COVID-19 Update for Researchers
03/27/2020, 11:45:01 AM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

We continue to monitor the local and global health situation around the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Harris County issued a Stay Home. Work Safe. order starting Tuesday, March 24, 11:59 p.m., which will be in effect until at least Friday, April 3. As we learn more about this order and potential extensions, we will, of course, communicate details.

By now, all researchers should have ramped down their research activities that require access to the campus. All of our research support services, except for ACO (which has an ongoing personnel presence), are operating remotely at full strength. All of our staff are ready to help the research community who call DOR staff using the contact list we provided on our Additional Resources page.

We are also following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to a summary released by the Senate Appropriation Committee, this $2 trillion stimulus package includes at least $1.25 billion for federal research agencies for COVID-19 related research and over $14 billion to support higher education. We will provide updates on this potential support on the Funding Opportunities page as we learn about opportunities for higher education to fund researchers to better understand COVID-19.

We want to share a few additional updates with you.

“Stay Home. Work Safe.” Order

Visit the Ready Harris website for the order. We also provide the link on our COVID-19 page. We will not repeat in detail what the order entails, except that unless you are an “essential employee” at the University, you cannot come to work on campus. The University issued guidelines for an Emergency Leave for those who are not essential employees and are unable to work from home.

Managing Your Lab While Away

We will continue to provide guidance on the Stay Home. Work Safe. page to help you manage your lab while away. One issue we would like to point out is that all buildings on campus are closed and so deliveries to a lab are not possible without someone being there to receive the delivery. PIs must therefore coordinate receipt of deliveries with suppliers to ensure that essential personnel are on campus to receive the delivery of items, such as gases, cell lines, etc.

Working From Home

We all realize how difficult it is to work from home when your research relies heavily on your lab on campus. As you settle into off-campus research activities, we would like to provide some guidance on working remotely on grants and contracts: Assess the scope of your award and identify those activities that can be done remotely. Share this with your team and make work assignments. Make sure that those with effort on the award keep track of their activities (see the Monitoring Work from Home guidelines).

Ongoing Essential Laboratory Activities

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) developed a Paused Laboratory Guidance for researchers, which is also posted on our website. EHS also asked that you submit an Ongoing Essential Laboratory Activities questionnaire to inform Environmental Health and Safety of ongoing essential laboratory activities during periods of reduced activities or cessation of activities due to unforeseen events (such as COVID-19). To determine if your laboratory activities are essential, please contact your department chair or dean. The questionnaire is also accessible through the EHS website.


Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer |

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