Information for Employees

LATEST - April 3: A Message from Nipam Patel

Dear Friends,

As our nation comes together to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us have been called to fundamentally alter our lives. At the MBL, faculty and staff have had to rethink how we work, conduct research, and collaborate, all on a short timeline.

Thanks to the intensive efforts of our entire community, the MBL has taken numerous actions to reduce our on-campus footprint and practice the social distancing measures that are critical to the health and safety of us all. These actions drove difficult decisions including the cancellation of our Advanced Research Training courses scheduled in May and June, and a delayed start of Whitman Center research programs. We came to these decisions with great care and with the best interests of the MBL and our broader community in mind. I anticipate additional impacts to summer programming as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Although MBL is operating with a significantly reduced on-campus physical presence, our work continues. Essential staff are caring for our animals and other organisms and maintaining our facilities as we pivot to new and creative ways to share our expertise with the world. For instance, we’ve launched a new short video series, #MBLSciShoots, on our social media channels that brings MBL science to high school students and the public within their own homes.

While the MBL has been impacted in the past by events such as The World Wars and the Great Depression, there is no question that the programmatic and operational changes we make to fight the spread of COVID-19 disease are unprecedented for this institution. Just as our predecessors did then, we are coming together as a community to adapt our work in resourceful ways and look with optimism towards the opportunities the future will bring.

I am deeply grateful for the unwavering dedication of our staff during this time and for the continued support of our loyal friends and steadfast supporters. The global MBL community is a diverse network of individuals and institutions committed to advancing the biological sciences and training the next generation of scientists; our mission is more important than ever. In times like these the generosity and support of the global MBL community is of the utmost importance and I hope you will consider contributing however you are able. I hope you and your families stay safe and healthy as we navigate this pandemic.

Sincerely,

Nipam H. Patel
Director

April 2: Coronavirus Update – “Stay at Home” Order Extended | EAP Resources | Summer Camp Update

Dear Colleagues –

Earlier this week Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended the statewide closure of all non-essential businesses as well as the “stay-at-home” advisory to May 4. Essential MBL services such as critical research and animal care, facilities support, and security are continuing under the directive.

All employees should continue to work remotely, if possible, and assume you will continue to do so until May 4 unless you’ve been directed otherwise from your manager. Managers of employees who are in essential functions but who cannot work remotely have already discussed specific plans with their staff.

EAP Resources

In addition to the counseling, work/life referrals, and legal/financial consultations normally provided, MBL’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has developed a series of informative tip sheets specifically related to COVID-19. Regularly updated information is available on their website at https://eap.ndbh.com/. Topics include:

EAP assistance is available to employees, their immediate family members, and their household members. Counselors are also available 24/7 for confidential live chat by phone at 800-828-6025.

MBL Summer Camp

As you know in recent weeks, the MBL has taken a number of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our entire community. Among them has been the difficult decision to cancel our spring and early summer educational programs. To that end, the MBL children’s summer camp has also been cancelled for the months of June and July. At the present time, we are assessing the feasibility of providing programming for the month of August. A second notification will be posted when that decision is made. If you have questions, contact Christopher Morgan-Janes, Stewart-Moore Director of Children’s Programs at cmorgan-janes@mbl.edu.

We urge all staff to continue to use the MBL’s coronavirus website and intranet pages for the latest updates, developments, and resources. COVID-19 information and resources are also available on the MBL App. For specific questions, concerns, or clarifications, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources team at hr@mbl.edu.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer

Ann Egan
Director, Human Resources

April 1: Temporary Closure of Stony Beach Parking Lot

Dear Colleagues –

Please be advised that in an effort to reduce large gatherings at town beaches, the Town of Falmouth is temporarily closing municipal beach parking lots effective immediately. This closure includes Stony Beach. While the Stony Beach parking lot functions as MBL campus overflow parking, spaces are not needed at this time given reduced on-campus operations.

Please note, this is not a closure of the Town’s beaches. Those who wish to use the beaches while maintaining social distancing will be able to continue to do so. For more information, visit the Town of Falmouth website.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer

March 27: A Message from Nipam Patel

Dear Colleagues –

Thanks to the collaboration and cooperation of our entire staff, the MBL has rapidly implemented important steps in the battle against COVID-19. The attention and planning that each of you has paid to your specific responsibilities—whether they be in research, facilities, or administration—and your adaptation to change has been remarkable.

