COE Faculty Application for Research Re-activation FAQs

Started: June 6, 2020
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Back to Reopening Resources

Regarding Research Authorization

Q1. When can my group commence research on campus after I submit my online application form for research re-activation? On the application form, it says “you must receive authorization before you may enter your lab."

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Your application requires signatures from 1) your home department, 2) college facilities, and 3) the Dean office.  When you are notified by email that all signatures are recorded in the system and the last one should be from the Dean’s office, it is the official authorization that your application is approved (likely with some comments).  Your approved application is subsequently sent to the OVPR for records.

However, you and the personnel you authorized to enter your labs should have received a separate email after your online submission regarding a personnel questionnaire.  You and your personnel should complete the questionnaire prior to coming to campus.

These authorized personnel on an approved application will be forwarded to the OVPR (HR will manage other personnel) so that they will receive the daily reminder emails regarding DailyCheck.Cornell.Edu.  

  • Daily Check is mandated by NY State.  
  • If you are not receiving Daily Check email reminders, please contact your department Admin Director, and check your junk mailbox too.

Update: 8/12/2020

Beginning Monday, August 10, all students who are authorized to come to campus MUST complete steps 1-8 of the re-entry checklist in DailyCheck before being cleared to return to campus.

Student checklist example


Q2. Should I inform my department and my group after my application is officially approved?

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Yes, please do.  Please log in the online system, download a copy of your approved application with comments and any attachments. Share the approved application with your department (Admin Director and Director/Chair), as well as your research group.  Please go over any revisions explicitly with your research group.

Q3. When can research outside the 4 categories of Phase I Research Re-activation be allowed on campus?

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(updated on July 1) All research that can be conducted remotely must remain remote.  Beyond Phase I, all research that must be performed on campus is allowed except the ones that do not meet the University research reactivation guidelines.

As of July 1, 2020, the University has issued recommendations for reactivating human subjects research during New York State Phase 2 and Greater. 

Check the Tompkin’s County website to find out which Phase of Re-Opening Ithaca, part of the Southern Tier region of NYS, is officially in. 

Please consult your department whether you should officially inform the department about the research activities that are not in your approved online application but you are planning to conduct on campus.

Q5. The University guidelines state that small rooms with a size less than 500 sq. ft. should schedule single-occupancy work. I have a lab about 600 sq. ft.  How many people can I schedule in this lab space?

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It depends on the ventilation rate, layout of the space and the risk level of the research activity. With good ventilations, an open layout that does not impede air flow and low to medium risk activities, you can schedule 1-2 people in the same room.  For high-risk activities, 2 people should be present (physical buddies).   At all times, social distancing should be maintained except tasks that require close proximity and then appropriate PPEs should be used. Seek clarifications from EH&S if you have more questions on PPEs.

(updated on July 1) The following message was sent out to the entire Engineering research community on June 30, 2020.

  • Maximum number of personnel inside a building on campus during Phase 4 – applicable to all people including the research community

The per-square-foot density will govern the number of people in a space.  In addition to overall density, a minimum distance of 6 feet must be maintained whenever possible. The occupants are collectively responsible to communicate and schedule to ensure safe social distancing.

The general guidelines on occupancy density are,

  • in labs, for every 200 square feet, no more than 1 person should be present;
  • in other spaces, the density depends on the air exchange rate of the space,
  • Higher Air Exchange Rate (2 - 3 air changes per hour): 1 person/200 ft2, and those include Duffield, Kimball, Rhodes, Olin Hall New Offices, PSB, Weill 
  • Medium Air Exchange Rate Offices (<1 air change per hour): 1 person/350 ft2, and those include Upson, Gates, Olin Hall Old Offices, Snee, Carpenter Basement, Clark
  • Low Air Exchange Rate Offices (no forced air ventilation of fresh air): 1 person/500 ft2, and those include Phillips, Hollister, Grumman, Ward, Thurston, Bard, Carpenter.

Request and approval of any spaces other than the ones in the approved faculty research re-activation applications should be directed to the Department Chairs/Directors.  Please continue to follow the signages posted on campus.

