Previous Reopening Phases

On March 27, 2020, the University of Notre Dame suspended laboratory research operations and limited campus access only to essential personnel necessary to safely maintain labs in a state of hibernation. A handful of laboratories were approved to stay partially open for COVID-19 and national security research projects with rigorous physical distancing and safety protocols.

Based on this experience and a review of reopening plans from academic institutions and companies from around the country, the Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations is implementing a phased reopening of research laboratories, studios, core facilities, and associated office spaces on campus.

The University is currently in Lab/Studio Reopening Phase 3. The details below pertain to the previous reopening phases and contain archived information:

Phase 1

“Hibernation” phase, where only critical research activities may occur. Exceptions are granted by the Vice President for Research (VPR) based on recommendation by the Deans. Research in this phase is deemed an exception to hibernation:

  • Research that must be maintained for the health and safety of animal subjects, maintenance of critical animal populations, and ensuring the ethical care and conduct of research with animals.
  • Research for which discontinuation would cause irreplaceable data and sample loss.
  • Maintenance of critical equipment and samples in a safe standby mode.
  • COVID-19 research with a timeline relevant to the current pandemic and external funding to support the research.
  • Research with national security implications and external funding to support the research.
  • Designated core facilities, at a level of operational status that is adequate for the specific research activities approved in this phase.
  • The Assistant Vice President for Research (AVPR) will coordinate with Building Services regarding the reopening of individual labs, studios, or core facilities that have been granted an exception.

Phase 2a

Partial reopening of McCourtney Hall and the research core facilities. On-site personnel will be limited to approximately 25% of nominal laboratory, studio, and core facility density at any given time. Research Directors are given discretion on how they achieve 25% of nominal density but it is recommended that they prioritize the most experienced students and staff or researchers with the most urgent need for physical access to the research labs and studios. Undergraduate researchers are prohibited.

  • In addition to the core facilities that provide shared and necessary research infrastructure, McCourtney Hall was chosen to reopen first because it is a building dedicated solely to research, it houses a significant number of the research labs that have been granted exceptions to hibernation approval, and it has streamlined facility management and oversight. The Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations together with all Building Managers will participate in the reopening of McCourtney Hall and the research cores during the week of May 26, 2020 in order to gain experience. The experience gained by reopening McCourtney Hall will inform the opening of other buildings in Phase 2b on matters such as understanding the effort needed to manage reopening, the utility of training materials, and the provisioning of PPE and cleaning supplies. This period will also be used for communications and preparation of Research Directors in other buildings.
  • Research Directors will need to submit formal requests to reopen, which must include the rationale for requesting reopening and a detailed plan for physical distancing, PPE requirements, cleaning and sanitation between shifts, and laboratory, studio, or core facility safety and hygiene. In addition, some departments may require laboratory or studio operating plans in conformance with department-specific operating and safety practices. 
    • Plans must be reviewed by the Department Chairs and Deans (or designee) who will recommend final approval by the VPR.
    • Plans, which will be reviewed by Risk Management and Safety (RMS), will be submitted to RMS by the Associate Deans or AVPR for review. The submission of the request must address any safety concerns or issues given the reduced density of research personnel (e.g., researchers working alone). RMS will then assess and endorse the plan or provide feedback/edits that must be made in order to endorse the plan.
    • Plans must identify core facility services required for the proposed partial operations. To reopen a lab that requires a research core facility, labs must submit an authorization form.
    • Plans must include a schedule such that Building Managers and other support services know which research personnel should be in the building/research space at any given time. The schedule should cover a two-week interval. While this schedule serves as an initial planning tool, faculty are encouraged to utilize their preferred scheduling means (e.g. Google Sheets, Calendars, etc.) moving forward.
  • In Phase 2, all trainees must opt-in to returning to campus for research activities through the Graduate School. 
    • The Graduate School will be notified of trainees listed to return to the research lab or studio. 
    • The Graduate School will then send an email to the trainee with a Google Form link containing the option to opt-in or opt-out.
    • The Graduate School indicates the trainee’s response in a sheet to, which the Associate Deans and AVPR can access.
  • Designated core facilities, at a level of operational status that is adequate for the specific research activities approved in this phase, will also reopen. The core facilities will also need to develop and have approved detailed plans for physical distancing, PPE requirements, cleaning and sanitation between shifts, and core facility safety and hygiene. 
  • Plans for a sudden return to Phase 1 should be in place and submitted. 
  • The AVPR will coordinate with Building Services so the reopen date is known and endorsed. Any spaces that will not be occupied during this phase will be identified to Building Services so they may direct their efforts to higher-touch areas for cleaning.

