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From the Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics

First posted on May 19, 2021 and updated on May 27, 2021

Many of you have been asking when the current COVID-19 safety guidelines might change given most (if not all) of us are fully vaccinated now.  There is good news today from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.  As of June 1st, the physical distancing requirement in the research labs will be lifted. That means we can work and sit next to each other once again. However, mask wearing at all times remains the same and lab meetings should still be done virtually (given the conference rooms represent small enclosed spaces and not everyone may be vaccinated).  Additionally, unmasking in the building should continue to be done only in enclosed designated spaces. This is for everyone’s safety.  Please read the detailed announcement below.  More to come and I will discuss this further at our upcoming faculty meeting as well on May 27, 2021.

Brian Strahl, PhD
Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics

From the School of Medicine Office of Research

May 19, 2021

The following information (in bold font) was sent by to us by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.   : As you know, since summer of 2020, the University’s research labs and facilities have been operating at reduced capacity as a result of physical distancing requirements. While this has helped our research enterprise to sustain critical innovation and scholarship throughout the pandemic, it has required units to limit the number of personnel in a lab at any given time, and many labs have had to implement shifts and extend their hours into the evening. We recognize this has caused a hardship for many labs and individuals.

SOM COVID Operations Quick Reference June 1 2021 – updated on May 26

Today we are announcing that effective June 1, 2021, the OVCR will no longer place physical distancing restrictions on work conducted in our research labs and facilities. Individuals are still encouraged to maintain a 6-foot distance whenever feasible, and individual schools, centers or labs may choose to provide supplementary guidance appropriate to their particular circumstances, but the campus-wide distancing requirement that is currently in place for all labs and facilities will be lifted.

While the physical distancing requirement is being lifted, other university-wide requirements remain in place. Mask-wearing, for example, continues to be required in all labs and facilities. When eating or drinking indoors, individuals are still required to maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. And staff and faculty who are reporting to campus are expected to self-monitor symptoms daily and must not report to their workplace if they are experiencing any COVID-19-like symptoms.

In the School of Medicine, we encourage everyone to continue virtual meetings whenever possible even after June 1, 2021.  Per UNC policy, we cannot ask employees their vaccination status and as of May 19, only 41.7% of North Carolinians have received one dose of the COVID vaccine and 34.4% have received two doses of the vaccine.  Given these statistics, we strongly encourage everyone to meet virtually whenever possible and to maintain some distancing when in conference rooms and other common areas.

Please distribute this information to your faculty, staff and students. If you have any questions, please reach out to Jennifer Brennan Director, Office of Research

If you’re vaccinated, it is important to report it using the COVID-19 Vaccination Certification form.