Because of your efforts, the MBL’s compliance with Governor Baker’s “stay at home” order announced earlier this week has gone smoothly and we are successfully practicing the social distancing measures that are critical to the health of our community at this time. On behalf of the entire MBL, I’d like to thank the staff who are continuing to work on-campus to ensure that MBL stays operational and that our animals and facilities are being cared for and maintained. I would also like to acknowledge our faculty and research staff who have stepped up to help frontline healthcare workers by donating gloves and other protective gear to local hospitals. This exemplifies the sense of community and can-do spirit that makes the MBL special.

As you know, the MBL is voluntarily providing pay to employees for COVID-19 related purposes through the COVID-19 Leave Policy. This effort goes concurrently toward satisfying any legislative or regulatory requirements, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. I am pleased that the MBL can go above and beyond the two weeks of leave mandated by the Federal Government by offering this important benefit to our employees for up to six weeks.

As you continue to cope with the disruptions of this pandemic, I’d like to remind you of resources available to help you through this difficult period.

  • MBL’s Employee Assistance Program has developed a series of informative tip sheets, covering topics from transitioning to working at home to talking with children about Coronavirus. Counselors are available 24/7 via live chat or phone. More information can be found on the Coronavirus Resources intranet page.
  • Staying in touch with your colleagues is an important part of maintaining continuity of your work. Information Technology’s Working Remotely resources page provides links and information to a variety of telecommuting tools.

We will all continue to adapt our work in new and creative ways. This week we launched an effort to provide educational content to students through a new video series called MBL SciShoots. This is just one example of how the MBL can continue to share its science and expertise with the local community and beyond.

While some of our most challenging days may lie ahead, together we will continue to advance the science and education that are so fundamental to the MBL mission. Thank you for your continued commitment.

Nipam H. Patel
Director

March 23: Coronavirus Update – “Stay at Home” Order for Massachusetts

Dear Colleagues – 

Today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a statewide emergency order requiring the closure of all non-essential businesses and organizations beginning 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 effective through 12:00 noon April 7. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also issued a “stay-at-home” advisory until April 7. Businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. View press release here.

The MBL provides essential services such as critical research and animal care, facilities support, and security that will continue under the directive.

Thanks to the intensive efforts of our entire community over the last two weeks, the MBL has already taken numerous actions to reduce our on-campus footprint and move toward a “maintenance-only” mode of physical campus operations. These include transitioning to remote work wherever possible and reducing operations as outlined in last Friday’s all-staff message.

The MBL will comply fully with the new state order and will ensure that our community is prepared to carry it out.

  • Employees should continue to work remotely if possible, as many are doing already. Employees should assume they will work from home through April 7 unless you’ve heard otherwise from your managers.
  • Managers of employees who are in essential functions but who cannot work remotely should have already discussed specific circumstances with their employees.
  • We will allow a grace period of 48 hours effective from the release of this Laball to permit staff to get essential items from their offices that they may need if they have not already done so. After this time, do not come to campus unless your supervisor has given you express permission to do so. All MBL buildings now require an MBL ID card for entry. If you are not identified as an essential on-campus employee by your manager, you are not to enter campus buildings.
  • All non-critical research activities not already suspended should be suspended. Access to labs will be limited to those essential personnel who are required to perform critical research functions. Nipam Patel will provide additional guidance to the faculty.
  • We will also be releasing detailed information this afternoon on the new COVID-19 Paid Time Off (PTO) bank of leave announced in last Friday’s Laball. This will specify the conditions under which this new benefit may be used.

The following “Dos and Don’ts” are intended to help employees understand these directives:

Dos

  • Do come to work if your supervisor has told you to do so. You are allowed to come to work if you are supporting an essential operation of the MBL.
  • Do come to campus if your supervisor directs you to do so for a specific or limited purpose, even if you are generally working from home. You are allowed to come to work for this purpose.

