Research ramp up thank you

June 18, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The first week of our Phase 1 Research Ramp Up has been an overwhelming success! We are thrilled to have over 3,000 of our researchers back in their labs and research spaces working on in-person experiments that require campus facilities. Many in our community are now able to resume their data collection and continue developing innovative solutions to address the most daunting challenges facing the world.

We offer our profound gratitude to the many members of our community who helped make this possible. We’ve only experienced a few minor glitches this week, which is impressive for an undertaking this large and complex. And we will be able to use what we’ve learned and developed to inform decisions and plans for the continuing phases of returning our community to campus, and to address additional needs for those now working on campus.

This ramp up is truly an MIT team effort. The Research Ramp Up Lightning Committee is leading the charge with tremendous support from the Legal, Ethical, Equity Committee (LEE) and the Space Planning, Medical Response, Business Continuity, and Personal Protective Equipment working groups of the Covid-19 Planning Team IS&T has done a remarkable job creating the Covid Access System and Covid Pass. Our colleagues in EHS have partnered and worked tirelessly with our faculty and departments to provide guidance for safely working in this new environment. Our Facilities staff have implemented new cleaning protocols and installed new signage. Our Procurement team has obtained the needed face coverings, masks, PPE, and cleaning supplies. Our DLC administrative and support teams have processed and coordinated the necessary information to get the researchers that our PIs identified access to their buildings. And MIT Medical staff ramped up our Covid testing capabilities and monitoring processes. They have the capacity to finish testing by early next week everyone already on the Phase 1 access list, so please make the time to be tested if you haven’t already.

This phased ramp up is crucial to our success, and those who are not returning in Phase 1 are also playing a key role in this process. Many of our PIs who would prefer to be working on campus are anxiously awaiting further opening up so they can join the on-campus cohort. While we continue to work in an environment where any work that can be done at home should continue to be done at home, those now in on-campus labs have a responsibility to follow the requirements for maintaining a safe environment so that we can soon welcome back additional colleagues.

We are continuing to plan for the next phases, and are pleased that Chris Bourg, Director of MIT Libraries, has agreed to chair the Research Ramp Up “Thunder” Committee This committee will develop recommendations for the ramp up of on-campus research in the Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Sloan, and Architecture and Planning schools, as well as the Libraries system and MIT Museum. This committee will consider such issues as human subject research (on and off campus, the latter involving fieldwork); accessing and using tangible collections from libraries, archives, and museums; and analysis of restricted data sets that must be analyzed on campus. The committee will also consider the re-population of on-campus facilities and offices as the public health situation improves, taking into account restricted access to buildings.

We look forward to implementing the next phases and expanding the ramp up. Our community’s ability to continue to work as a team and adhere to the established protocols will be critical. We need to know that the group that is currently on campus will do their health attestations, get their required Covid tests, wear masks while on campus, maintain social distances, wash hands frequently, enter and exit buildings as instructed, and limit their time on campus to the amount of time that they have been designated to be there. We hope and expect that the next few weeks will demonstrate that we can truly work as a team as we prioritize the safety of the members of our community.

We are excited to work with all of you to tackle the challenges ahead as we continue to bring our research community back to campus.

Maria T. Zuber
Vice President for Research

Tyler Jacks
Chair of the Research Ramp Up Lightning Committee