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Updated Guidance for In-person Participation of Undergraduate and High School Students in Research Labs and Field Research During the Summer

With the continuing improvements in the current pandemic conditions, combined with the increased availability of vaccines, there has been greater interest in expanding in-person participation by students in research activities, both in research labs and in field settings. We recognize that many of you are already planning summer research activities and may be considering including students interested in summer research opportunities. Therefore, I want to advise you now of changes that we expect to implement for summer 2021. Provided that Covid-19 infection rates continue to decline or remain at or near the current level, we intend to allow limited in-person participation of undergraduate students (both SBU and non-SBU), as well as high school students under appropriate circumstances, in research. Such participation will be at the discretion of the Principal Investigator (PI) and will require approval by their Department Chair or Director. This change will be effective on May 1st, 2021, provided that pandemic health conditions permit, and may be subject to change. 

We are aware that most organized programs normally offering summer research experiences for undergraduate and high school students have already committed to remote operations in summer 2021. The current change in guidance is mainly focused at PIs who may be contacted by individual students requesting to participate in research in person. Faculty may wish to give preference to Stony Brook students inasmuch as few of them will have had access to in-person research opportunities during the past year.

Please keep in mind that we remain in Research Phase 4 of the Restarting Research Plan, which allows 60-80% of research personnel to be present in a lab at any given time, subject to space requirements necessary to maintain physical distancing. Therefore, the addition of any student must be in full compliance with the PI’s Lab Operation Plan and must be approved by their Department Chair or Director. New in-person students must comply with all safeguards and practices described in the Lab Operation Plan, including use of masks and physical distancing. In addition, all students must participate in any Covid-19 surveillance testing and daily self health screening, as required by the University.    

This updated guidance is intended to help PIs in planning for research activities during the summer. Given the fast pace of change in pandemic conditions and the increasing availability of vaccines, we should anticipate additional changes in guidance before summer begins. Please consult the Restarting Research webpage and the Coming Back Safe and Strong webpage for up-to-date information.

Summary of requirements for in-person participation by students in research labs or field research in Summer 2021:

  • In-person participation is permitted solely at the discretion of the Principal Investigator (PI).
  • PI must include all students in their Lab Operation Plan and receive approval from their Chair.
  • Students must comply with all safety guidance in Lab Operation Plan, which currently includes use of a mask and physical distancing. Students must sign the Lab Operation Plan to acknowledge compliance.
  • Students must participate in Covid-19 surveillance testing as required by SBU.
  • Students must complete a daily self health screening before coming to campus.
  • Written consent from parent or guardian is required for a high school student (or any minor) for in-person participation.
  • PI must ensure that appropriate training and in-person supervision are provided for students.