To: Faculty Participants in Research & Libraries Operating Plans
CC: Campus Leadership Council, Deans, Directors, and Department Heads & Chairs
Date: March 22, 2021
Subject: Research Plans for Summer 2021

Dear Colleagues,
We have received several responses to an earlier query indicating an interest in organizing in-person research activities this summer such as the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates, similar NIH programs, or other activities. The following guidelines are subject to change with respect to COVID-19 health and safety as the public health situation warrants but should let you begin planning for the proposed activities.
  1. During their summer experience, students are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct, including the Interim Pandemic Policy, and should review the campus Operational Postures.

  2. Students who are coming to the area must follow the campus travel policies in place at the time of arrival and during their summer experience. The current policies require testing and quarantine prior to in-person activities on campus.  It is expected that these requirements will be changing as the public health situation improves. 

  3. Visitors to campus who are not matriculated students at UMass must obtain a Non-Employee Non-Student (NENS) account to be entered on an RLOP, the Campus Health Hub, any necessary lab safety training, email, etc. NENS accounts can now be requested through Spire. NENS account holders may not be eligible for a UCard; access to buildings with restricted entry is via a building badge available through Physical Plant.

  4. If any of the participants are minors the program needs to comply with the policy for Protection of Minors on Campus | UMass Amherst.

  5. Students must follow the COVID-19 public health protocols that are in place during their summer experience. Currently, these include the daily COVID-19 Checklist, testing, masking, social distancing, handwashing, etc. It is also anticipated that students will form a small group or Social Bubble to mitigate COVID-19 risks. Facilitating a plan for this especially among members of the same lab group or cohort prior to the start of the program is strongly recommended.

  6. Students working in research labs, studies, farms, or field stations must be approved on a Research & Libraries Operating Plan. Faculty should note that students without previous work and training in the same research area experience must receive supervision from an experienced researcher (PDF). A program of training for cohorts of students may be necessary and should be approved by EH&S and in place at the start of the program.

  7. Activities that are not part of an approved RLOP such as RCR training, poster sessions, group meetings, etc. require a separate COVID-19 Safety Management Plan. Information and contacts for those plans can be found on the COVID-19 Response page maintained by Environmental Health & Safety. It is more likely that these can be conducted safely outdoors.

  8. It is strongly recommended that the summer plans for research include a contingency for conducting activities virtually for some periods should the campus Operational Posture require that.

  9. There will be some limited options for housing on campus this summer. Details on summer session housing will be updated on or about April 5, 2021.

  10. Because the public health situation is evolving, many of the COVID-19 Health and Safety measures may be adjusted over the next few months. Changes related to in-person research will be announced in regular communication from the Office of Research & Engagement.

Thank you and be well,
Research & Libraries Working Group (RLWG)
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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