Research and Sponsored Programs

Research Guidance | COVID-19


Updated June 11, 2020

Wellness &Temperature Check for entering university facilities

All UToledo faculty, staff and students must enter the Health Science Campus (HSC) through either the main hospital entrance or Dowling Hall entrance for on-site temperature screening. For direct entrance to buildings on Main Campus or HSC, you must self-check body temperature daily.

You must not enter buildings if you develop or display symptoms of COVID-19, including but not limited to fever, coughing or trouble breathing. While on campus, individuals are required to wear a face covering, unless eating or alone in an enclosed room or space and to maintain social distancing.  UToledo personnel who may qualify for a face covering waiver can submit a request using the current workplace accommodation process  and have their medical provider complete the medical certification form. 

research continuity 

Updated June 5, 2020

In response to the Governor Michael DeWine’s April 30, 2020, ‘Stay Safe Ohio Order’ the University has extended its remote work directives for university employees.  

Resumption of research activities are allowed to start beyond current “essential” levels on Monday, June 8, 2020 only for researchers with approved Research Operation Plans with associated approved laboratory personnel. The date for preparatory activities such as lab cleaning, instrument activation/calibration, is Wednesday, June 3, 2020, for researchers with approved Research Operation Plans. No new research should be initiated before June 8, unless approved as critical/essential.

A Preparation for Resumption of Research document provides a summary of steps and required approvals from chairs and deans.  PIs / Research Group Leaders are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate management plans for their research groups and for training their personnel on appropriate cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.  All researcher group leaders, including those with research deemed critical, are required to complete steps outlined in the Preparation for Resumption of Research document.

Please be aware that if there is a significant increase in infections, it may be necessary to return quickly to critical research activities and essential functions only, or even to more restricted operations. 

Please continue to adhere to the university guidelines for social distancing while protecting health and safety of those working in university facilities.

For general UToledo information and recommendations related to COVID-19, please see the 2019 Novel Coronavirus website.

Access to and protocols for use of shared resources such as libraries, computing facilities, core facilities, etc. will be determined by the management of each facility.

Any individual who feels that they are being asked to carry out unsafe activities or to work under conditions that are unsafe for themselves and others should discuss their concerns with their immediate supervisor, their department chair or unit head, the College of Graduate Studies or The Environmental Health and Radiation Safety Department.

Critical Research and Essential Research-Related Activities Include:

  • Activity that if discontinued would generate significant data and sample loss
  • Activity that if discontinued would pose a safety hazard
  • Activity that maintains critical equipment in facilities and laboratories
  • Activity that maintains critical samples, reagents, and materials
  • Activity that maintains animal populations
  • Activity that maintains critically needed plant populations, tissue cultures, bacteria, archaea, and other living organisms
  • COVID-19 related activity that has a timeline for deployment that could address the crisis.
  • Activity in support of essential human subject research.
  • Clinical trial activity that if discontinued would negatively impact the patient’s care.

 For critical and essential research, Principal Investigators/Laboratory leads must submit the Critical Research Laboratory Activities Inventory form to their department chair and dean for approval of all essential personnel.

As a reminder, faculty members cannot and should not require graduate students to come to campus. Graduate students need to have approval from their department chair to be designated as essential personnel. 

Research Facilities and Laboratory Safety

See additional guidance on lab safety and disinfection through this link.

Updated May 12, 2020

Update your Research/laboratory group contact list. Keep both hard and electronic copies in a remotely accessible drive.

Please establish a system by which lab members can and will check the status of each other.  We must look after not only our physical health, but also consider the mental health impact that current events can have on our research community.

Will there be interruptions in laboratory experiments, due to coronavirus?

The University has extended its remote work directive and is continuing to restrict research activities to critical research and essential functions. A target date  for expanding researcher activities beyond current "essential" levels is June 1, 2020, pending further guidance from the Ohio Governor's office.

If there is a significant increase of infections, it may be necessary to return quickly to critical research activities and essential functions after resumption of non-essential research activities. See a Checklist for Laboratory Ramp Down.

Check with core facilities Directors for availability of services.

General Research Activity Guidance

All researchers should observe the 6' social distancing in any shared usage space and wear face coverings. Consider staggered work schedules keeping safety protocols in mind and communicate the need to avoid performing high-risk procedures alone. Proper personal hygiene is critical to mitigating the spread of the disease. See the information posted on Research Lab Safety Procedures.

