Re-issuing Phase II Expansion of On-campus Research with Updated Opening Schedule

Simon Atkinson Vice Chancellor for Research
Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 12:01 p.m.
Deans Directors and Department Chairs

Sent on behalf of Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research, and Mike Rounds, Vice Provost for Operations


Last Friday you received the message below outlining plans for restoring research activity on our campuses. We are accelerating the original timeline for opening research buildings. The new timeline is highlighted below. In addition, the Provost has asked us to emphasize key points that will support a successful return to full research activity:

  • KU leadership is asking for cooperation from you and your research teams in adhering to the directives outlined in the message below. By following these protocols, we will all help protect ourselves and our colleagues.
  • All occupants must wear a face covering at all times when in common areas of the building, or if there are others present in the laboratory.
  • All administrative and other work that can be done remotely must not be conducted in the building.
  • No visitors are allowed in buildings unless approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research.
  • Everyone entering a building is responsible for stopping and reviewing the posted self-health assessment protocols each time before entering.
  • All employees must follow building safety protocols.
  • Protocols will be updated as the situation changes; follow the up-to-date instructions provided in each building and by campus leadership.

Please share this message with your teams, as appropriate.



On May 1, the Chancellor and Provost announced a phased plan for returning to a physical presence on our campuses beginning with an expansion of essential research areas. KU Operations has developed the protocols and guidelines below to support the safe expansion of on-campus research. The primary goal of KU’s return to campus is to do so as safely as possible while allowing, in this instance, increased research activity.

Operations staff has worked — and will continue to work — to make the campus environment as safe as possible for the return. It is everyone’s responsibility as members of the KU research community to adhere to the directives as outlined below. Ultimately, we jeopardize our own health, the health of our colleagues, our research, and the ability of the University to restore on-campus research activity if we do not follow designated protocols. By following physical distancing and other protocols we all help ensure our planned expansion of on-campus research progresses without setbacks, and our research can continue uninterrupted.

Occupancy Rules

  • ANY and ALL administrative and other work that can be done remotely must not be conducted in the building.
  • NO VISITORS are allowed in buildings unless approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research.
  • Those who are approved to be in buildings must move throughout building as follows:
    • All occupants must wear a face covering at all times when in common areas of the building or if there are others present in the laboratory.
    • Move quickly and efficiently through the building and observe all distancing guidelines while passing in hallways.
    • Common social areas (e.g., break rooms, seating) will be closed.
    • Follow marked traffic flow when using stairwells, which will be designated as either up or down.
    • Only one person is allowed on an elevator at a time. Observe distancing guidelines while waiting for elevators.
  • Each Principle Investigator will establish specific health and safety procedures as an addendum to their lab Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and submit them to either their department chair or center director as appropriate.  A copy of the safety addendum will be provided to the Office of Research. The addendum will highlight the plan to distance appropriately while conducting research and address any special considerations or requirements. The procedures must be consistent with continued observance of other regular laboratory safety protocols, as established and reviewed by Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). Procedures to maintain social distancing, for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize transmission of COVID-19, and for cleaning and decontamination must be included in the plan. Transition from lab-specific PPE (which normal lab safety protocols specify is not worn outside the lab) to required campus PPE should occur before leaving the lab. Contact EHS for guidance if there is any uncertainty as to what is required.

General Building Safety Protocols

Protocols will evolve over time and will ultimately reflect specific building nuances. Make sure your research teams are aware of current protocols for their buildings.

  • To repeat, ALL occupants must wear a mask or other face covering at all times when in common areas of the building or laboratories with multiple occupants.
  • Occupants must use designated entrances, which will be limited to one (or two, as appropriate) locations. Those entrances will be marked and electronically monitored when possible to ensure only appropriate people are in the building.
  • At the current time we will not take the temperature of people entering buildings. We strongly encourage everyone to monitor and log their temperature at home on a daily basis. Building occupants are on their honor and it is their duty to stop and review the posted self-health assessment protocols each time before entering the building. If they are free of symptoms that would indicate a health risk to others based on these protocols, they may enter the building. If they are not cleared according to the criteria in the protocols, they should:
    • Return home and consult their personal physician and their KU supervisor. They must stay at home for seven days or until they get clearance from their physician.
    • If they do not consult a physician, they must stay home for at least seven days. While at home they should confirm whether they have a fever. They must be fever-free for 72 hours before they can come back to their lab, even if they are at home longer than seven days.
  • Once in the building, all occupants must follow the posted information based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established COVID-19 public health guidelines. The information includes reminders on physical distancing, handwashing and the use of face coverings.

Building Cleaning Protocols

  • All occupants must be out of the building between 10 pm and 7 am to allow for thorough cleaning by the Custodial team.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be at each authorized building entrance, as well as one per main corridor. Additional hand sanitizing stations may be added as supplies become available.
  • We will provide a disinfecting kit for each lab. Coordinate resupply of the kit through the building manager.
  • A custodian will clean high-touch areas throughout the day.
  • Trash cans will be placed outside restrooms where possible, so after washing their hands individuals can use a paper towel to open the door and dispose of it in the trash can.
  • In the event of a confirmed or suspected positive case of COVID-19, the Custodial team will deep clean the appropriate lab, along with other spaces as needed.

Protocol for an Employee with Confirmed COVID-19

  • All members of the employee’s lab will self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • In partnership with the Douglas County Health Department, KU will support contact tracing efforts to determine if other building occupants should also self-quarantine.
  • Employees who test positive will be allowed back to work only after providing documentation of clearance from their personal physician.

Accountability Protocols

  • Everyone must follow building safety protocols.
  • Any employee who is identified by the building manager or a fellow employee for not following safety rules will receive a written notice from the appropriate University leader of their responsibility to abide by safety rules.
  • Upon a second notification to the same employee, access to the building will be revoked until cleared to return by the Provost.
  • A third violation by the same employee will be subject to progressive discipline per KU policy.

Initial Sequence of Building Openings


Occupational Level


Multidisciplinary Research Building (MRB)

Proof of restart concept – four labs as designated

May 11

MRB; Nichols

Expanded opening as designated

May 15

Life Sciences Research Laboratory (LRSL); Wakarusa Research Facilities; Engineering Learned, LEEP 2 and M2 SEC;

Expanded opening as designated

May 20


Integrated Science Building (ISB); Earth, Energy & Environment Center (EEEC); Shankel Structural Biology Center (SBC); Higuchi Hall; Smissman; Simons

Expanded opening as designated

May 26

Haworth/ Malott/ Biosciences Research Laboratories; Dole HDC; Fraser (DNA Lab)

Expanded opening as designated

May 29

Additional buildings/labs will be scheduled to open as appropriate in coordination with the Office of Research and the Office of the Provost. Employees must not return to work in buildings until they are approved for opening by campus administration and they have been notified by their supervisors. We appreciate your patience and that of your teams as we work to protect our campus population and facilitate a safe return.

Operations will Provide Support

Operations staff, including Facilities Services and Custodial teams, will work with you to make your areas as safe as possible. For example, Facilities Services can help rearrange spaces, when needed, to support distancing guidelines. Please submit a request for assistance. If you have general questions or concerns, please contact us at

Best regards,

Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research

Mike Rounds
Vice Provost for Operations