COVID-19 Update: Emergency Leave, Expenditures, CPRIT and More
04/03/2020, 03:30:01 PM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

We were informed on Tuesday that the "Stay Home. Work Safe." order has been extended to the end of April. This means that we will be working from home for at least another four weeks. We are still adjusting to the changes and new guidelines come out almost every day. Here are the latest important operational updates.

Emergency Leave

With the extension of the Harris County Stay Home. Work Safe. order through April 29, 2020, and the passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the previous UH HR guidelines for emergency leave have been superseded by new guidelines. We would like to refer you to the email sent by Senior Vice President Jim McShan on Wednesday, April 1. The new guidelines are posted on the Human Resources site together with FAQs. These guidelines apply to anyone on payroll, including GAs, student workers, part-time employees, etc. Every supervisor is asked to exhaust every opportunity for people to work remotely. This may include reassignment to different work. Of course, for those paid on sponsored awards, the job duties must align with the scope of work of the award. The FFCRA expands the options for those who are unable to perform work, including work from home, and provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for those who meet the eligibility criteria. The FFCRA is in effect through December 31, 2020. 

Through April 30, 2020, when Federal emergency leave is not sufficient to cover the employee’s salary or if the employee is unable to work but does not meet the eligibility criteria of the FFCRA, a combination of state and UH sources is available to fill the gap, unless the employee is paid on a sponsored award from one of the federal agencies (currently, NSF, NIH, NASA and DOD) that allow continuation of payment of salary and benefits even if the employee is unable to work. The details of the rules are complex. We encourage you to contact your HR business partner or the HR Customer Service Center with any questions about emergency leave options currently available to employees.

Expenditures Due to COVID-19

The University added a code within the PeopleSoft financial system to indicate when expenses are due to COVID-19. It is important to track the cost of this pandemic. We would like you to work with your Research Administrator and/or DBA to identify expenses that would not have occurred without COVID-19. An example would be that you had planned on presenting your work at a conference, which was cancelled due to COVID-19 and some expenses remained on your grant, those should be coded as COVID-19 expenses. Another example is that if you had not planned on purchasing a laptop on a sponsored award but now need to buy one for your graduate student who has to work from home, this could be a justifiable expense. Make sure you work closely with your Research Administrator and/or DBA to ensure that the expenses follow the purchasing rules and the guidelines of the sponsor and determine whether you need to inform your program manager.


I know that many of you are looking forward every year to apply for funding from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The funding comes from the State and due to the impact to the State’s budget from the COVID-19 pandemic and a projected decrease in oil and gas revenues, CPRIT informed us that it has made the difficult decision to suspend moving forward with the first cycle of grant applications for fiscal year 2021 (FY 21.1) for Academic Research, Product Development Research and Prevention Program awards. 

Donating Resources to the Health Care Community

In my March 24 email to you, I mentioned that the Texas Medical Center needed protective equipment. If you responded to these requests, note that the Office of Governmental Relations is charged with tracking and facilitating these donations. This means that you must inform Jason Smith, Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations, about such donations prior to the donation. A memo will be needed to complete the donation and VC Smith will advise on the process to develop the memo. Please read VC Smith’s email and the follow-up email by Jim McShan, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, for further details.

Human and Animal Research

DOR is fast-tracking the review of new, time-sensitive COVID-19-related human and animal research! Following your submission of the protocol in ICON, please send an email to Kirstin Holzschuh (, with a copy to Danielle Griffin ( for human protocols or Thomas Todd ( for animal protocols. Provide a short explanation of the time-sensitive nature of the work. We will assess and prioritize these items on a case-by-case basis, convening a quorum of the IRB or IACUC off-cycle as needed for faster turnaround time.


Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer |

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