As President McRobbie informed you last week, IU is now positioned to begin the safe, orderly restart of on-campus research. The committee he appointed in late April to develop guidelines for resuming on-campus research—including the return of graduate students associated with this research—has finished its plan for resuming on-campus research.
Before going any further, I hope you will join me in thanking the members of the committee (whose names are listed at the end of the report) and, in particular, my co-chair, James Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs and dean of the University Graduate School.
On-campus research. Under the plan recommended by the committee, research that needs to be conducted on campus (e.g., it requires special facilities, equipment, access to protected data, in-person contact with research subjects, or otherwise cannot be conducted remotely) may be conducted on campus beginning June 1, 2020, provided that it can be conducted in compliance with the guidelines put forward by the committee.
Before restarting, however, PIs or research facility managers must first obtain the permission of campus research leadership by submitting this brief online form. The requirement for permission is not intended to slow the resumption of on-campus research, but rather to ensure that on-campus research resumes in an orderly and safe manner, local and campus leaders are aware of which activities are resuming, cleaning services and other operations in buildings in which on-campus research is resuming are prepared, and that the university has accurate information about on-campus research activities that have resumed.
Remote research. Research that can be conducted remotely and parts of research that can be conducted remotely (e.g., writing, literature research, analysis of results and data, team meetings, presentations) should be conducted remotely when possible, both to protect the researchers and to avoid placing unnecessary pressure on IU facilities and resources.
Essential research. Research that is already being conducted on campus under IU’s Essential Research Activities Guidelines may continue; however, it will have to comply with the new guidelines and also submit the brief online form described above by July 1, 2020.
The committee’s plan contains detailed guidelines covering now-familiar subjects for all on-campus research including the use of reusable face masks; social distancing; proper hand-washing; frequent cleaning of research equipment and “high-touch” surfaces in shared spaces; keeping symptomatic and high-risk colleagues at home; and complying the university’s policies on checking for symptoms, testing, tracing, and quarantining people who test positive for COVID-19. In addition, campus research committees have in some cases adopted separate reports which you should follow. Researchers requiring access to laboratory animal facilities should contact the director of the facility regarding access.
Following these guidelines is not a matter of mere compliance; the choices we each make affect not only us, but also our families, our colleagues, and the communities in which we live. So I urge you to review carefully the committee’s report and the FAQs and other material that accompanies it, as well as the campus reports.
Details will be forthcoming regarding a research webinar on Thursday, May 28, at 1pm to answer immediate questions. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or of campus research leaders who were key members of the committee.
Thank you for your patience, both because we are unlikely to have thought of everything in this first report and because new information, a resurgence in COVID-19, or changes in the capacity of our communities to respond will likely require changes to the guidelines or even the temporary suspension of on-campus research.
Most importantly, thank you for your cooperation as we relaunch on-campus research. What you do is critically important, not just for faculty, students, and staff at IU, but for the people of Indiana and beyond. If we work together, we can resume these vital activities safely and confidently.