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Dean for Research email on PI Responsibilities for Continuity of Research; and submission of Research Essential Operations Plan

To:                      Members of the faculty, facility directors, and department managers

From:                 Pablo G. Debenedetti, Dean for Research

Subject:             PI Responsibilities for Continuity of Research; and submission of Research Essential Operations Plan

Date:                  March 16, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As you know, the University is working hard to ensure continuity of research on campus. In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, however, we must be ready for the possibility that research activity may have to be ramped down to a minimum or suspended on short notice. Accordingly, all Principal Investigators (PIs) and facility managers must submit a Research Essential Operations Plan no later than Wednesday, March 18. If enacted, essential operations plans should allow the suspension, within 48 hours, of activities requiring physical access to campus. Activities that cannot be suspended will be submitted for review and approval by my office. Details on the preparation and submission of Research Essential Operations Plans can be found below.

Research activities are continuing, but are happening under conditions that would have been unthinkable a short time ago. Below we summarize what is expected from PIs during these trying times.

Expectations from PIs

We have strongly encouraged faculty, graduate students and post-docs to make arrangements that maximize remote work. We thank the many among you who have done so.

We expect every PI to implement the following procedures immediately, if they have not already done so:

  • Determine the minimum amount of on-campus activity necessary to ensure research continuity and ensure that all other activities take place remotely.
  • Determine the minimum number of personnel that must be present at any given time to perform on-campus activities.
  • Create a schedule that allows on-campus activities to be performed at different times whenever possible. This will allow for the fewest number of people to be present in a lab at any given time, while allowing for research continuity.
  • The only people in a laboratory at any given time should be those who must be there to perform the activity scheduled at that time. All others should work remotely.
  • Whenever it is necessary for multiple people to be present in a lab, they must maintain at least a 6-foot radius of separation between themselves and anyone else at all times. Ensuring this may require thinking through the logistics of your space very carefully.

Unless the presence of a graduate student or a post-doctoral researcher is required for an on-campus activity, they should be allowed to work exclusively remotely if they so wish. PIs should work to facilitate this. In other words, whether a graduate student or a post-doc continues to work physically in a laboratory should be at the discretion of that individual.

Meetings, including lab or group meetings, should be held by phone or video conferencing.

All community members should continue to implement best practices of self-care and hygiene: stay home when not feeling well, wash hands often, and don’t touch your face.

PIs should be prepared for the possibility that an individual in their research group may test positive for COVID-19. Laboratory spaces and offices used by an individual found to be COVID-19-positive will be closed, disinfected, and prepared for re-occupancy.

To prepare for the possibility of a shutdown, all PIs and facility managers must submit their Research Essential Operations Plan for their own lab/research group by Wednesday, March 18. Please see below.

Research Essential Operations Plan

Attached to this email is a Word document [available at this link] for you to use in documenting your plans in the event of a shutdown. The plan should be filled out by faculty for their own laboratories and by facility directors for their facilities (e.g., NMR facility). The document is intended to be shared with members of the laboratory, and others who need to be aware of the essential operations plan.

Submit your plan to the Office of the Dean for Research by Wednesday, March 18, 2020, using the webform available on the Dean for Research COVID-19 Information for Researchers page. The webform will ask you to input several of the responses documented in your plan, as well as upload a copy of the completed plan. This critical information will facilitate our review of the information, and allow us to share it with your Department Chair.

A submitted plan is required in order to obtain building access for the essential personnel listed in the plan in case of a research shutdown. It will take a few days to process all of the submissions. Please understand that this is a complex project. We will respond to all submissions as soon as we have completed the reviews.

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