Research & Economic Development

Office of the Vice Chancellor

COVID-19 and Sponsored Programs

Check here for updates regarding how COVID-19 is affecting sponsored programs at UMKC. As this is a fluid situation, we expect to update this site as new information is identified. If you have any information to share, please e-mail us at ors@umkc.edu.

Last Updated:  April 13, 2020

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memo M-20-20
     - Repurposing Existing Federal Financial Assistance Programs and Awards to Support the Emergency Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)


What should I consider when assessing how COVID-19 might affect my research?

Now is a good time to consider how an outbreak of COVID-19 in Missouri might affect your research. Here is a list of questions to get you started.

Here are a few simple scenarios in order to consider these impacts:

  • What would the impact be to your research and sponsored programs if you had to self-quarantine for two weeks?
  • What would the impact be to your research and sponsored programs if more than one of your research staff had to self-quarantine for two weeks?
  • What would the impact be to your research and sponsored programs if UMKC advised all faculty and staff to work remotely?

Here are additional questions to help you assess how an outbreak may affect your research:

  • Are there any studies involving participants, animals, ingredients, or experiments that would be adversely affected? If so, what plans should be put in place to allow for them to continue or allow for them to be stopped and later resumed in the least impactful way?
  • What standing purchase orders or human resource issues might be impacted?
  • Would data collection/analysis/storage be impacted and what costs would be associated with these impacts?
  • What regulatory approvals will expire soon and might be impacted if they are not renewed? Can they be renewed early?
  • Are there any collaborators that would need to be notified?
  • What sponsor reports or deadlines are due during the next several months? Might you need to request a no-cost extension?
  • What notice might you need to give sponsors or regulators if the research is going to be paused or significantly delayed beyond a couple of weeks?

Additional considerations for human subjects research:

  • Is the location of the study remaining open and available for participants to be present? Has the location implemented any procedures to slow the spread of the coronavirus that will affect participation in your study or the ability of your study to proceed?
  • Does your protocol require in-person participation or treatment? Can it be modified for remote participation?
  • Does your protocol require in-person monitoring? Can it be modified for remote monitoring?
  • Should your participants be screened for coronavirus as part of your inclusion/exclusion criteria?
  • Would your data or results be affected if your participants had to self-quarantine or if they contracted coronavirus?

Additional considerations for environmental health and safety:

  • Do you have a limited number of critical lab staff with unique knowledge? Are there others in your lab who can be cross-trained?
  • Does your lab operate machines that use active cooling through liquid gasses, dry boxes, or inert boxes using gas blankets? What would happen if materials like liquid gasses, CO2, nitrogen, or dry ice become unavailable?
  • How frequently are you saving or freezing samples of your cell cultures?
  • Do you have long-term experiments that might benefit from more frequent preservation?
  • Do you have the requisite local knowledge to do controlled shutdowns of complex machines or devices such as NMRs without on-site help from the company?
  • Have you shared with EHS the locations and amounts of materials that are air, water, or otherwise unstable for observation in case of lab closure?

What are the expectations for graduate and undergraduate student researchers:

Variable Hour and Student Employees

  1. Variable hour and student employees who do not work during a closure will not be paid. Supervisors should work with those employees to make up the time if possible.
  2. Such employees may be requested to work and will be paid under normal pay procedures for hours worked.

Graduate students conducting research for their thesis/dissertation or as part of a research assistantship 
Will be expected to continue their research activities.  However, research groups should implement mechanisms and/or shift activities to conduct research remotely wherever possible  (e.g., computational work, research of online resources and databases, data analysis, etc.). Where research activities on campus and in associated research facilities are necessary, additional practices should be adopted to keep health and safety a priority (e.g., staggered schedules; see additional information in list below). Please contact your research supervisor for further guidance or if you have additional questions.

To minimize the disruption of graduate students’ research progress, research supervisors should implement the following steps:

  • When possible, allow graduate students to perform their research remotely.
  • If research cannot be performed remotely, research supervisors are asked to consider the following steps to minimize risk in the research environment;
    • Be flexible and understanding when working with graduate students to develop plans for their research.
    • Graduate students with health issues that put them at high risk if they contract COVID-19 should be allowed to perform research activities remotely. These activities could include data analyses, writing, literature reviews, etc.
    • Stagger schedules so that researchers can avoid close contact.
    • Identify pieces of equipment and areas that are used frequently by multiple people. Enact cleaning practices so that each user disinfects the equipment and/or areas as appropriate following each use.
    • Develop a schedule and contingency plan to ensure that research activities that are critical and require a physical presence, such as ongoing research studies with animals, are not disrupted.
    • Recognize that the situation is rapidly evolving and may cause anxiety in our graduate students, not only with respect to their personal health and wellness, but also that of their friends and families. Be understanding and offer support wherever possible to help them. 

Will my proposal still be submitted to the sponsor on time amid a COVID-19 outbreak?

At present, proposals are being submitted as normal by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at UMKC, proposals will still be submitted timely. OSP will have plans in place to ensure proposals will be submitted amid the COVID-19 situation by having staff work remotely.


