Student conducting summer research in research lab

Summer Research FAQs

Have questions? Read our FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are faculty permitted to require students be vaccinated to work in their lab?
  • 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.
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 for those not fully vaccinated, except as noted in the next bullet.
  • For those not fully vaccinated, 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 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 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.
  • For those not fully vaccinated, 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.
  • For those not fully vaccinated, 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 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 phases.
  • 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 conducting research off-campus should follow this protocol and the experience should meet these criteria. Faculty supervisors should serve as the Furman Contact described in the protocol. 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 beth.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 per the Masking & Distancing Guidelines, 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 phase.
  • Students conducting research off-campus should follow this protocol and the experience should meet these criteria. Faculty supervisors should serve as the Furman Contact described in the protocol.
  • **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?
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?
  • In the PURPLE phase, faculty and staff may eat outdoors at a restaurant with students.
  • Eating indoors at a restaurant is not recommended until the GREEN phase.
  • Follow normal COVID precautions for travel.
Can I invite students to my house?
  • As long as Furman remains in the PURPLE or GREEN phase, students may travel to faculty and staff member’s 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?
  • In the 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.