Don’ts

  • Do not come to work if you are sick.
  • Do not come to work to engage in research, except to engage in ramp down or continuity work as approved by the Director of Research. Separate, specific guidance will be issued to researchers.
  • Do not come to work solely because your home internet access is inadequate, or because the conditions at your home are otherwise not conducive to working efficiently. Employees and faculty who need equipment or resources to enable them to work from home should address their needs with their supervisor.
  • Following the 48-hour grace period effective from the release of this Laball, do not come to campus because there is something in your office that you would like to retrieve, or because you want to visit with colleagues who must work on campus. You should only be coming to campus if your supervisor has given you express permission to do so. Your supervisor can give you permission to come to campus on a one-time basis or as otherwise necessary.

These steps will undoubtedly bring additional challenges for all of us, including concerns for families, friends, and colleagues. We appreciate your partnership and community approach that the situation requires.

For questions, concerns, or clarifications, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources Department at hr@mbl.edu. We will continue to keep you updated on additional changes or modifications to guide compliance with the stay at home order.

Nipam Patel
Director

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer

March 20: Coronavirus Update

Dear Colleagues,

As we close out our first week of reduced on-campus staffing, I want to thank all of our faculty and staff for your cooperation, adaptability, and commitment to the MBL. The Coronavirus has disrupted daily life for every member of our community and has required each of us to significantly adapt to ensure that the MBL continues its essential work while also protecting ourselves, our families, our colleagues, and our community. We recognize that this presents a new set of challenges—from concerns for those for whom remote work is not possible, to the need to care for dependents who are at home and no longer in school. The MBL stands ready to fully support you.

Today, we announce a plan to help all MBL employees navigate this uncharted territory. During the pandemic, employees will be eligible for up to six weeks (based upon regularly scheduled hours) of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care. At the end of this six-week period we will evaluate the plan and announce any additional measures which might make sense for our community. We will provide detailed information on the COVID-19 Plan early next week including how to report this time in UltiPro, communication with supervisors, as well as documentation which will be required.

With positive COVID-19 cases now documented on Cape Cod, it is important that we all be aware of self-isolation guidelines in the event of contact with someone who has tested positive. Self-isolation guidance, adapted from University of Chicago materials, is attached. Please note, the CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring, or self-isolation for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to COVID-19, such as “contacts of contacts.” If you have specific questions about if and when you should notify the MBL of illness, please contact Human Resources at hr@mbl.edu

Just as we have all had to adapt our individual work and research, the MBL as a whole must continually review and adapt our operations and programs with the health and best interests of our entire community in mind. As such, following guidance of the CDC and the MA Department of Public Health, and after careful consideration of public health and travel restrictions, we have decided to cancel all Advanced Research Training courses with April, May, and, June start dates. This includes Analytical and Quantitative Light Microscopy, Frontiers in Reproduction, Workshop on Molecular Evolution, Neural Systems and Behavior, Neurobiology, Embryology, Biology of Parasitism, SPINES, and Physiology. In addition, the Grass Foundation and MBL have cancelled the 2020 Grass fellowship program and the MBL’s Logan Science Journalism Program has been cancelled. The Whitman Fellowship Program and Whitman Center program is suspended through May.

We will continue to monitor state and federal guidance regarding future programming and will make decisions on July and August courses as well as Whitman Fellowship and Whitman Center research in June, July, and beyond as the situation evolves.

In addition to these programmatic updates, additional operational changes have been made and are outlined below. These measures are aimed at reducing our on-campus footprint and preparing the MBL in the event of a statewide shelter-in-place order. Should a shelter in place order be made by Governor Baker, MBL access would be restricted for those staff who are not required to be on campus. Managers should be sure their staff is aware of who is authorized to be on campus. Should a shelter-in-place order go into effect, the MBL would provide a grace period for staff to enter buildings and labs to ensure an orderly transition and further guidance would be shared.

The following items outline additional operational changes:

Research – As noted earlier this week, Principal Investigators have developed staffing and work plans that ensure that animal care and other core functions are maintained with the minimum number of people physically on campus.

Library – Library offices are closed and physical access to the stacks and reading rooms is suspended until further notice. Patrons should visit mblwhoilibrary.org to access online collections. No books will be due until the Library reopens. Please keep all books, including Interlibrary Loans, until Library reopens. Contact library@mbl.edu for more information.

