COVID-19 Update and Guidance from UNC OACU
March 15, 2020
General OACU Information
Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the cancellation of meetings with large numbers of attendees, and the possibility of University employees working remotely, the Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU) is implementing its Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP).
The OACU office is open, and members of the UNC research community should not hesitate to contact staff with questions or concerns.
The Office has circulated pertinent contact information among the staff and leadership; ensured that all OACU staff are able to work remotely; and established a succession order for making OACU operational decisions. We expect most IACUC/OACU processes, except inspections, IACUC meetings, and personnel training requirements, will continue as usual. Some processes may be delayed and there will be an increase in electronic and phone correspondence to replace in person communication. However, we are hopeful that there will be minimal disruption to administrative processes.
OACU is currently working with the IACUC to establish additional processes and practices that will help enable efficient operation. Updates will be provided as appropriate.
Webinars and Remote Training Opportunities
The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) will host a special webinar during the next several weeks with more details regarding operational planning. In the meantime, OLAW has provided information for animal programs in FAQs G9.
If labs need Lab Animal Coordinator (LAC) or Mouse Cage Density lecture training, the Education and Oversight team is able to provide that remotely, which could be needed if a LAC is required to step down suddenly.
“Crisis Collaboration” Guidance for PIs and Labs
Several investigators have expressed concerns about what would happen in the event the University moved to reduced operations (Adverse Condition 1, 2, or 3) and their designated essential personnel (Communicable Disease Mandatory Employees (CDMEs)) were unable to come to work – particularly if the current crisis were to last for an extended period. There are many small labs with limited personnel which could be disproportionately affected in such a situation. Identifying additional backups could therefore be crucial to keeping critical research running smoothly and ensuring proper animal oversight and compliance.
Temporary Authorization for Shared Personnel:
UNC’s IACUC leadership has determined that it would be prudent to put in place additional measures to allow investigators to share personnel on short notice. If you anticipate the need to share resources with a colleague in order to ensure maintenance of your animal colonies, please see the requirements below. Shared personnel will not formally be added to the collaborating protocol at this time as this is intended to be a temporary solution, only granted during the period of the COVID-19 crisis.
Note that the requirements below apply to all requested shared personnel.
- For staff to be considered Shared Personnel they must already be named as an animal handler on an approved protocol.
- Shared Personnel must be trained/certified UNC employees covered under the University Employee Occupational Health Program.
- Shared Personnel must already have approved access to the corresponding vivarium.
To request a Shared Personnel arrangement, send an email with the details requested bulleted below to firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject “Temporary Addition of Shared Personnel.” This information must be received by the IACUC prior to the implementation of such an arrangement. You will receive a response from the Office of Animal Care and Use acknowledging your request. Requests must include:
- The name of the individual who will be providing shared support services and the colony maintenance techniques this individual will perform. Please note that if backup support is needed for anything more than colony maintenance, a personnel amendment will be needed.
- The name of the PI(s) and protocol ID number(s) under which the individual will be working.
- The building(s) and room number(s) of the shared vivarium/animal housing facility the Shared Personnel will be covering. The individual must already have access to the facilities indicated. Additional facility access cannot be granted at this time.
- The name and phone number of the person submitting the request, so they may be easily contacted with any questions.
Please contact the Office of Animal Care and Use at email@example.com with any questions.