Update on RBHS Phased Research Ramp-Up

Dear RBHS Faculty,

Needless to say, most, if not all, of you are looking forward to bringing your research back up on-site.

You may have questions about the phased Rutgers return-to-work plan. It is an exciting opportunity to begin recovery from the impact of the pandemic on research activities.

We look forward to working with you to ensure its success!

This note focuses strictly on faculty who have either completed the survey (or plan to) sent by the Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) for Research.  Separate clarification related to currently-on-hold clinical trials, as well as community-based research that does not involve inpatient activities or clinical trials, will be provided within the next 10 days.  The surveys you have completed (thank you for doing so) were evaluated by your unit director then sent to the deans of research (or equivalent) for ultimate approval then forwarded to Dr. David Kimball’s ORED (Office of Research and Economic Development). ORED will evaluate the plans for conformance with university guidance and initiate notification of members of the research community who can return to on-site work.  News and Updates on Research in Response to COVID-19 from ORED are posted at: https://ored.rutgers.edu/coronavirus

Important points to be aware of:

  1. If you are recommended to return to work in Phase 2 (i.e., 50% ramp-up), you should be informed via email by ORED within a week (some emails will be released by ORED as soon as this evening).
  2. The email notification from ORED will contain a code that links you to delivery via the telemedicine provider (Vault Health) of the RUCDR saliva test kit for SARS CoV-2. The kit and testing will be provided at no cost to you.
  3. We anticipate that the time from initiation of the telemedicine link to receiving tests results will be completed within one week, typically, five working days.
  4. If the test result is negative for virus, you will be invited to return to on-site work. If you test positive for the virus, you will not be allowed to return to work and Occupational Health will follow up with you to inform you when you may retake the test, and when you may return to work. 
  5. If you have not yet completed the survey, and wish to return to on-campus research in June, you must complete the survey and discuss your research plans with your unit director no later than Tuesday, June 16th by 5pm.
  6. We emphasize that undergraduate students must continue to work remotely. Graduate students in their first year (i.e., those who entered in September 2019) should not return during Phase 2. Graduate students who entered prior to September 2019 may return to work as approved in your Phase 2 plan. 
  7. All biomedical, clinical, or community-based research that can be carried out remotely needs to continue in that manner.
  8. Lab workers who have been approved previously to work on-site can continue to do so, and SARS CoV-2 testing will be provided for them as well.
  9. For everyone working on-site, wearing of face coverings and the practice of safe distancing are essential. Please emphasize this critical point to your lab members who are permitted to return to on-site work. We may be forced to revoke the privilege of on-site work from those not abiding by such essential safety measures.
  10. Should you have any safety concerns or concerns regarding research support services or building maintenance not being provided, please contact your unit director.
  11. You should be able to access Rutgers research core facilities and the ORED biomedical, translational RUBRIC core facilities (medicinal chemistry, bio-imaging, and pre-clinical histology).
  12. When and whether we begin the Phase 3 (i.e., 75%) ramp-up will be solely dependent on the success of this initial phase.

Thank you very much for working with your units and us on this important effort, and for your patience during the ramp-down that we know has impacted research across RBHS (and nationally).

Best wishes,

Kathleen Scotto, Vice Chancellor for Research and Research Training, RBHS

Bishr Omary, Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, RBHS