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Next Steps for On-Campus Research during COVID-19

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Updated May 27, 2021

KU has rescinded its mask requirement and moved to Level 2 on its continuum of operational states, which means shifting from “low density” to “moderate density” for the first time since the pandemic began. In light of these developments, we are also relaxing some of our required procedures for research operations:

  • Researchers are no longer required to create and maintain individual lab and fieldwork COVID-19 safety plans that are approved by deans, department chairs or center directors and kept on file with the Office of Research.
  • Research facility managers are no longer required to track vendors or other visitors to buildings.
  • Human subjects researchers should contact the Human Research Protection Program if they have questions about how this new phase affects their studies. Protocol modifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Field work + other travel

The university has lifted restrictions on business-related travel, along with the requirement to file documentation of approved exceptions with the Office of Research. Nevertheless, travelers should continue to consider the risks and benefits of travel, noting especially that quarantine measures may disrupt travel plans and lead to costs that cannot be charged to sponsored projects.

Health + safety protocols

For up-to-date information about current health and safety protocols, visit the Protect KU website. Please note that the site is a living resource that continues to evolve based on ever-changing circumstances in our community and across the state and nation.

Human subjects research

The university continues to take a phased approach to reactivating in-person human subjects research – prioritizing safety for participants, study team personnel and community members. If it is possible to meet research objectives without face-to-face interactions, you should continue using remote procedures for the foreseeable future. If you are unable to conduct activities remotely and you believe your study may meet Phase 2 expansion dimensions, you may submit a request to KU’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) to have your project assessed for possible reactivation.

The framework for safely reactivating in-person human subjects research was thoughtfully developed by KU's Human Subjects Research Reactivation Subcommittee and reviewed and approved by KU's Research Design Team, led by Vice Chancellor for Research Simon Atkinson. The process for requesting reactivation takes into account the best current understanding of the risks of disease transmission and identifies the procedures necessary to facilitate the safety of human subjects, research team personnel and community members. All reactivation requests will require review by the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) and, due to increased risks, may now require review by KU's full Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Protocol modifications for ongoing research that doesn't require interpersonal interactions must also be reviewed and approved by HRPP. If you need to make any changes to your study, submit a modification through eCompliance in accordance with HRPP instructions. HRPP staff are available to support researchers and ensure the safety of all research participants.

Contact HRPP at 785-864-7385 or irb@ku.edu with any questions.

Managing sponsored projects

Staffing impacts

The Office of Research continues to work remotely and expects to provide normal service levels.  

PIs should continue to request assistance for proposal preparation and review as early as possible; Pre-Award support is expected to continue as normal. Given the increased reliance on remote working and electronic communications, increased time should be provided for proposal review and submission to avoid delays related to slow systems or outages. Contact Pre-Award or your research center to initiate proposal preparation or to ask sponsor-specific questions.  

For project-specific communications and questions for sponsors, please contact Post-Award.

Sponsor communications

If you receive any communication from your sponsor regarding the impact of COVID-19 and the Office of Research is not already copied, please forward those notices to Alicia Reed and work with Post-Award on any sponsor response. Office of Research will assist you in communicating the impact to the sponsor.

Proposal deadlines

Most federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, do not grant prior approval for late submissions; however, there are existing policies that address extenuating circumstances. If you find yourself unable to submit your grant on time due to COVID-19, please contact Pre-Award or your research center to discuss your situation. 

For additional COVID-19-related guidance on proposals and awards from specific sponsors, please refer to this summary of agency guidance and your sponsors’ websites. 

Find additional sponsored projects guidance in the COVID-19 Research FAQs.