We are in the midst of the phased reintroduction of Boston University’s on-campus research. Our goal is to protect and support our community, both by minimizing viral infections and by finding safe and creative ways to resume research previously put on hold.
- Request Approval to Resume Research
- Information for Approved Labs
- Update Your Plan or Personnel List
- Guidance for Return to Research
- Resuming Clinical/Healthcare Services
- Frequently Asked Questions
Request Approval to Resume Research
We have asked for the research community’s help staging our recovery effort. Specifically, we need faculty PIs ready to activate their research groups to take the following steps:
- Carefully review the full toolkit below, which includes details on process, important guidelines, planning templates, and resources
- Draft a recovery plan using this Word template (or this planning template for field research)
- Make a list of your lab/research personnel using this Excel template
- Submit your plan and personnel list by uploading as part of the appropriate web form:
Following approval of your plan by the Office of Research, you will receive information about returning to campus and making updates to your plan moving forward. All plan updates and additions to your on-campus personnel list must be approved in advance by the Office of Research.
A planning form is also available to facilitate recovery planning for Healthcare Services. Healthcare clinics and clinical training centers are not required to use the separate planning template.
- May: Planning process begins.
- June: Office of Research begins approving labs for return to campus.
- July: Phase 2 begins, and the reintroduction of some human subjects research.
- August: Phase 3 begins, and changes in occupancy limits following approval from Office of Research (up to 50% for non-experimental labs, such as theoretical and computational research, and limit set by PI for experimental labs).
- VP for Research sends memo to faculty PIs, center directors, and core directors, asking them to begin planning via the appropriate online forms.
- Faculty PIs, core directors and designated “building coordinators” for buildings with multiple labs asked to draft a plan for ramping up research that considers a set of BU guidelines.
- All forms are submitted to the Office of Research, who shares with department chairs or center directors if space is within a center, and the Associate Dean for Research. Associate Deans for Research will provide the Office of Research with a list of those plans they recommend approving. Priority goes to labs with: (a) most pressing needs, (b) appropriate PPE, (c) all necessary equipment in working order, (d) re-opening plan based on the guidelines on file.
- Permission to resume will be contingent on the state lifting ban on non-essential business and the University indicating that it is ready to do so.
- Supply ordering and any remote preparations can begin immediately upon approval.
- When research commences, PIs must strictly adhere to their proposed ramp-up plan, plus any guidelines established by leadership or building coordinators. Failure to do so will result in revocation of privileges.
- After a period of time set forth by the University, those PIs who have had their plans approved for 30% occupancy will be asked to revise for 50% occupancy or whatever percentage is deemed appropriate by the University. This process will continue for each phase of ramping up until 100% occupancy is deemed appropriate.
- At any time, should a University or government authority require immediate cessation of non-essential work, PIs will be notified of a deadline by which their groups must return to remote work, with exceptions for essential operations as outlined in their submitted continuity of operations plan (COOP).
Planning Process & Approvals
Please visit the Recovery Toolkit for full details.
What if I can't submit my plan yet?
We will continue accepting submissions on a rolling basis.
Do I need to submit a plan to continue my work remotely?
While eventually we will be looking for recovery plans from all faculty PIs, at this stage we only need plans from PIs who are actively seeking permission to return to campus. We do encourage PIs to begin planning as soon as possible to allow for a slow and thoughtful ramp up.
Do Boston Medical Center faculty have to submit plans?
Yes – if their lab is in a Boston University space.
Do faculty who do human subjects research need to submit plans?
Yes, eventually we will be looking for recovery plans from all faculty PIs, and as of June 2020 new guidance is available for human subjects researchers ready to submit their recovery plans. However, it is fine to delay submission of your plan if you are not yet looking for permission to resume on-campus research.
Should PhD students conducting on-campus research fill out recovery plans?
No. Only faculty PIs should submit recovery plans.
What will the process for plan revisions look like?
Please submit plan revisions and any changes to your on-campus personnel roster using this form.
Do faculty PIs need to be included on the submitted personnel list?
Timeline & Approvals
Can my research group return to campus on [date]?
Labs and centers will be permitted to reopen only after they receive formal, written approval from the Office of Research. As faculty submit plans, they will be shared with department chairs, directors of University-wide centers, and Associate Deans for Research for review, and then submitted to the Office of Research for approval.
How do I know if I my plan will be reviewed by my Associate Dean or my center director?
Your plan will be reviewed by a director of a University-wide center if your space is located within that center.
When will human subjects research be permitted to restart?
As of June 2020 new guidance is available for human subjects researchers ready to submit their recovery plans. Generally speaking, we are asking PIs to make a plan for how they will conduct their research while maintaining social distancing. In cases where that's impossible, we need a plan for how you will use PPE to mitigate the risk of transmission. We are turning our attention first to essential research and research that can be done under social distancing guidelines.
I'm still waiting for approval. What's the hold-up?
