To: Participants in Research & Library Operating Plans (RLOPs)
From: Michael F. Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement
Subject: COVID-19 High Risk Operational Posture: Changes for Research & Library Operating Plans
Date: February 7, 2021
Cc: Campus Leadership Council, Provost, Deans, Directors, Department Chairs and Heads, Research Council, Research & Libraries Working Group, Research & Engagement Directors

Dear Colleagues,
I write to provide information on the impact of the increased COVID-19 Risk Level on campus, announced and effective February 7, 2021

All personnel including undergraduate students and student employees, with in-person responsibilities on campus must continue to follow COVID-19 testing protocols, safety measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, and the COVID-19 daily checklist. These, along with additional measures are part of the Research & Library Operating Plan (RLOP), which is required for all personnel including undergraduate student employees and undergraduate students registered for in-person independent study or honors thesis courses.  

Faculty Leads should review current RLOPs with particular attention to COVID-19 safety and how much interaction students have with faculty and staff who may be at higher risk, e.g. due to age, health condition, etc. All RLOP participants should be reminded of these plans along with any necessary revisions.
Undergraduate students should continue only in-person responsibilities that are essential to research; during the High Risk period these:
  1. Would constitute a safety hazard if discontinued,
  2. Would result in the loss of significant existing or in-process data if discontinued,
  3. Are required to maintain irreplaceable samples, reagents, materials, animal populations, plant cells, tissue cultures, bacteria or other living organisms, instrumentation, or other infrastructure,
  4. Could potentially harm a human subject if discontinued,
  5. Are focused on research to address COVID-19 mitigation on campus, e.g. COVID-19 testing.
Undergraduate students should not participate in these if there are others listed on the RLOP who can carry them out. All other activities should be done remotely, rescheduled in favor of remote work, or suspended so that undergraduate students can self-sequester as described in the campus announcement.  

Also note that the self-sequestration for undergraduate students during the High Risk period requires a suspension of all in-person participation of undergraduate students as human subjects in research, even if the research is approved in an RLOP and approved by the IRB.

I am very grateful for your continued strict compliance with COVID-19 testing and safety protocols and RLOP measures, which will help greatly to ensure that we get to a lower risk level as soon as feasible, hopefully no longer than 14 days.  

Please contact with questions.

Stay Safe,


Michael F. Malone
Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement
University of Massachusetts Amherst
(413) 545-5270
Assistant: Christine Burnett,
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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