Q6. My research group has 2 single-occupancy private offices ~100 sq. ft. for my research associates, 1 lab about 600 sq. ft.. Can I plan an occupancy of 4 researchers on campus at a time: 2 in the lab and 2 in the private offices?

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During Phase 1-3, the answer was “No, you should schedule up to 2 people”.  The occupancy estimate is based on the size of your research labs not the size of labs + offices under your control.

(updated on July 1) During Phase 4,  here are the updated COE guidelines.

  • Even when cleared to return, individuals who can work effectively while remote should continue to do so until future notice.  
  • There is no longer a cap on the percentage of the research group on campus.
  • The occupancy should be guided by the per-square-footage density shared in the June 30 message from the COE Dean’s office (see Q5 above).  
  • The occupancy schedules should be kept daily to facilitate contact tracing when needed.
  • Please always confirm with your department chair/director for additional guidelines.

Q7. Can I increase my lab occupancy to 50% of my research group size?  As of June 12, the University together with the Southern Tier region entered Phase III of re-opening according to NYS and the message from the Provost on June 11.

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Not yet!  Our top priority is safety during Research Re-activation.  The maximum allowed number of personnel remains the same during Phase 1-3: 2 or 1/3 of your research group (round down), the higher of the two.  

The COE will announce any change in occupancy in the future.  Decisions will be made based on evidence: behavior of personnel, safety measures, virus spread etc.

(updated on July 1) During Phase 4, the percentage cap of the COE research groups is lifted.  The practical occupancy is guided by the per-square-footage density as indicated in Q5 above.  However, as stated in Provost Kotlikoff’s message: Even when cleared to return individuals who can work effectively while remote should continue to do so until further notice.”  

Q8. How do I request access to additional spaces?

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  • Space under the submitter’s control: submit a new plan using the new system.

  • Space under another PI’s control: ask the PI in control of the space to add personnel to the approved plan; if space is not in an approved plan, the PI in control of the space should submit a new plan.

  • Space in a shared facility: follow instructions of the shared facility.

Regarding Personnel

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Q1. How do I know if my personnel have completed the questionnaire?

You should ask each of your personnel to complete the questionnaire before scheduling them to come to campus. You can also log in the new (CALS) system to check the status of each personnel questionnaire

Q2. What should I do if I need to authorize additional personnel to access my labs or my group members to access other labs on campus?

(updated on Aug 5)

  • All the research plans approved in the old (COE) system are now available in the new (CALS) system.  Use your netID to log in the new system, follow the instructions under “how to add personnel to an approved plan”. You are responsible for all personnel under your supervision to adhere to your revised research plans.
  • To authorize any UG researchers back on campus, please provide the same information for first-year graduate students for review to the department.  In addition, all UG researchers must be approved by the Dean’s office prior to arriving on campus.
  • For non-research personnel or faculty who have not yet submitted a plan to return to campus, please use the Reactivation application portal (available online as of July 21, 2020).

These authorized netIDs will be forwarded to the OVPR (HR will manage other personnel) so that they will receive the daily reminder emails regarding DailyCheck.Cornell.Edu.  

  • Daily Check is mandated by NY State.  
  • If you are not receiving Daily Check email reminders, please contact your department Admin Director, and check your junk mailbox too.

Q3. I have graduate students with health concerns seeking accommodations.  What should I do?

Check out the planning chart prepared by the Graduate School!  I would like to highlight that students with any concerns related to personal health should contact Student Disability Services directly, not the faculty or department.

The document posted on June 11, 2020 outlines processes to follow regarding how to address various scenarios for graduate students related to COVID-19 concerns vis-à-vis academic progress and engagement, including coursework, dissertation and thesis research, and assistantship responsibilities.

Regarding Health & Safety Protocols and Travel

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Q1. I have been healthy or feeling well and I took my body temperature 3 days ago.  Should I take my body temperature again today before going on campus?

Yes, you are required to take your body temperature every day/time before you go to campus.

Every researcher coming on campus (PIs included) must complete the required Employee Health Protection Procedure ( each and every time they come on campus, and follow up with your group to ensure continued compliance.

