Advance Notice from VP of Research Regarding Carrying out In-person Research After COVID-19 Restrictions are Relaxed

Dear Colleagues,

As public health measures continue to improve and we move towards reopening the State and the UW, researchers should be looking ahead to the time when capacity constraints and other restrictions are relaxed.  While timing is still uncertain, changes to physical distancing protocols and capacity restrictions could change as soon as June 30, 2021, depending on public health factors and decisions that will be made by the Governor’s Office, the State Department of Health and the State Labor and Industries. The UW cannot change guidelines until we are allowed to do so by the State, and until we have developed the internal procedures to ensure compliance with those guidelines.

Our most important priority is the health and safety of researchers. The University has had an amazing track record for health and safety of researchers during the past 15 months, and we applaud all of you who have set up careful safety and operational protocols and followed them diligently.

When state and University restrictions are relaxed, you will need to revise your COVID-19 Return to In-person Research Plans according to the new guidelines and have the new plan approved as per the original process.  Here are some steps you can take to get prepared:

  • If you have not yet done so, get vaccinated and encourage others in your research group to do so if they are able.  The vaccines being administered are safe and effective, and you can be vaccinated at any provider at no cost.
  • Start thinking about how you will manage and monitor a safe and positive working environment based on the vaccination status of members of your research group.  It is likely that new state health and safety requirements will be different for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The central administration is working in partnership with EH&S on vaccine verification tools to implement new requirements appropriately.
  • As needed, start preparing members of your research group who are not currently working onsite for a return to in person work.  Even as the public health situation improves, public transportation, schools, and childcare systems remain constrained.  Currently, employees who can telework but would prefer to be on site may return anytime if it is safe and operationally feasible.  However, if an employee has been teleworking and is being asked to return prior to September 10, units must generally provide them with at least 30 days notice before they ask them to report to work in person.  Please work with your unit (Department, School, or College as appropriate) to follow their process for members of your research group who are not currently spending time onsite.

As soon as we have guidelines from the State and University implementation procedures are in place, EH&S will provide details and new forms as appropriate.  We appreciate your patience, and your continued great work on behalf of the University and the state.

Thank you,

Mary Lidstrom, Vice Provost for Research

Katia Harb, EH&S Senior Director