To: The Yale Research Community
From: Michael Crair, Vice Provost for Research
Subject: Updated COVID-19 Guidance in the Research Setting
Monday, January 10, 2022
I write with important updates to the health and safety protocols guiding our research work during the pandemic. While community spread in the research setting at Yale continues to be very low, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases on campus, in New Haven, and around the country and the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant prompt a need for additional precautions.
Upgraded PPE Requirement
Updated university guidance on masks requires the use of ASTM-or-higher quality masks while in the laboratory research setting. These masks offer additional protection beyond the previously required three-ply disposable surgical masks. They are currently available for distribution through YPPS (VPN required). Cloth masks alone are no longer considered appropriate levels of protection anywhere on campus, though they may still be worn as a second, additional layer of protection. We also continue to recommend face shields and/or other eye protection in the laboratory setting.
As described in Dr. Spangler’s campus-wide message on Friday, January 7, CDC guidance indicates that being “up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations” includes an additional dose of vaccine for individuals who are immunocompromised and a booster for those who are eligible.
Meetings, Gatherings, and Visitors
At this time, we advise that all meetings take place virtually. At a minimum, hosts should look to reduce the density of in-person meetings through physical distancing and limit attendees whenever possible. Until conditions improve, large in-person gatherings (such as seminars) are strongly discouraged in accordance with Yale’s modified gathering policy, as are visitors to campus under the modified visitor policy.
The overwhelming majority of COVID community transmission cases in the research setting are associated with removing masks during gatherings, typically related to meals or other social events. Food is therefore prohibited at in-person meetings, as masks are required in group settings. Removing masks during breaks to consume food should only be done when necessary and when physical distancing is possible. Please also be careful to clean equipment and surfaces (especially shared equipment) after use with alcohol wipes, which are readily available through YPPS (VPN required).
Human Subjects and Off-Campus Research
Until pandemic conditions improve, we strongly recommend either deferring research that requires in-person contact with study subjects that is not clinically related or conducting the research visits remotely.
For research conducted in a Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI) clinical research unit (HRU, CSRU, West Campus), please refer to YCCI guidance. Research conducted in a non-YCCI clinical research unit should follow the guidance of the operating clinical entity or that of Yale Medicine.
For additional information, including frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and human subjects research, please refer to the Yale Human Subjects Research Protection Program (HRPP) guidance (VPN required).
Individuals conducting off-campus research or field work are required to quarantine and/or test when returning to New Haven in alignment with Yale’s travel policy for students, faculty, and staff.
Yale students will need to quarantine and test on arrival per the instructions provided by Yale College, and remain in quarantine until test results come back and they are cleared for campus activities. Following this clearance, and assuming tests are negative, undergraduates are welcome to work in person on campus, as long as their supervisor approves. This information will be posted in a FAQ on the Yale College website soon.
Those with any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, should stay home and get tested, as well as consulting their healthcare provider or the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604.
Thank you for your tireless dedication to advancing research at Yale and your continued adherence to the protocols that allow us to do so safely.
Michael C. Crair, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Research