All group meeting should be held remotely.

Should Researches Expect Shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Such As N95s and Gloves That Are Often Used in Laboratory Spaces? If So, How Should They Prepare?

It would be prudent for PIs and research laboratory supervisors to anticipate a PPE shortage, and maintain supplies required for regular disinfection and operation.  For critical lab functions limit the number of personnel entering lab spaces that require donning and doffing of PPE (masks, gowns, face shields, etc.). This is especially important for users of N95 masks because these items are being prioritized for the healthcare industry. Please contact EHRS to discuss options available if shortages do occur.

What can I plan to Take Out of my lab or office?

Researchers are not allowed to set up an off-campus laboratory site.  Under no circumstances is it appropriate to remove animals or other materials from UToledo-approved housing or research spaces.

Researchers may arrange with their PI or lab manager to take copies of notebooks, data storage devices, or laptop computers for remote work.* No other materials, equipment or laboratory supplies are allowed offsite.

*Transfer and/or transport of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) or other data that requires a controlled environment requires prior approval from the Export Control Officer (Gary Rafe. Gary.Rafe@UToledo.edu ) and must be in accordance with UToledo Data Security Policies.

What additional recommendations do you have to prepare my laboratory research area?

Only engage in critical experiments at this time.  Assess and prioritize critical laboratory activities (e.g. cell culture maintenance, etc.) and identify essential personnel. Ensure that you have access to contact information for your staff. Work with your staff to ensure that they have the ability to work remotely on items such as monitoring experiments (if possible), data analysis, writing, literature review, and proposal editing. Finally, complete steps outlined in the Preparation for Resumption of Research document.

Will there be interruptions in Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) activities, including review of protocols and amendments, due to coronavirus?

The IBC and support staff will continue to review submissions (i.e., protocols and amendments) during this time. If you have any questions, please email IBCommittee@utoledo.edu .

Will the Department of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety be available during time?

EHRS will maintain all essential functions, such as emergency spill and fire response, hazardous waste collection and supplies, radioactive package delivery, and public health activities. Depending on staffing, non-essential operations may need to be suspended.

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Proposal Submission and Award Management

Updated March 18, 2020

Will the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs be available to process submissions and awards during this time period?

Although the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) staff may be working remotely, submissions and processing of awards will continue according to the normal operations and posted sponsor proposal deadlines. Employees who are working remotely will respond to emails and monitor phone messages during normal business hours.

Will my proposal still be submitted to the federal government on time if the federal agency to which I intend to apply is closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak?

Currently, federal agencies are accepting proposal submissions as usual. If a COVID-19 outbreak closes a federal agency that is currently accepting proposals, we expect that the agency will continue to accept proposals with the proposals remaining in a queue pending resumption of agency operations. The Council On Governmental Relations webpage features comprehensive links to key federal agencies' COVID-19 operations.

Will I be able to get an extension on a proposal deadline in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak?

Most sponsors, including NIH and NSF, do not grant prior approval for late submission; however, there are existing sponsor polices that address extenuating circumstances. Please do not count on receiving extensions and plan your time accordingly. Current NIH guidance can be located at NOT-OD-15-039 and Special Exceptions to NSF's Deadline Date Policy (PAPPG 19-1).

Also see

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Allowable Costs, Charges, Effort on Sponsored Projects

Updated April 14, 2020 - 12:00 PM

I'm the principal investigator on a sponsored project with non-essential research. can my effort and that of my research team still be charged to the grant during a "Stay-At-Home" order?

In general, yes, provided that you and you team remain engaged in your sponsored project. ORSP is updating Sponsor Information frequently.

It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that all paid participants and key personnel remain engaged in the sponsored project.  If the project scope requires adjustment due to remote working conditions, the PI should contact their sponsor project manager requesting a change in scope – keep the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (and your Grants Accounting Analyst or Director of Grants Accounting, Laura Hallauer) informed of changes in project scope.

I’m a Principal Investigator, Post-doctoral researcher, research assistant or other funded project personnel working remotely from home during self-quarantine. Can my effort still be charged to the grant?

In general, yes, provided you remain engaged in your sponsored project. Current NIH and NSF approval requirements remain in effect if you become disengaged or reduce effort on your projects.

What if I’m sick and can’t work on my project? Can my salary still be charged to the grant?