Facilities and Services – Facilities will continue to provide essential services critical to maintaining laboratory operations with the following changes, effective Saturday, March 21:

  • Security – Security will be operational 24/7, but with reduced staffing.
  • Environmental Services – Staffing will be reduced to one person per day, Monday through Friday. Common areas in sections of buildings that are occupied with staff will be cleaned daily. Unoccupied areas where staff are working remotely will not be cleaned to allow thorough cleaning of occupied areas. Please note, in some cases, Environmental Services staff will be working on an alternate shift schedule and not necessarily a typical day shift. If any department has cleaning needs, contact Chad Baptiste directly at cbaptiste@mbl.edu.
  • Mail & Shipping – Mail will be picked up and dropped off at the Woods Hole Post Office twice a week (Monday and Friday) instead of daily. We will temporarily suspend direct mail delivery to departments. Instead, incoming mail will be sorted in the Lillie basement mailroom for departments to pick up in labeled cubbies.

    Packages will continue to be delivered directly to departments as they are received. Outgoing package shipping will continue during the hours of 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Any questions should be directed to Bob Kaski at rkaski@mbl.edu.

  • Plant Operations and Maintenance (POM) – POM will have two people on staff 7 days a week from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  The staff will be performing rounds of all mechanical spaces as well as continuing to address all critical preventive maintenance needed for building systems. Administrative POM staff will be working remotely. Contact Bill Brosseau at wbrosseau@mbl.edu. For urgent POM needs, contact Security at 508-289-7217.
  • Dining Services – Swope Dining is closed until further notice
  • Vending Services – Swope Center machines will remain operational and stocked. Loeb and Lillie machines have been emptied in order to consolidate service and reduce waste.
  • Housing – The Housing office is closed and all staff are working remotely. For any questions or needs contact Kerri Mills at kmills@mbl.edu.

As always, for questions or concerns, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources Department team members at hr@mbl.edu. We will continue to keep you updated on additional changes or modifications.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 17: Coronavirus Update

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, we have enacted a series of deliberate steps in recent days to reduce on-campus staffing and curtail the spread of COVID-19. These efforts include contingency planning for a ramp down of research operations with a shift toward a “maintenance-only” mode of on-campus operations. In the event that federal or state government requires a complete lab closure, acting definitely now gives us the best chance of preserving the most critical research components.

A similar approach is being taken with facilities and administrative operations. Our goal is to maintain critical functions while operating with the minimum number of people physically present on campus. Principal Investigators and managers are working closely with David Mark Welch and me to develop alternative staffing plans that can be deployed if we are called upon to do so.

As you augment and transition your work and research, know that the MBL stands behind you and will fully support you during these uncertain days and weeks ahead. As always, please address specific questions to your supervisor or Human Resources Department team members who are available to help you via e-mail, phone, or teleconference.

The public health crisis that we are facing demands we rethink how we work, conduct research, and collaborate, all on a very short timeline. We will achieve this together.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 16: Coronavirus Update

Dear Colleagues,

As our state, nation, and world take action to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, I would like to reiterate that the MBL strongly cautions against any non-essential personal travel—international or domestic—during this time.

As you know, the laboratory has suspended all non-essential work-related international and domestic air travel effective through April 15. CDC Level 3 travel restrictions continue to expand, most recently with the addition of the United Kingdom and Ireland to the list of countries that are subject to restricted entry into the U.S.

Domestic travel bans, while not yet enacted, are not out of the question per the U.S. government. What is clear and what we have all seen in the last week is that public health measures are changing daily. If these measures cause delays in returning from locations affected by COVID-19, the MBL will be unable to help travelers return in a timely way.

If you must travel on personal business, the MBL requests you complete this simple form with information about your trip. This will help us work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to limit exposure in the event of a positive test case.

With the move to reduced campus operations beginning today, we will continue to work with managers and PIs throughout the week to substantially reduce on-campus staffing, minimize our overall footprint, and protect the health of our community. With this in mind, as of today, MBL buildings are closed to the public and accessible only by MBL Card access. In addition, Swope Dining is open to staff only and is limited to take-out service.

