Restarting Research FAQ
The following information is intended for all researchers at Georgetown, across the research spectrum from the humanities to the biomedical sciences.
When do you expect research to restart?
The University has submitted its plan to restart on-campus research activities to the District of Columbia and is aiming to resume research activities, albeit at a reduced level of intensity, no sooner than Thursday, July 16. However, our ability to adhere to this timeline will be contingent upon the District of Columbia accepting our plan, and under the assumption that there will be no significant spikes in the prevalence of COVID-19 in our region, among other factors.
What steps will be taken to reduce risks of reopening to returning personnel?
The University has developed a health and safety plan based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DC Department of Health, and our GU Public Health Working Group. Details about our health and safety plan can be found here.
What types of research will be assigned the highest priorities in the process of restarting research?
Research that is of the highest priority, including that which is directly connected to our response to and understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take precedence in the process of restarting research. Additional types of research that are considered highest priority include that which is related to the safety, integrity or maintenance of critical research materials (such as plants and animals) or infrastructure; time-sensitive research related to seasonal biological experiments; grant submission deadlines; timely dissemination of research; expansion of animal breeding or maintenance colonies; longitudinal research that would be jeopardized without regular data collection; and the collection of irreplaceable samples. Lauinger Library will continue to offer its book/print material pick-up service for faculty and graduate students who need these materials to conduct their research, although full access to the library remains restricted until further notice.
What type of research does the “Phased Restarting of Research” apply to?
These guidelines apply to all research or research-related activities that require direct contact with individuals (human subjects); or is conducted in university research space; shared resources; or occurs in offices on Georgetown’s physical campus or in non-university-owned facilities including libraries, archives, museums, and performance spaces or studios.
My research is limited to online surveys. Do these guidelines apply to my work?
If the person conducting the research needs to be on campus, then the guidelines apply. Research in the humanities requiring digital or print resources that are available through Lauinger Library and other sources can proceed though the library remains closed. While many materials are available online, a library pick up service is also available.
How do we seek approval to restart our research?
Research units (defined as individual laboratories, research groups or faculty members; Shared Resources and core facilities) will develop their own plans for Georgetown’s own phased approach to restarting research (phase 2 and phase 3) with input from all unit members. Plans must address research priorities and priority researchers, as well as strategies for achieving density goals, protecting vulnerable researchers and research participants, enforcing guidelines, and ramp-down procedures if restrictions are reinstated. Plans must be submitted in GMS for review by department chairs and subsequent approval by the division dean.
For faculty PIs who share lab spaces, do they each submit a research reopening plan to their chair, then to dean through GMS? Or can one of these PIs submit one return to research plan on behalf of all PIs? The individual plans will be close to identical.
Laboratories that share common space (large lab rooms, kitchen areas, bathroom facilities, conference rooms) must coordinate plans. Coordination between research units is the responsibility of the Department Chairs and Facility managers.
After submitting our research restart plan, who/when will be sent the application for us to complete and who should we send it back to?
No application for restarting research will be sent out. You must submit your plan through GMS. The portal for doing so is open now.
What happens after our research plan has been submitted in GMS?
The submitted research plan will be routed to your department chair for review/approval then forwarded to the dean for conditional approval. Approval at this level does not indicate that research can begin; full approval is required prior to resuming research.
My plan has been conditionally approved. What does that mean?
If your dean has given conditional approval, it will change to full approval allowing you to move forward when 1) the university notifies us that the DC government has agreed to accept our research reopening plan, and 2) the university is ready to implement key operational safeguards, incorporating recommendations from the university’s public health and operations task forces. You will be notified when both occur.
What would one do if their return to research plan changes? Is there a process to update plans?
If a PI needs to change or update their research resumption plan in GMS, they will need to submit a new request. If they have trouble accessing the portal or gms returns an error message that a plan is already on file, the PI should send an email email@example.com.
Will undergraduate students on campus be able to participate in research?
Undergraduate students who are permitted to be on campus can be included as members of research teams at the discretion of the faculty lead. Plans to resume research should specify all proposed on-site team members, including undergraduates.
What is the maximum density for labs?
The maximum density for labs will be 25% of capacity in or one researcher per four benches in phase 2 of Georgetown’s research restart plan. In phase 3 of our research restart plan, the maximum density will be 50% of capacity or two researchers per four benches.
For non-wet labs, where the lab operates as an office, what is the density capacity?
The density capacity is the same as the wet-labs.
Is there a specific metric regarding density for which we should be striving (400 square feet per person, for example)?
We are not mandating a square foot metric, but that could be submitted as part of your plan.
Will there be additional resources available for cleaning shared spaces?
Shared spaces will be the responsibility of University custodial services.
Can we have small in-person lab meetings and what is defined as small?
Small meetings (fewer than 10 people) of department/unit faculty may be held on campus only if (1) it is determined by the department/unit leader that meeting in person will significantly enhance the ability to meet essential responsibilities of the unit, (2) a room fulfilling campus physical distancing guidelines is available, and (3) accommodations are available for participants who require alternatives from meeting in person.
