Summer Research FAQs

Have questions? Read our FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are faculty permitted to require students be vaccinated to work in their lab?
  • Because Furman is not requiring the vaccine at this time, and South Carolina has proposed that employment cannot be affected by vaccination status, faculty may not require or coerce students to be vaccinated to participate in their research programs or any aspects therein.
  • Faculty may NOT inquire about the vaccination status of their students directly or from the Earle Student Heath Center, including students who work in their lab, students in their classes, or students who work in their departments as a student workers, etc. Student information that is volunteered in the absence of a completed vaccination card does not substantiate that a student is fully vaccinated, and in all cases the Earle Student Health Center will serve as Furman’s repository for that information.
  • In the event you are sponsoring or supervising an activity (e.g., field research) for which having knowledge of vaccination is essential to operational safety and identification of close contacts, please contact Furman Focused.
If students divulge to faculty or provide proof that they have been vaccinated, and the faculty are also fully vaccinated, does that affect any of the protocols described below?
  • Not at this time. Although we expect guidance from the CDC will evolve in due course, at the present time, the CDC has not provided updated guidance regarding distancing, masking, etc. except for example, individual family members in a private home who are all vaccinated. Any event that involves Furman students and/or faculty as an activity affiliated with the University falls outside of this definition.
  • Remember, however, that students who are vaccinated and share their vaccination record with Earle Student Health Center, are not required to quarantine due to close contact or to be tested as a part of surveillance monitoring.
For summer on-campus research that does NOT involve human participants (but may include animal participants and all other on-campus research), what protocols are required?
  • Masks (or other approved PPE) must be worn and physical distancing of 6 feet maintained at all times in the lab, except as noted in the next bullet.
  • Exposures of 10 minutes or less (cumulative over the workday, both participants fully masked at all times, and without physically touching) at a distance of less than 6 feet are permitted in unusual circumstances where this may facilitate data collection that otherwise may not be safe or possible. Any exception for more than 10 minutes would require special approval by the COVID Response Steering Committee (contact Furman Focused).
  • Proper cleaning procedures must occur.
Can my students and I conduct research with human participants in the laboratory, and/or are there instances in which I may break the 6-foot physical distancing barrier? If so, what are the protocols required?
  • Research with human participants is permitted in the PURPLE and GREEN phases. In the YELLOW phase, research with human participants is permitted with approval from the COVID Response Steering Committee and the Public Health and Safety Advisory Group (in addition to approval from the IRB).
  • Per Furman policies, all research with human participants must be approved through the Institutional Review Board, which will also consider COVID-19 risk management in consultation with the Public Health and Safety Advisory Group.
  • Masks must be worn and physical distancing of six feet maintained at all times when interacting with human participants, except as noted in the next bullet.
  • Exposures of 10 minutes or less (cumulative over the workday, both participants fully masked at all times, and without physically touching) at a distance of less than 6 feet are permitted in unusual circumstances where this may facilitate data collection that otherwise may not be safe or possible. Any exception for more than 10 minutes would require special approval by the COVID Response Steering Committee (contact Furman Focused).
  • Proper cleaning procedures must occur in between participants.
Can I recruit participants from off campus for my research? If so, what are the protocols?
  • Research with off-campus participants is permissible with IRB approval of the project. Please work with the IRB to ensure that protocols are communicated with participants.
  • If research participants from off-campus can show proof of vaccination and this maintains the integrity of the research investigation (i.e., does not bias the researcher’s sample), this could be included within the protocol inclusion criteria and will expedite approval.
  • In cases where it may not be possible to exclude the non-vaccinated demographic, the exception would be considered on a case-by-case basis by the IRB (e.g., presentation of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test may be considered in lieu of vaccination).
*Can my students and I collect data on humans off campus? If so, what are the protocols required?
  • Off-campus research with human participants is permitted in the PURPLE and GREEN off-campus.
  • After receiving IRB approval, approval for off-campus research with humans must be approved by the Center for Engaged Learning (the process will be similar to how off-campus internships were handled in the spring term). Students must read and sign two forms and the site where the research is taking place must also read and submit a form.  Please email pontari@furman.edu if you would like to apply for approval for off-campus research (only studies approved by the IRB will be considered).
  • When conducting research off-campus, masks must be worn and physical distancing maintained at all times, including for travel to/from the off-campus site. (See next section for information about travel).
