COVID-19: On-Campus Research Operations at Tufts University
The response of the Tufts research community to COVID-19 safety measures enacted since last spring has been superb, and current low rates of infection among researchers on all campuses reflect this. However, as local and national infection rates rise dramatically, measures to control this second wave may impact our ability to continue research operations at the current level.
We are providing this notification to encourage all schools, centers and campuses to prepare for the possibility of reduced on-campus research operations in Tufts University research spaces and facilities. A decision to reduce operations may soon be necessary due to more restrictive state or local guidelines, and may be further impacted in the event of an increase of cases among students, faculty or staff in the research setting. At present, due to the continued availability of a robust and successful COVID-19 screening program, and to the availability and appropriate use of PPE critical to the control of COVID-19 spread, we do not anticipate the need to return to the most severe restrictions enacted at the beginning of the pandemic. However, researchers should be prepared for one of the two following plans, depending on the severity of conditions and government requirements:
- A reduction of research space occupancy to approximately 50% of current levels recognizing that there are varying levels of occupancy amongst labs within a single school or center. This may be achieved through increased use of shift work over a 24-hour period, prioritization of research projects, or increased work from home where possible. As before, schools and centers will have latitude to work with the Integrative Safety Committee to tailor their de-densification plan to the specific conditions in each lab and department.
- A reduction to essential-only research, with a focus on maintaining research animals, critical equipment, and ongoing experimental programs the cessation of which would negate the impact of previous long-term effort or investment. In this scenario, priority for laboratory-based work may be given to individuals at critical points in training or career advancement.
In both cases, it is important to consider the potential impact of these ramp down plans, which may be enacted with short notice, on significant new research efforts planned for the near future. In addition, campus specific conditions or unexpected loss of access to testing or PPE may require further restrictions, such as laboratory shutdowns, that may need to be enacted quickly.
We ask that principal investigators work with department chairs and research deans or their designees to modify their current ramp-up plans as appropriate to plan for these eventualities. Research deans should help guide the assignment of research priorities and procedures, and should communicate modified plans to the Integrative Safety Committee for comment prior to adopting these contingency plans.
Caroline Attardo Genco, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Research
Office of the Vice Provost for Research | Tufts University
Arthur E. Spiller, M.D. Professor | Department of Immunology | Tufts University School of Medicine
Mailing Address: 136 Harrison Ave, 75K950, Boston, MA 02111
Physical/Courier Address: 75 Kneeland St., Suite 950, Boston, MA 02111
Phone: 617-636-4043 | Fax: 617-636-2917
Caroline.Genco@tufts.edu | http://viceprovost.tufts.edu/