This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Office of the President on March 15, 2020 at 9:07 p.m.
Subject: Rockefeller University campus closure announcement
Dear Rockefeller University colleagues,
As you know, the number of COVID-19 cases being diagnosed in New York State has grown exponentially over the last several days; as of early this afternoon there have been 729 confirmed diagnoses, with a large fraction of these in New York City.
We have been aggressive in preventing the introduction and spread of infection on our campus in order to sustain our important mission while adhering to our obligation and commitment to ensure the safety of our community.
In view of the exponential growth and spread of the epidemic, it is now essential that we move to an orderly wind-down of all operations on campus, leading to only a small number of essential employees being allowed on campus to sustain vital services. The campus will be fully closed by March 18. We anticipate the campus being closed for at least four weeks, with the final length of time dictated by the course of the epidemic.
During this time, we expect that many individuals will be able to continue to be productive in their jobs from home, with the ability to meet with one another by videoconference, for example via Zoom (see more information below in the section on Information Technology), and to access and exchange large data sets. Please be sure you have DUO remote software to be able to access restricted university functions.
Below is a summary of a number of university operations, many with links to more detailed information.
Laboratories: All HOL laboratories, resource centers, and other laboratories must begin an orderly wind down of on-campus operations immediately, focusing on ensuring the preservation and maintenance of unique reagents, experimental animals, data and equipment. Detailed instructions can be found here. The only exceptions to lab closure will be research directly related to COVID19, and these projects will require my direct approval.
Research Hospital: The Hospital is operating under reduced staffing and thus is focusing on the safety of our research participants and staff and the integrity of the research. As a result, it has stopped initiating any new studies and is helping investigators address the needs of their ongoing studies by switching to virtual visits instead of in-person visits, postponing visits when possible, and ensuring that participants have adequate supplies of their study medications. The Hospital is prioritizing studies that may result in new therapies for COVID-19. The operations of the Hospital are being monitored carefully and its ability to support ongoing research reassessed frequently.
Graduate school: In accordance with laboratory instructions, graduate students should wind down laboratory work in consultation with their HOL. All graduate courses will be conducted virtually via Zoom. If you are enrolled in a course, either the Dean’s Office or your course director will contact you with information for connecting virtually. Student housing will remain open. Salary and benefits will continue without change. During the closure of the University, the Dean’s Office will be working remotely. Please feel free to reach out to the office via email. Contact information and further details on student-related topics can be found here.
Comparative Biosciences Center: Facility access is currently planned to continue but investigators should curtail all research activities and only enter the CBC to provide essential animal care support for any specialized needs for their animal colonies. Additional information is available on-line.
Materials Management (Purchasing, Receiving, Stockroom, Mailroom): Limited staff members will continue to be on campus to support receiving and mailroom functions and provide access to critical supplies from the stockroom. Requisitions for critical and COVID-19 response items should be entered into the IAS system using standard procedures. These requisitions will be processed as quickly as possible.
Child and Family Center: Consistent with the announcement today of the closure of the NYC public school system, the CFC will be closed effective immediately. The CFC follows the NYC Department of Education emergency closing procedures and may re-open when NYC public schools reopen. All CFC events for March and April have been canceled. If you have questions about the Child and Family Center, please email CFC Director Pamela Stark at email@example.com. The CFC administrative team and teachers will be reaching out to families who have children currently enrolled in the CFC.
Facilities and Parking: The Plant Operations Department will operate with essential personnel in order to maintain critical HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. Although response time might be delayed, all service requests and emergency repairs will be addressed as soon as possible. We urge everyone to email PlantOps@rockefeller.edu to place all service requests. The Plant Operations extension 8001 will have limited coverage. For custodial/tank deliveries/cleaning, please continue to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For essential personnel that may require campus parking, please have your Department Head or HOL email Security@rockefeller.edu.
Housing: The Housing Department will operate with essential personnel to maintain all residential building services but repairs may be delayed. Please limit the service calls to emergency repairs. Please continue to use BuildingLink or email@example.com. For any essential personnel requiring housing accommodations, please have your Department Head or HOL email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food services: Bass Dining Commons will remain open for grab-and-go only through Wednesday at 2:00 pm and will close after that. Abby Dining Room and the CRC Café have already closed down operations.
Information Technology: To access information about how to work remotely, including instructions on how to access and use DUO, VPN, and Zoom for the conduct of virtual meetings, please visit this link: https://it.rockefeller.edu/remote-resources. For technical support requests (please realize that, due to demand, responses may be delayed), please send an e-mail to email@example.com with a detailed description of the issue you are encountering. Additionally, please be aware that there will likely be increased cybersecurity attacks and specifically an increase in phishing emails due to the current circumstances. RU encourages all university personnel to be extra diligent and cautious of emails that they do not expect and specifically links in those emails. Never give out your RU credentials.
Library: All access to electronic materials such as Journals, e-books, databases and other electronic resources made available by the Markus Library will be unaffected and available when working remotely using VPN access. Interlibrary Loan service for electronic materials such as journals and e-books will remain 100% functional but requests for physical materials will be halted. All requests for assistance should be made either via the firstname.lastname@example.org email address or directed to the appropriate staff member. All staff contact details can be found on the Library website https://www.rockefeller.edu/markus-library/staff/
Occupational Health Services: The OHS will continue to be fully staffed and will provide daily contact to any members of the community in our self-isolation program. In addition, OHS will provide guidance for any RU employees who develop new symptoms and require referral to telemedicine portals within our health care network. If and when COVID-19 testing becomes available, OHS will provide services as needed to employees who are required to come to campus to provide essential on-site services. Our on-campus psychiatrist Dr. Nisha Mehta-Naik (a WCMC provider) plans to continue sessions with RU employees/students via zoom. Those in need of her services can continue to call OHS for scheduling.
Institutional Review Board (IRB): The Institutional Review Board (IRB) will continue to function in virtual mode to protect volunteer research subjects and to review new protocols related to COVID-19 research.
Finance: The Finance office will be operating on a remote basis. Banking and payroll operations will be functioning as normal. The University will prioritize outside payments focusing on essential transactions. Required payments will be made electronically via ACH or wire transfer. Additional finance service information may be found here.
During this four week period of COVID-19 closure, the University will continue to provide salary and benefits to all employees on Rockefeller payroll. Questions regarding your payroll status may be directed towards your responsible manager.
Investment Office: The Investment Office will operate remotely. All of the office’s systems have been tested and can monitor market movements and the University’s investments effectively from offsite locations. One of the four senior members of the team will be proximate to campus at all times in the event of a disruption to our electronic monitoring systems. The University has ample endowment to withstand the current market volatility for an extended period of time.
Office of Sponsored Program Administration (OSPA): OSPA will continue to closely follow guidance and information from funding agencies and organizations and provide updates as needed.
Office of Development: The Development Office will continue to receive, process, receipt, and acknowledge all gifts working closely in coordination with the Finance Office. While telecommuting, the Development team will continue to conduct all routine business, with the exception of events, which have been cancelled through April 30th.
Like you, I am extremely disappointed by the necessity of these actions. Nonetheless, we are committed to doing everything possible to protect and sustain our community with the goal of being as productive as possible while off-campus to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position to return to normal operations at the earliest opportunity. I know the strength and good will of our community will keep us together through these very challenging times.
Wishing you and your families continued health and safety.
All best wishes,
Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
Carson Family Professor
The Rockefeller University