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Research Ramp Down Plan

This plan does not apply to the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). GTRI personnel should follow current guidance from your leadership.

Dear Colleagues,

Georgia Tech needs to accelerate its response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.  Protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our community is of paramount importance.  Accordingly, all on-campus research laboratories will be restricted to only essential activities by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, where possible. Access to core facilities will be impacted.

It is our foremost desire that you stay safe. Wash your hands frequently and practice extreme social distancing. Recognize that this extreme social distancing not only applies to when your students and staff are in the laboratory, but anywhere on campus and when in transit to and from campus.  

Similarly to our peer institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Johns Hopkins, we are ramping down all on-campus research laboratory activities. Very limited access to laboratories will be maintained so that critical activities, such as maintaining living organisms, unique reagents, and essential equipment and materials, can continue. Laboratory activities in support of COVID-19 response efforts will also continue.

All faculty members should work with their laboratory personnel (research faculty, students, postdocs, and staff) to ramp down operations as soon as practical. Many of you may have already started to ramp down your laboratories. Our goal is for the ramp-down to be complete by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. You should plan for a remote-work research operation that could last for an indefinite period and could possibly be longer than two weeks.

If you cannot ramp down by this time (other than to maintain critical activities as described above) and need an extension, please inform your unit head (e.g., school chair, laboratory director, etc.) and provide an estimated deadline for ramp-down activities. Please also ensure that your unit’s continuity plan coordinator has a list of all designated essential personnel. If your research is conducted in a building distinct from the unit that employs you, please ensure that the continuity plan manager of the organization that manages that building also has a list of your essential personnel.

Principal Investigators (PIs) should immediately identify essential research experiments that are at a critical phase, meaning that abandoning them would cause a major or irreversible loss in project momentum (e.g., work involving critical cell lines and animals). This high-priority work should be a limited set of the current laboratory bench-based experimentation. In instances where core facilities are required to complete the experiment, the PIs should discuss the need and timeline with the core facility manager as soon as possible.

Essential work in labs should be staggered to minimize the number of laboratory personnel who are present at any one time, while making sure that at least one person is in earshot for safety.

Please do not make any immediate changes to the support of your staff, students, and postdocs. Faculty continue to be responsible for assigning and overseeing the work performed remotely by their students, postdocs, and staff. The chain of essential functions throughout the Institute will be in place throughout this time to enable faculty to submit grants, reports, etc., but please be patient as delays can be expected.

Please continue charging to grants for work performed, recognizing that sponsors will be fully aware of the challenges we are all facing. Our research administration offices are fully prepared for remote support. We also have been working with research sponsors as part of our business continuity activities to ensure that we continue to operate in a compliant and appropriate manner.

We understand that these steps will be disruptive to the research and scholarly activities of you, your students, and your research team, and the Institute will work to support your efforts. We encourage you and your research groups to take this time to focus on the activities that can be completed remotely, such as writing papers and grant proposals and completing data analysis. Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 website (health.gatech.edu/coronavirus) includes resources for telecommuting and remote work. Please stay in regular contact with your students and research team to the highest possible level of connectivity and continuity.

We realize that there are many questions and issues that will arise. We will post any operational updates to the research continuity page located at research.gatech.edu/coronavirus-response.

The Georgia Tech administration is fully aware of the difficulties this minimal on-campus activity will pose and will work closely with the appropriate evaluator bodies within your unit to minimize the impact on your professional advancement and the advancement of your students and staff. Faculty should be mindful of the needs of students approaching critical time points in their studies (e.g., Ph.D. defenses). Online meeting tools should be utilized rather than in-person meetings unless absolutely essential. Avoid all in-person activities (including dissertation defenses) unless absolutely necessary. Also, be mindful of your students’ personal and family situations, which also may be disrupted.

Georgia Tech prides itself on its can-do attitude, teamwork, and collegiality. These attributes will serve us well in the coming weeks, so thank you in advance for your efforts to keep our community safe. If you have any questions, please contact your dean or unit chair.

Research Continuity Frequently Asked Questions

Sincerely,

Chaouki T. Abdallah
Executive Vice President for Research