*Is research off campus (not with human participants) permitted?
  • Research off-campus (e.g., field research, archival research) is permitted in the PURPLE and GREEN off-campus.
  • **For all off-campus research, if community disease prevalence worsens as we approach the summer or as we progress through the summer, we may reevaluate whether students can engage in off-campus research, based on the particular circumstances of the experience (e.g., the experience involves students working in isolation in the field may be permitted without significant changes to approach, while those working directly with the general public might require additional consideration/protocols, etc.).
If students (and faculty) must travel off campus to conduct research, how should transportation be handled?
  • Masking should be maintained at all times during travel.
  • Following current CDC guidance, if several students and faculty are traveling to the same location, travel should take place in a van or vehicle sufficiently large such that physical distancing (6’) between participants can be maintained. See exception in the next bullet.
  • Students who are roommates, or who are in a pod, are able to travel together while masked without maintaining physical distancing of 6 feet. However, pods cannot exceed 4 individuals and must remain consistent throughout the summer, unless CDC guidance changes. In other words, the same group of four students or fewer must travel together for the duration of the summer project, and pods should not be mixed.  Direct faculty oversight of this is required.  Note that if one person in a pod tests positive and other members of the pod are not vaccinated, then all such members are required to quarantine.
  • Students who travel off campus and have completed waivers through the Office of Undergraduate Research do not require an additional waiver to travel off-campus for a Furman-sponsored experience or event. However, Furman’s Office of Risk Management may require an additional document for activities they deem higher risk (e.g., involving strenuous physical activity or dangerous terrain). Contact Beth Pontari if you think your students may fall into this category.
  • If students are driving other Furman students for Furman sponsored events/experiences or events for which Furman arranges the travel, Furman must verify that they have car insurance and have FUPD complete a driver background check at no cost to the student. To facilitate this process, please send Beth Pontari a list of names of students who will be driving students over the summer. Beth’s office will contact students to submit their insurance information and the required form to request the driving record check.  (Note: FUPD does not share specifics about driving records, responding only with a “yes” or “no” answer if students are permitted to drive other students for Furman-affiliated activities). In the case of an accident, students who drive to off-campus events should be aware that their insurance is primary (Furman’s is secondary) if they are traveling for an approved Furman-sponsored activity.
If both faculty and students have been vaccinated prior to beginning summer research, can they ride together in a vehicle to an off-campus location (e.g., to collect samples from field locations) without masking and/or distancing?
  • At this time, CDC guidance has not changed regarding recommendations for distancing and masking for individuals who are outside of private families, irrespective of vaccination status. We will provide updates as quickly as changes are introduced to the federal guidance.
Can I order “take-out food” for my research students to eat at Furman?
  • At the present time (PURPLE Phase), no food outside of Bon Appetit or a Bon Appetit-approved provider is to be shared on campus. We recommend working with Bon Appetit to order boxed lunches for group meetings, etc.  This certainly does not preclude students and faculty from gathering (appropriately distanced) to eat their own prepared or purchased meals in common areas.
Can I take my students to a restaurant for a meal?
  • Until the community disease levels are lower, eating as a group at an off-campus restaurant (dining inside or outside) is not permitted.
  • When we reach the PURPLE phase for off-campus events, eating outdoors at a restaurant with students is permitted. Please review the travel expectations above.
  • We do NOT recommend eating indoors with students at a restaurant until the GREEN Phase.
Can I invite students to my house?
  • As long as we remain in PURPLE or the GREEN phase, students may travel to faculty homes (following normal COVID precautions for travel) and socialize outside. If food is served, 6 feet physical distancing must be maintained and food must be provided as individual meals, rather than provided in a buffet/family-style setting where food, utensils, etc. are shared.
Can I invite off-campus visitors as guest speakers?
  • Once we are in the full PURPLE (campus visitors) or GREEN Phase, off-campus visitors are permitted, but must be accompanied by the host and follow all Furman COVID-19 protocols.
What if students working in my lab are not Furman students (e.g., what if they are high school students or visiting from another university)?
  • Full-time summer research students (e.g., 30-40 hours per week for a minimum of 5 weeks) are permitted to participate in on-campus research experiences as long as Furman COVID-19 protocols are followed. Please contact John Kaup if you have questions about working with high school students this summer.

These guidelines may also assist with planning events/activities based on operational phases.