Continuity of Critical Research at Yale - FAQs

As of March 20, 2020, all non-critical research on campus must be suspended until further notice.  We ask that all faculty and lab directors take the request to ramp down research seriously and place the work of your groups on hold.20th. Thank you for your full cooperation!

The infrastructure needed to support critical research programs will be taxed to an extreme level and only essential work should draw upon those scarce resources. Both the Medical School and the FAS have provided guidance on what constitutes critical research. We ask that you consider these guidelines in as limited a scope as possible. 

When carrying out critical research, you must still encourage and model social distancing and good hygiene.  Absolutely require that if anyone in the group is sick that they do not come to work.  Establish a system by which you, and members of the lab, can check the status of each other.  

Adhering to these work restrictions now will support the long-term success of our labs and research groups as well as that of your own work.  For those of you who have already ramped down your on-campus research activities, your effort is greatly appreciated.  To all of our faculty, laboratory and research staff, postdocs, students, and others who support these operations, thank you for carefully following the guidelines found here. 

Preparing for Continuity of Critical Research

What on-campus functions are classified as critical and allowed to continue?
  • Completing lab shutdown procedures. If you still need to complete shutdown procedures, please do so immediately. You may find this ramp-down checklist helpful.
  • Conducting critical maintenance procedures that require regular attention to maintain laboratory viability. For example, cell, plant, or animal colony maintenance, maintaining shared computational equipment, and maintaining equipment that requires gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators.
  • Certain clinical research, including therapeutic clinical research studies; monitoring of the safety and efficacy of patients in ongoing clinical trials; testing of patient/research samples for ongoing clinical trials that cannot be paused; and other lab work that impacts the immediate safety and health of our patients and community.
  • With appropriate precautions and approvals, COVID-19 research that has the potential to mitigate the spread or impact of the pandemic.
What assumptions should I make now and what timeframe should I plan for?
  • Only critical research will be allowed to proceed until further notice. Please see guidance from the Medical School and the FAS on what constitutes critical research.
  • Only laboratory members performing critical research functions will be allowed to work in campus laboratories.
  • These disruptions may persist for weeks or months.
How did the University decide to curtail laboratory research?

The University reached this determination based on the advice received from public health experts and the guidance issued by federal, state and local health authorities. The University’s priority is the well-being of Yale students, faculty, staff and the broader community. COVID-19 spreads easily, and many individuals with the virus have no or mild symptoms, but can still transmit the disease. The city of New Haven has advised residents to leave their homes only to secure groceries, medical supplies, or other essential resources; the State of Connecticut and the U.S. Federal Government have declared states of emergency; and several countries in Europe and Asia are in lockdown. In light of this situation, many of our peer institutions have announced the suspension of non-critical research effective today. With this decision to curtail laboratory research, we affirm that Yale shares this commitment.

What immediate steps should I take now that I cannot continue my laboratory operations?
  • Complete the ramp-down checklist available from EHS.
  • Update your laboratory member contact lists with current emails and phone numbers. Share them electronically and in paper form with each laboratory member and with your lead administrator and EHS.
  • Update your contact list of important non-laboratory support staff, vendors, and suppliers. Circulate this list electronically and in paper form with each laboratory member and with your lead administrator.
  • Identify procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention (e.g. cell culture maintenance, animal studies). Consult with your department chair or school dean for guidance on what constitutes critical research that requires regular personnel attention.
    • If your laboratory has critical functions that must be continued under any circumstances, please immediately identify the key laboratory members, PPE, and equipment needed to perform these functions. Provide this information to your lead administrator.
  • Communicate the completion of your laboratory ramp-down to your EHS Safety Advisors, business offices, and other key administrative units.
Who can help me?

Your safety advisor can help you with:

  • Identifying those activities that may pose a hazard if unattended.
  • Safeguards to implement if high risk critical research work will continue.
  • Questions relating to the ramp-down checklist.
What kind of remote work is appropriate to do?

Remote work will differ by group, but may include data analysis, manuscript writing, grant writing, literature reviews, or planning future experiments.

Groups should conduct meetings via Zoom or other online means to reduce close contact.

The Yale ITS webpage maintains a COVID-19 IT support page ( with guidance for group meetings and remote access to Yale web resources.

What can I take out of my laboratory?

You should arrange with, and receive approval from, your PI or laboratory manager to take notebooks, data storage devices, software dongle keys, or laptops that help you work remotely.

Under no circumstances should researchers take materials other than laptops, data storage devices, or notebooks offsite (e.g., to their homes). All critical research activity must continue within the confines of an appropriate laboratory space to ensure research continuity.

Under no circumstances is it appropriate to remove animals from IACUC and YARC-approved housing or research spaces. You should contact YARC with any questions or concerns.

What must research laboratories do to prepare for the care of research animals?

Laboratories should ramp down animal research experiments. YARC will continue daily animal care in YARC facilities. If you have IACUC-approval to care for animals in your laboratory, please contact YARC to identify alternate care plans. YARC can also assist with regular animal maintenance, please contact them for additional guidance.

How will animal care proceed with restricted access?

If alternative housing areas are necessary, please contact

How should I prioritize my research activities?

What plans should I make for research operations that can continue unattended overnight or over a weekend, but would be unsafe or imprudent to continue unattended indefinitely?
  • Plan to ramp down all research than can be suspended by the end of the day on Friday, March 20, 2020.
  • If there are operations that are deemed critical and must continue, proper approvals must be sought to continue the operation.  If at all possible, discontinue or minimize the critical operations by combining operations or by running them only as needed.
  • Draft detailed procedures on shutting down your continuous operations.
  • Ask a researcher in another laboratory to act as a backup for shutting down the operation should your lab not be able to support the operation.
What plans should I make for long term experiments, such as experiments that start and stop over a period of weeks, months or years?
  • Work with your Safety Advisor to plan for management of your long-term experiments. You may need to involve YARC, core facilities, etc. in your planning.
  • At this time, do not start a new long-term experiment unless you have been approved to continue critical research. If you are performing critical research that has been approved to continue, confer with the internal and external service providers on which you will depend, and with your laboratory staff before initiating the experiment.
What if my question wasn’t answered here?

Contact your Safety Advisor, Lead Administrator, or the Office of Sponsored Programs for guidance. Yale’s Covid-19 information page also has additional guidance as does COVID-19 Information for Faculty and Researchers.

Reducing Risk of Transmission While Ramping Down Research

What should laboratories do as they ramp-down to reduce the risk of spreading illness?

Working groups should reduce close contact within the workplace by using the following measures where possible and provided they do not interfere with the continued operations of the university:

  • Maintain a ‘social working distance’ of 6 feet from others.
  • Move to virtual meetings whenever possible.
  • Establish flexible work schedules to reduce the number of people working near each other on a given day at a given time.
  • Ask staff to work from home, provided it does not significantly interfere with their job functions.  Work could include, but is not limited to, preparation of manuscripts, analysis of data, review of papers, reading of literature, planning for grant applications, etc.