MIT enters Phase 3 of research ramp-up

Research not requiring in-person work should remain remote

MIT transitioned to Phase 3 of the research ramp-up (RR3) for laboratory-based research Oct. 14,  Maria Zuber, vice president for research, and Tyler Jacks, chair of the Research Ramp-Up Lightning Committee, wrote in an email to the MIT community Oct. 13.

RR3 removes the limit on the number of hours laboratory research personnel may work on campus, Zuber and Jacks wrote. However, they emphasize that all other restrictions from Phase 2 relating to COVID-19 safety procedures will continue to be enforced, including social distancing by six feet in static work conditions and maintaining a density of 125 square feet per person. As a result, the RR3 guidelines recommend utilizing work shifts “to prevent overcrowding.”

In particular, the guidelines state that principal investigators (PIs) and Core Facilities leaders should work together to “operate a scheduling system and maintain a record of weekly work schedules.” Those who do not utilize work shifts are required to “justify their plans” to the Department Monitoring and Compliance Committee (DMC).

The guidelines also state that the DMC committees must report compliance violations weekly to the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Although many restrictions have been lifted, the guidelines recommend that research not requiring in-person work should remain remote.

The guidelines also recognize that “the latest guidance from MIT” allows outdoor on-campus gatherings for users of Covid Pass “up-to-date with the required testing and attestation, provided that proper physical distancing and face covering practices are observed.”

No changes will be made to the existing guidelines for non-laboratory research created by the Thunder Committee, Zuber and Jacks wrote. Office space remains limited to 50% occupancy, and at least six feet of separation must be maintained in static work conditions.

Other continuing restrictions include the use of face coverings except when eating alone and when alone in a closed office. Because eating must be done alone, the guidelines recommend sign-up sheets for PI-controlled spaces, including public offices for scheduling meals. In addition, workers are asked to frequently wash hands and sanitize workspaces. COVID-19 testing must also remain up to date.