Research Continuation

Protocol and Directions for Decision Making and Implementation of Existing or New Projects or Activities

Note: Acronyms: ADR - Associate Dean for Research; AVP - Associate Vice President; ORASP - Office of Research and Sponsored Research; VPR - Vice President for Research and Economic Development

Background. South Dakota State University is under direction to practice COVID-19 prevention measures at least through May 31, 2020, including working remotely and no campus activities or events. Research, scholarship and creative activities are also affected by preventive measures through May 31 and may be further impacted well beyond May 31. The flow chart and accompanying documents will help each faculty and staff member determine the appropriate actions for their respective research, scholarship, creative activity or other activities.  Throughout this guide, research should be taken to mean all research, scholarship and creative activities.  Projects may also include service or complimentary activities.   

Purpose: To protect the health and safety of SDSU faculty, staff, students at all locations and those who interact with SDSU, while maintaining as much of SDSU’s mission-critical contributions to the community and to society as possible.

Action. Plan the continuation status of your projects, making use of the accompanying flow chart and directions below.  To evaluate starting new projects, use the flow chart and directions in a similar way.  Work first with department heads or unit directors for questions and assessments; they will engage your ADR or equivalent role as needed for assistance, and as directed below.  Associate deans for research will engage the VPR or the AVP- ORASP as needed or as directed.  Plans and requests for projects with current activity at this time must be delivered to associate deans by April 6, 2020.  Every effort will be made to provide responses to requests by April 10, 2020.  Plans and requests can be revised at any time or new plans and requests can be initiated at least one week before project activity begins.  All other standard approvals must also be in place before the project begins.

Pandemic Research Continuation Flow Chart

Projects and activities affected by this protocol:  sponsored and non-sponsored projects, projects led by faculty, students or staff, projects conducted on-campus or off-campus.  They may also include activities that are not necessarily projects in the strict sense.  These include core facilities, vivarium, SDSU Extension projects, South Dakota Agricultural Experimentation activities, and research performed within the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (diagnostic services are not covered by this protocol) and possibly other services.  “Projects” will refer to activities as well throughout this protocol. 

Protocol for decision-making on continuation of projects or activities.  

  • All projects. 
    • Regardless of a projects’ status on the decision tree below, all projects must at all times adhere to the CDC guidelines for preventing COVID-19 transmission. Consult and be familiar with the content of CDC prevention documentation. Because people may be infected with the COVID-19 virus and not know it, our aim is to avoid all means by which the virus is transmitted. Any activity that cannot be conducted with adherence to CDC prevention guidelines should not be performed.  The tenets of the CDC prevention guidance are the following:
      • No prolonged close contact (6 feet) with potentially COVID-19 virus infected individuals, including vehicles, rooms and outdoors.
      • Disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.
      • Easy access to hand-washing or sanitizing stations.
      • Strict enforcement of stay-at-home principles for sick personnel.
      • Faculty and staff are eligible to be designated as essential personnel.  Students (undergraduate or graduate) are not eligible unless an exception is granted by ADR and concurred by VPR (see section Personnel designations).
    • Although the decision tree is oriented to activities taking place up to May 31, 2020, project leaders should make decisions about activities beyond May 31, 2020 that are impacted either by what can be performed before May 31, or by potential extension of contract restrictions past May 31.  Project leaders should also consider the possibility that restrictions on operations may be extended past May 31. 
    • Requests for project related motor pool resources should reflect the requests granted through the process below.  Motor pool requests will be approved by ADR or equivalent, and submitted to VPR for review. 

Q&A - April 1, 2020

Question 1.  Can the project be completed from place of residence of project personnel, and with only minimal and occasional need to access university facilities for short periods of time or to travel?

Yes

  • Continue the project with all personnel working from their places of residence.
  • Request occasional access to university facilities (main campus or elsewhere) as needed.  See the section, Personnel Designations.

No.  Go to Question 2.

Question 2.  Is the project potentially a critical COVID-19 project?

Yes

  • Assess the benefit of the project against risk to essential personnel and continuity of the project if many project personnel become ill or otherwise unavailable.  A project may be considered COVID-19 critical if it answers questions of immediate importance during or in the follow-up period to the pandemic. Projects that generally contribute to the knowledge base relative to COVID-19 may be important, but are not necessarily time critical during this immediate period.  Consult with and obtain concurrence of supervisor and ADR; final concurrence needed from VPR. 

