Letter to the Whitehead Institute Community from Director David Page 6/17

The following letter was sent by Whitehead Institute Director David Page on June 17, 2020.

Dear fellow members of the Whitehead Institute community,

I am writing to update you on the reopening of our labs, including our progress in Phase I and our plans for Phase II.

Phase I was launched almost two weeks ago, on Wednesday June 8, and has proceeded remarkably smoothly due to our community’s terrific engagement and cooperation.  The number of people entering our building on an average weekday increased from 63 (prior to Phase I) to 163 (during Phase I).

 Our first priority remains the health, safety, and trust of all who enter our building.  As you know, we have been monitoring compliance with the safety precautions and protocols implemented on June 8, and I am pleased to report that compliance has been very high.  I thank all of you for adhering to these precautions and protocols, which have required real adjustments to your work routines.  Remarkably, Whitehead Institute does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 among its staff.  More importantly, we have protocols in place to deal with confirmed (or suspected) cases when they arise, as they invariably will.

As the burden of COVID-19 on our hospitals in Eastern Massachusetts continues to decline, we are now preparing to launch Phase II, which will begin at 7 AM on Wednesday June 24.  During Phase II, density in our labs will be capped at two people per 500 square feet (two people per lab room, or one person per bay).  To continue to provide time for nightly cleaning, our hours of operation will remain 7 AM - 9 PM Monday-Saturday and 9 AM - 9 PM on Sunday.  All other guidelines, including building access and safety protocols, will remain unchanged from Phase I.  To reiterate a few key principles:

All return to work must be on a voluntary, opt-in basis, without coercion.

Work that can be done remotely should be done remotely.  We have no immediate or near-term plans for office staff, including Lab Administrators and most members of our central administration, to return to the building.

Individuals at higher risk because of age or underlying medical condition will return only upon written justification and approval.

All meetings will be held remotely.

Anyone with a fever or other symptoms, or with recent contact with an individual suspected or confirmed to be infected, should stay home and, as appropriate, seek medical care.

We will distribute an updated Phase II Guidelines document later this week.

For those who will be entering our building for the first time since the June 8 launch of Phase I, please remember that you will need to complete our online training to gain access.

Again, my deepest thanks for your commitment to our shared mission and to the health and safety of our entire community.