Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community


As outlined in Vice President for Research (VPR) McQuade’s communication to campus and the researcher resources web page, restarting on-premises work will be a gradual process, starting with pilot projects and facilities selected by the deans.  These pilot projects and facilities will have to submit a pandemic safety and preparedness research plan (.docx) that will be reviewed and approved by the dean and VPR, in collaboration with the university COVID-19 coordinator and the Office of Enterprise Risk Management. As we expand, all projects and facilities will need to complete this lab plan and have it approved before beginning research in a CMU facility.

The deans of each college (working with the Associate Deans for Research (ADR) and department heads) will identify initial pilot projects/facilities to be considered.  Facility directors and PI’s of those pilot projects will be advised directly by their college on the submission process.  As we gain success with our initial pilots and there is a broader submission and review process, that information will be posted on the researcher resources webpage and communicated to each college and school.

This depends on a number of factors and we don’t have a specific timeline right now.  However, we expect that it will take a minimum of a few weeks before we have any clarity on our collective ability to adhere to state and university-wide requirements as demonstrated by our pilot projects, while also monitoring the regional health situation.  Once we have adjusted to any lessons learned, the VPR and the deans will determine how best to gradually expand the number of approved on-premises projects.

Research teams returning to campus are ultimately responsible for ensuring they have the necessary PPE required for safe operation and will need to detail how they will ensure this in the pandemic safety and preparedness research plan.

Cloth face coverings are required at all times by everyone on CMU premises. Individuals may choose to provide their own cloth face coverings either by supplying their own or purchasing them and being reimbursed with supervisor approval and following normal purchasing policies and procedures.  Enterprise Risk Management ( can also provide face coverings to those who do not procure one on their own.  

Other types of PPE that individuals need as part of their pandemic safety and preparedness research plans may be procured using traditional supply chains/vendors. In addition, Enterprise Risk Management continues to coordinate with Procurement Services and Facilities Management & Campus Services (FMCS) to procure additional types of PPE (gloves, face shields, etc). Enterprise Risk Management ( may be contacted to inquire about availability and procurement using an internal funds transfer.

This will vary from facility to facility based on what the current division of responsibility is between FMCS, departments and lab/facility “owners.” 

As detailed in the required pandemic safety and preparedness research plan, all projects/facilities seeking to return to on-site operations must hold a consultation with CMU Facilities Management and Campus Services (FMCS) to be advised on proper cleaning protocols and agree on the roles and responsibilities of lab personnel and/or others (including FMCS) in ensuring regular cleaning and disinfecting of active spaces.  Details on these consults can be found in this back to work cleaning guidance (.PDF). 

In most cases, while FMCS can assist with an initial cleaning it will be most appropriate for a lab to continue to oversee its own routine (daily) cleaning.

In all circumstances, FMCS will continue an expanded cleaning regimen for common areas [LINK to an FAQ or FMCS detail page if available] and can facilitate the procurement of cleaning supplies.  Through August 1, FMCS will cover the related expenses.  After Aug. 1, the lab or department may incur a charge for cleaning supplies.

For now, our processes only apply to Pittsburgh area facilities. As local return plans develop for CMU’s other locations, the VPR will work with leadership of these campuses to ensure that plans that are similar in nature while conforming to local guidance will be deployed.

At this time we are prioritizing and authorizing only those research activities that unambiguously must be done on CMU premises.  It will be some time before any work that can continue remotely in nearly the same manner as on-site will be approved to return to campus.

Those who have been approved for accessing campus on an occasional or periodic basis for the purpose of maintaining research environments or specimens and/or maintenance of equipment that enables remote work (e.g., re-booting servers or other equipment) may continue to do so WITHOUT needing to submit a plan.

Any previously approved COVID-19 related or other substantive research activities WILL need to submit a  pandemic safety and preparedness research plan (.docx) detailing their continuing compliance with our current and future processes.  They may continue their current work under their previously granted approval until that plan is complete and approved.

Undergraduate students are not authorized to be on campus for research activities at least through August 1, 2020.  All graduate students (master’s or Ph.D.) may be included as personnel in approved on campus research plans.

No. A plan is not needed for these circumstances.  If you have an urgent need to retrieve materials in order to continue working remotely, submit a request for one-time access to A member of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will assess your request and follow up to facilitate

Accessing on-site facilities for teaching and education purposes is currently not authorized and in the future will not be covered by these research processes. The Office of the Provost is developing a set of processes and procedures to address on-campus educational needs.

CMU libraries are open for virtual services. As part of the overall university’s phased return of certain on-site operations, the library team is finalizing its initial plans to resume some on-site operations.  In the interim, please contact your librarian liaison/subject specialist to discuss your research needs, and to explore immediate access to the content you need.