May 18, 2020

Dear Members of the UD Research Community,

This letter is directed to individuals who need physical access to UD or partner facilities and fieldwork sites to perform their scholarly research activities. Consistent with Gov. Carney’s orders, all other research work that can be performed remotely should continue remotely until further guidance is issued.

During the first half of June, the University of Delaware expects to begin reactivating campus research operations on a limited basis — with the safety and wellbeing of our community as our highest priority.

A plan for a safe, phased-in return to research on campus — including all UD owned and operated facilities, as well as any partner sites where our employees and students conduct their scholarly research — has been developed with input from a working group representing colleges, core facilities, graduate student government, student health services, communications, environmental health and safety, maintenance and operations, and custodial services. My thanks to this dedicated group and to the Campus Reopening and Fall Planning Task Force for their invaluable contributions.

Reactivating UD Research: Phase 1

Together, we have identified several phases for reactivating UD research operations, along with the external conditions driving them. Please see this webpage for a detailed overview, including required forms for administrative approval and mandatory safety training:

Research Reactivation Guidelines & Resources

Phase 1, which we are preparing to launch in June, will involve an estimated 10-15% of our research community. This phase allows for time-sensitive research, where further disruption would cause catastrophic data loss or delays, with examples being seasonal fieldwork and long-term longitudinal studies.

The following will have priority in Phase 1:

  • Graduate students scheduled to graduate in August 2020, and postdoctoral researchers with appointments ending on/before August 31, 2020, who require on-site access
  • Research of tenure-track (but not yet tenured) faculty
  • Sponsored projects with fixed, time-sensitive deliverables or with no ability to charge salaries/stipends for no work
  • Core facilities that serve the broader UD research community

Principal investigators who believe they (or their graduate students/postdocs) qualify for Phase 1 may submit their Request to Return to Campus forms starting May 18. Forms will be reviewed by the PI’s department chair and dean, the provost and myself.

There is no set timeline for opening additional phases. Decisions will be based on a variety of factors, including the status of the COVID-19 situation, state guidance and the success of previous phases. Additional communications will be issued in advance of each phase as it prepares to open.

Maintaining Health & Safety. The safety and wellness of our community is paramount. The resumption of research on campus is contingent on sufficient availability of testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. It also is contingent on the diligent practice of social distancing, face covering and hygiene protocols. To that end, researchers will be asked to complete additional safety training online before returning to campus.

Researchers also can expect these changes as work on campus gradually resumes:

  • A daily health questionnaire and on-site temperature checks
  • Cloth face masks as the norm
  • Highly controlled access to buildings/facilities and the traffic flow within them
  • Closure of common areas/shared spaces
  • An initial density of no more than two researchers per 1,000 square feet, potentially necessitating shift work at some facilities
  • Increased cleaning of bathrooms and high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, etc.

As we prepare for next steps, I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions at or at our next virtual town hall, on May 19, from 1-2 p.m.

We have a tremendous research community at UD that is growing even stronger in the face of COVID-19. Thanks very much for your ongoing commitment and collaboration.

Charles G. Riordan
Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation

University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE   •