A Message from the VP for Research: Preparing to Reopen On-Campus Research

A Message from the VP for Research: Preparing to Reopen On-Campus Research

Vice President for Research Laurie E. Locascio sent the following message to the University of Maryland research community on June 1, 2020:

Dear University of Maryland Colleagues,

The following is an update to a letter from May 22, 2020 that was distributed through the deans. For those of you who have received the prior communication, new information contained in this letter is in bold.

As of today, June 1, 2020, we remain in Phase 0, a planning and preparation phase to ready the campus for research activities.

While the state of Maryland and the county have eased restrictions, we still have important work to do to prepare for restarting research. This includes the preparation of our buildings, the development of campus health screening and testing guidelines, the completion of a screening (symptom monitoring) tool, and the completion of a contact tracing plan. We are working in concert with the University System of Maryland (USM) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore to address these needs and to complete the development of appropriate tools and methods. To help us in planning for building reopening, please do not forget to fill out this survey as soon as possible.

The colleges and schools are also working to develop processes for approval of your plans to come back to campus to conduct research safely. The planning template entitled, Phase 0/Phase 1 Safety Assuredness Procedures & Guidance Plan for Re-Opening Research, is available through your dean's office.

We will move into Phase 1 as soon as all health and safety requirements can be met. Please watch for updates from my office soon.

Phase 0 to Phase 1 Guidance:

We provide the following as guidance for faculty and staff as they prepare to come back onto campus for research. Please distribute this message broadly. Please read the letter in its entirety as there is important information concerning planning and preparation for the research spaces. Phase 0: Accessing Campus for Planning Purposes Only As I described in my virtual town hall on May 21, 2020 (presentation slides), a limited number of staff for short periods of time are allowed on campus in Phase 0 to prepare research spaces for reopening. The intent of this phase is to allow no more than one person per lab to return to campus, on as limited a basis as possible, to prepare the laboratory for research. No new research activities are authorized during this phase. For those accessing campus to prepare laboratories for research, please follow these safety practices when on campus.     

  • Do not come to campus if you are sick or living with a person who has COVID-19.    
  • Bring your own cloth mask when on campus as part of Phase 0.    
  • Maintain social distancing (6ft minimum) while on campus at all times.    
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often, particularly upon arrival and before you leave campus.    
  • When you leave your spaces, clean surfaces that you may have touched with disinfectant, such as doors, drawer handles, light switches, faucets, phones, and/or equipment. 

Phase 0: Planning Documents

As we prepare to transition out of severe research restrictions and begin the process of reopening on-campus research, it is critical that we have sound, detailed plans to support the health and safety of all of our research personnel.

Each lead Faculty Member/Principal Investigator is responsible for developing a plan that incorporates key elements identified by the UMD COVID-19 Research Advisory Task Force. The document entitled, Phase 0/Phase 1 Safety Assuredness Procedures & Guidance Plan for Re-Opening Research, is available through your deans, and provides a framework that Lead Faculty Members/Principal Investigators should use to create their own detailed and specific plans for their laboratory or other research spaces and for their personnel. Once completed, the Lead Faculty Member/Principal Investigator must submit their plan to their department/unit heads and deans for approval.

All research groups should begin the planning process immediately, so that research projects may resume when Phase 1 begins.

The Division of Research is working daily with campus leadership to address concerns regarding the procurement and payment of required cleaning, associated supplies and labor, as well as clarifying the documentation requirements applicable to the training of personnel. Campus leadership is working closely with USM. Further guidance on this, including expense coding instructions, and an online COVID-19 Awareness training will be forthcoming.

Conditions for Moving to Phase 1: Limited Presence on Campus

As mentioned in the May 21, 2020 town hall, there are several conditions that MUST happen before coming back to campus for limited research in Phase 1. These include:     

  • Maryland lifts the stay at home order and allows activities with reduced risk to resume (complete);    
  • Prince George's County lifts the stay at home order and allows activities with reduced risk to resume (complete); and
  • Labs/buildings are fully prepared and researchers' plans for use are approved. 

Additionally, the following must be addressed before moving into Phase 1:     

  • Campus health screening and testing guidelines including screening (symptom monitoring) tool    
  • Contact tracing 

All of the guidance that we provide is for the health and safety of our entire campus community. Questions should be referred to your deans office but you may also send questions to askresearchadmin@umd.edu.

Laurie E. Locascio
Vice President for Research


Also see:

Safety Practices and Requirements for Working on Campus (June 11, 2020)

University of Maryland Research Transition to Phase 1: Limited Presence (June 5, 2020)

Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activity



June 1, 2020

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