Allowing on-campus research outside of laboratories

July 16, 2020

Dear Johns Hopkins Community:

Our research community’s careful planning and diligent commitment to safety procedures have allowed us to successfully resume on-campus laboratory research that could not be accomplished remotely. With that framework firmly in place, we are modifying our guidelines to allow researchers who do not work in a lab, such as humanists, social scientists, and computational researchers, to apply for approval to work on campus at certain times if it is necessary for their progress. Typically this will be in single offices, but it may be in other spaces that meet the stated density requirements.

University leaders appreciate the significant work our research community and all of our faculty, staff, students, and trainees are doing from remote locations under all kinds of circumstances. You are ensuring that our academic and scholarly mission continues while protecting your colleagues by keeping the density low on our campuses. This modification of the guidelines recognizes that some research activities do not need a lab but still cannot be done effectively without access to a campus workspace. This may include projects that require specific technology or high-powered computing, or access to specific research data, books, or other materials that cannot be taken off campus, among other needs. 

We are also taking this opportunity to clarify that researchers are allowed to use their individual offices in conjunction with already approved lab activities, for example to be nearby to supervise safety procedures or to best use their time between experiments. The original guidelines did not make this allowance clear.

Because the university continues to be in Phase 1 of its reopening plan, the resumption of on-campus research activities will still be limited to those activities that actually require a person to be on campus. Any and all research work that can be accomplished at home via telework should continue to be done at home, and people should be on campus only for the time periods necessary to accomplish required on-campus work.

Faculty and student researchers seeking to use nonlaboratory spaces will have to outline the rationale for being on campus and specific days and times in consultation with their department chairs. Permissible reasons are outlined in the updated Return to Research Guidelines.

Plans must be approved by divisional vice deans for research who will ensure density requirements continue to be met. Other safety procedures outlined in the Return to Campus Guidelines, such as required face coverings and physical distancing, will remain in effect.

We are grateful to all for your patience and understanding, and your valuable feedback, throughout the planning process. It is only with your help and adherence to good public health strategies that we can effectively continue our work while keeping our community’s health at the forefront.


Denis Wirtz
Vice Provost for Research