Lab Reopening Update

Posted on June 1, 2020. Note that some information or advice may have changed since posting.

Dear Colleagues,

We have completed the first week of the gradual reopening of the research labs and studios. The week went very well. We’ve learned a great deal, as we expected, and developed collaborative processes with other offices at Notre Dame that support our research programs. I want to especially thank Melanie DeFord, Steve Corcelli and Mark McCready for their very hard work to prepare for this week, their work with faculty on their reopening plans and their preparation for the next set of building reopening. They have been very busy and are doing an excellent job leading the reopening effort.

I wanted to particularly commend the faculty for the thoughtfulness of the lab reopening plans I’ve reviewed thus far. There is clearly a consistent commitment to safety and health across all labs. Many of you have thought deeply about how your lab can operate with the health of the students and staff as a priority. As a collective set, the plans are a model of what the University will hope we can reproduce across campus as we anticipate welcoming students back to campus in August.

I did note in a few cases an underlying urgency to bring labs up to full operation. Please remember that we are still very much in a ramp-up mode. Our support systems need to grow to match our needs and we have to determine what we can sustain in terms of balancing health and productivity. Please maintain a conservative approach. The fallout of a failed experiment in Phase 2 will be significant not only to the labs but elsewhere on campus.

We are on track to open Stepan-Nieuwland today, Monday, June 1. If that goes well, we will open Fitzpatrick-Cushing on Wednesday and Raclin-Carmichael, Harper and Stinson-Remick on Friday. We will verify that we remain on track as the week progresses. When the buildings open, you’ll find significant new signage as well as sanitizer stations. The Lab Reopening Team, including a building manager, will meet with faculty to go over details of the building reopening on the day of reopening. No one should start working in labs until after the reopening meeting with the Team.

There will be several changes to the Playbook as a result of lessons learned this last week:

  • We have revised the health check process to an online format. The Building Managers and Reopening Committee will provide details.   

  • For those who are working with flammable materials, we will no longer require a mask while you are working at a negative pressure hood. When you leave the area of the hood, please resume wearing a cloth mask. A flame retardant mask is encouraged for those working with flammable materials if you have access to one.

  • We have clarified the reporting process for the situation where you or someone in your lab tests positive for COVID-19 in the Playbook. We have also brought this information to the cover page of the Playbook. Note that contact tracing will be conducted so that anyone who might have been exposed will be notified.

  • Everyone must swipe-in to buildings separately. Do not allow anyone to enter a building with you on your swipe-in. This practice follows appropriate physical distancing and the swipe-in records will be used for contact tracing if that becomes necessary.

  • Throughout Phase 2, graduate students and postdocs have the option to choose whether or not to participate in the laboratory reopening. I want to emphasize that we support those who might choose not to participate as we reopen and gradually increase research laboratory capacity and as the University continues to develop its health and safety policies.  

I hope we have a good week starting June 1. We look forward to having all of the research labs that hope to reopen for the summer, operating in a couple of weeks.



Bob Bernhard


Robert J. Bernhard

Vice President for Research

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana 46556