(update on June 22) The University has rolled out a website for the required daily health check-in.  If you are authorized to go to campus, you should receive a daily email to provide a daily health assessment using this website.  If you are not receiving daily reminders, you have NOT been authorized to be on campus!

Q2. I am planning to wear a N95 mask on campus since I need to perform a high risk task or a task with a few group members. We will be in close distance with each other during this task.  Is it ok?

You need to complete the voluntary use training and form (link below)

With regard to N95 masks, as is stated during the required EHS 2019 Return to Work Health and Safety Training for COVID- 19 course, N95 filters are an option for those who want to use them, but the requirement to complete the voluntary use training and form ( is still needed. Additionally, the N95 filters with an exhalation valve are NOT allowed on campus when used alone.

Q3. I will use N95 masks from time to time voluntarily on campus. Where can I locate the respirator voluntary use form?

You need to complete the EHS 2386 training course on Voluntary Use Respiratory Protection on CULearn, which can be accessed on the EHS respiratory protection page under Training Resources.

EHS 2386 - Respirator Voluntary Use Sign Off.  Completing this CULearn course shows acknowledgement of the Voluntary Use form for Respirators.  I believe completing this EHS course replaces the previous voluntary use form one has to fill out and submit to EHS.

Q4. I am confused: should I wear a facial covering at all times when on campus?  I saw some people in Duffield atrium without any facial covering.

Yes, everyone is required to wear a facial covering at all times inside a building on campus or outdoors when social distancing is difficult, unless in single occupancy rooms with closed doors; the exceptions are described on the EHS website. 

Earlier, the EHS guidelines were the same with these from CDC while Cornell Research Re-activation team explicitly requires facial covering at all times. As of June 12, 2020, the face covering requirements on the EHS website have been revised based on inputs from the Health team and the Research and Operation Reactivation Team.  Here is the EHS link.

Q5. Where can I find the EHS Daily Health Screening Assessment guidelines?

Go to the EHS@Cornell COVID-19 website, under Information for All Cornell Personnel, you can find both the mandatory safety training and the Daily Health Screening Assessment links.

EHS re-organized their files in the 2nd week of June.  The URL link I sent in the previous FAQ email is no longer valid.  It is possible that these files can be updated in the future.  Please familiarize yourself with the EHS/COVID-19 website.

Q6. I would like to print out some signages to be posted around my labs on campus.  Are they available from the University for me to download and print?

Yes!  The signage is now available on the University COVID resources page here:

The message from the University is "To help keep the Cornell community informed about COVID-19, all colleges, schools and units are encouraged to use and distribute the items below rather than creating their own. The more consistent our messaging, the better we can reach our many audiences and help everyone to stay informed, safe and healthy.”

Please post signs for your own labs only - if there is a need for additional building signs, please reach out to your building coordinator, Dan Woodie, or Tom King.

Q7. (added on July 4) My family is driving to Ithaca to visit me for a few days.  What should I do before returning to campus during and after their visit?

We urge everyone to travel smartly and responsibly.  Even though you are not traveling outside Ithaca, your family might be traveling from a state from the list of restricted areas. If so, your family needs to self quarantine in Ithaca for 14 days prior to visiting other places in Ithaca according to the NYS travel advisory. If they leave Ithaca within 14 days of arrival at Ithaca, you might need to continue self-quarantine at home for the reminder of the 14-day quarantine.  Please consult the Tompkins County Health Department.

Situation remains fluid, and the University will issue updated travel policies soon.  Meanwhile, please refer to the following resources.

To name a few new guidelines from the recent documents released by NYS,

  • Self-quarantine for 14 days for individuals (including Ithaca residents) incoming from a list of restricted states (this list is growing every day), 
  • The best practices in the guidelines for higher education that recommend at a minimum, to test students who are arriving from other states/countries upon arrival. Re-test individuals arriving from other states/ countries 7-14 days after arrival or upon development of symptoms.

You might be also interested in reviewing the interim travel policy (under For Faculty and Staff) developed by the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).