Research and the Novel Coronavirus

Posted on March 12, 2020. Note that some information or advice may have changed since then.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to follow up on the communications from Fr. John, Provost Burish, and Bob McQuade regarding the University’s response to dealing with the dangers of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Notre Dame Research is in close communication and coordination with the Provost, the Graduate School, Deans, and Department Heads to help address questions that relate to the ongoing conduct of research and scholarship.

The health of Notre Dame’s faculty, staff, and students is our top priority. The University remains open and committed to its mission of research and scholarship. It is expected that research operations will continue with research personnel meeting their responsibilities while maintaining appropriate preventative actions as have been outlined by the CDC and the University. The most current University information and resources can be found at conronavirus.nd.edu.

If your research requires you to be on campus, then you should continue to come to campus to do that work. Graduate and professional students and postdocs will continue to have access to campus, including to their offices and lab facilities. However, faculty and students who suspect they may have been exposed to the coronavirus should self-isolate as recommended by the CDC and University. Faculty are also encouraged to offer graduate students the flexibility to work remotely when possible as we implement social-distancing practices to deal with the coronavirus threat. Further, if a workstation allows social-distancing, good practices should be implemented.

For the most part, research programs will follow guidelines of the University, including:

  • Effective immediately and until April 12, all large (i.e., 100+ attendees) academic and administrative University-sponsored, in-person events should be canceled. Moreover, gatherings of any size should ensure that appropriate social distancing (i.e., six feet between attendees) is observed.” 
  •  All University-reimbursed international travel is prohibited through April 13. All personal international travel is strongly discouraged. University-reimbursed domestic travel must be postponed or canceled unless an exception is granted by a dean or supervisor.
  • Returning travelers coming from a country that the CDC has placed at a Level 3 warning (or does in the future) must self-isolate for 14 days and present medical clearance from a physician. Others should self-monitor and isolate as necessary. Information on self-isolation and travel can be found at https://coronavirus.nd.edu/travel-information/.
  • Travel reimbursements for canceled travel, which cannot be repurposed for future travel, and are to be paid from University departmental may be reimbursed whether the cancellation is discretionary or outside of the control of the traveler. Cancelled travel costs for sponsored travel, to be paid from grant-funded travel may be reimbursed when the travel has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond the traveler’s controls. Please contact NDR for more information.
  • For Human Resources guidance, see Robert McQuade’s email “Important guidance on coronavirus workplace implications” from Wednesday, March 11.

Funding sponsors are beginning to provide guidance regarding potential impacts to research. NDR will continue to monitor these communications. The link below provides the currently available federal agency guidance: www.cogr.edu/institutional-and-agency-responses-covid-19-and-additional-resources

In general, funding agencies are advising researchers to follow institutional and local policies and requirements related to COVID-19, and to communicate with program officers regarding anticipated cancellations, disruptions, or delays of research activities, travel, conferences, or programs.

There is a possibility that the University will need to implement tighter social controls or to close the campus to non-essential personnel. To prepare for such a scenario, research groups are asked to make contingency plans to maintain research continuity and to identify essential personnel who are required to support research continuity in the event that limited staffing or additional restrictions on campus operations become necessary. We believe that we will make better decisions if we have prepared for these scenarios. But, please remember, no closure of campus has been declared at this time.

We understand that some questions you have are unique to your research program or situation.  Staff of NDR are available to assist with these questions. Both our research hotline, +1 574-631-7432, and our general email address, research@nd.edu, are actively monitored at this time. We will continue to update research-related information as more information becomes available on coronavirus.nd.edu.

Sincerely,

Bob Bernhard
 
Robert J. Bernhard
Vice President for Research
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556