New York state has permitted the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to move to Phase 4 reopening on Friday, June 26. The state’s Phase 4 plan includes guidance for higher education institutions and enables Cornell’s own staged approach to reactivating approved campus research facilities to continue. As with earlier phases, full campus reopening is excluded at this time. Unless approved to return to campus by their dean, department chair or supervisor, faculty and staff who are currently working remotely should continue to do so.
Cornell is approaching the restart of our research enterprise carefully and in stages. Before research can resume, buildings and facilities must be cleared for reopening; sufficient protective equipment must be available for personnel; and all labs, studios and other research/scholarly programs must submit research reactivation plans to be approved by the department chair or center director, the college dean and the vice provost for research. Research reactivation currently excludes activities in New York City, as different regions are currently in different phases of the New York state plan for reopening.
Under Phase 4, approved Ithaca and Geneva facilities may continue to expand critical on-campus activities, including access to Cornell University Libraries in support of research and scholarship. To ensure workplace health and safety as Cornell’s phased reactivation proceeds, employees must adhere to Working During COVID-19 guidance issued by the Division of Human Resources, and those approved to work or conduct research on the Ithaca campus or related facilities must complete the Daily Check prior to their arrival each day. In addition, as the university continues with reactivation, campus buildings must not exceed 50% capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What research is allowed to be conducted on campus?
Cornell's phased restart of research and related activities now includes all research. However, campus is not able to fully reopen at this time. As such, all faculty and staff who are currently working remotely should continue to do so. Only those employees who have previously been scheduled to come to campus for work should follow through with their plans.
Additionally, buildings and facilities must be cleared for reopening, sufficient protective equipment must be available for personnel; and all labs, studios and other research/scholarly programs must submit research reactivation plans to be approved by the department chair or center director, the college dean and the vice provost for research. Cornell's research reactivation currently excludes activities in New York City, as different regions are currently in different phases of the New York state plan for reopening.
Can research activities in the New York City area be resumed?
Because the pandemic has impacted different regions of the state to varying degrees, the current stage of research reactivation excludes activities in New York City.
How do I submit a proposal to reactivate on-campus research?
Individual PIs must develop plans that meet the university’s research reactivation guidelines. Consult the Research and Operations Reactivation Committee final report for guidelines, a proposal template and details about the review process.
What are the occupancy levels that need to be maintained in research facilities? How will this be managed?
As the university continues with reactivation, campus buildings must not exceed 50% capacity. Policies, signage and other administrative controls will be used to maintain physical distancing requirements in buildings. Faculty must consult with facility managers to ensure that the combined occupancy contained in each facility’s reactivation plans does not exceed total occupancy guidelines for each wing, floor or building.
Reactivation plans should align with Cornell’s guiding principles for COVID-19, follow the hierarchy of controls and include workplace interventions to address occupancy density, use of cloth face coverings and masks, controls to ensure physical distancing, sanitization, personal hygiene and education and awareness. Units with shared space must work across units to develop a mutually agreeable plan for shared usage of space. These plans and controls must be completed and approved prior to employees and researchers returning.
Consult the Research and Operations Reactivation Committee final report and the Working During COVID-19 Guide for Employees for additional guidelines.
What standards are Cornell following for research reactivation?
Reactivation will be gradual, conducted in stages and with contingencies in place should a pause in reactivation become necessary. Reactivation will adhere to the following standards:
- The health and safety of faculty, staff and students are our top priorities. New York state and local guidelines for health and safety will be met or exceeded.
- No one will be compelled to return to campus to do work that can be accomplished remotely.
- The process for reactivating research will be transparent, fair and equitable.
- The importance of preserving Cornell’s research capacity and contributing to the economic well-being of our region, our nation and the world will be an important factor in our decision-making.
- Reactivating research will occur in stages that will be consistent with New York state and local government requirements.
- Although the initial stage of research reactivation focuses narrowly on scientific laboratory work, we realize the critical importance of creative and artistic practice, and its on-campus reactivation will be an important component of the next stage of overall campus reactivation.
I work in a lab that has received approval to reactivate, however I have safety concerns about working on campus at this time. How do I report my concerns?
Individuals who feel that they are being required to return to work on campus under unsafe conditions can report their concerns through the following mechanisms:
- If you observe non-compliance of work rules, contact your supervisor.
- Individuals who believe they are being coerced to work on campus should speak to their supervisor, manager or Graduate School or HR representative.
- For safety issues, contact Environmental Health and Safety.
- Such situations can also be reported to the Ethics Point Hotline.
Consult the Working During COVID-19 Guide for Employees for guidance on remote work, alternating schedules, temporary job redesign, staggered reporting/departing and special considerations available for those with medical or personal concerns.
Are there restrictions on travel to research facilities and field sites?
All members of the Cornell community are expected to follow all travel guidelines that may be in place as communicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York state, the Tompkins County Health Department, or the U.S. Department of State.
In addition, under Cornell's initial research reactivation plan, only those faculty, staff and students who are already in Ithaca and Geneva (or in the direct vicinity of their field research) will be able to return to their labs. Individuals who would need to return from other geographic locations will need to self-quarantine before they may return to Cornell facilities. The plan contains additional guidance on travel to field sites.
All faculty, staff and students who have been approved to resume on-campus work or research through the university’s reactivation process are required to complete the Daily Check each day before arriving on campus or accessing Cornell facilities. If you have questions about whether you have been cleared to return, please contact your department chair, supervisor or human resources representative.
What resources are available to researchers?
Research continuity guidance for laboratories and research facilities, grant-related guidance, pandemic preparedness communications from the Center for Animal Resources and Education to PIs and additional employee guidance is available on the Cornell Research website.
What guidance is available from federal agencies for researchers?
COGR, NASA, NIH, NSF, USAID and other federal agencies have provided guidance to assist researchers. A list can be found on the Cornell Research.
What guidance is available for graduate research students?
The Graduate School website had additional resources and guidance for graduate students.