Carnegie Mellon University

Memo from the OVPR:

March 16, 2020 

Dear Colleagues,

The OVPR is issuing the following specific updated directives and reminders to researchers in light of the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19:

  • Our goal is to continue our research activities as best possible, recognizing that there may be circumstances that preclude normal access to campus. There is no pending decision to move in this direction, but prudence demands we be ready.
  • Researchers should be deep into their closure contingency planning now.
  • Researchers should be in a position to initiate immediate ramp down or conversion to remote access-only for their laboratories no later the close of business Thursday, March 19.
  • If faculty think they will need more than 24 hours to wind down and re-arrange on-campus protocols, they should start preparing immediately. 
  • In the event of a shut-down, the university will communicate the specific essential functions that will be permitted and the procedures that will need to be followed to gain access.
  • Note that deadlines, deliverables and interruption of research progress will NOT justify being on campus for extended periods of time during a closure.  Sponsors are aware of these unique circumstances.  If a deliverable/deadline is being or could be impacted, reach out to your program manager/sponsor.  Similarly, university leadership are also aware that a closure might significantly interrupt research progress and career trajectories for some.
  • In all preparations, researchers need to be cognizant of the fact that, per the directive of the Provost and VPR regarding graduate students, “…under no circumstances should a student who is uncomfortable coming to campus for research-related activities be compelled to do so.”  This must be accounted for in contingency planning.  A student CAN help with the ramp-down activities and in a role that will be defined as essential during a shut down.  However, they cannot be compelled to do so.  Senior researchers with staff or faculty appointments should be adequately cross-trained and have appropriate back-ups. 

In addition, we want to clarify the following:

  • A new researcher resources and guidance page has been generated off of the CMU Coronavirus website.  Check this page frequently for updates.
  • Travel restrictions apply to research: “CMU has suspended all U.S.-based domestic and international travel for university business until further notice.”  This explicitly DOES apply to research activities.  Until further notice, you are no longer permitted to travel on university business in your capacity as a CMU faculty, staff or student regardless of who is paying for the travel.
  • Self isolation applies to everyone.  This means that anyone (faculty, students, staff and visitors) that have been traveling for any reason to CDC Level 3 countries or areas identified by Allegheny County as high risk areas in the US must self-isolate for 14 day(currently: Seattle, Washington; Santa Clara County, California – which includes San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Palo Alto; and New Rochelle, New York)

Thank you for your continued leadership and efforts on these important matters.

Michael McQuade, PhD.
Vice President for Research