Return to Research Plan for Faculty

Restarting laboratory research

One of the areas of faculty work the pandemic has hit hardest has been scholarship, both because of the amount of time and effort faculty have had to redirect to remote instruction on short notice and because of the loss of access to campus facilities, travel, conferences and other important resources. Union’s Return to Research (R2R) working group, comprised of faculty, academic affairs administrators, and staff from the Facilities and Environmental Health & Safety Offices, has developed plans and processes for our phased return to on-campus laboratory research.

We have documented clear, appropriate, and effective recommendations, best pratices, and guidelines that maintain the health and safety of our community, align with Union’s Return to Campus Plan for employees and comply with the New York State Interim Guidance for Higher Education Research During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Together, these College and state regulatory guidelines provide strict protocols for physical distancing, protective equipment, cleaning, communication, and health screening. We will proceed with a deliberate and safe return to laboratory research based on the recommendations of the R2R working group, with the process for how this will be implemented outlined below.

The Process

This initial reopening phase targets laboratory-based research that can only be conducted on campus. If your research fits this description, we ask that you first familiarize yourself with the Guidelines to Reactive Research, and then please complete the following applicable form(s):

The R2R will receive and efficiently review all reactivation plans, make recommendations to me and secure my approval before authorizing laboratory access. Faculty should anticipate a possible preliminary response from the R2R with clarifying questions about their reactivation plans and needs. Before returning to campus labs, faculty members must 1) await email notification from the R2R with approval to reactivate research and 2) complete a mandatory safety training program. (Please note that the state requires the College to certify and verify its compliance and training plans.) Union’s Human Resources and Environmental Health & Safety offices have already begun to schedule training sessions, which faculty may attend at any time (even before approval of plans has been given).

Upon Approval to Return to Research

Once approved, faculty researchers will receive an email notification from the R2R with important health and safety information and detailed next steps required to effectively return to research. These include important steps to be taken prior to arrival to campus, upon arriving to campus each day, and while preparing to depart from campus each day, as follows.

Before arriving:

Upon arrival:

  • Go to the Materials Management Suite (ISEC 183) to pick up a disinfecting kit, required signage for your lab entry door, daily cleaning log, and other safety supplies.
  • Limit travel while on campus to your lab, authorized research facilities, the restroom, and the Wold Atrium for meals. Research materials and supplies from outside vendors may be delivered to/from the Materials Management Suite (ISEC 183) and the Mail Room in Reamer Campus Center.

When preparing to depart each day:

  • Wipe down and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., tabletops, door handles, equipment). Cleaning supplies may be replenished in the Materials Management Suite (ISEC 183).
  • Remove trash and recyclables from the lab by disposing items in the receptacles located in the building’s common areas.
  • Continue to follow Union’s standard safety procedures for disposing of lab chemicals and hazardous waste materials.