For questions or concerns, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources Department team members at hr@mbl.edu. Detailed HR-related information including sick time policies can be found on HR’s Coronavirus Resources intranet page. HR will communicate any federally regulated changes to sick time as we receive them.

I encourage you to stay informed and continue to support each other as we work through this crisis together.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 15: Coronavirus Update – Transition to Remote Working

Dear Colleagues,

In furtherance of our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community, the MBL will reduce our on-campus staffing levels and transition to remote working starting Monday, March 16 until further notice.

Moving to remote work where feasible protects all MBL staff by reducing the risk for others whose duties require being on campus. We recognize that there are many critical roles on campus for which responsibilities cannot be accomplished remotely.

As was tested during Friday’s business continuity exercise, managers of staff whose jobs can transition to home will work directly with their teams to ensure close communication and coordination among and within their departments using videoconferencing and collaboration tools and technologies. Remote workers will receive follow-up guidance from managers regarding specific workplans.

We will strive to minimize the impact on research programs without jeopardizing the health and well-being of MBL staff. Faculty, other Principle Investigators, and Research Services Managers should adjust research plans to reduce the number of people working in laboratories at any one time by promoting off-site work and flexible schedules, and should minimize situations where research teams congregate. Please direct questions about maintaining research continuity to Director of Research David Mark Welch, dmarkwelch@mbl.edu.

For those working on-campus, internal meetings of any size should be carefully considered. We encourage MBL staff to use remote technology to collaborate via teleconferencing instead of meeting in person where feasible.

Planning and strategies are continually being reviewed as the outbreak evolves and we will keep you informed on a regular basis. For immediate questions, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources Department team members hr@mbl.edu with any questions or concerns.

While social distancing must be an organizing principle of life during this unprecedented period, the vital work of the MBL will continue and will be supported by all of us working together. Thank you for your continued commitment during this critical time.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 13: A Message from Nipam Patel about COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,

As the world responds to the rapidly changing impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak, the MBL has been carefully considering the measures we need to take to prevent the spread of the virus in our community and protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students.

As you know, the MBL is taking steps to limit travel and enact social distancing such as suspending public events and non-essential business travel. We are striving to protect all MBL staff by modifying our on-campus operations. Given our responsibility to protect the entire MBL community, we have also decided to cancel the upcoming Analytical and Quantitative Light Microscopy (AQLM) and Frontiers in Reproduction (FIR) courses. We will continually assess the Coronavirus situation in the coming weeks to inform our decisions on future events, courses, and programming.

I recognize the disruption that this pandemic is causing to you and your families, as well as the anxiety and concern that goes along with a crisis of this magnitude. The important work that we do every day to advance science becomes more important at a time like this. The MBL is fortunate to have a talented staff who shares a commitment to our mission. This institution has a long history of evolving through change, and together we will get through this difficult time as well.

We will continue to keep you informed about operational changes on a regular basis as the outbreak evolves. In the meantime, I encourage you to use the MBL’s coronavirus website and intranet pages for updates, resources, and information.

Sincerely,

Nipam H. Patel
Director

March 13: Travel Updates Regarding Coronavirus

Dear Colleagues,

On Wednesday, March 11 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department increased the health advisory travel warning to Level 3 for most of Europe, advising people to avoid all nonessential travel to that area. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is suspending entry of most foreign nationals from Europe to the United States beginning at midnight on Friday, March 13 for 30 days. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, or their immediate family members. Screening measures and redirection to specific airlines are likely to follow.

With this change in travel guidelines, the MBL is extending its precautionary guidance related to travel, which now applies to most of Europe:

  • Any traveler who has returned from a country – now including most of Europe, along with China, South Korea and Iran – with a CDC Level 3 travel health notice should not attend school or work for 14 days after their return date, following CDC guidelines. This self-isolation period also applies to visitors to the MBL. Individuals should work directly with their departments to facilitate academic, research, or work continuity. Please note, if you have returned from Europe within the last 14 days, this applies to you retroactively.