The request should contain the following and comprise no more than two pages.

  • Project title and abstract
  • Impact of delaying until normal operations resume, including how the results are expected to be used during or shortly after the pandemic.
  • Sources of support
  • Attach a Continuity of Operations Plan for the project (see next point)

Create, or review and revise a previously created Continuity of Operations plan.  Identify essential functions to be carried out at on-site or off-site locations, designate essential personnel to perform them, a work plan that adhere to the standards listed above for all projects, and a contingency.  Use the attached template.

  • Identify essential functions, and minimum essential travel and the essential personnel on page 3.
  • Plan for coping with potential loss of the majority of project personnel due to sickness or other causes on page 4.
  • Staffing or work plan to implement CDC prevention guidance for research essential personnel and essential travel on page 4.

Complete essential personnel designations if not already done (see Personnel designations).

No.  Go to Question 3.

Question 3.  Is an agreement or contract in place for the project?  Applies also to activities that are not necessarily projects in the strict sense.  These include core facilities, vivarium, SDSU Extension projects or activities, South Dakota Agricultural Experimentation activities, Foundation Seed Stock Division and many other activities outside of academic affairs and student affairs.  Consult supervisor if needed.

Yes. Go to Question 4.

No. Go to Question 5.  

Question 4.  Does the agreement or contract allow extending the period of performance or terminating the project?

Yes.  Go to Question 4a.

No.

  • Assess the time-critical and essential nature of the project activities during COVID-19 restrictions and consider the contractual provisions.  Possible decisions are to 1) complete the project, 2) complete the project more rapidly after employees have returned to facilities but within the contract period of performance, or 3) seek alternative means to extend or terminate the contract.  The degree of time-criticalness of the project and health and safety is weighed against the legal options under the project agreement.  Initial assessment is with department head and director, followed by concurrence of ADR and with the AVP-ORASP. 
  • If project activity will be continued during the period to May 31, 2020, request to do so as in “Question 4a Yes."
  •  If project will be terminated or extended, take action as in “Question 4a No.”
Question 4a.  Is the project “time-critical” essential (cannot be delayed or interrupted)? 

Yes.

  • Assess the benefit of the project against risk to essential personnel and threat to the continuity of the project if many project personnel become ill or otherwise unavailable.  A project may be critical for continuing, even if it is slowed, if putting the project on hold or terminating would result in loss of a) living organisms, b) long-term data and effort, or c) major investment, or if the project will support post-pandemic resilience in a sector of South Dakota.  The health and safety of personnel and participants will always take precedence over the criticalness of a project. Consult with supervisor, and obtain concurrence of ADR, who will submit to VPR for review. 

The request should contain the following and comprise no more than 2 pages (may be much shorter than two pages, but long enough to support decision making)

  • Project title and very brief description (several activities may be aggregated into a logical consolidated request)
  • Impact of delaying on-site work until normal operations resume
  • Attach a Continuity of Operations plan for the project (see next point)

Create, or review and revise a previously created Continuity of Operations plan.  Identify essential functions to be carried out at on-site locations, other project locations, or require travel (necessary for motor pool requests).  Designate essential personnel to perform them, a work plan that adheres to the standards listed above for all projects, and a contingency plan in the event of personnel availability decreases substantially.  Use the attached template.

  • Identify essential functions, and minimum essential travel and the essential personnel on page 3.
  • Plan for coping with potential loss of the majority of project personnel due to sickness or other causes on page 4.
  • Staffing or work plan to implement CDC prevention guidance for research essential personnel and essential travel on page 4.

Complete essential personnel designations if not already done (see Personnel designations).

No.  Pause on-site work of the project, extend period of performance if needed, or terminate the project. 

  • Plan essential functions to close-down the on-site activities of the project through at least May 15, 2020 and possibly beyond.  If the work site is a laboratory and there are no continuing projects in the laboratory, put the laboratory into hibernation for the period, and post a hibernation notice on the laboratory door.  Consult with Environmental Health Safety as needed on laboratory hibernation procedures and documentation. 
  • Assure that essential functions are planned so as to adhere to CDC prevention practices. 
  • If needed, initiate contract extension or termination in consultation with department head and director, followed by concurrence of ADR.  Consult with AVP-ORASP..
  • Complete essential personnel designations if not already done (see Personnel designations).
Question 5.  Is the project “time-critical” essential (cannot be delayed or interrupted)?  Applies also to activities that are not necessarily projects in the strict sense.  These include core facilities, vivarium, SDSU Extension projects or activities, South Dakota Agricultural Experimentation activities, Foundation Seed Stock Division and many other activities outside of academic affairs and student affairs.  Consult supervisor if needed.

