Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
March 21, 2020
Guidance for Research Supervisors and Laboratories and Facilities in Response to Executive Order
Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order permits educational institutions to continue operating “for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.” Accordingly, all non-essential on-campus research activities should cease immediately. No new on-campus research may be initiated. All laboratories and research facilities not preforming essential research will be closed. This directive supersedes previous guidance.
For the purposes of NIU’s compliance with the Executive Order, examples of essential research include research that has the potential to address the COVID-19 crisis; human-subjects research that would endanger research participants if stopped; or projects where termination of the activities would lead to loss of long-running experimental data including longitudinal studies, loss of critical time-series or time-sensitive data, loss of equipment, or loss of research-related organisms.
To perform essential research, each laboratory or facility must identify one or two key personnel responsible for the essential ongoing activities and maintenance. Essential personnel can be faculty, staff, or graduate students; undergraduates cannot serve as essential personnel. The number of personnel on campus and their time on campus must both be at the absolute minimum. Faculty and researchers have the responsibility to identify and report essential research and key personnel to their departmental Chairs for their approval.
Remember, potentially hazardous operations require the presence of at least two trained and qualified persons. All personnel must perform their work safely and maintain personal hygiene, disinfect high-touch surfaces, and maintain social distancing, including coordinating with others to minimize time on campus and to avoid being in the lab or animal facilities at the same time as others.
All personnel have the right to work at home and decline to assist with essential research. Undergraduate students may choose to work remotely on grant-supported projects with approval by the departmental Chair. Remote personnel should be provided alternative options for work at home such as manuscript or proposal preparation, computing analysis, remote meetings, and online supervision. Conversely, some personnel may be concerned that they cannot access facilities to carry out their research project and activities. This may be for many reasons, including pending dissertation deadlines, project timelines, or seasonal – dependent research. Supervisors must address and mitigate individual concerns by revising work plans and timelines. Any remaining concerns should be discussed with the departmental Chair and, if still unresolved, with the Dean.
We want to reassure you that the Division of Research and Innovation Partnership (RIPS) offices remain in operation, albeit remotely, and will be available to assist with the research activities. Please refer to the RIPS webpage (which will have a Coronavirus update soon), Sponsored Programs Administration updates, and the University Coronavirus Update page for current information.
We know this is a difficult time and share your disappointment over any interruption of your research programs. We must all do our part in light of the full magnitude of this crisis. We know that maintaining your research productivity will be difficult and that your lives are disrupted as well. Many of you are adjusting to a new way of teaching, are taking care of others, or may be serving the health care needs of our community. We are committed to support you, albeit remotely, in any way we can.
Should you have any questions please reach out to any of us.
Gerald C. Blazey, VP Research and Innovation Partnerships
Bradley Bond, Dean, Associate VP for Graduate Studies
Beth Ingram, Executive Vice President and Provost