Return to Research

The Research workgroup of the JHU 2020 Planning task force shared the following final report on June 12. Comments and questions can be shared via the JHU 2020 Planning feedback form.

This document represents of the final set of recommended guidelines for a gradual, phased reactivation of the full breadth of research activities at Johns Hopkins University— including laboratory-based, library-based, and human subjects research—in a manner that supports the safe return to campus of increased numbers of researchers and support staff.

“There is still significant work ahead to plan for academic and student life activities in the coming months, but it is rewarding to see a vital part of our enterprise resume.”

Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research

These guidelines are based on detailed recommendations and analysis from the 2020 Research Workgroup, led by Vice Provost for Research Denis Wirtz, and have been shaped throughout their development by significant input and review from research faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, undergraduate researchers, and school leadership.

A researcher works alone in the lab
Researchers return to the lab

Facilities across Johns Hopkins began a phased reopening in mid-June, but with new safety measures and rotating staff schedules, the lab space—and experience—has changed dramatically

COVID-19 cells
Researchers meet ‘the urgency of this moment’

Johns Hopkins launches an ambitious, wide-ranging research effort to tackle the many challenges presented by COVID-19, including projects designed to enhance our understanding of the virus, track and prevent its spread, and improve treatment

Phases of research resumption

Johns Hopkins University’s overall plan for resumption of on-campus activities is structured in phases. There are three main phases, which conceptually parallel those in the State of Maryland’s plan, the Roadmap to Recovery. This document was prepared in advance of the university’s move to Phase 1 of its plan.

Phase 0, Minimal DensityPhase 1, Low DensityPhase 2, Medium DensityPhase 3, Near 100% Density
Research activityCOVID-specific
research only
Increase research

Expanded scope of
research operations

Return to full
research operations
Primary work / labMinimal on-campus
presence for research
operations; still remote
when possible; approved
PI plan in place for
essential research
Minimal on-campus
presence for research
operations; still remote
when possible; approved
PI plan in place
Remote preferred for
those at higher risk;
approved PI plan in place
Telework still utilized
where possible; new
hygiene practices as
the norm
Building accessHighly limitedLimited, with possible
shift work; swipe access
Wider access; tracking
with apps
Open access
Occupancy of shared
NoNoYes, with appropriate
Density of lab
MinimalManaged through
approved PI plans;
1 person per 150 sf of
gross lab area
Managed through approved PI plans; capacity
limits will be revisited
Near full capacity
Group meetingsNoneFewer than 10 people with distancing, masking, and appropriate spaceConstraints on meeting
size and use of general
space align with university policy
Larger meetings;
normal limits on room
Hygiene – follow
CDC guidelines
Strict distancing,
required face covering,
minimal lab density,
frequent hand-washing
Strict distancing,
required face covering,
minimal lab density,
frequent hand washing
Required face covering
and strict distancing
Recommended face
covering; some potential
lessening of distancing
CleaningLab-specific as per
Phase 0 plans
New cleaning protocols in place; no shared
surfaces, such as desks,
keyboards, phones;
common areas closed
Cleaning protocols
remain; limited shared
surfaces; some common areas reopen with
distancing rules
Routine cleaning of labs
and common areas
Health monitoring /
Testing and contact
tracing of symptomatic
trainees and employees
Testing and contact
tracing of symptomatic
trainees and employees
Testing and contact
tracing of symptomatic
trainees and employees
Vaccine, effective therapeutics, or substantial
immunity amongst
UndergradsNoNoPossibly, subject to decision to resume on-campus instructionYes
Grad students / Postdoctoral fellowsOnly for COVID-related
Clinical / human subjectsOnly for COVID-related
Therapeutic trials /
interventional studies,
with potential for direct
benefit to study participants conducted in
Johns Hopkins-managed
facilities only
Phase 2A: Studies with
limited or no prospect of
direct benefit to study
participants and minimal
participant interaction
in terms of duration and
activity (e.g., biospecimen collection, limited
interaction clinical

Phase 2B: Studies with
limited or no prospect
of direct benefit to
study participants and
significant participant
interaction (e.g., potential aerosol generating
procedures or those
requiring close contact
for extended periods of
All other protocols
involving in-person
LibrariesSome digitizing of
materials; curbside
dropoff of books to be
returned; begin curbside
pickup of circulating
JHU library, archive, and
museum staff continue
to digitize needed materials for researchers;
curbside dropoff and
pick up of circulating
materials; in-person
access to non-circulating
collections for small #s
of trainees and faculty
Continued digitization
and in-person access for
JHU classroom instructors; as slots and staffing
are available, researchers and instructors from
the broader community
Non-JHU affiliates who
rely on JHU collections
for any other purpose;
use of the space in
research collections for
inperson classes and the
general public

Town hall on resuming on-campus research activities

May 20, 2020

This session focused on issues related to research and relevant to faculty and staff, specifically the phased resumption of on-campus research activities.

Frequently asked questions

Lab safety

How does the university learn if an employee or student working in a lab tests positive for COVID-19?

All students, faculty, and staff who are participating in on-campus activities should monitor themselves daily for any symptoms. Anyone who has symptoms associated with COVID-19 or who has concerns about exposure to COVID-19 is strongly encouraged to call the Johns Hopkins COVID Call Center, or JHCCC, at 833-546-7546 to be triaged to determine if they meet the criteria for testing. In the case of employees, their supervisor will be informed that the employee is “off-duty” until cleared. In the case of students, their school’s Student Affairs representative will be notified that the student is “off-duty.” The student’s name will be shared with the student’s consent.

The JHCCC will inform you of your test result if you are tested at a Johns Hopkins facility. If your test is negative, your supervisor or Student Affairs Representative will receive a message that you have been cleared. If you test positive, you will remain “off-duty” and there will be no additional communication to your supervisor or Student Affairs representative until you are cleared. You are encouraged but not required to share the information with your supervisor or Student Affairs representative.

How do I get cleared to go back to work or class after I recover from COVID-19?

JHU affiliates who test positive through the JHU testing process will be contacted by phone or email by the JHCCC or the Student Health Center. If you are an employee and tested at home, call the JHCCC at 833-546-7546 to be sure the university knows that you are off-duty due to COVID. If you are a student and tested at home, complete the Student Health and Wellness form to be sure the university knows that you have tested positive and will not be required to test for 90 days.

You are required to isolate for five days from the date of your positive test; the date of your positive test is considered Day 1. Your supervisor or school student affairs staff will be contacted to note that you are off-duty/away from class. During this time, you are not permitted to be on campus and should coordinate with your supervisor/instructors to determine if you should take sick leave or can continue some activities remotely. You will be automatically notified when you are cleared, and may return to campus on the sixth day if you are free of symptoms; a negative test is not required to return to campus.