Updated March 24, 2020, Original post March 20, 2020
Ball State University is monitoring the fluid situation presented by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the associated COVID-19 disease and its potential to impact university research activities. Please consult the Ball State Health Center page for important tips on how to stay healthy and wellness resources available for the campus community. At the end of this post, you’ll find information on national and international efforts to help minimize the spread of illness.
At this time, all services provided by research administration at Ball State, including those provided by Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA), the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) & the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), will function as normal, though all staff are telecommuting as of March 20. As updates become available, communications will be posted here on the Research Blog, and more importantly, watch the BSU Communications Center, for important information.
To mitigate the impact of this situation on our scholarly mission, we advise principal investigators and project teams review the following guidance:
If the work is supported through internally or externally sponsored funding, please contact the following to report associated delays and receive guidance on working out terms and conditions for associated agreements with outside sponsors:
Justin Miller, Director, Sponsored Projects Administration – email@example.com – 765-285-5085
Jackie Davis, Director, Sponsored Projects Development – firstname.lastname@example.org – 765-285-1607
Student scholars need to contact their advisor(s) about options for modifying their research and discussing options if their research projects are linked to a graduation requirement. Please note all research activities in BSU laboratories and facilities are not allowable after March 29th and until further notice.
Prepare to reschedule any sponsored projects-related travel
As of Monday, March 16, the university is prohibiting all university- and grant-funded travel domestically, including within the State of Indiana, and internationally.
In many cases, travel related fees — such as change or cancellation fees and trip cancellation insurance — may be an allowable expense with appropriate justification, unless the specific award or sponsor guidelines prohibits these costs. If the specific award or sponsor guidelines do not cover such fees, work with your Grant Manager and department to determine how to cover those costs.
Field studies (non-human subject research) are allowable to the extent they align with BSU policies, current exception procedures and guidance, including that provided at the COVID-19 site and that do not require access into any Ball State facility. As a point of emphasis, cases of field study or field data collection that involve students need to follow the exception process by requesting an exemption through the dean’s office who will then route that request. Field studies with students fall under the category of transitioning to online instruction or alternative instruction.
Review Guidance for IRB / Human Subjects Research
The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is continuing to monitor the situation and the impact on research. In-person human subject research remains suspended (as of 3/21/20). Distance learning researchers that live in other states must follow this process too or the requirements of their home state if more restrictive. Human subject research (HSR) where no in-person contact is necessary and that has prior Institutional Review Board approval remains allowable. Please refer to the HSR Guidelines found on the ORI website for more information. Please, return to this site on a regular basis as guidance may be updated.
Please contact the following for assistance:
Sena Lim, Human Research Protection Program Manager – email@example.com – 765-285-5034
Chris Mangelli, Director, Office of Research Integrity – firstname.lastname@example.org – 765-285-5070
Plan for Laboratory Facility Needs
Research laboratory facilities within Ball State University properties (main campus and all other facilities) will no longer be open for performing experimental procedures after March 29, 2020 until further notice. We recognize regular (weekly, daily, monthly) maintenance may be needed in some instances. Periodic re-entry into labs for maintenance of equipment and resources by non-essential personnel is allowable but not for execution of experimental procedures. For both essential and non-essential personnel, contact your Department Point of Contact and we will assist in coordinating efforts.
Please, ensure faculty and staff are made aware of the following regarding research facilities (on and off campus):
1. As of March 24th, it is still allowable to enter research facilities for maintenance activities such as those necessary for upholding manufacturer warranties on equipment and to mitigate damage to BSU equipment and resources. Student workers doing maintenance work require pre-approval.
2. If returning to campus for these activities, do so during regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.). It is advisable to ensure we have a record of all maintenance that is being performed in case travel to campus is no longer allowable or feasible. If you have not done so already, please, complete this form with your instructions. Email form to Sue McDowell (email@example.com).
3. Have only one person in a room at a time performing maintenance, yet in view of others (note: this is more restrictive than the social-distancing guidance of 6 ft)
4. Do not return for weekly maintenance of eye washes; Environmental Health and Safety Office will be maintaining eye washes on our behalf
5. Sanitize each room as you depart
6. Be careful to avoid creating a hazard by leaving untreated biological materials for long periods, such as in biohazardous waste containers, in refrigerators, or at room temperature
7. Custodial Services willing to make daily rounds in areas where we might have research equipment alarms or risk of flooding. As a list of specific buildings/rooms will be needed, please provide these to Dr. Susan McDowell (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 24th. The timeframe for winding down non-maintenance activities in BSU research facilities has been truncated to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday 3/24/20. Contact Dr. McDowell directly if this would lead to loss of valuable resources.
8.. Ensure student scholars are aware research activities in BSU laboratories and facilities are not allowable after March 29th and until further notice
Ensure remote access to research materials and meetings
All personnel involved in any research projects (sponsored or not) should make sure they are able to access their work and information remotely. For instance, access to databases, project-related files and literature, as well as meeting software such as WebEx or Skype for Business (both free tools for BSU students and employees), should be made available to all students, staff, and faculty, as appropriate. Meetings of more than 2 participants should be held virtually.
Plan for reduced staff
In the event personnel cannot complete their work remotely, principal investigators should discuss how to complete required activities with reduced staff or connect with sponsors to communicate the change in work. While many funders/sponsors have distributed interim guidance, a majority have yet to do so. However, we do expect most sponsors to provide such statements. As we receive guidance from specific sponsors, SPA will share it in order to determine next steps for each project.
Plan to submit proposals and project reports remotely
Sponsored Projects Administration staff are currently working remotely and continue to be available to submit proposals and reports. Be prepared to work early and often with department support and your sponsored projects point of contact remotely to meet deadlines.
Redirect media inquiries
As a research university, news media may contact you or a member of your team for comment on the coronavirus. Do not give statements on behalf of BSU. Instead, all inquiries should be directed to Ball State’s Division of Marketing and Communication. Media relations representatives are trained to respond to media inquiries in a timely manner.
Additional resources regarding local and state response, and resources for faculty are below: