Safety Reminders and Important Updates
I want to thank you, again, for your efforts to maintain a safe research environment. It is because of MSU’s strong safety record that research continues to remain open even under the latest state restrictions. To date, in-person research has not led to any known COVID-19 transmission on campus, but this is no time to let our guard down. With infection numbers rising in Ingham County, Michigan, and beyond, the risk to the research enterprise is greater now than it was in March because we have active research teams on campus.
As communicated to principal investigators recently, those working on campus have a responsibility to ensure their team members are working safely. I am reiterating a few of the key points:
1.) To keep the campus safe and maintain active scholarly work on campus, please:
- Make sure everyone understands the Laboratory/Studio Plan for a Safe Return
- Make sure everyone in the laboratory/studio has taken COVID-19 training
- Discuss COVID-19 safety with your team
- Maintain distances of six feet or more in work areas
- Wear a face covering at all times on campus (the only exception is for one individual in a private office with the door closed)
- Disinfect surfaces as previously directed
- Wash your hands frequently
- Complete a health screening form for every visit to campus
- Most importantly, work remotely when possible
These actions will help protect the MSU community, local communities, and our family and friends.
2.) To ensure safety, we will continue to monitor laboratories and studios with inspection walk-throughs and will follow up on concerns made to the Misconduct Hotline. As with any safety violations at MSU, those that involve COVID precautions will result in corrective action. Because of the health risks involved, we take the safety precautions developed for research extremely seriously. These last few weeks of the semester are critical as we unfortunately anticipate increased community spread from Thanksgiving gatherings and travel. Again, we must remain diligent so as not to put the campus research enterprise at risk. If you have any questions about COVID-19 safety protocols, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at 517-355-0153.
3.) The COVID-19 Early Detection Program (Spartan Spit) has resumed and will continue through December 15. We encourage faculty, staff and students working in research settings, and critical employees such as those caring for animals, RTSF Core staff, and other research support personnel to participate. Registration for new participants will also be open during the next few weeks.
Note: the program will be pausing after December 15 to scale-up the processing lab in preparation for mandatory undergraduate student testing in January. As referenced in President Stanley’s Plans for Spring Semester memo, MSU will require participation in the COVID-19 Early Detection Program for students living on campus and undergraduate students coming to campus during the spring semester due to, for example, in-person classes, labs or work. Medical and veterinary students with clinical responsibilities are also being considered for the mandatory group. Current program volunteers, faculty, staff and other student populations will also have the opportunity to participate in the program.
4.) The COVID-19 exposure notification app pilot program, MI-COVID Alert, has now gone public for all residents in Michigan. The app is a next step to help reduce the spread of the virus following increased testing and additional contact tracing efforts. All members of the MSU community are strongly encouraged to sign up.
5.) Lastly, please stay home if you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms and/or a confirmed or suspected case. If you are feeling ill or have tested positive for COVID-19 and have questions, contact MSU's COVID-19 Triage Hotline at 855-958-2678 or your primary health care provider.
Other Research Announcements
Research Over the Holiday Break
Research support will continue over the holidays. All services such as Animal Care, EHS and related support will be available during that period.
Based on the recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Emergency Order, MSU is pausing human research that involves in-person interactions with research participants conducted indoors in Michigan by MSU employees, MSU students, or agents of MSU, with the exception of gatherings that occur for the purpose of medical treatment (as defined in the order). Currently, this pause is in effect through December 8, 2020 at 11:59 PM. Updates will be provided as they become available. Researchers with approved Human Research Plans for studies that are impacted by this pause will be emailed directly. Please contact the HRPP team if you have questions or concerns.
Cost-Related Flexibilities for Expenditure of Federal Sponsored Award Funds Related to COVID-19 Ended September 30
OMB Memo M-20-17, and its successor Memo M-20-26, outlined certain measures and flexibilities to provide administrative relief to grantees impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that the extended salary support flexibilities provided by M-20-26 expired on September 30, 2020 and are no longer available. With limited exceptions* we are not currently anticipating any further extensions of flexibilities.
If you have questions on or have not yet completed documentation of the previously available cost or expenditure flexibilities, please refer to the Cost Related Flexibilities/Expenditure of Award Funds section of the SPA/OSP/CGA COVID-19 webpage. Please direct other questions and concerns to the Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) Awards Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*NASA Science Mission Directorate has indicated they will consider flexibility on a case-by-case basis.
Appointments Abroad – Process for Next Semester
An updated ad hoc screening process is being deployed to review unit requests to support overseas appointments of individuals in Spring Semester 2021. Students, postdocs, and faculty who are able to reside near campus are encouraged to do so, and only limited exceptions for remote provisions will be considered. Please review the instructions memo in its entirety and submit any new or updated forms to S21appts@msu.edu no later than December 11, 2020.
I want to thank everyone involved in research at Michigan State. The last several months have been very challenging, but Spartan scholars have risen to the occasion in extraordinary ways. Please continue to be diligent in following all safety protocols and contact our office if we can assist you in any way.
Best regards and Happy Holidays,
Douglas A. Gage
Interim Vice President for Research & Innovation