Guidance for Research Exemptions and Temporary Mandatory Employee Status

Campus belltower

We are beginning to get requests for critical research exemptions and temporary mandatory employees approved by upper administration.  In order to comply with the rules associated with these approvals, please read the information provided in the approval email carefully.  For anyone who did not receive an approval email (or hasn’t yet) with instructions, an example is pasted below.

We wanted to point out five key action items for Department Heads, Unit Managers, and Research Station Superintendents.

  1. We must track EVERYONE (employees and non-employees) who are on each site each day. You must record specific name, areas occupied with building name/number and room numbers (where applicable), times, and dates.  Department Heads, Unit Managers, and Research Station Superintendents will be responsible for collecting this information daily from those with research approvals and keeping records. The reason for the tracking is should a person with COVID-19 enter a building or research station it is important to determine who that person was in close contact with both spatially and temporally

1A. Research stations and Field Labs are encouraged to use the Google document created by John Garner to track this information, if that is not possible, an alternative tracking method can be used.

1B. We are looking into developing a tracking document for Department Heads, but for now please establish your own document and procedures.

  1. Remind employees using facilities that they are responsible for sanitizing touch points in personal and common areas. Follow the guidelines provided in the approval email.
  2. For every research exemption that was submitted that involves a graduate student, a form will be provided to determine and record that the graduate student voluntarily agreed to conduct the research at the designated location. A form from the University will be provided for this.
  3. Department Heads should compile and hold all requests (new research, appeals, etc) for research exemptions until the NCARS office requests the next round.
  4. Employees will receive a physical copy of a permit they can print and carry with them for travel to conduct approved essential activities. They will also be required to carry their University ID. They should only use the permit provided by NC State. Additional guidance will be forthcoming.

Example email follows from VC Vouk:

Thank you for submitting your request for a research exception.  Upon review, the University has approved your exception request labeled XXXX however, the Research Exception Committee will continue to monitor and potentially make changes to approved requests.

Since the virus is becoming more widespread, including spreading in the community, no one can guarantee that you and your staff will never get exposed to the virus or get sick from it, or that the university can maintain access to your facilities or research indefinitely. The conditions are rapidly evolving and change daily. The University reserves the right to further restrict your access to campus if necessary to protect campus health and safety. Further, based on government order or guidance, the University could reach a point where it can no longer accommodate research based on a granted exception.

While this request is approved you must continue to follow NC State’s updates and guidelines concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.  In addition, you must follow any steps or procedures you outlined in your request for minimizing your time on campus and in facilities, as well as practicing social distancing.

The Office of Research and Innovation is providing guidance on how to prepare for disruptions to normal research operations that will result from the precautions taken for COVID-19.  Social distancing and reduced facility access are two of the tactics taken to avoid widespread COVID-19 communal transmissions. When considering your research activities during the COVID-19 impacted time, use proper social distancing options when working with others, as well as appropriately sanitize the workspace.  High touch areas will be addressed with Housekeeping, but laboratory areas and equipment should be cleaned in accordance with manufacturer requirements. It is also important that supervisors schedule shifts to ensure that there is minimal interaction between individuals.

Your unit should develop plans for the continuity of operations for laboratory and research facilities. Please review these steps to help you through the planning process of your continuity plan. The Graduate School has also provided guidance for Graduate students and Postdoctoral students during this time.

Please remember to stay home when you are sick. You should have a back-up in place in case any members of your team who are asked to continue working on your critical research laboratory needs fall ill.

We expect you to follow expectations outlined in this letter effective immediately, not only for your own safety but for that of the entire NC State community.  If your research needs or conditions change, you must inform your Department Head, Associate Dean for Research and include as soon as possible.

Research is a vital part of the university’s land-grant mission. Thank you once again for all your hard work and flexibility during this time.


Laura Kroeger

Office of Research and Innovation