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June 24, 2020:  Guidance for Progressing to Research Phase 3

It has been two weeks since we opened the door for restarting research activities beyond those who had been performing Covid-related research.  I am pleased to report that this process has progressed smoothly, thanks to the careful attention being given to the guidelines outlined in the  Plan for Restarting Research.  The thorough reviews provided by the Deans and their Department Chairs of PIs’ individual plans have permitted a gradual return of research personnel with appropriate safeguards for the health of our researchers.  Building Managers and the Campus Facilities group have done an outstanding job of preparing buildings for our return.  Based on the positive experience gained over these two weeks, it is clear that many research groups are well prepared to advance to Phase 3 as described in our  Plan for Restarting Research, hereafter referred to as  Research Phase 3.  This terminology is important to remember, as many of you are aware that NY State has also adopted the use of “Phases” to indicate when different types of businesses are approved to reopen.  There is no correspondence between Research Phases and NY State’s Phases.

Research Phase 3 allows for 30-60% of the research workforce to return, while still complying with the requirements of social distancing, use of masks/face coverings, daily health screening, etc., as described in the Plan.  Principal investigators that have operated effectively under Research Phase 2 (preferably for at least one week) and are ready to advance to Research Phase 3 should revise their individual plans and submit them to their Chair or unit Director for review and approval.  For those who already have approved plans for Research Phase 2, the necessary revisions may only involve updating the personnel list and the related work schedules, and sharing the plan with the additional personnel for their signature of acknowledgement.  It is important that revised plans account for any additional engineering or administrative controls needed for the increase in personnel.  After reviewing plans, the Chair or Dean will inform PIs when they may advance to Research Phase 3.  New research personnel starting with Research Phase 3 are required to view the training video in SOLAR and provide affirmation.  For those graduate fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and any other researchers unable to view and record the training in SOLAR, they should visit this  site to view the return to work training video and provide affirmation.  If your lab is already operating with all personnel, then it is not necessary to revise your plan.  Also, make sure that a copy of the approved plan is accessible to every lab member in each lab.

For those principal investigators who have not yet submitted a plan for restarting their research activities, you may choose to create a plan for advancing directly to Research Phase 3 (30-60% of the research workforce).  However, the PI should first check with their Chair, and the PI’s plan should clearly outline a gradual ramp up in personnel level in order to allow enough time to evaluate the effectiveness of the safeguards and controls.  These plans should be submitted to the Department Chair or unit Director for review and approval.

It is important that each PI’s plan provides an up to date list of research personnel for the proposed Research Phase.  Unless requested by the Dean in your area, it is no longer a requirement to create a separate excel file to be provided for access control purposes.  If access to a building is required for an approved researcher, the department should submit a request to Access Control following the normal procedure.

Finally, I again remind PIs that any individual who is reluctant to return to research on campus or at an off-site location out of concern for their health should not be pressured to do so.

For any questions, please contact your Department Chair or unit Director first.  Thank you for your cooperation as we continue to resume our research activities at Stony Brook.