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Phase III+: The University is open for expanded research operations; only authorized personnel will be admitted on campus. More info here.

This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from Tim O’Connor and Mike Rout (Co-chairs of the Rockefeller Restart Committee) and Amy Wilkerson (Chair of the University’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee) on December 17, 2020 at 11:32 a.m.


Dear Rockefeller colleagues,

As we near the University’s holiday break, we take this opportunity to thank the Rockefeller community for your efforts to help prevent on-campus transmission and maintain the safety and health of our community.  There is a need for heightened vigilance in these efforts as the case rate in our region and the number of positive cases within our own community increase. To this end, we are writing to announce that all Rockefeller personnel coming on campus must be tested for SARS-CoV-2 on a weekly basis.

This new mandatory testing policy includes all Rockefeller University and HHMI employees coming to campus. The most convenient way for most people to meet this requirement is by participating in the weekly saliva sample testing offered by our RUStrong program. Those who participate in RUStrong will be monitored automatically by their department head or designee for compliance with this policy. Anyone who seeks testing off campus will be required to provide documentation of weekly testing directly to the department.

RU Strong will suspend the testing program during the holiday break with the last collection of samples on Monday, December 21st, 2020 at 9am.  Therefore, the mandatory testing requirement will begin when the program resumes January 4, 2020. Questions about the mandatory testing policy can be sent to and/or

We also remind everyone to adhere to key University policies aimed at reducing risk of transmission within our community, which is critical to keeping lab activities operational:

  • The University strongly discourages non-essential travel, especially over the holiday break. Should you plan to travel outside New York State, you are required to complete the University Travel Questionnaire and follow the instructions you receive from OHS regarding mandated quarantine following return from your travel.
  • The NYS restriction on gatherings is 10 or fewer people in residential settings. Any indoor gatherings of any size with people who are not members of your established  pods/circles/bubbles are strongly discouraged. If you do elect to spend time with people who are not part of your pods/circles/bubbles, we recommend that you quarantine for at least five days afterwards and obtain a COVID test as soon as possible after that.

Beating the coronavirus will require a combination of personal and shared responsibilities, as noted in a recent article describing the “swiss cheese model of pandemic defense.”  Some key aspects of these responsibilities include:

  • Face covering: Anyone on the University campus or in public areas of University housing is required to wear a face mask or face covering when out in public or when social distancing is not possible. Face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable under this policy.
  • Employees working alone in a private office and residents who are in their apartments do not need to wear masks or face coverings, but anytime you are on campus, whether outside or inside a University building, or in public areas of University housing, you must wear a mask or face covering. Exception is made for brief periods to eat or drink. When taking a brief break to eat or drink, please maintain social distance and re-don your face covering as soon as you finish eating/drinking.
  • Hand hygiene and environmental cleaning:  While indirect contact is not the leading cause of transmission, it is important to reduce the chance of indirect transmission as fully as possible.  Practice good hand hygiene and continue to wipe down touch surfaces in your work area before the start and at the end of your shift. University Custodial Services personnel continue to clean high-touch surfaces in public areas multiple times per day.
  • Isolate/Quarantine: If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have traveled outside New York State, are a contact of someone who tested positive or who has had COVID-19 symptoms, or have yourself tested positive, follow the instructions from OHS regarding your required isolation, quarantine and testing.
  • Limit in-person interactions:  In-person meetings should be conducted virtually if possible.  Remember that you must obtain advance approval for in-person events and/or for campus access for visitors. Requests should be sent to

As always, if you have any questions about any of the above, please send them to