When you submit your plan it is passed along immediately to your chair and Associate Dean for Research. Approvals are typically processed weekly by the Office of Research, following those approvals. If you have been waiting for more than 1-2 weeks please contact your chair, Associate Dean for Research, or the Office of Research and we can provide a status update.
Guidance for Returning Researchers
Please visit the Recovery Guidance page for full details.
What are the requirements before returning to campus?
We have compiled a list of requirements for approved labs and returning researchers to review and complete. As research groups receive approval to resume on-campus research, researchers are required to take steps to minimize infection risk, including daily health screenings, physical distancing, use of required face masks, frequent disinfection of lab space, and working with assigned building coordinators for the management of shared spaces.
Are there plans in place for community testing or other University-wide public health practices?
BU lab personnel are required to conduct a daily health screen to ensure they are not exhibiting any symptoms before returning to campus each day. The University is also planning to stand up its own COVID-19 testing program this fall for faculty, staff, and students, a critical step—along with contact tracing, social distancing, hygiene, and isolation and treatment for those infected. You can find general guidance for faculty and staff about public health practices on the Back2BU website.
Will parking be provided to researchers returning to campus?
Visit Parking Services to learn more about the discounted rate available to community members during the pandemic.
COVID-related Health Concerns
What should I do if I test positive, am exhibiting symptoms, or come in close contact with someone who's tested positive?
Stay home and report your symptoms via the appropriate BU channel:
- Students should contact Student Health Services (SHS) by messaging a nurse in Patient Connect
- Faculty and staff should call the COVID-19 Support Line at 617-358-4990
SHS or BU Occupational Health Center (BUOHC) will:
- Evaluate the report and advise the individual on whether they need testing or other medical attention;
- Determine whether an employee needs to be off work and for how long, or whether a student needs to quarantine;
- Notify the employee, manager and HR of any leave or restriction; and
- Notify EHS and Facilities of positive cases so they can determine the necessary cleaning and disinfecting of space.
When a positive case is confirmed, SHS or BUOHC will conduct contact tracing and will notify and advise all potentially exposed persons, following public health guidelines.
What should a PI or building coordinator do if someone in the lab/building has COVID-19 symptoms?
Ensure all returning researchers are aware of their screening and reporting obligations, and then await further guidance from Student Health Services (SHS) or BU Occupational Health (BUOHC). Anyone who has a positive COVID-19 test, experiences symptoms of COVID-19, or comes in close contact with someone who has tested positive needs to remain out of the workplace and contact the appropriate office:
- Students should contact Student Health Services by messaging a nurse in Patient Connect
- Faculty and staff should call the COVID-19 Support Line at 617-358-4990
If the person tests positive, EHS (who will be contacted by SHS or BUOHC) will contact you about cleaning measures and whether the lab should be temporarily closed. Note those decisions depend upon a medical evaluation of the person and on CDC and Massachusetts public health guidance. See the question above for details.
Field Work & Off-campus Research
Is field work or off-campus research permitted?
Field work is permitted if it is possible under the public health advisories currently in place (i.e., it can be conducted with social distancing measures in place), and with approval from the Office of Research.
How do I request approval to conduct field or off-campus research?
Lab Spaces, Buildings & Facilities
How will I know if a core facility I need to use will be operational?
Directors of core facilities will also be developing recovery plans, and will need to communicate and coordinate directly with PIs about their plans once approved. If you have questions about a specific facility, we encourage you to reach out to facility director directly.
Who is responsible for cleaning common spaces?
Facilities is responsible for cleaning common spaces. Labs are responsible for cleaning within the lab.
Will common spaces be cleaned over the weekend?
Building coordinators may work with facilities to coordinate a process in cases where weekend work is required.
Are there rules about using office space alongside labs?
In this first phase we are looking for any work that can be done remotely to continue remotely, and are discouraging people from working in their offices as much as possible.
Should we ensure there are at least two researchers in the lab at any given time for safety reasons?
Some labs do have a "buddy system" in place, necessitated by the nature of the research being conducted, and we encourage you to consider in your plan as needed. There is no University-wide policy on working alone.
How should labs handle lunch breaks?
We recommend that you make a plan for lunch breaks in advance. Lunch breaks should be staggered, and physical distancing of at least six feet is required when eating with masks off. Encourage individuals to eat outside at least six feet apart when the weather is nice.
Please visit the BU Libraries' Ask a Librarian tool for additional questions.
Are BU Libraries open, and library holdings available?
All BU Library services have moved online through Summer 2020. Visit these FAQs from BU Libraries for answers to specific questions.
Will researchers paid from sponsored funds continue to be paid if they don't yet have approval to return to campus at full effort?
As long as work can be done remotely, researchers can continue to be paid by their grants. According to the Office of Management and Budget, we are no longer able to use sponsored funding to pay personnel for idle time beginning in June.
What about staff who are not ready to return to campus?
If a staff member has disabilities or an underlying health condition, or lives with someone with an underlying health condition, and believes they are at risk coming to campus, they may reach out to COVID-19 Support Line at email@example.com or call 617-358-4990.
