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Trainee considerations for returning to labs

May 19, 2020

Copied to: GSAS staff, registrars
In this message: Trainee considerations for returning to labs

Dear students and faculty of the Graduate School,

On May 13, messages from Provost Strobel and Dean Cooley announced that graduate students may return to campus for the first phase of resuming laboratory research if they are comfortable doing so, or may continue remote work.  They also announced requirements for principal investigators who intend to resume research on campus to submit a proposal including a detailed safety plan for approval by department chairs/center directors, cognizant deans and a representative of the provost’s office.  Faculty, staff, and trainees will be required to complete additional on-line safety training before returning and will be expected to conform to strict safety measures. More information about these safety requirements are described at this link.

In conjunction with the reactivation of research on campus, the Overall Research Continuity Committee charged a Subcommittee on Trainee Considerations to develop a policy that clarifies the options for trainees during the COVID-19 crisis. The Committee established a clear trainee policy, available at this link.

Under this policy, trainees who inform their supervisors that they do not wish to work on campus due to the pandemic will not be expected to report to work on campus. Supervisors must not ask about a trainee’s health status or for any other form of justification. In conversation with trainees, supervisors will develop a remote working plan for trainees.

Trainees who believe that a supervisor has violated these policies may bring a complaint in one of two ways. First, trainees who feel comfortable doing so may speak with a Director of Graduate Studies, Department Chair, Faculty Director, Dean’s Designee, or an officer in the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs. Second, trainees may make anonymous or identified reports through the University Hotline.  

Violations of this policy will be reviewed under Section III.N of the Faculty Handbook and may result in disciplinary action.

We ask supervisors to review the policy, and act accordingly. We appreciate everyone’s concern for the safety and well-being of our community during this time.


Lynn Cooley, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Michael Crair, Vice Provost for Research