Managing Your Research Program in the Event of Emergencies

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If you have any questions, please contact the Associate Vice President for Research, Dr. Coleen Pugh,


Shockers United Reopening Plan for Researchers


View FAQ
How do I gain permission to reopen my research labs?

The PI for your lab (or lab manager of an institutional lab) needs to submit a plan for maximizing social distancing and maintaining a sanitary work environment using the Research Reintegration form. This form also requires a list of all researchers using the lab and their contact information for PI labs, or research groups using the institutional labs.

In addition to the Shocker United instructions, guidelines and considerations are provided below in the form of FAQs and at the link for the reintegration form itself. This plan should be specific to your individual lab, such that it provides guidance for its researchers and is enforceable. There are separate forms for PIs for their own research groups, and for lab managers of institutional facilities such as instrument rooms and plant or animal care facilities. Once the PI/lab manager submits the plan for his/her labs, the form will automatically be forwarded to the department chair, then to the dean of the college or his/her designate, and finally to the AVP for Research. Once the plan has been fully approved, the research office will return a displayable copy of the plan and its list of researchers to the PI/lab manager for mounting on the outside door of the corresponding lab(s). At that time, your research group may resume working in the lab according to the approved plan..

Can research projects involving face-to-face interactions with human participants resume?
A proposal must be submitted to IRB and be approved before resuming a study involving human participants with face-to-face interactions. If you have a protocol in place for in-person interactions and you want to convert to a remote study, you must file a modification request with IRB. Instructions can be found at the IRB site
Do I need to submit a Research Reintegration form if my lab involves human subjects?

Yes, you will need to submit a Research Reintegration form for opening the lab itself, whereas the study performed in the lab must be approved by IRB.

What PPE should the researchers in my lab consider?

The following guidelines should be considered:

  • Determine what type(s) of face masks/covering must be worn, including in phase 2 and beyond, when the maximum number of researchers is surpassed and/or a minimum of 6 ft distance cannot be maintained between researchers.
  • Identify when disposable gloves should be used, in addition to while using disinfectants. Surface disinfectant non-latex gloves and paper towels can be obtained, at no charge, by submitting a work order request.
  • Identify when eye protection should be used if this is not a standard requirement for your lab.
  • Identify if lab coats, aprons or gowns should be used if this is not a standard procedure in your lab.
What should my lab consider for its plan to maximize social distancing?

Consider which of the following guidelines are relevant to your lab:

  • Determine the maximum number of researchers that may be present in the lab at any time in order to allow more than 6 feet of social distancing and gatherings of less than 10 people at a time.
  • For laboratories with at least two doors, establish a route of entry and exit that use different doors and a one-way traffic flow.
  • Move equipment to create more than 6 feet between users.
  • Use tape to mark out 6-foot workspaces for high-traffic areas or bottlenecks.
  • Stagger work schedules and create a lab schedule that minimizes the number of people in the lab at any one time. This may require some people coming to the lab at times other than 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A shared calendar or other online tool may be helpful.
  • Distribute a list of duties to be performed by critical personnel with location and designated time of day.
  • Develop a means of signifying who is present in the lab space at any given time, preferably using an online sign-in tool to minimize touching items such as a physical sign-in sheet, or other mechanism of controlling the number of people in the lab at the same time.
  • Stagger break times.
  • Use the hallway or other designated area outside of the lab to transfer items with people who do not work in your lab.
  • Contact those in other labs using a phone or other electronic means except in cases of emergency.
What should my lab consider for its plan to sanitize our workspace?

Consider which of the following guidelines are relevant to your lab:

  • Disinfect door handles, handrails, faucets and surfaces such as lab benches, worktables, instruments, desks, stools and chairs after use and before the next shift begins. Focus on high-touch surfaces. (Visibly dirty surfaces should be cleaned with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.)
  • Disinfect equipment that makes direct physical contact with the skin, including eyepieces for microscopes, keyboards, touchpads, etc.
  • Identify the disinfectant to be used. Options include:
    • Greater than 70% ethanol in liquid, spray, or wipe form.
    • 10% diluted bleach solution (5 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water).
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, including upon entering the lab, after any break, before and after using any face coverings, after removing disposable gloves, and after touching shared equipment and devices. (Minimize the use of shared items, such as pens, notebooks, reagent bottles, etc.)
  • Determine when and under what circumstances alcohol-based (greater than 60%) hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Use paper towels or light-duty cleaning wipes when possible to handle door handles, common laboratory items, and equipment, especially those that cannot be disinfected.
  • Consider footwear and clothing as a possible transmission source, and consider using a separate pair of shoes for using only in the lab. Identify where outside footwear and clothing will be stored while working in the lab.
Will Skeleton Acres (SARF) be available for research activities? If so, have any special procedures been implemented for its use?

Yes, SARF will be open. .

  • Skeleton Acres is a research facility that is specific to Wichita State Biological Anthropology research and investigations. SARF is not an open research facility and is largely limited to research conducted by the site director and students, colleagues, and law-enforcement. No access or research activity is allowed without prior approval of the site director. Research proposals and visits to SARF must be scheduled in advance and in a timely manner, in accordance with the restriction listed above.
  • For safety reasons, all visits MUST be in groups of a minimum of TWO and visitors must carry cell phones in working condition. Student investigators are responsible for maintaining research projects throughout the time of the experiment. This includes the cleaning of research sites and proper disposal/disposition of any associate materials.
  • Individuals traveling to SARF must do so in separate vehicles to adhere to the social distance requirement. When at SARF, social distance must be maintained, and face masks, gloves and any necessary protective gear are required. Wearing of safety vests is required.
  • The SARF student assistant and maintenance crew are charged with moving and other maintenance.
Will the WSU Biological Field Station properties, such as Youngmeyer Ranch, Ninnescah Research, Gerber Reserve and Sellers Reserve be available for research activities, and if so, have any special procedures been implemented for their use?
The WSU Biological Field Station sites are available for use. Users must seek permission from the Field Station Director and follow the latest Field Station health and safety guidelines provided by the Director. Get contact information.