PPE & Supplies
Is there a central process in place for ordering personal protective equipment?
Sourcing & Procurement strongly encourages you to leverage BU’s preferred supplier channels for ongoing PPE and cleaning/disinfectant needs. The following suppliers can be used, all of which have e-catalogs in the Terrier Marketplace:
- Fisher Scientific: Kathryn McLean
- Henry Schein: James Gonsalves
- WB Mason: Michael Khoury
- McMaster Carr: Carr
- Grainger: Marc Dunn
If you continue to have difficulty sourcing product, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and Sourcing & Procurement will assist you. They also encourage you to leverage other BU approved spending programs, including Amazon Business and Fairmarkit, to meet your needs.
When and where are face coverings required?
Facial coverings need to be worn indoors at all times while in BU buildings, as well as outdoors when six feet of physical distancing can't be maintained at all times. The only exceptions to these rules are as follows:
- If you are outside and can maintain six feet of physical distance at all times, you do not need a face covering.
- If you are inside a private office alone, with floor-to-ceiling walls and a door, you may temporarily remove your face covering. The same does not go for cubicles, where face coverings are required.
Guidelines on facial coverings can be found here.
Can I wear the same mask in the lab as I wear outdoors?
If you come off the street wearing a cloth face covering, you need to take the cloth face covering off and put a surgical/medical mask on for work in a lab setting – even if you haven’t worn masks in your lab space before.
What if I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a mask?
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask you must obtain a note from your primary care physician and contact ROHP or the BU Occupational Health Center via its COVID Support Line at 617-358-4990 prior to being cleared to enter a BU lab or facility. You will then be referred to the appropriate departments for further review of your situation.
Will the University provide guidance on the appropriate PPE required for various situations?
Will the University be providing PPE and cleaning supplies for labs?
The University will continue to be responsible for cleaning common spaces. Labs will continue to pay for supplies used within their laboratories, including both PPE and cleaning supplies.
Am I allowed to charge PPE to my grant?
As mandated by Boston University, facial coverings are mandatory inside all BU buildings at all times except when eating, and outdoors when physical distancing of at least six feet isn’t possible. Lab personnel should remove their cloth face covering before entering the lab and wear a dust/paper mask along with the other required PPE for lab work. Unless specifically disallowed by the sponsor, Boston University will allow PPE to be charged to federal and non-federal research under OMB guidance found here. Specifically referencing Allowability of Costs not Normally Chargeable to Awards. (2 CFR § 200.403, 2 CFR § 200.404, 2 CFR § 200.405) “Awarding agencies may allow recipients who incur costs related to the cancellation of events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award, or the pausing and restarting of grant funded activities due to the public health emergency, to charge these costs to their award without regard to 2 CFR § 200.403, Factors affecting allowability of costs, 2 CFR § 200.404, Reasonable costs, and 2 CFR § 200.405, Allocable costs…”
As with all Sponsored Research, costs of PPE should follow the four cost principles: allowable, allocable, reasonable, and consistently treated. If costs are later deemed unallowable by the sponsor, the department will have to transfer said costs to a departmental or school account.
Research Recovery Guidance
As approved research groups return to campus, their models for research and collaboration look very different from how they looked in the past. Research that can be conducted remotely should continue remotely, and meetings should continue to be virtual. On-campus work must adapt operations to prioritize physical distancing, cleanliness, and safety.View Guidance
Schools and Colleges have designated building coordinators to implement a plan for the care and use of non-laboratory and common areas in buildings with several labs.Learn More
Resources & Templates
Plan Submission Forms
Planning Resources - State of Massachusetts
Planning Resources - Boston University
- Memo: Timeline for Return & Other FAQs (5/15/20)
- Webinar: BU’s Research Recovery Process (recorded 5/12/20)
- Memo: Planning for the Phased Resumption of On-campus Lab Research (5/6/20)
- Guidance on Social Distancing in BU Laboratories
- Guidance on Using Face Coverings and Respirators
- Guidance on Receiving and Handling Packages
- Guidance on Returning to Face-to-Face Experiential Learning Placements
- Mentoring and Advising During the Ramp-Up of Research and Scholarship
- Building Coordinator Contact List
- Guidance for Faculty & Staff: Back to On-campus Work – Phase 1
- Considerations for Prioritizing Research
Planning Resources - Other
*Required form/template; also listed above, under “Actions Required”
|COVID-19 Health Concerns||COVID-19 Support Line||617-358-4990|
|Lab Safety & Cleaning||Environmental Health & Safety||OEHS@bu.edu|
|PPE/Supply Acquisition||Sourcing & Procurement||CovidPPE@bu.edu|
|Research with Animals||Animal Science Centeremail@example.com|
|Research with Human Subjects||Charles River Campus Institutional Review Boardfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Medical Campus Institutional Review Boardemail@example.com|
|Shared Spaces||Assigned Building Coordinator||Contact list|
|Other||Office of Researchfirstname.lastname@example.org|