific questions, please contact research@nd.edu.

Do we cancel or adjust on-campus research-related gatherings or conferences for Fall?

The University currently has travel, event, and visitor restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. As the phased reopening continues to evolve, please check here.nd.edu for up-to-date information. 

Other

I am preparing to open an internal to ND competition for fellowships/funding/etc. Should I delay this?

There are no requirements that internal competitions should be delayed. However, competitions, like other official events, should take into account the audience, potential remote or off-site considerations, and other aspects that can impact efforts such as announcements, rollout, submissions, review, and determinations, as well as the intended scope of activity. All non-essential expenses should be eliminated for the foreseeable future. Adjustments should be made following current/evolving official guidance.

What if I have a research-related question not answered in the FAQ?

Please call the NDR Hotline for your research-related questions during regular business hours at +1 574-631-7432. This number is monitored between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday. If you call outside of these business hours, please leave a voicemail and your call will be returned as soon as possible. You can also email research@nd.edu at anytime. 

Additionally, NDR's relevant research-related contacts are listed below. All email addresses are actively monitored.

Need more information?

Please visit here.nd.edu for additional University guidance and updates during the COVID-19 pandemic.