NU releases safety protocols for initial reopening of research labs, administrative offices

Charlie Wolfson, news staff

On Wednesday, Northeastern provided details on its summer campus reopening, starting with the phased return of a small number of faculty, staff and student researchers to labs and administrative offices “in the coming days.”

In an email to students, Chancellor Kenneth Henderson wrote that the first group of people to return to campus will be those who work in critical research labs and administrative staff who do work that is “difficult to perform effectively from off campus.” In the first phase of reopening, no building, lab or workplace will exceed 25 percent capacity.

He wrote that “for a period of time,” employees can opt out of returning to campus, without providing a clear time frame. 

“As we carefully engineer a safe return to campus, each step will be informed by the core principles President Aoun shared with us, including ‘maintaining the health and wellbeing of the Northeastern University community — and the world beyond our campuses,’” Henderson wrote.

According to a university webpage called “Reopening Northeastern,” Northeastern plans to complete “a phased return of faculty and staff to its campuses in the coming weeks with the intention of reopening classrooms and residence halls in the fall.” 

The webpage lists a number of required steps for faculty and staff who return to campus during this first phase. Entrances to campus facilities will be overseen by NUPD for the time being, and only those who have received approval from their senior vice president will be allowed access to workplaces. Additionally, Northeastern personnel must display their NUIDs on a lanyard at all times, and allowing people outside the university to access buildings is strictly prohibited. Faculty, staff and researchers also must check in on the SafeZone app upon arrival to campus, and they have to check out on the app when they leave. 

Masks are mandatory for faculty and staff when in the presence of others, and there’s a daily COVID-19 symptoms screening tool to be filled out online, according to the reopening webpage. 

The webpage also lists a number of new workplace safety protocols. The webpage recommends against holding group meetings and urges any necessary meetings to take place in open-air spaces. 

The facilities department will conduct new, regular disinfection of workstations, common rooms, doorknobs and restrooms, in addition to nightly cleaning. Elevators will be limited to two at a time, while restroom usage “should be limited to support six feet of healthy distancing between individuals.”

While the initial phase of reopening only applies to research labs and administrative offices, Henderson wrote that a detailed plan on faculty and students’ return to campus will be released “in the coming weeks.”