Reopening Phases

Phase 1 Phase 2A Phase 2B Phase 3 Phase 4

Transitioning Between Phases Implementation & Audit  Health Screening Enforcement of Reopening Requirements In the Event of a Positive Infection

Phase 1

Please see Guidelines for Phases 1-3.

Current “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

Please see Guidelines for Phases 1-3.

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 (see Requesting the Reopening of a Laboratory/Studio/Core Facility During Phase 2), 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 to Utilize Core Facilities During Campus Reopening Phases.
    • 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 (see Lab Ramp-Up Schedule for an example). 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

Please see Guidelines for Phases 1-3.

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. A schedule of building reopening is available. 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 (see Requesting the Reopening of a Laboratory/Studio/Core Facility During Phase 2), 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 to Utilize Core Facilities During Campus Reopening Phases.
    • 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 (see Lab Ramp-Up Schedule for an example). 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

Please see Guidelines for Phases 1-3.

Gradual expansion of research (e.g., longitudinal research and other time-sensitive studies) that presents a compelling rationale for physical access to campus. On-site personnel will be limited to approximately 50% of nominal laboratory/studio and core facility capacity at any given time. The status of undergraduate researchers will be determined by University Leadership.

  • Research Directors, including those who reopened in Phase 2, will need to submit formal requests to reopen to Phase 3 levels (form forthcoming), 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 to Utilize Core Facilities During Campus Reopening Phases.
    • 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 (see Lab Ramp-Up Schedule for an example). 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.
  • By the beginning of Phase 3, the University will have developed and published policy about exceptions and modifications that may be requested by faculty, students, and staff who feel they have a compelling reason to request an exception or modification of their work assignment. A link to University policy will be inserted in the Playbook when it becomes available. 
  • Plans for a sudden return to Phase 1 should be in place and submitted.  
  • 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 4

Return to full research operations. The return to a new normal will be gradual and, in some cases, may require additional phases. In some cases, protocols for phases beyond Phase 3 may be locally defined under the guidance of Deans and Department Chairs in consultation with the VPR. Plans for a sudden return to Phase 1 should be in place and submitted.

All forms referenced above, as well as additional reopening resources can be found within the Resource Library.  

Transitioning Between Phases

The phases described above apply campus-wide and represent a maximum density of any laboratory, studio, or core facility during that phase. An individual laboratory, studio, or core facility may choose not to reopen in Phase 2, but may open in Phase 3 at the density for that phase. Conversely a lab or studio may remain at the density of Phase 2 even though the campus has moved to Phase 3.

The University will implement Phase 2 by preparation of buildings with signage, PPE, and cleaning supplies as soon as possible. Phase 2a is expected to start on May 26, 2020, after the Memorial Day holiday. Phase 2b will start and proceed at a date and in a sequence determined by Notre Dame Research, the Colleges, Building Services, and RMS. The current expectation, pending a successful Phase 2a, is that Phase 2b will start on June 1. The tentative timing and sequence is posted here. The timing of transitions between Phases 2, 3, and 4, will be decided by University Leadership with input from the Research Task Force, Building Services, and RMS and will be announced by the VPR. 

It is possible that the University research community might have to move backward between phases if conditions warrant (e.g., community or campus outbreaks), including a return to research hibernation (Phase 1). It is recognized that those whose research involves animal studies would be particularly impacted by a return to hibernation. Thus, it is strongly urged that those research programs with animal studies begin new experiments with caution and deference to the potential need to ramp down again.

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.

Enforcement of Lab Reopening Requirements

In addition to the Building Manager’s monitoring, a reporting mechanism has been established to report individuals or laboratories not complying with reopening plans and the safety requirements. To report an issue, please use the form below. This form can be submitted anonymously if preferred.

Report a Reopening of Research Concern

Individual persons who are identified as not adhering to distancing or PPE protocols will receive a written warning. Subsequent infractions will be reported to his or her Research Director or Chair. If additional infractions occur, individuals will be reported through the process appropriate to his or her appointment (e.g. Graduate School, Human Resources, Dean of the College, etc.) with a possible penalty of suspension of access to the laboratory, studio, or core facility.  

Laboratory/Studio/Core Facility scale infractions (e.g., overcrowding) identified by the Committee or the Building Managers will be reported to the requisite Dean. Expected sanctions for a first infraction are a warning and review and potential modification of the plan submitted. Subsequent infractions include the possibility of suspension of laboratory, studio, or core facility access for all members of the unit.     

Health Screening

The University is currently investigating the implementation of a mobile app-based health screening process that would ask employees and students to perform a self-assessment of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., a fever). When this capability is available, the laboratories, studios, and core facilities that have reopened will switch to that tool.

In the interim, each building will have an online health self-assessment available at the entrance to the building. To complete the Health Certification, simply scan the posted QR Code upon arrival. A link to the certification form will also be given to PIs to share with their research groups. Each day, every person entering the building must complete the form and certify that they are asymptomatic to COVID-19.

The Building Managers will check certifications multiple times each day to ensure that everyone who has used a key card to enter the building has filled out the self-assessment and certified that they are asymptomatic. Those who do not complete the document will be required to leave the building and will be subject to sanctions that may include the loss of access to the building.

In the Event of a Positive Infection

If an individual becomes symptomatic, they should check in with their medical provider, the Wellness Center (574-634-9355), or if a student, the University Health Services (574-631-7497). DO NOT COME TO WORK IF YOU HAVE COVID-19 SYMPTOMS.

If you become aware that you have been in contact with a positively confirmed or suspected case of an infected individual, refer either to University guidance, consult with your healthcare provider, or consult with the Wellness Center by phone. Also, inform your immediate supervisor and/or Department Chair.

When the University becomes aware of a positive case that has been physically present in a laboratory, studio, or core facility, it will implement an immediate program of contact tracing with the people who have been in contact with the infected person. If the University determines that an individual has been exposed, or is suspected of being exposed, the University will contact that individual.  

For more information, see here.nd.edu

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 Brockmole, Steve Corcelli, Melanie DeFord, and Mark McCready.