Critical Preservation of Research (CPR) in response to COVID-19 Pandemic - Urgent Action Required

Dear Researchers at Rutgers–New Brunswick,

Given the continuing risks posed by the steady escalation and potential surge of the pandemic in New Jersey and our proximity to the epicenter, we now conclude that we must further intensify research restrictions at Rutgers-New Brunswick for the health and wellbeing of those within the Rutgers community. As a follow-up to the March 25, 2020, memo (PDF) from Dr. David Kimball, Senior Vice President, Research & Economic Development, the goal of this directive is to outline the transition to a Critical Preservation of Research status at Rutgers–New Brunswick. This directive is subject to change based on State or Federal directives, or other health safety needs.

By this memo, we are escalating our status to Critical Preservation of Research (CPR), whereby we require suspension of all on-premises lab or in-person field research by Friday, April 10, with the exception of on-site research approved as “critical” within the classification below. Note that remotely conducted research operations are not affected by this restriction.

Critical On-Site Research Includes:
  • COVID-19 on-site research and operations that have the potential to mitigate the pandemic’s spread, including, but not limited to, advanced testing; labs, shops or makerspaces related to fabrication of protective equipment;
  • Certain biomedical/clinical research that, if paused, would harm its research participants;
  • On-site procedures to (a) sustain at threshold levels non-commercially available and irreplaceable cell lines, genetic and biological resources; (b) maintain critical research infrastructure and equipment, whether in stand-by mode or operational, for example: animal care, laboratory equipment that requires gas or cryogenic monitoring, etc.;
  • On-site research activities that, if discontinued, would result in significant degradation of safety, or hamper national security.

Note: The above restriction does not apply to faculty travel and on-site remote instruction for educational purposes, or for non-research related essential university functions that are currently allowed/regulated through other prior institutional directives.

All PIs must complete a Critical Preservation of Research Form by 5pm on Saturday, April 4 to verify their intent to suspend on-site laboratory/in-person field research (A), or request critical on-site research classification (B). Please carefully review the details of these options below. 

A. Suspension of Lab Research

  • We expect that the majority of lab researchers at Rutgers–New Brunswick will respond to CPR and suspend their on-site laboratory research following this memo. Such faculty must acknowledge their intent to suspend, by Friday, April 10, their lab research and effect safe closure of their laboratories using these guidelines provided by REHS. They should do so in accordance with the Research Continuity Plans formulated in response to Dr. David Kimball’s communication (PDF) of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. They are encouraged to pursue research and research-related activities remotely and in accordance with social distancing and related COVID-19 safety precautions, until further notification.
  • Research Deans (or Center Directors) and department chairs will review form submissions and indicate compliance of the lab closure/suspension.

B. Application for Exception — Critical On-Site Research Classification Request

  • Faculty researchers (or their appointed proxies) whose on-site research is critical based on the classifications listed above may apply for an exception to the suspension of all on-premise lab or in-person field research. This may be done by submitting a “Critical On-Site Research Classification Request” through the Critical Preservation of Research Form.
  • Only on-site research that receives a critical research classification may continue onsite. To enable strict enforcement of university and CDC guidance on healthcare, on-site researchers and personnel must strictly adhere to social distancing and the research laboratories must assure that there is minimal overlap among essential personnel.
  • The Review Process for Critical On-Site Research Classification Requests is as follows:
    • Research Deans (or Center Directors) will conduct a first review and prioritization of all completed “Critical On-Site Research Classification Request” submissions received by the April 4, 5pm deadline.
    • Recommendations will then be forwarded by Research Deans/Center Directors to the Office of the Provost at Rutgers–New Brunswick for approval, and subject to additional review by the Senior Vice President of Research. The Provost may also consider a very limited number of truly exceptional requests for qualified suspension under extenuating circumstances made by research deans/center directors.
    • Final determinations will be communicated in writing by Monday, April 6. 

Any faculty researchers that do not apply for or receive a “critical on-site research classification” must shut down on-site research activities no later than Friday, April 10 at 5 pm.

We appreciate the immense hardship that this suspension will cause to your research operations and our scientific enterprise, but safeguarding the health of our research community is the foremost priority behind this directive. We will reassess our status by April 30 and will notify you of any possible changes to the guidelines.

 

Prabhas V. Moghe
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research & Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor