Many of our faculty and staff have been making significant sacrifices to aid our students and our colleagues through what is shaping up to become a very different semester with many unknown challenges for all of us. We are doing everything possible to assure that everyone is safe and secure during this period.
We will recover from this serious challenge and the hardships and changes in day-to-day life that are expected from us. However, each one of us has to understand the urgency to stop the spread of this virus and “Flatten the Curve.”
In consultation with the Provost, the Deans of our Colleges, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School (and UMBC’s Incident Management Team), I am issuing the following Directive to ensure a safe environment for our faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students who need access to studios, laboratories, and critical research equipment on campus.
UMBC has implemented a Research Maintenance Mode for all research and studio facilities effective March 18, 2020.
Please note that this Directive is subject to changes at any time. The team will continue to meet and evaluate this determination and when research activities may be able to resume. We will be in communication by email and will post updates on this website
Research Maintenance Mode
- All in-person meetings have been replaced with teleconferencing and videoconferencing modalities.
- Laboratory leaders are requested to determine the minimal level of personnel – if any – that require access to research or studio facilities in order to shut down or secure ongoing research projects, including, for example, the appropriate care of animals, securing samples, cultures and materials, and ensuring the preservation of equipment for an extended period where they will not be utilized.
- Any personnel requiring access to research or studio facilities for these purposes – even for a one-time visit to shut-down laboratories or retrieve critical information – is required to obtain prior authorization by submitting the Access Exception Form. This form requires the approval of the department chair or center director and will be reviewed for approval in alignment with the listed access criteria.
- Faculty have to submit any access requests for research staff in their laboratories.
- All personnel granted access to facilities are required to observe social distancing protocols and preventive measures when present on campus (as listed in the Access Exception Form).
- If you have been approved for access to facilities but are unable to gain access to your building, please contact the UMBC Police.
- UMBC will issue “Essential Personnel Travel Letters” to those individuals approved through this process.
In lieu of on-site research and creative activities that cannot be conducted at this time, alternative activities could include proposal development; preparing prior results for publication; reading research articles; contacting prospective collaborators and sponsors; and studying new research tools and skills. During this time, OSP continues to be ready and willing to work with you on proposal development and submission and assist with communications with current and prospective sponsoring agencies.
Advice for Laboratory Leaders
- Determine essential steps that need to be taken to ensure that critical experiments and materials are secured to allow for resumption of research activities after research maintenance mode ends.
- Review your prior list of essential personnel to determine who still needs to access campus while we are in Research Maintenance Mode. To the extent possible, we ask you to minimize the number of personnel present on campus by requesting exemptions only when absolutely necessary.
- Communicate clearly and directly with research assistants and staff about the university’s expectations regarding social distancing and preventative measures while they are on campus, including all existing safety protocols to be followed.
- Use the Buddy System where possible – make sure someone is aware where you are on campus and when you are leaving.
UMBC’s grant support services continue to operate although under teleworking conditions. Federal agencies are introducing significant flexibilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, NIH has built in flexibility for researchers and institutions related to grants administration, fiscal issues, and time periods for no-cost extensions, as well as delayed submissions and reporting.
Please reach out to your respective program director as soon as possible with concerns and questions.
UMBC has approved procedures in place to assure business continuity that must be followed.
- Please visit the ORPC Campus Closure Business Continuity during Emergencies for updates regarding research Compliance (IRB, IBC, IACUC, COI, & EC).
- Announcements will also be posted under the ORPC MyUMBC group page.
- For Sponsor updates related to pre-award and non-financial post award questions, please visit the OSP MyUMBC group page.
- For Sponsor updates related to award expenditure questions, please visit the OCGA MyUMBC group page.
- Please consult the UMBC COVID-19 page for a complete set of of guidance documents
Just as faculty and student are demonstrating their creativity and adaptability to ensure that classroom instruction is able to continue in an online format, we encourage graduate students and their thesis/dissertation committees to develop alternate ways to fulfill requirements if graduate student research and creative achievements are disrupted by not having access to research facilities and studios. The Graduate School is available to consult on these questions.
We are appealing to all of you to consider not only your own safety and well-being, but also the well-being of those who are tasked to take care of critical business during this difficult period.
Dr. Karl V. Steiner
Vice President for Research