COVID-19 Research Related Frequently Asked Questions

Questions related to research at Cornell during COVID. 

Graduate Students

Compliance Committees (IRB, IACUC, IBC, FCOIC)

The Compliance Committees (IRB, IACUC, IBC, FCOIC) are all reviewing research and functioning as normally as possible from our remote locations.

Please see the pages below to find answers to commonly asked questions pertaining to specific compliance office functions and oversight of research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential Research Prior to Reactivation

During the research pause, research activities that can be conducted remotely will continue. Only essential research activities will be conducted on campus. Staff, graduate students, faculty, and other researchers conducting essential research activities are essential research staff. Deans and the Vice President for Research & Innovation decide what research activities are essential. For guidance on what activities may be considered essential see Further Guidance on Essential Research. For activities related to animal care, see the CARE COVID-19 Resource Page and CARE Pandemic Response Plan.

The minimum number required to conduct the essential activity safely. Stagger schedules to minimize the number of people present at one time and follow social distancing guidelines.


The University requests your assistance to identify labs that have been approved to continue with essential operations. This is important to ensure ongoing operational support such as building care, fume hood testing, maintenance prioritization, and health and safety.

Please send an email to identifying the locations your unit has approved to continue with essential operations. The email should list active locations by building AND room number, for example: Biotechnology: 231, 232A, 134 OR Weill: G54, 133, 158.

This process will allow EHS to provide status reports of active labs to the various operational support organizations.

In the future, if your unit approves new locations for essential operations, or if locations discontinue operations, please send a similar email to identifying just the changes.


In order to relieve some of the burden and stress on Cornell community members who must be on campus during this public health emergency, Cornell Transportation will not enforce regular parking permit restrictions, with the exception of a few areas, March 17 through Friday, April 10, 2020.

People may park in most permit-restricted or Park mobile spaces during this period, with no permit or payment required. Cornell Transportation will continue to enforce fire lanes, loading zones, no parking areas, accessible spaces, and reserved spaces, including the client spaces at the Veterinary College. Cornell Transportation will continue to monitor the availability of parking and will make a final determination as to the resumption of regular enforcement by April 10. Please visit for updates and announcements. If you have any questions, please contact Cornell Transportation at 607-255-4600 or

Buildings with essential activities are cleaned daily. Cleaning is focused on active areas and high touch points. Any plan to ramp up operations on campus will involve a comprehensive cleaning effort prior to spaces being occupied. The virus is a lipid enveloped virus and fairly easy to kill with standard disinfectants. The untreated lifetime right now is projected to be 4 days on hard surfaces and 24 hours or less on dry, porous surfaces. For further information see: “Is Cornell using enhanced cleaning practices?” on


Please check with your building facilities management to see how building security is being handled at each location.

Yes, but with some limitations for hard copy. For further information see:

Pursuant to direction from Empire State Development (ESD), qualifying projects that have been deemed essential may move forward with construction activity.  At Cornell, the Capital Funding & Priorities Committee (CF&PC) makes the decisions on what is deemed essential, and FCS Engineering and Project Management communicates these decisions. Please check with your project manager or unit facilities director to confirm if your project has been approved to proceed.”

This process varies in each college. However, each facility manager should check with their local department administrators to confirm this information.

Yes, but only for equipment to support approved essential functions and preservation of research (e.g. -80 freezers, animal cage washers, autoclaves, etc.)

This condition varies in every facility. Please check with your local unit facilities team to confirm how your building’s HVAC system is configured.  For further information see: “Are special air filtration systems needed to stop the potential spread of COVID-19 in residence halls and academic buildings?” on

This service will vary somewhat in every facility, but most unit facilities teams are providing some level of routine building walk-throughs to check all areas, focusing on labs and mechanical rooms. Please check with your local unit facilities team to confirm the specifics.

Human Resources

New York state has permitted the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to move to Phase 4 reopening on Friday, June 26. The state’s Phase 4 plan includes guidance for higher education institutions and enables Cornell’s reactivation of approved on-campus research. As with earlier phases, full campus reopening is excluded at this time. Research work that can be done at home should still be done at home. Unless approved to return to campus by their dean, or equivalent unit head, researchers who are currently working remotely should continue to do so.

