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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Empty labs seeing life again

UW–Madison has initiated Phase 1 of the campus Research Reboot, a limited expansion of on-campus research, while ensuring we are following campus guidelines to minimize the impacts of the pandemic to our campus and broader community.

Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Steve Ackerman, explains that research will be restarted in phases, with a focus on expanding research activities while minimizing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to our students, staff, faculty and the community. All plans for on-campus research must comply with campus and external guidelines and be an approved activity.

“To the greatest extent possible, research personnel should continue to work from home; in particular, all vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to work from home,” Ackerman says.

Researchers seeking to resume their on campus research in Phase 1 must receive approval from their college dean (or designee for approval) or the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. If a request is not approved, that research cannot commence.

Access to campus buildings will remain restricted and buildings will continue to be locked. People who need keycard or key access to a particular building will work with their supervisor, building/facility manager, or the facilities staff of their school, college or division to secure access.

Researchers should be aware that depending on the situation, such as an increase in positive cases in the community or cases on campus, campus leadership may need to again quickly introduce additional restrictions to on-campus research activity.

For information on Phase 1, how to apply to return to campus, FAQs, and other resources (including facilities planning and management guidelines, transportation guidance, environmental health and safety requirements, and mandatory online safety training), visit:

The webpage will be updated as more information and resources become available.

Each person returning to on-site work will be required to complete a mandatory online training course. This training module will include basic information about COVID-19, physical distancing and hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, theuse of personal protective equipment, and other best practices for reducing exposure risks.The course should take about 10 minutes and is available, is on-line and can be found at

“We will learn a lot from Phase 1, as it provides opportunities to test and refine new procedures for maintaining physical distance, minimizing the number of people in research spaces at any given time, reducing contact duration, developing capacity for contact tracing, and monitoring for local instances of viral infection at research sites and buildings,” Ackerman says. “While I cannot tell you when we might be ready to launch Phase 2, we are closely monitoring public health conditions in the state, county and city and will provide further instructions for the next phase based on future developments.”

Questions regarding Phase 1 should be directed to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education email at