Will my proposal still be submitted to the federal government on time if the federal agency to which I intend to apply is closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak?

At present, all federal agencies are accepting proposal submissions as usual. In the event a COVID-19 outbreak closes a federal agency that is currently accepting proposals, we expect the agency will continue to accept proposals; however, the proposals will most likely remain in a queue (e.g., within the Grants.gov system), pending resumption of agency operations – as has been the case during recent federal budget-related shutdowns.


How can I reach OSP amid a COVID-19 outbreak?

In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, OSP employees who are working remotely will respond to emails and monitor phone calls as normal. If for some reason an OSP employee cannot be reached, OSP’s central e-mail address, ors@umkc.edu should be contacted.


Will I be able to get an extension on a proposal deadline in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak?

Most of UMKC’s sponsors do not accept late proposals, and if they grant extensions, they do so on a case-by-case basis. Given that OSP may be working remotely, and thus operational, it may prove difficult to convince a sponsor that your circumstances warrant granting an extension. Faculty who are working on a proposal now should therefore plan on submitting by the sponsor’s stated deadline regardless of whether there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at UMKC. If you personally experience impacts from COVID-19, reviewing the sponsor's standard exception policies may be warranted.


Will my grant have to pay for project-related costs incurred during a reduction in operations if we aren’t able to work on the project (e.g., animal per diem, idle lab staff, etc.?)

In general, the answer is “Yes,” your grant will likely be required to cover the costs incurred during a reduction in operations -- provided UMKC would likewise require a non-sponsored fund to pay for the same cost in similar circumstances. Put the other way around, if the university would not allow a certain cost to be incurred on a non-sponsored fund during a reduction in operations, the university will not allow the same cost to be charged to a sponsored project. This practice adheres to the federal government’s Uniform Guidance (2 CFR §200.403) requirement that costs be incurred “consistent with policies and procedures that apply uniformly to both federally financed and other activities of the non-Federal entity.”


Am I allowed to pay myself or staff who may be quarantined on sponsored funding?

Federal agencies are working internally on a number of proposal and award-related issues pertaining to COVID-19. We are waiting on further communication from our partners about these issues and will provide guidance as further information becomes available. In the meantime, please continue to follow all relevant policies and procedures and apply those practices consistently. Currently, salary should be charged in a consistent manner. If an employee's salary is charged to a sponsored program, then their time spent in quarantine can also be charged to the sponsored program.


I would like to conduct research relating to COVID-19. What should I do?

Check federal agencies for funding opportunities related to COVID-19. Then start the conversation with your dean's office administrators to ensure you are considering various aspects of this type of research.


Programmatic Impacts and Project Extensions:

All communications with external sponsors regarding project impacts from COVID-19 must be coordinated with the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Please provide your OSP representative any proposed communication for review.


Some research projects have a rigid timeline and we would have a scope of work timeline violation if we deviate from that. Therefore, there are concerns about a slow down or gap in activities or if staff may need to work from home.

Clearly COVID-19 is an extraordinary circumstance. If the scope of work demands a precise schedule in order to make an experiment viable, then the investigator should recognize and document instances where that schedule was unable to be met and the data resulting from that experiment may not be able to be used (or can only be used with certain cautions). If it is not the case that such precision is required for scientific reliability but rather needed for good business practices or to meet an agreed-upon sponsored project schedule, then it is anticipated that agencies will recognize the unique circumstance and be flexible if they can, including granting no-cost time extensions if needed beyond what the institution has authority to grant. Note that this applies to financial assistance awards; contracts requiring deliverables by a certain date may need to invoke their Force Majeure clause. If you are experiencing this issue on a contract, contact OSP for assistance.


Should I notify my sponsor if certain project activities of a funded research project cannot be completed or have to be suspended as a result of COVID-19?

Yes. Please coordinate any communication to a sponsor with OSP. Examples of impact include: canceling a funded conference, inability to conduct fieldwork because of travel restrictions, inability to meet the scheduled deliverables or aims/goals/SOW, absence of PI or key person for more than 90 days.


Will agencies consider longer no cost time extensions if needed to finish a project after disruption?

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants to provide details for any future no-cost time extension request. It is not known at this time if agencies will consider longer-than-normal no cost time extensions, or multiple no-cost time extensions in this situation.


How will a pause in my research impact my grant expenditures?

Generally, there should not be significant impact to your grant expenditures. All other project-related activities that are not affected by a pause can continue as normal. Additionally, there should not be a significant disengagement of the PI or other key personnel from affected projects. If you feel that this will not be the case in your project, please contact OSP. If the award is ending within the next 30-90 days (on or before June 30, 2020), you should coordinate any grant expenditures with your grant manager to ensure expenditures are appropriate/allowable on the grant and reconcile any issues prior to close-out.


I have a progress report due in the near term and my research has been impacted by COVID-19. Should I include information related to the impact in my progress report?

Yes. If your study is impacted, OSP will provide you with guidance on how and where this should appear in your progress report (e.g., in Section F.2 of an NIH RPPR) and what information should be included.