Yes. Sick leave and other paid absences permitted under university policy may be charged to the grant pursuant to the University’s indirect cost rate agreement with the government.

I'm A Principal Investigator or researcher and I am required to work from home due to the coronavirus. Would I be able to charge supplies related to telework (printer and office supplies, laptop, etc.) to the grant?

These types of expenses are considered administrative costs (indirect costs) and generally cannot be charged to a grant.

Where May I Find Answers to Other questions about allowable costs?

The Council on Government Relations (COGR) maintains several useful pages of resources accessible from here.  Be sure to check the COGR FAQ on COSTS.

Human Subjects Research – Pause of Selected Studies

Updated June 2, 2020

The following FAQs pertain to the human subjects research pause memo sent to IRB protocol principal investigators on March 16, 2020. This pause does NOT apply to research on COVID-19. Please contact the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) for additional guidance.

May 28, 2020 Notice - Additional Ease of Restrictions on Face-to-Face Interactions with Human Subjects
from Dr. Frank Calzonetti
April 28, 2020 Notice - The Status of Human Subjects Research & COVID-19 Situation
from Dr. Frank Calzonetti
March 17, 2020 Notice of Pause in Face-to-Face Studies
from Dr. Frank Calzonetti

Which human subject studies elements must be paused?

All face-to-face interactions with participants, unless the interaction is essential to the health and well-being of the participant. Essential studies with direct face-to-face interactions may continue. To the extent possible, study activities that can be done electronically or remotely, should be done this way.

Non-essential studies that require direct face-to-face interactions must immediately pause new enrollment and discontinue face-to-face interactions unless study procedures can be modified to use alternative methods of gathering study data (e.g., on-line technologies, telephone interviews, email).

Studies involving no direct face-to-face interactions with participants may continue (e.g., tissue collection for subjects undergoing standard care, secondary data analysis, remote or online contact).

Beginning May 4, 2020, new submissions of non-essential clinical research studies will be evaluated to determine if face-to-face interactions are appropriate at this time. Decisions will be based on direct benefit to participants versus increased risk due to COVID-19. The IRB approval letter will indicated if face-to-face interactions can occur.

Which human subject studies are considered essential?

Generally, essential studies are therapeutic studies critical to the treatment of a significant life-threatening condition. Examples of non-essential studies include interventions intended to improve health but not for the treatment of a specific disease and therapeutic studies for conditions that are not life-threatening in the near-term.

What should I do if I think my study is considered essential?

Notify the HRPP via the FYI xform in IRB Manager. Indicate why you believe the study is essential and what additional precautions are in place for the safety of participants. You cannot continue face-to-face interactions without notifying IRB.

When will the pause on non-essential studies be lifted?

We will continue to reevaluate the time frame for the pause on face-to-face interactions. If you are able to collect data remotely, instead of face-to-face, we encourage you to submit an amendment request to the IRB at this time to add remote data collection methods.

How Do I Obtain Approval to Resume Face-to-Face Interactions on my IRB approved Non-Essential Clinical Study?

Beginning May 4, 2020, PIs with IRB approved non-essential clinical studies may use the FYI xform to request approval to resume face-to-face interactions.  The submission must address the direct benefit to participants and additional precautions that will be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19.  Researchers will be required to inform participants of the potential risk of COVID-19 from face-to-face interactions.

What should I do to prepare for when  the pause on face-to-face interactions is lifted?

We recommend that you order appropriate personal protective equipment such as masks, as well as develop plans for operating during the COVID situation to include provisions such as sanitizing areas/equipment, limiting on number of people per area, establishing physical distancing requirements, and including other restrictions mandated by the State of Ohio and the University of Toledo to mitigate COVID transmission.

May new subjects be enrolled on existing studies not subject to the pause?

This should be decided on study-by-study basis. The risk/benefit ratio may have changed from the time at which the protocol was reviewed and approved. For biomedical studies, in particular, study teams should evaluate how illness and absences, drug shortages, facility closures, or lack of required personal protective equipment may impact treatment, delivery or monitoring.

What additional precautions should I take when conducting direct face-to-face interactions?

Follow UTMC related guidance as issued. For example, visitors will be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms upon entering the hospital.

Call participants in advance of their appointment to determine if they have traveled recently or have a fever. If necessary, researchers may determine that the appointment should be canceled and give a recommendation to contact their healthcare provider.

