May 15, 2020 Updates
Animal Care and Use Committee Response to Guidelines for Research Reactivation - Research Stage 1 - May 26
With the initiation of a return to research activities on campus May 26th, the Animal Resources Facility (ARF) anticipates a phased return to animal research on campus. We are keenly aware that this activity has associated risks. The ability of staff and investigators to provide care and oversight of the animals will be greatly affected by changes in the infection rate in the community.
In order to maintain social distancing we will continue to require scheduled access to the ARF. Investigators will have expanded access from 10 am to 7 pm (currently 12pm – 7pm). Social distancing rules and maximum occupancy rules will be in place as established by the institution. Currently this is expected to be no more than 2 people per animal room and 1 person per procedure room.
As part of the phased return to research, and to enable us to protect welfare of animal subjects, we will have a graded increase in research activity in the ARF. This will give us time to make sure institutional plans are in place and that researchers are familiar with the requirements. In particular, procedures that require more monitoring of animal health will be delayed to the third week after reinitiation to ensure that animal care staff and investigators are secure in their oversight and care of animals, that everyone is familiar with the return to research policies and that any changes in community infection rate are apparent before these projects are initiated. We want your experiments to proceed smoothly without any concerns about access and monitoring.
Any caging needs (new complete cages, water bottles, etc.) must be requested 48 hours in advance via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure they are available for you.
We plan on allowing the following types of procedures in the ARF according to this timeline:
During the first week after reinitiation: Noninvasive procedures such as breeding, genotyping, injections, blood draws
During the second week after reinitiation: Animals may be received. Numbers of animals will be limited to 20 mice or 4 rats/week/investigator to ensure new animals can be accommodated.
During the third week after reinitiation: Procedures that have a greater need for monitoring can be performed such as surgeries, introduction of cancer cells and food and water restriction greater than 24 hours. We will also begin training of personnel during this week however this schedule may be extended due to social distancing and staffing requirements.
Regarding PPE, ARF currently has enough inventory of PPE and cleaning agents to cover current needs within the animal facility. ARF will continue to provide surgical masks as needed for performing surgery. Investigators are prohibited from removing PPE and cleaning supplies from the animal facility. Failure to adhere to this policy may result in denial of future access to the animal facility during the pandemic. ARF will inform everyone if rationing of the PPE supplies is required.
As always this guidance may change as the situation in the Rice and larger Houston communities change. We look forward to a safe and successful return to campus.
March 19, 2020
Animal Care and Use Committee Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
On behalf of the Office of Research and the IACUC, this guidance is intended to help the campus research community limit the impact and potential risk associated with the growing outbreak of COVID-19.
With the ongoing concern about the spread of this disease, laboratories, and research facilities should begin to plan for the possibility of a significant disruption to routine operations. Each laboratory or research facility is best positioned to create a continuity plan that will meet their unique needs. This guidance is provided to facilitate the development of your plan.
Our office will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available, however, we encourage you to visit https://emergency.rice.edu/news/research-policy-during-covid-19-outbreak for the latest news and information.
In effort to maintain essential/critical husbandry and veterinary services without interruption we are asking the research community to adhere the following:
- No animal experiments should be initiated.
- All animal orders will be suspended this week. Keeping the rodent census low at this time is essential as we must ensure the maintenance of animal care and welfare during this time.
- Breeding animals are to be separated. Rodent breeding is highly discouraged at this time. Limited staffing leading to poor colony oversight can result in severe overcrowding issues and non-compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and your IACUC approved protocol. In the case of extended suspension you can submit a petition to the IACUC for breeding to sustain lines.
- Surgical procedures in all animals should be postponed until further notice, except for veterinary lifesaving procedures. There is no guarantee that post-operative care can be provided during the research staffing reduction and IACUC protocol adherence is mandatory and should not be compromised.
- Experimental animals can continue to be monitored, sampled by laboratory research staff, and scientific endpoints met for euthanasia and tissue harvest. Scheduling for ARF access is available at: https://tinyurl.com/t8y4oaz
- Animals with progressive disease or that require twice daily monitoring should be considered for euthanasia.
- Food and water restrictions should be suspended and animals put on ad lib diets.
- Facility traffic must be kept to a minimum. This will ensure the maintenance of PPE supply and social distancing. The ARF staff will perform all necessary husbandry requirements including health checks daily in the morning.
- All training of students should cease to minimize facility traffic, and only essential tasks should be performed by currently trained investigators.
- Should PPE stocks be depleted additional restrictions to access may be required.
- IACUC Office Related Functions: In the event that the University closes all IACUC Office Staff can access IRBnet and other IACUC related programs remotely. While no new animal studies should be initiated, the IACUC Office and Committee will still be able to process submissions, conduct reviews, and provide approvals. Please direct any protocol submission concerns/issues to email@example.com and an Office Staff Member will be able to assist you.
- Animal Medical concerns should still be reported to 713-348-8259. Welfare issues and concerns will be routed in the same manner as is posted on the IACUC signs in the ARF and all laboratories handling animals.
- Flexibilities for Assured Institutions for Activities of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) Due to COVID-19
- Notice Number: NOT-OD-20-088
- OLAW Guidance FAQ Q9: How can institutions and their IACUCs best prepare for a pandemic?