Phase 2b

Incorporating lessons learned from Phase 2a, partial reopening will continue for other research and creative arts buildings with a compelling rationale for physical access to campus. On-site personnel are limited to approximately 25% of nominal laboratory, studio, and core facility capacity at any given time, although specific density and safety modifications are likely for different facilities. Research Directors are given discretion on how they achieve 25% of nominal density but it is recommended that they prioritize the most experienced students or staff and researchers with the most urgent need for physical access to the research labs and studios. Undergraduate researchers are prohibited.

  • Research Directors will need to submit formal requests to reopen, which must include a detailed plan for physical distancing, PPE requirements, cleaning and sanitation between shifts, and laboratory/studio and core facility safety and hygiene. In addition, some Departments may require laboratory or studio operating plans in conformance with Department-specific operating and safety practices. 
    • Plans must be reviewed by the Department Chairs and Deans who will recommend final approval by the VPR.
    • Plans, which will be reviewed by Risk Management and Safety (RMS), will be submitted to RMS by the Associate Deans or AVPR for review. The submission of the request must address any safety concerns or issues given the reduced density of research personnel (e.g., researchers working alone). RMS will then assess and endorse the plan or provide feedback/edits that must be made in order to endorse the plan.
    • Plans must identify core facility services required for the proposed partial operations. To reopen a lab that requires a research core facility, labs must submit an authorization form.
    • Plans must include the use of a schedule such that Building Managers and other support services know which research personnel should be in the building/research space at any given time. The schedule should cover a two-week interval. While this schedule serves as an initial planning tool, faculty are encouraged to utilize their preferred scheduling means (e.g. Google Sheets, Calendars, etc.) moving forward.
  • In Phase 2, all trainees must opt-in to returning to campus for research activities through the Graduate School. 
    • The Graduate School will be notified of trainees listed to return to the research lab or studio. 
    • The Graduate School sends an email to the trainee with a Google Form link containing the option to opt-in or opt-out.
    • The Graduate School indicates the trainee’s response in a sheet to which the Associate Deans and AVPR have access.
  • Designated core facilities, at a level of operational status that is adequate for the specific research activities approved in this phase will also reopen. The facilities will also need to develop and have approved detailed plans for physical distancing, PPE requirements, cleaning and sanitation between shifts, and laboratory safety and hygiene.
  • Plans for a sudden return to Phase 1 should be in place.  
  • The AVPR will coordinate with Building Services for input on the sequencing of buildings and so that reopening dates are known. Any spaces that will not be occupied during this phase will be provided to Building Services so they may direct their efforts to higher-touch areas for cleaning.

Phase 3

  • Research Directors, including those who reopened in Phase 2, must submit the appropriate formal request to reopen at Phase 3: 
    • For cases where there are no changes to a Phase 2 Lab/Studio Reopening plan, notification is required using the no change form. 
    • For cases where a Phase 2 Lab/Studio Reopening plan will be updated for Phase 3 capacity, please use the updated plan form. It is not recommended that labs double current density unless it is absolutely necessary and safe.
      • An expedited review is anticipated for requests that include only minor changes to a previously approved Phase 2 plan.
    • For first-time submission of a Lab/Studio reopening plan, please use the new plan submission form, which must include a detailed plan for physical distancing, PPE requirements, cleaning and sanitation between shifts, and laboratory, studio, and core facility safety and hygiene. In addition, some Departments may require laboratory or studio operating plans in conformance with Department-specific operating and safety practices.
      • Associate Deans or the Assistant Vice President for Research will review all new plans for their respective College or unit. Risk Management and Safety, Department Chairs, and Deans will review final plans and recommend approval to the Vice President for Research (VPR). Final approval will be made by the VPR or his designee.
  • Undergraduate students are allowed in research laboratories/studios in Phase 3. Research Directors must implement the guidance provided here
  • Face-to-face human subjects research can begin with implementation of the guidance provided here.
  • Faculty or staff whose age or health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories or who have other special circumstances may seek a workplace adjustment through the additional accommodation process. Graduate Students should submit any requested accommodations through the Sara Bea Office.
  • Plans for a sudden return to Phase 1 or 2 should be in place.  

Once approved to resume research, it is advisable to utilize this Resumption of Research Checklist to check laboratory/studio/core facility condition and supplies before starting research work.

