Update as of 7/8/2020:
Updated Recommendations for Health Sciences Center Clinical Research (July 8th)
has been added to the overall guidelines.
Update as of 6/22/2020:
Non-HSC Human Subject Research: Off Campus guidance has been added to the overall
Update as of 6/8/2020: An update of the eating on campus section as well
as guidance for office use can now be found within the policy below.
Update as of 6/1/2020: Non-HSC Human Subject Research added.
Update as of 5/26/2020: Travel and Researchers Returning from Out of State sections below modified, Vendor Work On Site Work Rules Memo and Statler QR codes were added.
As we all eagerly await a re-start of on-campus research and scholarship, we must aim for a plan that allows on-campus efforts to continue and puts the health and welfare of WVU faculty, staff and students and that of the larger Morgantown community at the forefront.
The immediate return plan is to re-establish access (albeit restricted) for groups where the majority of their research and/or scholarship relies on access to a laboratory/studio/greenhouse with dedicated instrumentation or space that cannot be duplicated remotely. We will do so in a manner that maintains physical distancing and minimizes transmission by means of vigilant use of masks, hand washing and frequent disinfection of common areas.
Our plan is to start out modestly and then allow for increased on-site engagement and activities as circumstances permit. We appreciate your continued patience and the Research Office welcomes all comments and suggestions. We want this to work as best it can for the WVU community and need your input to help steer our decision process in this challenging time. Please email Fred.King@mail.wvu.edu and Sheena.Murphy@mail.wvu.edu with any suggestions/comments.
To the extent that it is possible under the public health authority directives, as access restrictions are relaxed, priority to return to on-campus activities should be given to those researchers/scholars who cannot work remotely and (in no particular order)
- who are under time constraints to complete degrees or
- who are term appointments (e.g., postdoctoral researchers) or
- who are pre-tenure or
- whose externally supported project has near term deliverables or
- whose externally funded project is nearly the end of the award or
- who need preliminary results for a pending submission.
Those researchers whose work is primarily computational, archival and/or theoretical are NOT to return to campus.
Each college is charged with developing the criteria for prioritizing the first wave of return to campus, but it is to be expected that early career faculty needs for access should come before established researchers/scholars and that senior graduate students be prioritized.
Even for those individuals whose research has a significant on-site dimension, they should still perform analysis, manuscript writing, group meetings etc. off-site, and only return to campus for work that cannot be performed elsewhere (compromised productivity because of distractions at home etc. is not a valid reason to return).
- Follow the cognizant Local, State, and National Public Health Authority directives to shelter-at-home and implement physical distancing.
- Protect the health and safety of the research workforce.
- Protect the emotional, physical health and safety of the greater WV community.
- Facilitate progress of Graduate students toward degree completion.
- Facilitate progress of funded research and scholarship.
- Implement a fair and transparent process for granting access.
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 re-patriation plans with these densities in mind. Using all seven weekdays may be necessary as well of extension of the workday; however, no one should be in WVU buildings before 7AM or after 10PM without prior consent from the Chair/Dean. Additionally, it is not recommended that you work in the lab alone but if the need arises plan for a buddy, on site or via phone, for safety purposes.
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.
Beginning Tuesday, May 26, 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
travel guidelines section.
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 Re-opening at the Health Sciences Center
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. In person
non-clinical research will not resume until a later time. Stay tuned for guidance
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.
Researchers should be prepared to shut down activities on short notice at the direction of local and state authorities. No long-term research (with the exception of COVID-19 related work) that commences as a result of this re-start will be granted extensions. Plan accordingly. Moreover, researchers should be aware that they may be denied access for 24+ hours for more intensive disinfecting processes if positive cases are found among returning building occupants. We are working on an efficient process for decontamination that will be provided once developed.
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.
Colleges/departments should move hand sanitizer stations to entrances and more highly trafficked areas.
Higher-risk Groups and Students
Individuals identified as at-risk by the CDC or those who live with high-risk individuals should not return to campus, but rather should continue to be provided with tasks that can be performed remotely. (See CDC guidelines for at-risk people) Graduate students and staff should NOT be pressured to return to work. Graduate students can email GradEd@mail.wvu.edu with any concerns they have (which will remain confidential). Permission for undergraduates to return to campus research MUST be approved on a case by case basis by the Research Office.
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.
All building entries and exits must be recorded by logging into a central system
accessed by a QR code on the entrances. To log your entry to HSC Buildings use
this access log. For all other buildings on the Morgantown campus use
this access log
Colleges/departments are responsible for posting at each entrance (a QR code and directions for login procedure) and on all occupied floors, signage which will be provided (COVID-19 symptoms, and disinfecting information ). Additionally, each occupied lab needs to have a sign indicating maximum allowed density and every elevator should indicate maximum 1-person occupancy.
