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Office of Research

Information for Researchers


Further Expansion of Research Activities
Proposed date: June 10, 2020 

Goals: To maintain health and safety, while increasing research activity by FSU investigators in a phased approach; to follow federal, state, and local guidance.  

This document refers to research activities only; the remainder of campus is still in Phase 1 and all employees who can work from home should continue to do so until at least June 22nd. The guidance contained herein covers research conducted in spaces on FSU’s campuses and also in spaces owned or leased by FSU. It also covers direct contact by FSU employees with individuals (human participants) for research purposes anywhere. On-campus research refers only to activities requiring a physical presence in FSU buildings, including accessing materials and equipment such as machines and instruments located on campus. It does not pertain to research that can be done remotely.

If conditions remain stable, we plan to allow further expansion of research activities beginning June 10. Final confirmation about the date is forthcoming. After that confirmation, FSU researchers may increase on-campus and other research activity, but note that the majority of employees will not return to campus until FSU moves to Phase 2, which is expected to be June 22nd. The primary goal of this guidance is to maintain physical distance between people; as a general rule, aim for no more than 50% of normal staffing levels in any individual space. More specifically, work to ensure six feet between individuals and two or fewer people per 100 square feet whenever possible. Some spaces will be configured such that even less than 50% occupancy does not allow proper distancing, in which case maintaining distance takes priority over headcount. Chairs and Center Directors, with the approval of their Deans, will be responsible for implementing this guidance.

Here are further considerations for activities that, upon final confirmation, may begin: 

  • Lab research may begin to increase staffing to 50% of normal levels, within the following parameters: ensuring adequate distancing between people at all times, with use of cloth face coverings or masks where this is not possible; shift work/scheduled access; thorough disinfection of work surfaces before and after use; frequent hand-washing.
  • Face-to face (“interactional”) human subjects research that can be conducted within the parameters of social distancing (e.g. observational, some behavioral) may recommence, provided that it does not involve populations vulnerable to COVID-19 (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html for guidelines about vulnerable populations). Consent forms must henceforth be revised to accommodate new risk and mitigation factors; the OHSP has posted a template and guidance at https://www.research.fsu.edu/research-offices/ohsp/covid-19-and-human-research-studies/, and the IRB will endeavor to approve all revisions quickly. This research may not recommence without IRB approval. Steps taken will include the provision of face coverings and personal protective equipment and regular disinfection of areas, and may well include physical barriers and/or moving research to larger rooms. For interactions that happen off-campus, the PI must ensure provision of face coverings and PPE, as appropriate, and disinfecting supplies, and must establish cleaning protocols and ensure that they are followed (see https://safety.fsu.edu/resources/covid.php#topic11 for further guidance). In all cases, frequent hand-washing or the use of hand sanitizer is recommended as the most effective safety measure.
  • Face-to face (“interventional”) human subjects research and clinical research that cannot be conducted within the parameters of social distancing may recommence with the approval of the OVPR, provided that it does not involve populations vulnerable to COVID-19 (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html for guidelines about vulnerable populations). Consent forms must henceforth be revised to accommodate new risk and mitigation factors; the OHSP has posted a template and guidance at https://www.research.fsu.edu/research-offices/ohsp/covid-19-and-human-research-studies/, and the IRB will endeavor to approve all revisions quickly. This research may not recommence without IRB approval. Steps taken will include the provision of face coverings and personal protective equipment and regular disinfection of areas, and may well include physical barriers and/or moving research to larger rooms. For interactions that happen off-campus, the PI must ensure provision of face coverings and PPE, as appropriate, and disinfecting supplies, and must establish cleaning protocols and ensure that they are followed (see https://safety.fsu.edu/resources/covid.php#topic11 for further guidance). In all cases, frequent hand-washing or the use of hand sanitizer is recommended as the most effective safety measure.
  • Remaining core facilities and equipment that require significant time to turn on, recalibrate, etc., may now start up.
  • Field research involving graduate students may recommence, with appropriate social distancing and/or use of masks or face coverings where that is not possible.
  • All field research must be approved by the OVPR.
  • Faculty may apply to the OVPR to allow undergraduates to do field or on-campus research.
  • FSU Libraries has begun offering limited access to print materials; see their website for the most up-to-date information: https://www.lib.fsu.edu/.
  • Most meetings will remain virtual.  
  • Travel outside the local area, or beyond one’s normal commute, is only permitted with prior VP approval.
  • Coordinate equipment and supply deliveries within your unit; do not assume that someone will be present to receive packages.
  • Track all coronavirus-related expenditures, since they may be reimbursable. To ensure FEMA and CDC compliance, source PPE and other equipment through procurement, ideally at a unit rather than individual PI level. Do not use a purchase card. Further information, and ordering instructions, can be found at https://procurement.fsu.edu/CampusRampUP. If safety considerations call for items that are not in SpearMart (e.g. plexiglass shields), please contact Mitchell Jermyn (mjermyn@fsu.edu) or Geneva Miller (gamiller@fsu.edu) for assistance.
  • Buildings will remain locked, with swipe-card access.
  • If you are being funded by any agency or foundation that has stricter policies than these, check with your program officer before acting.

Faculty and staff with concerns about returning to work should notify their supervisors, who will consult with HR as appropriate. HR is developing employee guidance related to those individuals who are at higher risk related to COVID-19, and those with childcare issues.

The fluidity of the situation is likely to require continuing flexibility, and we may well have to scale back research activity at a later date. Please be in touch with the OVPR if you have any questions: VP Gary Ostrander gary@fsu.edu; Associate VP Laurel Fulkerson lfulkerson@fsu.edu; Assistant VP Kerry Peluso kpeluso@fsu.edu