CoE Guidance on Research Ramp-down

Dear Colleagues,

As messaged yesterday, we are now ramping down on-site operations of our all noncritical laboratory research activities and ramping-up remote operations by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20. I know that many of you are working hard with your research teams to understand and implement this necessary step.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions we have been receiving. We will continue to add more to the College’s COVID-19 Research Resources and FAQ pages. In addition, please check UMOR’s FAQ page regularly.

Can my research group have access to my on-campus lab to maintain equipment and/or experiments?

CoE will allow minimal access to approved critical laboratories so that critical research activities, including the maintenance of animals, unique reagents, and essential equipment and materials, can proceed.

Do I need CoE permission to conduct these on-campus lab maintenance activities?

Yes! We need to know who will be on campus maintaining experimental labs, which labs may have occupants, and how often persons will be in the laboratories. We also need to ensure that these maintenance activities are supported and conducted safely, especially since there will be many fewer persons on campus to assist in the event of an emergency.

How do I get permission to conduct on-campus lab maintenance activities?

Fill out the following form at

The CoE will then expeditiously review your request and your proposed plan. If we agree that your activities are necessary, safely planned, and have minimized the amount of on-campus activity needed to maintain your equipment and/or experiments, we will grant permission for these activities. We will require at least two persons be present when they are conducting reduced lab operations on campus.

I am doing critical research related to COVID-19, can my on campus lab activities continue?

UMOR has set up a process to evaluate and grant permission for critical on-campus research activities, as described in If you would like to seek permission to continue your COVID-19 related laboratory activities, please fill out the form at

Be sure to describe your COVID-19 related work and why it is critical that on campus activity should continue. The CoE will work with UMOR to evaluate your request.

My research is not conducted in an experimental lab. Is CoE simply “strongly encouraging” remote research operations for my group or is it “mandating” that we move to off campus operations?

We are strongly advising that all research activities that can take place off campus be conducted off campus. Those who request to continue non-experimental research activities on campus must seek permission to do so from CoE using the forms above, but approvals will be given only to the most exceptional cases.

How do we ensure compliance, since most of us will not be in the building?

We will need to primarily rely on the honesty and professionalism of our UM community. These actions are being taken to control the spread of COVID-19, and they have not been taken lightly by UM.

Are students, faculty, and staff allowed to be in the building if they have after hours building access? Can faculty or Ph D students or staff still periodically access their office space after 5 pm Friday if they need to get something?

You, your students, and your post docs will have access to CoE offices to pick up items they need. Since the buildings will be primarily empty, for your safety, please partner with another person when you come in to pick up your items. But, we stress that all ongoing research activities that can take place off campus should be conducted off campus unless given explicit permission by CoE. The safety of individuals working under isolated conditions is a significant concern. Anyone who feels it would be unsafe for them to be in CoE buildings at this time must be allowed to work in a location off-site where they do feel safe.

This move to off-campus research may slow down or temporarily halt my research program. What should I do first to help my students and post docs?

This is a stressful time for everyone, and the situation continues to evolve. Our students and post docs may feel particularly ill at ease with the uncertain state of their research programs.

We encourage doctoral students, post docs, and faculty advisors to communicate openly about their expectations and to come to mutual agreement about how research projects will be conducted moving forward as they proceed off campus. It is expected that faculty will work with their students and post docs to accommodate their individual situations.

My research is very important to my group, my sponsors, humanity, and especially to me. Given its critical nature, can I quietly continue to perform experimental work in my lab?

No! CoE will only allow minimal access to laboratories so that activities can be performed that preserve critical experiments and equipment and maintain safety during the ramp-down. Lab groups should be ramping down ongoing experiments as expeditiously as possible to meet the Friday 5 pm deadline.

How long will the ramp-down be? When will we know if we can come back to the lab?

Good questions. The safety of our students, post-docs, staff, and faculty are our primary concern. We will be working closely with UM leadership to monitor the situation with COVID-19, and we will message the research community as we learn more about the evolving situation.

Thanks to all of you for your cooperation and hard work during these challenging times!


Steve C.