Supervisors are responsible for maintaining a group schedule for access that is shared with every group member, posted near the lab and shared with their department head or his/her designee.
Rest rooms that are open should be indicated as such. Closed restrooms should be signed as such indicating where the next nearest restroom is. All water fountains should be blocked off with masking/caution tape, indicating that they are not for use.
Office Use: Revised Guidance on Limited Office Use During Phase 2
If you have been approved to return to campus to conduct experimental research, you may now use your office, but only in support of your immediate laboratory activities. You should not return to campus to exclusively use your office for work which can be done remotely. This revised guidance permits office use when waiting for an experiment/process to finish or when you are on campus to supervise or assist a graduate student and are physically distancing from the lab occupants. If your presence on campus is not required for this laboratory work or support, you should to continue to work remotely. WVU should return to a higher density phase in early August, when custodial staffing levels have been restored and more comprehensive building occupancy tracking has been implemented. If you are in a shared office that does not allow for 200 sq. ft per person, alternate as necessary so that only one person is in the office at a given time.
Eating: Revised Guidance on Eating in Campus Buildings during Phase 2
Shared common kitchens and open eating spaces will remain closed, however single occupancy offices (with the door closed) may be used for eating for those authorized to return to campus. For multiple occupancy offices, occupants should take turns eating alone. A department chair may designate one room that is fully enclosed (i.e. has a door that can be shut) as a common eating area if needed, subject to the following constraints:
- A system must be established to ensure that no more than 1 person occupies the space at any time or in larger rooms that separations of 10 feet are maintained between those eating.
- High touch surfaces (e.g., table, doorknobs, light switch) must be sanitized after each use.
In all cases (whether eating in offices or a designated common room), any food and associated trash must be removed from the building and taken home or discarded elsewhere each day and not discarded in building trash cans, as custodial staff has been reduced during Phase 2 and will only be back in full force in early August. Please be respectful of your fellow building colleagues and comply with this request. If this requirement is not satisfied, restrictions on eating will have to be put back in place.
Pledge to Abide by WVU and College Policies
Each returning researcher (staff, student, post-doc) will sign a pledge indicating that they will abide by the university, college, departmental and group plan. Principal Investigators (supervisors) will sign a pledge relevant to their supervisory role.
Each unit/college should submit a plan to the Research Office with the following information for each occupied building. The RO will share the spreadsheet of all the room sizes and maximum occupancies. Return to on-site research/scholarship cannot start until plans are approved by the College Dean and the Research Office.
- Building name
- Person(s) responsible for building plan implementation and compliance
- Floors that will be occupied
- Recommended location and plan for deliveries, including large items (gas cylinders etc.)
- Recommended list of operational restrooms, note signage needs to indicate closed and open restrooms
- For each floor indicate the groups that will return, including for each group
- Group Leader, Title and contact information
- Chair of Department and contact information
- All Members of any group member returning including role, student, postdoc, staff and contact information
- Physical location of group activities (room number(s), floor and building)
- Brief description of activities of group
- We ask that supervisors pay specific attention to safety of the activities. To the greatest extent possible, research that presents significant (more than the usual daily laboratory activities) chemical/biological/mechanical or electrical hazards should be avoided. If that work must proceed, supervisors are personally responsible for checking that fume hoods and wash stations are in operational order; that there are adequate specialty PPE supplies (chemical resistant, face shields, googles etc.); that all other standard safety measures are operational; and that “buddies” are nearby to offer support in the event of an accident.
- Supervisors should seek approval with their Deans for any activities that reduce the 6 ft minimum separation between individuals, such as moving heavy equipment, animal surgeries, etc.
- Be advised that there may be delays in response from EHS and that the standard schedule for removing chemical and biological wastes is more sporadic, thus researchers are asked to avoid generating large volumes of hazardous waste.
- Colleges/units are free to add additional elements to their plans relative to the research/scholarship conducted in the unit in order to prioritize human health and safety.
- If the number of individuals in a particular group exceeds the maximum (200 sf/person) occupancy of the groups assigned lab spaces, the lab supervisor must develop rotation or priority plan that adheres to the allowed occupancy.
- It is expected that each lab supervisor will create a schedule (weekly or daily) to be shared with his/her group and chair, that is publicly posted in the vicinity of the labs so that everyone is aware of who is permitted at a specific time.
- In all cases, egress space and associated traffic patterns should be considered to accommodate all the groups occupying particular floors in the building.