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Update from Dean and Vice President for Research to staff

15 May 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Following on from the Provost's mail yesterday, I am writing in relation to guidance around the phased resumption of research activities that require a physical presence on campus.

Firstly, I am very aware of the disruption that has been caused to so much research because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I know that many of you are under huge pressure to get back on campus to begin mitigating the negative effects, and I want to thank you for your patience while we have worked to develop this guidance during a time of unprecedented challenge for all of us.

Over the last few weeks, we have been learning from the experience of allowing researchers back on campus to do Covid-19 research and from some pilot studies. A Return to Work Safely Protocol has been issued by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Health Services Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Based on all of this Trinity has developed these guidelines for coming back on campus for research activities. There are a number of key points that need to be made:

  1. It will not be possible to come back on campus for research purposes without there being a plan in place.
  2. That plan needs to be put in place at the School/TRI/Unit level rather than at the level of the individual PI or researcher.
  3. Full details of what is involved in developing a plan and the sign-off process can be found here.
  4. The work involved in planning is detailed and will take some time. The Covid-19 situation is complex and the safety and wellbeing of our community is paramount.
  5. We will be holding some workshops to share best practice and details of these will be posted here.
  6. As soon as the plan for a TRI/School/Unit is signed off, the prioritised access can commence.

The reality of our current situation is that when the protocols set out by Government are followed, and proper social distancing is maintained, the numbers that can be accommodated on campus are low, even when rotas are taken into account. For example, we may only be able to support 20% capacity or less in many areas. The prioritisation that will be done at School/TRI/Unit level will need to take this - and also the wider constraints on supports and services - into account.

This does mean that many will not yet get the chance to come back on campus.

It is crucially important, therefore, that anyone who can continue to work remotely does so, and that even those who have been prioritised to come back on campus leave as soon as they no longer require access to specific campus facilities. The resumption of research activities on campus must be done in a controlled and methodical fashion so as to ensure the safety of all involved.

Your patience and cooperation as we navigate this next phase is greatly appreciated. The Research FAQs continue to be updated on a regular basis, and research-related issues can still be logged via the online form.

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well during this time.

Kind regards,
Professor Linda Doyle
Dean and Vice President for Research
Professor of Engineering and the Arts