Research at Howard University will be categorized under four Priority Classifications (PC) and launched under three Re-opening Phases, in alignment with the re-opening phases for the District of Columbia.

Priority Classifications (PC)

PC1 - Essential: Animal laboratories, protection of cell lines, germ lines, and growth chambers, and access to vital computers and documents.

PC2 - Critical: COVID-19 related rapid-response research activities, e.g., COVID-19 testing, research interventions that involve life-saving measures (e.g., cancer, critical care).

PC3 - Time Sensitive: (1) Data collection or experiments close to completion in which a pause would lead to “catastrophic loss” of research results (2) The work of early career stage researchers, graduate student and postdoctoral researchers, particularly individuals close to completing their degrees/ terms of appointment, (3) Field research, with priority for seasonal data collection, (4) Tenure-track faculty who are overseeing laboratory renovations and need to prepare large orders for equipment, (5) College/School and Department Core Facilities that cannot be operated remotely, (6) Longitudinal studies ending within 12 months where effects of interventions need to be monitored on 6- or 12- monthly visits, and (7) Training/Education on prevention strategies.

PC4 - All Other Types of On-Site Research: (1) Face-to-face human participant research, (2) Scholarly, and (3) Creative activities.

Phases for Re-Opening Research

Phase 1: Stabilize essential research operations

  1. Require COVID-19 online training, health screening for all researchers with evidence of completion (PC3) Allow access to research laboratories that are related to animal care, cell lines, fly lines, germ lines, growth chambers and computational clusters (PC1).
  2. Continue COVID-19 related rapid-response research activities, e.g., COVID-19 testing, etc. (PC2).
  3. Distinguish which operations can be conducted remotely, and which must be onsite (PC3).
  4. Laboratory supervisors monitor logs/schedules and overall lab usage, appropriate levels of PPE and social distancing (PC3).
  5. Establish protocol for receipt of deliveries and allowance of people (repair-people; maintenance) in the building (PC3).
  6. Establish protocol for environmental services (PC3).

Resurgence-Related Strategies

  • Survey all faculty on animal care, cell culture care, machine equipment care needs and concerns should a need to evacuate the campus occur (PC3).
  • Develop coordinated and transparent strategy between all Building Managers, Building Security and Research Equipment Care Experts to ensure the survival and maintenance of research animals, cell cultures and research equipment within laboratory facilities (PC3).
  • Develop coordinated and transparent strategy between all Building Managers, Building Security and Research Equipment Care Experts with the HU Mail Room and HU Central Receiving to ensure appropriate delivery and storage of research supplies, cell cultures, and research equipment (PC3).

Note: Laboratory supervisors should make detailed plans for regular monitoring of the implementation of prevention strategies (e.g. handwashing, PPE, etc.) by their research staff and students, and describe prompt corrective measures for staff that are not in compliance. The success of this entire mitigation process institution-wide is heavily dependent on strict compliance at the unit level.

Phase 2: Expand essential research operations and creative activities

  • Restart Core Facilities that cannot be operated remotely, e.g., machine/glass shops, imaging facilities, etc. If Core Facilities are conducting COVID-19 related work, the operation will fall under the “Critical” research classification (PC3 and PC2).
  • Allow collection of data and continuation of experiments that are near completion in which a pause would lead to “catastrophic loss” of research results (PC3).
  • Allow collection of data and continuation of experiments that are near completion (including Postdocs and Research Scientists on grants with end dates within 3-4 months; Graduate Students who are scheduled for Defense in Fall 2020) (PC1, PC2, PC3, and PC4).
  • Prioritize access to laboratories or studios for students and postdocs close to completing their degree/term of appointment (PC3).
  • Prioritize research for completion of grants with end dates within 3 months (PC3).
  • By direction of the vice president for research and with guidance from deans and department chairs, incrementally expand all PC4 classification research activities as rapidly as public health and DC guidelines permit, carefully following the above rules (PC4).
  • All departments and laboratory supervisors should make detailed plans for incremental reductions as well as an immediate return to Phase 1 (PC3 and PC4).
  • In the case a laboratory member shows COVID-19 symptoms, is exposed to a COVID-19 carrier, or tests positive for COVID-19, then the supervisor in consultation with the chair and the dean, should prepare for an immediate and total shut-down of the laboratory for at least two days of deep cleaning. Similar actions are required if a laboratory member is directed to self-isolate by public health or medical personnel due to the suspicion of COVID-19 infection. Preparations include protecting supplies and equipment that might be affected by cleaning protocols, backing up copies of important documents, and immediately releasing all Daily Health Assessment Forms to the medical director of the Student Health Center to effectively track who else could have been infected (PC3 and PC4).

Phase 3: Full resilience of research operations and creative activities

Restart normal research and creative activity operations based on the HU Office of the President guidelines and a back-to-work directive (PC4).