Should observation studies be paused?

Yes, if they have face-to-face contact.

Does this pause apply to studies being conducted at other locations?

Yes, this applies to all UToledo faculty, staff and students conducting research with human subjects.

Do we need approval from the IRB for communications to study subjects explaining the pause in activities?

No. It is not necessary to submit a modification.

If I am pausing study procedures on a project reviewed by an external IRB of Record, must I notify that IRB?

Yes, as soon as feasible. The IRB of Record may require review/approval prior to resumption of study procedures.

I am conducting FDA-regulated research and I am the sponsor of an IND or IDE. Do I need to notify the FDA if I pause my study?

Yes. The FDA will need to be notified. Contact the HRPP via email at irb.biomed@utoledo.edu for specific guidance on the notification process.

Should NIH or other sponsors (federal, industry or non-profit) be notified that select protocols or face-to-face activities of a funded research study will be paused?

Yes. The PI should notify the Sponsor and send a copy of the correspondence to the HRPP via email at irb.biomed@utoledo.edu.

May IRB-approved screening of potential subjects continue by phone or email?

Yes

Can I submit a new study for IRB review that includes direct face-to-face interactions?

Yes, but you cannot begin the face-to-face components of your study until after UToledo lifts the pause on select studies.

Must the IRB approve amendments to the study protocol before implementing changes?
Yes, except where necessary to eliminate immediate hazards to human subjects. If a change is made to eliminate immediate hazards to participants, please notify the IRB following the Deviation Procedure.

Is an amendment necessary if I wish to change the mode of data collection for my exempt study?

Yes, UToledo IRBs review amendments to exempt studies.

How will the pause in my research impact my grant expenditures?

All study-related activities that are not affected by a pause can continue to be charged as normal. Additionally, there should not be a significant disengagement of the PI or other senior key personnel from affected projects.

My study may be impacted by the pause, which could lead to delays in completion. What should I do?

Most federal sponsors, including NIH, allow for a one-time no cost extension for 12 months at the end of the project. Contact ORSP to discuss options prior to your project end date.

Research involving animals

Updated May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020 Notice - Animal Related Research Plan - Effective May 11, 2020
from Dr. Lisa Root
April 30 , 2020 Notice - Status of Animal Research & COVID-19 Situation
from Dr. Frank Calzonetti
March 18 Notice - DLAR/IACUC Steps to Mitigate COVID-19 Impact on Animal Research
from Dr. Frank Calzonetti

What plans are in place to ensure that animals continue to receive husbandry and veterinary care?

Our veterinarian and DLAR staff are considered to be essential personnel and will continue to provide veterinary medical care; assessment of animal health and wellbeing; provision of food, water, and clean cages; and maintenance of proper environmental conditions for animals located in DLAR facilities. PI's are responsible for the care of animals outside of DLAR facilities. Identify essential personnel and limit animal access to only those personnel to manage current experiments.

In-person DLAR training courses have been cancelled and will be scheduled at a later date.

I understand that I must electronically reserve an animal room hood or procedure room before I enter DLAR. What if I just want to check my cages but not use a hood?

In order to even enter DLAR you must have a room/laminar flow hood reservation for the area you are going to occupy. Even if you don't plan on using the laminar flow hood you must sigh up for the room. This will limit the number of people in a room at a given point in time.

I understand that I should have my own respiratory protection (homemade mask) to enter DLAR but how many times can I wear this before cleaning and how should I clean it?

It’s recommended to wash your mask routinely depending on how much you wear the mask.  You can launder this mask in your own laundry or wash it in the sink with antibacterial soap and hang dry overnight so it’s ready to wear the following day.  

Will there be interruptions in animal experiments, Due to Coronavirus?

Current studies and critical and essential research may continue. Beginning May 11, 2020, breeding may begin for those studies approved as critical and essential. 

Can orders Still be Placed for New Animals and Are Exports of Animals Permitted?

Beginning May 18, 2020, those personnel approved for critical and essential research may order animals. Exports of animals will be allowed beginning on May 25, 2020, of those studies approved and critical and essential.

Will there be interruptions in institutional Animal care and use committee activities, including review of protocols and amendments, due to coronavirus?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and support staff will continue to review submissions (I.e., protocols and amendments) during this time. If you have any questions, please contact the IACUC office at IACUC@UToledo.edu.

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Last Updated: 6/11/20