To: Members of the University Community
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Research Resumption
Date: May 5, 2020
 
On April 23, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued an extension of our state’s ‘stay at home’ order through May 30th, in line with public health recommendations from federal authorities, to continue the progress that we have witnessed in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. While ensuring the health and safety of our community is paramount, the impact of the widespread closures on our research enterprise has been significant. The centrality of research to the University of Chicago cannot be overstated and planning a safe return to research activities is a high priority.
 
To address this, the Office of the Provost has convened a faculty committee to provide guidance on principles for a phased reintroduction of on-campus research. The committee is working on the assumption that research resumption will occur in stages based on the overall status of the pandemic in Chicago and Illinois, guidance from State and City Public Health authorities, and prevailing conditions at the University. Please note that while the Governor’s order extends through May 30th, we encourage all researchers and other work in education and administration to continue remote activities until further notice whenever possible.
 
The guidance of the faculty committee will inform implementation planning by deans and detailed preparations by individual research groups, which we expect to begin by mid-May. Our work will proceed in close collaboration with the Medical Center to establish state-of-the-art safety protocols and logistical planning for safe resumption of research. Foremost is the need to ensure that we do whatever we can to reduce health risks to faculty, other academic appointees, students, and staff. This will include preparing best practices for personal protective equipment, coronavirus testing as appropriate, and detailed plans for social distancing within each research area, as well as plans for regular cleaning in accordance with public health guidelines.
 
The deans and other academic leaders will be in further communication with labs about these topics in the days and weeks ahead. I want to thank the University of Chicago research community for meeting these unprecedented challenges with generosity of spirit, and for continuing to pursue new knowledge and innovations in the face of this pandemic.
 
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