To ensure workplace health and safety as Cornell’s phased reactivation proceeds, employees must adhere to Working During COVID-19 guidance issued by the Division of Human Resources, and those approved to work or conduct research on the Ithaca campus or related facilities must complete the Daily Check prior to their arrival each day.

All remote work questions should be directed to the Human Resources Business Continuity website.

For those working from home, it may be useful to note that some local internet providers are offering cost savings on their services to help support their customers. Check your provider's website for further information.

All travel related questions should be directed to the university FAQ site:

Keep in mind that export control laws restrict the release (whether done electronically, via shipping or hand carry) of items and information regulated for reasons of national security, foreign policy, anti-terrorism or non-proliferation. Controlled items include (but are not limited to) certain chemicals, reagents, viruses, bacteria, high level encryption tools, process design kits and proprietary technical information. More information can be found on Cornell’s Export Control page. Please consult with Cornell’s Export Control Officer prior to leaving the country with, or sending out of the country, any item to which controls may apply. In addition, the access of controlled technical information from a foreign location, whether by a U.S. citizen or a foreign national, is considered an export. No controlled technical information may be accessed from abroad, or transported on a device taken abroad, without first receiving clearance from the Export Control Officer.

Moreover, U.S. sanctions impose comprehensive prohibitions against certain countries, and therefore any work or study done in any of the following countries, must first be reviewed and explicitly approved in writing by the Export Control Officer: Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and the Crimea Region of the Ukraine. Please note that, in most cases, a specific or general license from the U.S. government will be required.


New York State recognizes that universities must maintain core campus utilities. Please check with your local unit facilities team to see how mail and shipping/receiving is being handled within your building.

Sponsored Awards and Finance

Grant funds may be used to support GRAs, postdocs and other project personnel working remotely, or for leave consistent with the university’s policies and practices. Typically, rebudgeting authority exists, as long as it is within the project’s scope. Major federal agencies are emphasizing flexibility, and consistency with institutional practice. Contact if you have a specific allowability scenario. We hope to know more about summer appointments in the coming weeks. See also

We encourage finding alternative work that can be done remotely. Such work could include, documenting laboratory procedures, developing laboratory management protocols or, for more advanced personnel, performing literature reviews, developing data management plans or examining methods of rigor and reproducibility. Some federal agencies have approved the use of funds even where work cannot be performed, as long as it is consistently treated across funding sources. OSP and SFS, along with HR are reviewing the implication of recently issued federal guidance. See and

If your research is slowed down or halted due to the COVID-19 crisis and you are approaching the end date of your grant or contract, please contact your Grant and Contract Officer (Who is my GCO?) to explore the possibility of requesting a no-cost extension. If you are working on a cooperative agreement or a contract, it may be important for you to reach out to your Program Officer to discuss a revised scope of work or revisions to the deliverable dates. Federal, State and other agencies are taking a flexible approach to deliverables and report due dates.

Yes, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) has transitioned to a remote work environment. OSP staff members will continue to support faculty and staff in their research administration needs during this time. We do not anticipate any changes in our level of support. The OSP office hours remain 8:30 to 5:00. The easiest way to reach us is via email, however most staff members have their office phones forwarded to their cell phones. Everyone is checking their voice mail on a regular basis.

Yes, the IRB has a process in place for fast-tracking modifications to protocols (e.g., moving from in-person interviews to Zoom/phone interviews), and swiftly reviewing new low-risk studies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact the IRB at

Yes. OSP Grant and Contract Officers (GCOs) are reviewing and submitting your grant proposals from their remote workspaces. Please be aware that due to the extent of remote work occurring across the country, some sponsor systems are experiencing slowdowns or other issues that may impact proposal submissions. While many sponsors have mechanisms for addressing such issues up to an including a missed proposal deadline, all applicants should take proactive action and submit proposals well before the published deadline. This will allow for necessary troubleshooting and documenting of issues if/when they occur. In addition, some agencies are publishing extensions to deadlines. Please reach out to your assigned Grant & Contract Officer with any questions or concerns. See Who is my GCO? for current assignments.

A detailed answer including examples is available on the Reopening Cost Allowability FAQ page