Ramp Up News

May 15, 2020 (OVPR): As a follow-up to the University’s email about resuming on-campus activities, I am pleased to be able to share with you our current plans for a phased-in approach for resuming on-campus research activities. As previously shared at our Research Town Hall Meeting on May 8th, resuming on-campus research activities is dependent on the guidelines and gating decisions that are being made by University leadership and Governor Baker as guided by his COVID-19 taskforce, which is focused on re-opening the State. Given that we are dependent on these guidelines, there is no formal start date at present for research ramp up. This communication is meant to assist you with the planning needed to ramp up on-campus research activities.

On-campus research activities will ramp up slowly over three phases. Research Deans in concert with their School and Center leadership are currently developing School- and Center-specific plans for ramp up that address social distancing, shift scheduling and infection control measures, including masking and disinfection procedures. While these plans will be reviewed by the OVPR’s Safety Committee, School and Center Leadership is responsible for implementing these plans.

Below is guidance for Phase 1 of research ramp up and how to prepare. Please note that with the exception of previously approved essential activities and COVID-19 research, on-campus research activities are not to resume until further notice from the University and the OVPR.

Phase 1A: Preparing for Phase 1

Anticipated Timing: Mid-to Late-May subject to Federal, State, Local and University Guidance

Basic Research: The focus will be on preparing wet labs to re-open. Allowable on-campus research activities will include limited staff to check on and relocate equipment if necessary to optimize social distancing, ensure PPE availability, perform supply inventories, etc. Please refer to the guidance previously provided on animal orders and rodent breeding activities that are needed to ramp up experiments. Those Core Facilities approved for ramp up will begin to re-open in order to be available for services starting in Phase 1.

Human Subjects Research: The focus will be on preparing to resume face-to-face studies in a safe and effective manner once the suspension is lifted by the Federal government. Potential activities will include planning: which face-to-face studies to prioritize for ramp up; how to adjust research procedures, spaces and study populations for each study; how to train research teams on new procedures and safety requirements; how to modify existing studies to be conducted remotely if possible; and where to identify reliable information on local epidemiology and state/international requirements that might affect studies conducted off-campus. We encourage continued use of remote work.

Humanities, Social Science, and Policy Research & Scholarship: The focus will be on researchers working with their School and Center leadership to understand who needs to be on-campus and what scheduling might look like.

We encourage continued use of remote work.

Phase 1: Minimal On-Campus Operations

Anticipated Timing: No earlier than Early-to Mid-June subject to Federal, State, Local and University Guidance

Basic Research: The focus will be on a gradual increase of on-campus research activities, performing experiments in the labs. This phase will help us to better understand the new workflow in wet labs to ensure the health and safety of faculty and staff, while also allowing us to ramp down on-campus research activities as needed if conditions change. Additional guidance is currently being developed for projects involving human samples/tissues.

Human Subjects Research: The focus will continue to be on preparing to resume face-to-face studies in a safe, effective manner once the suspension is lifted by the Federal government. We encourage continued use of remote work where possible.

Humanities, Social Science, and Policy Research & Scholarship: The focus will continue to be on researchers working with their School and Center leadership to understand who needs to be on-campus and what scheduling might look like. We encourage continued use of remote work where possible.

Phase 2: Moderate On-Campus Operations and Phase 3: Progressive Increase of On-Campus Operations

Please stay tuned.

We will continue to provide updates and guidance during our Research Town Halls (Fridays at 12:00 PM) and will follow up with more detailed and targeted information via email. Please understand as with all planning related to COVID-19, the situation remains fluid and changes may be implemented with short notice. It will be important that we continue to be flexible and accepting of change. Please appreciate that our planning and actions are consistent with other institutions in the local area. We ask for your understanding in this new environment and thank you for your continued patience and engagement during this difficult and unprecedented time.