IACUC COVID-19 Guidance #2- Critical Research with Animals during UCI Research Shutdown

Dear Researchers,

With Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, the VCR announced today for UCI researchers to shutdown non-critical research activities. See Defining Critical Research for guidance for determining critical vs. non-critical research.

Updated and additional guidance is provided below:

Social Distancing While Conducting Critical Research with Animals

Critical research activities must be conducted in a manner to ensure that the human physical distance between employees exceeds the social distancing guidelines.  Practicing social distancing while working with animals requires effective communication between all research team members and ULAR staff.  Before working alone in labs and procedure rooms please consider the notifying your research teammates about the following:

  • Where you’ll be (i.e., provide them with building and room numbers),
  • What you’ll be doing (i.e., the procedures you’ll be performing),
  • When you plan to start work and when you anticipate finishing,
  • How they can reach you in case of an emergency, and
  • How you can reach them in case you experience an emergency or other urgent situation while working alone.
  • If safety procedures require working with a buddy, the employees should always adhere to the social distancing guidelines except when doing so would endanger the safety and wellbeing of one or both employees.

Animal Welfare & Care

The welfare of the animals must be maintained, and ULAR staff are essential personnel consistent with the definition of Critical Research.  If a lab is responsible for the housing and care of animals, separate from or in coordination with ULAR, review the lab’s current emergency plan and consider how it will be carried out in light of UCI’s shutdown of non-critical research. For guidance about emergency planning for animal research, see ULAR Emergency Planning.

Animal Orders

  • New animal orders will be limited to critical research
  • Pending animal orders for non-critical research should be cancelled.
  • Researchers should keep track of any additional costs incurred, such as cancellation fees, and allocate them to the same funding source(s) used to purchase the animals.

Experimental Animals Currently in the Vivarium

If Lead Researchers are currently holding animals in the vivarium that:

Breeder Animals Currently in the Vivarium

Breeder animals used in non-critical research must be cared for and maintained until non-critical research restarts, but breeder animals should be separated to avoid producing new litters.
Breeding should only be done to support critical research, or to maintain animal strains/lines such as unique crosses that cannot be ordered from a vendor or recovered from frozen stock, or have been in long-term or crucial experiments and would be a considerable loss in terms of animals or resources to replace.

Taking Laboratory Records Home

Lab notebooks, papers and data (on laptop computers or storage devices that can be easily moved) may be taken home if essential for conducting non-critical research, provided that they are inventoried, tracked and returned when UCI restarts non-critical research.  Inventory and tracking records should specify in detail what records were taken, when, by whom, for what purpose, and when they were returned.

UCI’s research community has responded quickly and risen to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

Thank you to the animal husbandry and veterinary staff, researchers, faculty, and everyone else for taking care of the animals and for doing their part in minimizing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our animal care and use program. Please know, UCI offers guidance on how to remain healthy and deal with the emotional impacts of the outbreak – see the HR Guidance Resources and HR Disaster Relief for more information (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with virtually any issue).

Please continue to refer to the Research Continuity > Animal Care & Use website for guidance, status updates, and news related to COVID-19, the university’s research continuity plan, and animal research activities.

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