June 9, 2020: Guidance to Researchers on Return to Campus
NY State continues to release more guidance for reopening as regions in the State progress through the phases outlined by the Governor’s Office. Research activities are approved to restart when regions move into the State’s Phase 2. Long Island is expected to advance to the State’s Phase 2 on Wednesday, June 10th. Contingent on confirmation by the Governor’s Office, principal investigators (PIs) are able to restart research activities in labs and off-site locations provided they have submitted and received approval for their individual plans from their department Chair or unit Director and Dean.
NY State guidance for reopening requires implementation of the safeguards that were outlined in Stony Brook’s Plan for Restarting Research Lab, Field, and Studio Activities. These include daily health screening by all personnel before coming to work, social distancing in the workplace, use of masks/face coverings, and reduced density in labs and other shared spaces. In addition, all employees will be required to take online COVID-19 Returning to the Workplace training prior to returning.
Principal Investigators’ Individual Lab/Activity Plans . We are aware that many PIs have already created their plan for restarting activities in their labs or at off-site locations. The updated guidance provided here does not require any changes to these plans. PIs’ initial plans should describe the return of a cohort of research personnel (estimated 10-30% of the total research workforce), as described in Phase 2 of SBU’s Plan (hereafter SBU Phase 2). (Yes, it’s unfortunate that SBU and NY State both designated the progression of reopening using “Phases”. There is no correspondence between them.) When reviewing plans, Chairs and unit Directors must coordinate with their respective Dean or supervisor before granting approval and scheduling returns. In addition, Chairs and unit Directors must also coordinate with respective Building Managers to ensure readiness of building spaces. As noted above, PIs may restart research activities as described in their approved plans when so informed by their Chair or unit Director. This is dependent on official announcement of Long Island advancing to the State’s Phase 2.
PIs must keep a copy of their signed/approved plan in the lab (or off-site location) and accessible to approved research personnel.
Upon returning to labs and other research activities, PIs should evaluate the effectiveness of the safeguards implemented and introduce any corrections, as preparation for advancing to SBU Phase 3. To advance to SBU Phase 3, PIs must revise/update their approved plan and submit it to their department Chair or unit Director for review and approval. The increase in research personnel accompanying SBU Phase 3 (30-60% of the total workforce) should be accounted for using staggered shifts (as needed), while continuing to maintain social distancing, use of masks/face coverings, and other safeguards.
Required Daily Health Screening . SBU and NY State require daily health screening by all personnel before coming to the lab or off-site work location. This self-screening involves taking the temperature and reviewing symptoms identified by the CDC for COVID-19, and noting if you have been exposed, symptomatic, or if tested positive to COVID-19 in the last 14 days. Research personnel may elect to use the online health screening tool or must complete a daily log in order to confirm that they have completed a self-screening, and that they are free of symptoms prior to reporting to work. A separate email will be sent detailing the online self-screening option. NY State has required that daily screening compliance is reviewed, and supervisors/PIs must monitor whether their lab personnel have completed the screening If an employee identifies that they have one or more symptoms, or indicates recent exposure, they may not come to the workplace, are instructed to call the Health Information line at 631-631-5000, and will be advised of next steps.
Required COVID-19 Return to Work Training . NY State and SBU are requiring all individuals to complete the “Return to Work” training video prior to returning to campus. This requirement applies to those who have been working remotely and those essential employees who have remained working on campus, as well as those restarting research activities at off-site locations. The video can be accessed within SOLAR as follows:
- Log into SOLAR
- Go to >For Employees >Learning & Development >Return To Work Training
- Use the password “employeesback” to access and watch the video
- Check the completion box and hit save
Access Control . The department Chair or unit Director must provide a list of research personnel for their department/unit who have been approved to return to research. The list will be used to enable building access for those approved to return. The list should be taken from the Personnel sections of the individual plans provided by PIs, and should specify the department and building(s). The lists should be sent to Eric Olsen (firstname.lastname@example.org). When a PI’s lab is approved to advance to the next SBU Phase, this list should be updated with added names and resent to Eric Olsen.
Additional Information . As explicitly stated in SBU’s Plan for Restarting Research Lab, Field, and Studio Activities, no research personnel should be pressured to return to the lab if they feel reluctant. A separate email was sent to Chairs and unit Directors regarding availability of masks and gloves for returning researchers. PIs should ask their Chair or unit Director about availability of masks/face coverings prior to their return. Additional information is provided in the FAQ section of Stony Brook University Brook’s Coming Back Safe and Strong webpage.