Guidance for Research Labs during Temporary Transition to Online Instruction

Posted on August 19, 2020. Also, note the addendum below posted on August 22, 2019. Some information or advice may have changed since posting.

Dear Colleagues,

I write on behalf of the Research Task Force to follow up on the announcement from Fr. Jenkins that the University will temporarily transition to on-line instruction and the letter from Provost Miranda with details for faculty and students. As Provost Miranda detailed

  • Core research facilities and libraries will remain open to graduate students, faculty, and staff members.
  • Research remains at Phase 3 with labs accessible to faculty, graduate students, and research staff. 

Our ability to keep labs and research cores open is the direct result of the good planning of the research directors and your compliance with those plans. It is very important that we maintain the high standards we have practiced to date. Please keep up the good work. Our ability to keep the labs and cores open is critical to a major segment of our research programs. 

It is noteworthy in the letter from Provost Miranda that labs, cores, and libraries will not be open to undergraduate students, either from on- or off-campus. This includes both undergraduates who are research assistants and undergraduates whom you had planned to use as research subjects. We realize that for some labs this will have a significant impact. We hope this moratorium on undergraduates participating in lab-based research is short-lived. As the research task force, we are considering the implications for research if the period of on-line instruction is extended beyond the current two-week plan, and outlining different scenarios for including undergraduates back in the labs. We hope that with expanded testing and better knowledge of the prevalence and locations of infections we will be able to safely incorporate undergraduates in the labs. 

The Research Task Force also wants to encourage you to consider any updates or modifications that may be helpful in light of the emerging situation. The Research Task Force is available to assist if you have questions. We will also be walking the lab buildings looking for non-compliance and for instances where plans may need to be adapted.  If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Associate Dean for Research or Melanie DeFord.

Lastly, if you believe that the evolving situation has caused you to rethink whether you should request an accommodation, we want to assure you that the accommodation request process is continuous and has been designed with the understanding that situations change. Thus, the need for accommodation may emerge with these new circumstances. For graduate students, accommodations should be sought through the Sara Bea office. For faculty, staff, and postdocs, accommodations should be sought through Human Resources. 

In closing, the Research Task Force welcomes your questions. Hopefully, the University will be able to resume our plans for the fall soon. We wish you the best as we navigate this difficult situation. 


Bob Bernhard



Posted on August 22, 2020. Note that some information or advice may have changed since posting.

Dear Colleagues,

At the Academic Reopening Committee meeting on Friday, there was a question about whether research labs and studios are in jeopardy of moving back to a more restricted operational state. Based on the discussion, the Provost and committee members asked me to share the following statement with those of you working in research labs and studios.

Research labs and studios are currently operating well in Phase 3. Despite the transition to on-line classes we want to assure you that evidence of where the infections are occurring as well as the observed compliance of the labs with excellent safety protocols since they reopened give no indications that we will need to change the current level Phase 3 lab operations except for the existing temporary moratorium on undergraduates in the labs. 


Bob Bernhard


Robert J. Bernhard

Vice President for Research

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana 46556