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Updated Guidance for Research Phase 4

New Short-term Guidance For Campus Density; No Impact on Research Phase 4 Guidance
The new   guidance released on November 23rd  provides for a temporary reduction in campus density by asking nonessential employees to work remotely from Thanksgiving until December 7th. While this precautionary guidance appropriately reflects the need for heightened awareness of risks from Thanksgiving gatherings and associated travel, research activities performed in laboratories and at field locations may continue according to individual approved lab operating plans that are consistent with the  guidelines for our current Research Phase 4  status. Nevertheless, researchers should remain diligent in ensuring safe practices for all research activities.

As Campus Returns to Work at End of Year, Research Phase 4 Plans Continue
Coming Back Safe and Strong   guidance posted on November 20th   announced that the University’s Return to Work Phase 5 has been moved from November 30th to December 31st, 2020. It is important to know that for researchers the University will remain in   Research Phase 4  operational status until further notice. There is no correspondence between the “phase” designations used for the Return to Work for non-lab/research personnel and Restarting Research plans. Research Phase 4 allows 60-80% of the research workforce to be present in labs and other research space at any one time, with the provision that social distancing must be maintained and face masks used according to University policy. Through the use of staggered schedules, all members of the research community should be able to resume activities with appropriate safeguards.  It should also be clear that the University’s status in Research Phase 4 does not present any conflict as the University advances to Phase 5 for Return to Work, which heralds the start of the final phase for non-lab/research personnel return to work, and continues to promote staggered work day/hours to support social distancing.

New SUNY Policy on Masks Starting with Winter Term
Finally, I want to make all researchers aware of the recent policy guidance from SUNY regarding health and safety measures for the Winter and Spring 2021 terms. One section of the   SUNY guidance  regarding use of face coverings (masks) supersedes the guidance provided in the   Restarting Research Plan.  Section 4b of the new SUNY guidance states:

Face coverings (masks) must be worn by all members of the campus community on campus at all times, including in classrooms, conference rooms and other spaces, even when six-feet social distancing exists. Exceptions to mask wearing include when students are (1) in their private residential or personal space, (2) eating meals on campus while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced, or (3) by themselves. Faculty and staff are likewise exempt when alone in their office or other space. Any request for a medical, religious, or other accommodation to this policy should be reviewed on an individual basis in accordance with relevant laws and campus procedures.

This policy requires that all personnel wear masks when present in laboratory and other research spaces even when maintaining a 6 ft separation from others. The only exception is when an individual is alone in the lab or other space. Previous guidance provided in the Restarting Research Plan did not require use of masks in labs when social distancing was maintained. Effective December 1, 2020, our   Restarting Research Plan  is being updated to comply with this new SUNY guidance. It is the responsibility of principal investigators (PIs) to inform all personnel listed in their individual lab operating plan of this updated guidance. Remember to keep the list of research personnel current.  Any lab signage should also be updated to require wearing of masks except when an individual occupant is alone. This change in policy does not require that individual Lab Operating Plans are updated. 

Health and Safety Reminders
As a reminder, all research personnel coming into campus lab, office, or related spaces are required daily to use the   Campus Clear  health self-screener or the equivalent   paper log. For those who have traveled, essential quarantine information is provided in the   HR Update on Travel, Testing and Quarantine.  For all out-of-state travel, employees must complete the   New York Traveler Health Form  upon entering NY State. This will provide current guidance from the NY State Dept. of Health.  This travel must also be reported in the Campus Clear entry. Finally, research personnel should follow the University’s guidance for   Covid-19 testing. Further guidance on restarting research activities can be found   here.