COVID-19 Information for Penn State Researchers

 


Official Communications | Managing Labs and Staff | Travel | College of Medicine and Penn State Health
Human Research Subjects | Animal Research Subjects| Grants and Contracts | COVID-19 Research| Unmanned Aircraft| Scientific Diving

 

Medical workers in laboratory.

The health of our Penn State community is critically important to us. As such, the Office of the Senior Vice President would like to share with you some important updates about the novel coronavirus situation, and we will continue providing updates as the situation unfolds.

The materials on this page are designed to help researchers think about necessary contingency plans, as well as to provide COVID-19-specific research information.

Remain flexible: Please be flexible and work with students or staff who may be facing health challenges to ensure their success. Students should be encouraged to stay home if they feel ill (as should you). Penn Staters may need support to finish a course or a work project if they are required to self-quarantine. As a reminder, students cannot be expected to share private health information with faculty.


Official University Communications and Updates

Official University communications, recommendations, and informational updates are being posted to the PSU Coronavirus Community Update Page.

Penn State has established key action groups, one of which is Research Support and Operations, to discuss and plan for a variety of considerations that could impact University operations. Please refer to this page regularly for updates relevant to the research community, and communicate the relevant portions to your colleagues, principal investigators, and other research team members.


Managing Research Groups, Labs and Staff

Principal Investigators should immediately begin preparing for all on-campus research to be reduced to essential research-related activities by March 24.

Please review the complete guidance for reducing research activities in Penn State labs here:

https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_labs

For Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) related questions, contact EHS at:

 

Undergraduate Research Experiences

Faculty members may be offering remote Undergraduate Research Experiences for this summer; a sponsor may request confirmation that Penn State will not have resources (housing and labs) to offer the program in person. At this point, the University is planning to deliver all courses and programming virtually for the Maymester, Summer Session I, and Summer Session II, through a mix of asynchronous online and synchronous remote course offerings. Access to laboratories and on-campus research facilities has been limited to essential research-related activities only. Students should not return to campus at this time, and they will not be able to swipe into their on-campus residence halls. This is critical to the University’s efforts to create as much social distancing as possible and maintain a low level of exposure risk to our students as well as all our local communities. The University will communicate when residence halls will reopen well in advance.

Questions regarding staff time off or HR issues related to COVID-19 can be found at https://sites.psu.edu/virusinfo/faqs/.


Travel

All Other Penn State Research Personnel

The PSU Coronavirus Community Update Page provides information for those of you who are traveling to, from, or through countries rated CDC Level 2 and 3. Please be aware that anyone traveling through Level 3 countries will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Similarly, all visitors to campus (e.g., visiting scholars, faculty candidates) will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to, from, or through CDC Level 3 countries, and thus you may need to consider canceling these visits or alternative forms of engagement with these individuals. University travel restrictions apply to everyone traveling on Penn State funds, including grants and contracts.

The most up-to-date travel information is available at: https://sites.psu.edu/virusinfo/traveler-info/.


Mitigating Impacts for Human Research Subjects

 This information applies to all Penn State researchers and personnel, including the College of Medicine and Penn State Health.

Effective March 15, 2020: Revised standards for Human Subjects-Related Research Visits during COVID-19

In the context of rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19, and the University’s focus on social distancing and the health and well-being of the community, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, has issued these revised standards related to human subjects-related research visits.  In summary, research visits should be performed remotely (e.g., by phone, Zoom, or other means) whenever possible.  Studies involving face-to-face interaction with participants with no direct drug or device therapeutic benefit are to be postponed until further notice, effective March 15, 2020.  Please review the revised standards carefully. The health and safety of human research subjects is paramount.

Clarified March 27, 2020: For research at Penn State Health, any observational study (whether inpatient or outpatient) that requires any additional face-to-face contact with patients will NOT be allowed. In addition, to demonstrate stewardship of personal protective equipment that is necessary for the safety of our providers, any sample collection that requires any use of PPE (masks, gowns, face shields, etc.) is not allowed, except as part of an interventional study with the potential for direct patient benefit.  

Due to biosafety concerns, and in conjunction with the CDC recommendations for specimen handling from COVID-19 patients, any study that aims to enroll COVID-19 subjects will require a modification to the protocol for IRB approval, which will include a biosafety review. COVID-19 patients cannot be enrolled on existing protocols without this modification approved. 

Please visit the Institutional Review Board (IRB) COVID-19 informational page.

Screening Patients or Research Subjects:

Information regarding the screening of subjects for COVID-19 is available on the College of Medicine Infonet and at  https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_orp_screening 


Mitigating Impacts to Animal Research Subjects

For COVID-19 information related to animal facilities and IACUC operations, please visit: https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_iacuc

 

Mitigating Impacts to Unmanned Aircraft Research

 For COVID-19 information related to animal facilities and IACUC operations, please visit:  https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_ua

 

Mitigating Impacts to Scientific Diving Research

 For COVID-19 information related to animal facilities and IACUC operations, please visit:  https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_dive


Impacts to Proposals, Grants and Contracts

For information related to proposals, grants and contracts, please visit: https://www.research.psu.edu/pandemic_response/grants_contracts

Please contact osp@psu.edu if you have any specific questions or concerns.


Research Involving COVID-19

Penn State is committed to research that has a positive impact on global health.

Sharing research findings: Please note that Penn State is a signatory on the Wellcome Trust statement supporting open access to research publications and preliminary research results related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more.

Sharing information within Penn State: The College of Medicine Special Pathogens and Penn State Health support staffs will be working to develop tools that allow sharing of selected information with relevant parties in the University. These developments, as well as Penn State Health's COVID-19 guide and a directory of canceled events will be updated here: https://med.psu.edu/coronavirus.