Public Health Precautions for the WSU research community

All personnel should stay home if they experience any symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus, including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. It is also advisable to encourage limiting contact with others such as shaking hands or sharing food. The most effective preventative measures for reducing or limiting contact include frequent, thorough hand-washing.

Preparing Your Research Program

Now is a good time to make sure that we are prepared for the impact of the Novel Coronavirus on your research. Advanced planning will allow everyone in your research team to focus on their own efforts and work together, rather than wondering how they and their team members are to proceed. Even if such plans are not needed for the current situation, they are still a good learning experience for the future.

A typical checklist:

  1. Identify emergency personnel and ensure they know what to do in the event of suspended operations
  2. Remind lab personnel of your communication plan or create one if not in place
  3. Identify priorities in case of restricted access
  4. Ensure remote access to files, data, servers, etc. and backup your data
  5. Prioritize experiments
  6. Plan for remote proposal submission
  7. Check travel restrictions (university and sponsor) before making any travel plans.

Here are a few simple scenarios in which to consider these impacts:

  • As a PI, what would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if I had to self-isolate for two weeks? Do I have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for my research team?
    • Do all of my research team members have home/cell/office phone numbers that are up to date on my call tree?
    • Do all of my research team members have all of the important contact information for the university? EHS, department, the other team members?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if more than one of my research staff or students (graduate or undergraduate) had to self-isolate for two weeks?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if WSU advised all faculty, staff, and graduate/undergraduate students to work remotely?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if WSU partially shut down operations?
  • What would the impact be to my research and sponsored programs if the event duration were two, four, or six weeks?

Here are a few ways to begin assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus on your research in any of the above scenarios:

  • Are there any studies involving participants, animals, ingredients, or experiments that would be adversely affected? If so, what plans should be put in place to allow for them to continue or allow for them to be stopped and later resumed in the least impactful way?
    • Contact IRB, IACUC or EHS for additional input.
  • What standing purchasing orders or human resource issues might be impacted?
  • Would data collection/analysis/storage be impacted – have I and my team been backing-up our data?
  • What costs would be associated with these impacts?
    • If some/all of my team were not able to be present, do they have remote access?
  • What regulatory approvals will expire soon and might be impacted if they are not renewed? Can they be renewed early?
    • Contact IRB and IACUC policies and due-dates. The plan is to have these committees continue to meet if we have ongoing experiments.
  • Are there any collaborators that need to be notified?
  • What sponsor reports or deadlines might be due during this time period?
    • Office of Research Post-Award
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts.
  • Would the impact of these actions warrant a for-cost or no-cost extension request for any of my sponsored projects?
    • Office of Research Post-Award
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts.
  • What notice might I need to give sponsors or regulators if the research is going to be paused or significantly delayed beyond a couple of weeks?
    • Office of Research Post-Award
    • Notify your sponsor ASAP about any potential delays/impacts.

Once you have considered the impact for each of these scenarios, please take appropriate steps to make sure your research program is prepared.

Additional Considerations for Animal or Human Subjects Research

  • Is the location of the study remaining open and available for participants to be present? Has the location implemented any procedures for human subjects to slow the spread of the coronavirus that will affect participation in your study or the ability of your study to proceed?
  • Does your protocol require in-person participation? Can it be modified for remote participation?
  • Does your protocol require in-person monitoring? Can it be modified for remote monitoring?
  • Should your participants be screened for coronavirus as part of your inclusion/exclusion criteria?
  • Would your data or results be affected if your participants had to self-quarantine or if they contracted coronavirus?
  • Does your protocol for animal husbandry and management require regular monitoring?
  • Are any modifications made to your protocol and approved by the IRB due to the coronavirus?

Remember, any modifications you make to your protocols as a result of preparation for the coronavirus need to be submitted to the IRB and approved before implementation.

Additional Considerations for Environmental Health and Safety

Most considerations for environmental health and safety would only come into play should critical lab staff with unique knowledge be unavailable.

  • Do you have a limited number of critical lab staff with unique knowledge? Are there others in your lab who can be cross-trained?
    • Develop your BCP so everyone knows what will be done and by whom.
  • Does your lab operate machines that use active cooling through liquid gases, dry boxes, or inert boxes using gas blankets? What would happen if materials like liquid gasses, CO2, nitrogen, or dry ice become unavailable?
  • How frequently are you saving or freezing samples of your cell cultures?
  • Do you have long-term experiments that might benefit from more frequent preservation?
  • Do you have the requisite local knowledge to do controlled shutdowns of complex machines or devices without on-site help from the company?
  • Have you shared with EHS the locations and amounts of materials that are air, water, or otherwise unstable for observation in case of lab closure?
    • Do you have chemicals with limited shelf life that may become hazardous within 2-6 weeks?

For questions about EHS, or to report locations of unstable materials, please contact. Mike Strickland

Federal Guidance

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

White House Office of Management and Budget

Contact Information:

Animal Vivarium –

Associate Vice President for Research, Coleen Pugh –

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) –

Institutional Review Board (IRB) –

Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (IACUC) –

Office of Research Post-Award –

Office of Research Pre-Award (contracts) –

Office of Research Pre-Award (proposals) –