Research Labs and COVID-19 Preparedness
03/10/2020, 10:00:01 AM

Dear Department Chairs and Associate Deans for Research:

We are aware our researchers need access to laboratories should we have to work remotely. With that in mind, please review and share the guidance below concerning access to laboratories with your faculty members and principal investigators.


  1. For those individuals who need access to labs because of ongoing research activities (i.e. faculty, students, technical and research staff), they should be listed as essential personnel in the department’s Continuity of Operations Plan delineating not only who they are, but also where will they be working. This information should be prepared by the department and be readily available if requested by the Office of the Provost, the Division of Research, UH Police Department, or Emergency Services.
  2. Principal Investigators are required to establish clear written protocols for who should individuals call or contact if there are any health and safety issues that arise when working in the lab with minimal supervision from senior faculty and/or staff.

  3. Principal Investigators are asked to be mindful of the interactions between them, their students, or their research staff to limit physical interactions.

  4. Additional sanitation is mandatory for work-stations, lab bench-tops, communal equipment, and common areas that each individual has been in contact with before and after they visit the lab.

  5. Principal Investigators should cancel all lab meetings and significant gatherings during this time and organize virtual lab meetings through the Microsoft Teams software that all UH employees have access to, or allow faculty to create Blackboard shells for their lab groups as if they were a class. Both platforms have the capability for real-time online virtual meetings, written information sharing, and/or communications.

  6. Principal Investigators are required to consider delaying the start of activities that require lab personnel to congregate (e.g. additional in-person training, tasks that require multiple personnel).

  7. If there are regular recurring  lab activities that require by policy more than one person to perform (e.g. liquid nitrogen tank filling, equipment change outs, etc.), then the Principal Investigators should designate a specific team of the same individuals to perform those recurring tasks during the time there is limited access to the labs.

  8. It is expected that the UH Animal Care Organization will take all the steps above, taking into account the special needs of animal husbandry and other necessary daily operations and maintenance.

  9. Principal Investigators who are currently conducting research involving human subjects should, if appropriate and does not increase risk to subjects, consider postponing data collection activities. The Research Integrity and Oversight (RIO) Office in the Division of Research will be issuing additional guidance to those investigators with active research protocols. For any immediate questions concerning human research projects, please contact the RIO Office (

If you have any questions, please email and we will route them to the appropriate individual.

Paula Myrick Short
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UH System
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, UH | 832-842-0550

Amr S. Elnashai
Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer, UH System
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer, UH

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