Carnegie Mellon University

June 11, 2020

Following our usual procedures for research communications, this message is being sent to Associate Deans for Research (or equivalents) in each college, who are asked to forward to department heads, faculty and researchers including research-related staff and graduate student researchers. A copy of this message is also posted on the OVPR Research Communications Page.

Dear CMU Research Community,

This is the first of a series of messages to be sent approximately every other week to provide regular updates as we implement our phased approach to return research activity on-site in Pittsburgh.

During this initial pilot phase, a total of 40 Pandemic Safety and Preparedness Plans for CMU On-Premises Research and Non-Curricular Creative Work have been submitted so far. Of these, 24 have been approved and include a variety of use cases across CMU. The others are still in process.

Plans submitted to return research to CMU premises have been very well done. I appreciate the thoroughness and thoughtfulness demonstrated in each, as well as the feedback we’ve received. My team has identified several opportunities to improve our processes and guidance. The return to research plan template has been updated accordingly.

We recognize that many of you are eager to return to your on-site work. However, before expanding the work being done on CMU premises, we are using this initial pilot phase and associated reporting to learn as much as possible. Please do not submit a plan to return to on-site research until you are asked to do so by your dean or Associate Dean for Research (ADR).

For the most current information, we encourage everyone to monitor the COVID-19 Updates researcher resources page. Please note that some CMU colleges and schools have imposed additional levels of oversight beyond the university minimum requirements, so it is crucial that you work with your ADR to understand these expectations.

Once you are asked to submit a return to research plan, please note the following:

  • Every plan requires a cleaning consultation with Facilities Maintenance and Campus Services (FMCS), but please do not contact FMCS until you have been requested to submit a plan.
  • Every plan must identify a Pandemic Safety Officer (PSO). Additional information on the role of the PSO and the scheduling of mandatory training is available in BioRaft. In addition, EH&S will be posting the list of PSO’s for reference. We will link to that list from the researcher resource page. Colleges may provide additional guidance on how PSOs will be assigned.
  • Every plan must identify what personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings will be used and how you will ensure adequate supplies are continuously available, as well as additional procedures that you will follow.

Weekly reports are required from the leaders of each of the approved plans so that we can identify what processes are working and those that may need to be adjusted. The first round of reports from recently approved pilots are due this Friday, June 12, 2020.

Academic and administrative units of CMU are also beginning to ramp up processes to return on-site. As these processes are finalized and communicated, the university COVID-19 coordinator, Daryl Weinert, will work with my office, the Provost and the Vice Presidents to ensure a balanced and coordinated approach and return across the university as a whole.

I appreciate your compliance and patience throughout this process. I want to thank the Deans, ADRs, and their staff for helping to prepare and review the plans submitted during this pilot phase. I also very much appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in FMCS and Environmental Health and Safety for providing guidance, expertise and supplies to help us to return our research activities to CMU premises.

We must continue to work together to demonstrate that we can successfully implement a balanced return to on-site activity, and at the same time, mitigate as much of the risk of COVID-19 as possible. As we do so, we will be able to expand access and progress in our phased approach to eventually return all of our activities to CMU premises. I will provide additional updates in the coming weeks.

Thank you,

J. Michael McQuade
Vice President for Research