Can we have larger in-person lab meetings and what is defined as large?
Until further notice after the fall start, large meetings (of more than 10 people) of faculty within a department/program may not be held in person except with permission of the Dean, and then must meet the three conditions above (necessity, room availability, and accommodations). This principle necessarily requires that most department/program faculty meetings will occur by Zoom.
Who would be responsible for cleaning a conference room in Building D if we were to request the ability to use a conference room for a monitoring visit (for clinical trials)?
In this case, cleaning is the responsibility of University custodial services.
Will access to open spaces such as those in Regents Hall be limited?
Open spaces should not be used.
Return to Campus – Health and Safety
The University has developed a health and safety plan based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DC Department of Health, and our GU Public Health Working Group. Details about our health and safety plan including testing, cleaning, etc. can be found here.
It is difficult to be productive in my home office. When can I return to my office on campus?
Faculty members can submit a research restarting plan that requests use of their office on campus for such situations.
I want to minimize my use of public transportation. Will parking be available on campus?
At this point, there are no plans to change parking pre-pandemic rules.
My colleagues and I are in no rush to return to campus but need to come in on an occasional basis to pick up supplies. Can we create a schedule amongst ourselves?
Yes — please submit as part of your plan. The submitted research plan will be routed to your department chair for review/approval then forwarded to the dean for conditional approval. Approval at this level does not indicate that research can begin; full approval is required prior to resuming research.
Will Hoya Kids reopen when research restarts?
No, Hoya Kids will not reopen when research restarts in the summer.
How will researchers obtain PPE?
Georgetown is planning to provide PPE as needed. Main and Medical Center campuses are currently sourcing for bulk orders of PPE, for those research tasks that require PPE, and hand sanitizer that will be institutionally provided.
There are some things we need for research from home that we are not permitted to charge to a grant but are necessary for our grant research. What should we do?
Research supplies can be purchased from home. The limitation is that research supplies purchased using Georgetown’s strategic vendors cannot be shipped to a home address. If these are discretionary funds supplies, the moratorium is still in effect.
The purchase requires a University address. At the current time, packages are routed to the Harris Building. We are retrieving mail and packages 1-2x/week (SNHS is 1x/week) and storing items in Building D, Suite 120. A researcher can work with GUMC or SNHS leadership to coordinate a day and time to pick-up the items on campus.
Are there any restrictions for purchasing research supplies under the current financial situation of the university?
Research supplies procured on grant funding sources are not restricted and will follow the procedures already in place. Due to the university’s financial health and the unknown variables of this fiscal year (FY21), non-grant funded purchases will need to comply with the policies put in place following President DeGioia’s announcement of a pause in discretionary spending.
When will ProCards that were temporarily suspended be reactivated? Purchasing of certain research reagents and supplies will be needed as soon as we get back to work.
Please speak with your campus CFO about the possibility and process of reactivating a ProCard. Due to the University’s financial health and the unknown variables of this next fiscal year, limitations on ProCard activity may be maintained. In any case, there are other procurement mechanisms (purchase orders, personal reimbursement, or GMS punchout) that can be employed to address your needs.
Our ProCard funding has been cut significantly even with our own grants. When will it go back to the prior limit?
You should speak with your campus CFO.
Can ProCard use resume for grant-related spending?
ProCard spending can continue on grant funds if that individual is a ProCard holder. There are other University options for procurement including GMS punchout, master contracts, etc. when a procurement card is not available.
Can funds that could not be spent due to the crisis be carried over into the next fiscal year?
Due to the university’s financial health and the unknown variables of this fiscal year (FY21), institutional funds from a previous year will need to be reviewed case by case and weighed against the funding budgeted in the current year.
During the Phase 2, what will delivery access be like? Will FedEx/UPS be resuming a normal schedule to deliver directly to labs rather than to Mail Services?
At this current time, packages are routed to the Harris Building. We are retrieving mail and packages 1-2x/week (SNHS is 1x/week) and storing items in Building D, Suite 120. A researcher can work with GUMC or SNHS leadership to coordinate a day and time to pick up the items on campus.
Does the Georgetown-sponsored travel restriction apply to research participants who must fly in order to participate in and conduct the research?
The current moratorium is for all travel.
Has there been any discussion of lifting the travel moratorium?
We are operating under the assumption that the travel moratorium will continue for the time being.
Human Subjects Research
What is the timing for full service — including overnight stays — at the Clinical Research Unit?
Please contact Kathyrn Turner or Jacqueline Jonklaas. We are working with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on renovating the CRU space to reflect infection control.
For human subjects research, is there any requirement of a new participant liability waiver related to coronavirus when inviting people to a research activity?
A liability waiver related to coronavirus is not required. The risks presented by participation related to COVID-19 can be identified in the informed consent process. If the research activities themselves increase the risk of contracting COVID-19, that information should be included in the informed consent form. Research protocols that need to be amended should be submitted to the Georgetown IRB for review and approval. Please see “Guidance for COVID-19’s Possible Effects on Research Involving Human Subjects” for more information regarding procedures for submitting changes. Additional questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.