Yes.

  • Assess the benefit of the project against risk to essential personnel and threat to the continuity of the project if many project personnel become ill or otherwise unavailable.  A project may be critical for continuing, even if it is slowed, if putting the project on hold or terminating would result in loss of a) living organisms, b) long-term data and effort, or c) major investment, or if the project will support post-pandemic resilience in a sector of South Dakota.  The health and safety of personnel and participants will always take precedence over the criticalness of a project.  Consult with supervisor, and obtain concurrence of ADR, who will submit to VPR for review.

The request should contain the following and comprise no more than 2 pages (may be much shorter than 2 pages, but long enough to support decision making)

  • Project title and very brief description (several activities may be aggregated into a logical consolidated request).
  • Impact of delaying on-site work until normal operations resume.
  • Attach a Continuity of Operations plan for the project (see next point)

Create, or review and revise a previously created Continuity of Operations plan.  Identify essential functions to be carried out at on-site locations, other project locations, or require travel (necessary for motor pool requests).  Designate essential personnel to perform them, a work plan that adheres to the standards listed above for all projects, and a contingency plan in the event of personnel availability decreases substantially.  Use the attached template.

  • Identify essential functions, and minimum essential travel and the essential personnel on page 3.
  • Plan for coping with potential loss of the majority of project personnel due to sickness or other causes on page 4.
  • Staffing or work plan to implement CDC prevention guidance for research essential personnel and essential travel on page 4.

Complete essential personnel designations if not already done (see Personnel designations).

No. Pause on-site work of the project, extend period of performance if needed, or terminate the project.

  • Plan essential functions to close-down the on-site activities of the project through at least May 15, 2020 and possibly beyond.  If the work site is a laboratory and there are no continuing projects in the laboratory, put the laboratory into hibernation for the period, and post a hibernation notice on the laboratory door.  Consult with Environmental Health Safety as needed on laboratory hibernation procedures and documentation.
  • Assure that essential functions are planned so as to adhere to CDC prevention practices.
  • Initiate project extension or termination in consultation with department head and director, followed by concurrence of ADR.  Consult with AVP-ORASP.
  • Complete essential personnel designations if not already done (see Personnel designations).

Personnel designations: Requests for changes to research essential personnel designations or requests for one-time access by people not designated as essential personnel: 

  • Essential research functions to be performed at university facilities may be performed only by designated research essential personnel.  
  • Essential research functions on-site include the following:
    • Protection of human and animal health and safety;
    • Preserve research assets and resources, which may a) living organisms, b) long-term data and effort, or c) major investment; or
    • Other functions determined essential to project activities designated for continuation at university or non-university sites.
  • Adherence to CDC prevention practices takes precedence over essential research functions. 
  • Essential personnel designations of people who must fulfill essential functions requiring on-campus access may be changed week by week if needed.  Associate deans for research, directors or deans will submit essential personal additions or deletions to the vice-president for research (VPR) by 3 p.m. of the Friday preceding the week the change is needed.  Spreadsheet templates will be used for that purpose (attached). 
  • One-time or irregular access of university facilities may be requested through ADR, Director or Dean, from the VPR by 3 p.m. of the business day preceding the day access is needed.  Use the essential personnel report template (attached). 

Faculty and staff are eligible to be designated as essential personnel. Students (undergraduate or graduate) are not eligible unless they consent to the designation and an exception is granted by the VPR at the request of the ADR, Director or Dean.

Transportation Services

Since the university-mandated travel ban is still in effect, any requests for motor pool vehicles must be approved by your department head and college dean or associate dean, if so directed (the appropriate vice president will monitor approvals). No state vehicles can be used without proper authorization. This notice applies to both motor pool vehicles and permanent/department assigned vehicles.

Transportation Services employees are working remotely and are not maintaining any on-campus office hours. Parking- or motor pool-related questions can be emailed or directed to 605-688-7275 (please leave a message). Phones and emails are monitored on a daily basis.