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Research Guidance for Fall 2020

We are pleased to provide guidance on the fall resumption of on-site research to parallel the reopening of campus for instruction. While the fall semester will be far from normal, we are optimistic that the WVU community can conduct a responsible resumption of on-site research and scholarship that preserves the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students and the larger community. A matrix with guidance for specific activities can be found here.

Starting August 7th we will enter a new phase of research operations under the following Research Office guidelines. Individual colleges may elect to provide their own separate guidance to supplement the university wide guidance below.

We look forward to the on-site resumption of WVU’s comprehensive research and scholarship. The next few months will continue to be challenging as we navigate the ongoing pandemic, but the Research Office is here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for our assistance or to make suggestions as how better to serve you. The attached matrix is provided for additional guidance.


Research Office

Update as of 8/19/2020: Guidelines for Food Preparation and Consumption in Academic Buildings
Update as of 9/10/2020: Undergraduate Research and Recommended Actions for Potential Exposure to COVID-19
Update as of 10/21/2020: Updated Eating on Campus Guidance from the University, What to Do If: You're Eating on Campus
Update as of 10/28/2020: Addition of Return to Research Approval Process for Non-Clinical Human Subject Research (HSC Only)(PDF)
Update as of 11/17/2020: Additional Recommendations for Health Sciences Center Clinical Research (November) (PDF)


Physical Distancing

Currently recommended physical distancing guidelines are 6 ft separations between individuals, WVU is operating under a 200sq. ft per person rule for laboratory spaces. Please prepare your repatriation plans with these densities in mind.


Every returning researcher (PI, student, staff or postdoc) should evaluate their health daily and not return to campus if they are suffering any COVID-19 symptoms or believe themselves to have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual. You will need to fill out the WVU Daily Wellness Survey in order to gain an access pass. Find more information about self-monitoring on the WVU Return To Campus Website


All University-related international travel remains prohibited and domestic business travel for WVU employees will be extremely limited and require prior approval by the unit’s vice president or the dean of the college/school. General university travel information can be found on the WVU Return to Campus website under the what you need to know travel guidelines page . You can also reference common questions surrounding travel.
Travel for Data Collection

Researchers returning from out of state

Researchers returning to the region from an out of state location, that is not their primary abode, should follow the university guidance as to how long to remain off campus. WVU employees and students are currently (as of 5/26/2020) requested to remain off campus for five days after returning to Morgantown and its vicinity from out of state. (i.e. If you live across the state line and usually commute to WVU from that location, you do not have to self-quarantine; if however you travel out of state and stay in the home of another or in a hotel, you must self-quarantine before returning to on-site work at WVU.)

Clinical Trial/Research at the Health Sciences Center

11/17/2020: Please be advised that the WVU Center for Clinical Trials is asking their researchers to re-evaluate the need for face to face human subjects work at this time. The Research Office is extending that request for PI re-evaluation to all of our human subjects researchers. A link to the memo can be found below.

Additional Recommendations for HSC Clinical Trials November Memo (PDF)

Specific guidance on face-to-face clinical trial and research on human subjects can be found at Clinical Trial/Research Re-opening at the Health Sciences Center

Updated Recommendations for Health Sciences Center Clinical Research (July 8th)

Non Clinical Human Subject Research Guidance

Specific guidance on face-to-face non-clinical trial and research on human subjects can be found at:

Non-HSC Human Subject Research

Research Plan Approval Process: Non-Clinical Human Subject Research (HSC Only)(PDF)

Field Work

Field work that can be performed in isolation or in small groups that can maintain social distancing can continue. Additional guidance on procedures and PPE use can be found on the Field Research page that provides the Standard Operating Procedures for Field Research with COVID-19 Impacts.

Rapid Changes

Researchers should be prepared to shut down activities on short notice at the direction of local and state authorities. Plan accordingly.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Any authorized on-site researcher must wear a face mask at all times, except when such PPE is incompatible with lab safety. Disposable gloves can be used as previously required for research purposes, but efforts should be made to conserve glove usage for those specific applications and for health care providers. Laboratory supervisors will be responsible for ensuring that adequate stock is maintained. If an individual is not provided PPE, they cannot work. Supervisors are responsible for providing any additional PPE (chemically resistant gloves, goggles, face masks) required as standard safety gear for laboratory activities. Under no circumstances should safety be sacrificed due to lack of adequate supplies, including the type and quality of PPE, lab supervisors will be held responsible for any violations by their supervisees.

Disinfecting Procedures

Each group should establish a disinfection procedure and have that posted in the lab area. The laboratory area should be disinfected at the beginning and end of every shift. Items to disinfect include doorknobs, exposed surfaces, light switches, keyboards, microscopes, shared equipment, desk and bench surfaces and any other high contact surfaces. Supervisors are responsible for maintaining the supply of disinfectant and wipes.

Guidelines for Food Preparation and Consumption in Academic Buildings

Shared common kitchens may be used for food preparation, but not for food consumption. We ask that users wear masks during all food preparation (retrieving items from fridges, microwaving, making coffee etc.) and wash their hands before and after any common equipment use. Kitchen users should keep their own utensils and dish ware. High touch surfaces should be wiped down by each user (door knobs, buttons, touchscreens, coffee pot handles, faucets etc.) after use. Departments must ensure that adequate cleaning supplies are on-hand in these common areas.

Food consumption should be in single occupancy offices, individually in common offices or in a conference room designated for eating by the department chair with 8 ft separations. Any common eating area should have established cleaning protocols targeting high contact surfaces (door handles, table tops, doorknobs, light switch etc.) which must be sanitized after each use. Departments responsible for maintaining an adequate supply of cleaning materials.

The University has provided additional guidance on their  Return to Campus website under the What to Do If: You're Eating on Campus section.

Principal Investigator (Supervisor) Pledge

Each returning researcher who has on-site supervision of graduate students, undergraduates, staff and/or postdocs are required to sign a pledge indicating that they will abide by the university, college, departmental and group plan.

Principal Investigator (Supervisor) Pledge

Undergraduate Research

In spite of changes to on-site instruction for undergraduates, there are no anticipated changes to the Fall 2020 guidance for on-site Research and Scholarship. Undergraduates can continue to work on-site for research activities as long as it is within a PI's lab, associated with an award and at the discretion of their PI/faculty supervisor. The participant can be tied to the research by course credit, pay, or as a volunteer.

We ask all research and lab supervisors to check that all on-site researchers comply with the daily wellness check guidance and display their green access pass before starting work.