Researchers should document the impact of COVID-19 on their research in progress reports and are encouraged to stay in contact with their sponsor program officer or contract officer. For specific award questions, please work with your Notre Dame Research Administration (NDRA) grants program manager or contact post-award-gpms-list@nd.edu.

Phase 3.1

Research labs, studios, and core facilities may participate in a pilot program on reopening to inform campus policy for the fall semester

  • Participating labs, studios, and core facilities may return to full density.
    • In some cases, a student, staff member, or faculty member may be granted an accommodation for health reasons. Lab directors must establish protocols for these accommodations. 
  • Masks are required indoors for the unvaccinated. Those individuals should also sign up for weekly surveillance testing. 
    • Those who are fully vaccinated by one of the three vaccines approved in the United States (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech) do not need to wear their masks indoors. Therefore, masks are no longer required in labs/studios/cores for vaccinated individuals or in offices or conference rooms associated with the labs/studios/cores. Please note that those who are vaccinated may choose to wear masks as a matter of personal safety. 
    • Individuals working with flammable materials are not required to wear a mask while working at a negative pressure hood. However, if you are unvaccinated and wearing a mask in this area, a flame retardant one is encouraged. 
    • Important Note: Notre Dame faculty, staff and students working in the IU School of Medicine buildings south of campus, Harper Hall and Raclin Carmichael Hall, will need to follow IU policy in the hallways and common spaces. However, vaccinated lab participants may remove masks in Notre Dame operated labs/cores.
  • Physical distancing should be utilized when possible.
  • Cleaning protocols of hard surfaces may be relaxed. Equipment and furnishings must be disinfected before and after use.
  • Weekly surveillance testing is required. 
    • Participants receive a testing pass color-coded based on compliance. Green if they completed testing that week or red if not.
    • Testing is open Monday thru Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May 24 to August 12. To schedule your testing day, please click here
    • The system exempts people from testing who are in quarantine, isolation, or have been positive in the past 90 days.
    • Testers are able to indicate an "out of office" exemption on their test page with days for vacation or travel over the summer and they do not appear as non-compliant.
    • Reports on weekly compliance for surveillance testing are sent to the Vice President for Research and to the Deans. High compliance is expected for the pilot to continue. 
  • Outdoor breaks are encouraged as masks are no longer required outdoors when physical distancing is maintained or in groups of vaccinated individuals.
  • For large shared labs (e.g., McCourtney Hall) all groups sharing the same lab/studio/core facility space must agree to participate in the pilot study. 
  • All eating and dining must adhere to the University's Campus Dining Policy
    • While kitchenettes are available to store and heat meals, they must not be used for dining and must be cleaned after use. 
    • Conference rooms are not approved locations for eating. 
  • There are no specified occupancy protocols of office-like spaces (e.g. offices, conference rooms, and gathering spaces).
  • Faculty, staff, and postdocs are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or upload the documentation if already vaccinated. See here for Indiana and Michigan relevant vaccination websites.
  • Graduate, professional, and undergraduate students on-campus for seven or more consecutive days or regularly working in a lab/studio/core facility during the summer are required to be vaccinated. 
  • Feedback regarding the incidence of positive cases in the labs/studios/core facilities follow the same contact tracing and quarantine protocols that have been employed to date.

Research labs, studios, and core facilities’ directors (or a designate appointed by the lab director) who wish to move to Phase 3.1 must complete this form. Please note, a designate may complete the form; however, it is the director's responsibility to decide if moving to this phase.

If updates to the lab roster need to be made throughout the summer, please resubmit a new Phase 3.1 form here

Implementation and Audit 

The Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations and the Building Managers will conduct a virtual reopening briefing in each building as it reopens. The Committee will present a training and overview session to outline expectations for conduct and safety. Research Directors will attend this briefing and subsequently train their research team members in the protocols, practices, and guidelines of the reopening. Research Directors are expected to model behaviors that promote conscientious and sustained adherence to best practices in keeping the entire community healthy and protected from exposure to COVID-19. 

The Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations, excluding the VPR, together with the relevant Building Manager, will evaluate the reopening in each building at a minimum of three days and one week into the reopening. Building Managers will routinely audit and assess the situation in their buildings.

Messages from VPR

To view the Vice President for Research's research continuity messages from 2020, click here.

Please note that some information may have changed since these messages were posted. Visit research.nd.edu/our-services/research-continuity for the most current information.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

For additional guidance, please communicate with your Department Chair and if needed, relevant member of the Subtask Force on Research Laboratory Operations. Members include Jim BrockmoleSteve CorcelliMelanie DeFord, and Mark McCready.

Click to report a reopening of research concern