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Return to Research Summer Guidelines

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 guidelines.

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 5/29/2020: Travel for Data Collection and Eberly Buildings Access QR code sign 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 and 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)

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).

Guiding Principles


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 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 here.

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

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. 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.

Hand Sanitizers

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 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.

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.


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.

Restrooms/Water Fountains

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:

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.

Principal Investigator (Supervisor) Pledge

Researcher (Staff, Student, Post-Doc) Pledge


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.