While Level 3 is the CDC’s highest alert, please bear in mind that the situation is continuing to change in many countries and cities within the U.S. that have had COVID-19 cases. As announced earlier this week, the MBL has suspended all nonessential international and domestic travel through April 15, and we urge similar caution in planning personal travel at this time.

For questions and concerns, please continue to contact coronavirusinfo@mbl.edu and visit the MBL coronavirus website.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 12: Coronavirus Update – Business Continuity Testing

Dear Colleagues,

The MBL will conduct a test of our business continuity plan this Friday, March 13. This is in anticipation of possible future direction from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that would lead us reduce our on-campus staffing levels and transition to remote work in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A business continuity plan ensures that the laboratory can maintain critical administrative operations while reducing the overall on-campus staff footprint by allowing some of the staff to work from home. Testing of capacity and operability will help us to ensure that the IT infrastructure (e.g. systems, VPN remote access etc.) that are in place to do this work can perform under a full load and that any issues that are identified can be resolved.

Some of the critical work on the MBL campus obviously cannot be done from home. We must maintain our buildings, take care of animals, continue research etc. As such, this test will focus on those staff jobs that can transition to work from home. More details and guidance on this testing, and who will be a part of it, will be provided to managers who will then discuss with staff.

There is no question that the steps being taken to mitigate the spread of the virus are disruptive to all of our lives. We will continue to update you with changes to MBL programming as they occur. We appreciate your continued cooperation as the MBL works to increase our efforts to mitigate the spread of this disease.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 10: Update on Coronavirus for Employees

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you of additional precautionary steps the MBL is taking in light of the evolution of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  We continue to rely on guidance from the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well as the University of Chicago.

Incidents in Massachusetts are increasing, and today Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth, giving the administration more flexibility to respond to the outbreak. In coordination with the University of Chicago, the MBL is enacting new travel restrictions and measures to reduce contacts that could aid the spread of the virus.

  • The MBL is suspending all non-essential work-related international and domestic air travel effective immediately through April 15. Essential travel is defined as supporting activities that are absolutely necessary, cannot be rescheduled, and must be done in person. Individuals may petition the Director of Research, Director Education, COO or Chief Advancement Officer regarding travel.

    We continue to strongly advise against personal international air travel given the very fluid situation and remind staff that the MBL will not be in a position to help those who get stranded overseas. Similarly, we advise caution in personal domestic air travel as well. We ask all staff who will be traveling on personal business to complete this simple form with information about their trip. This will help the MBL work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in the event a staff member becomes sick.

  • The MBL is suspending all MBL-sponsored events and gatherings of more than 100 people effective immediately through April 15. This will impact the upcoming Falmouth Forum among other activities.
  • The MBL is cancelling all scheduled school and organizational tours through May 31.

Our primary focus remains on the health and well-being of MBL staff. To that end, Human Resources has developed important information for staff. A short summary is available on the MBL Coronavirus website and more detailed, policy-oriented information is available in the Human Resources section of the MBL Intranet. Please take time to review this information and contact Human Resources Department team members at hr@mbl.edu; 508-289-7422 with any questions.

As previously discussed, I encourage you to stay informed and make sure that you are aware and following the guidelines outlined by the CDC and MA DPH. We ask that members of our community continue to support each other, avoid uninformed assumptions, and base your decisions about travel and health precautions on the best available information. Anyone who is ill or thinks they may be ill should stay home from work and seek medical care, as necessary.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

March 10: Important HR Information for Employees

  • Detailed HR-related information can be found on HR’s Coronavirus Resources intranet page including:
    • Links to related policies/plans such as: Sick Time Policy and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy
    • Links to applicable forms and programs that might become helpful such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) 24/7 Nurse Hotline and BCBS Well Connection that provides on-demand video doctor visits
    • Link to the BCBS Coronavirus website
      Please note, BCBS has announced that they are waiving co-pays for all COVID related issues; they are also waiving co-pays for Well Connection
  • If employees become ill and do not have enough sick time to cover their absence, they can apply for short-term disability.  All benefit-eligible employees are covered under the employer-paid Short Term Disability (STD) plan. Instructions and forms are on the Coronavirus Resources intranet page.
  • Planning and communications continue to evolve in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) developments. Work is underway to develop guidelines relative to staffing, remote work, general departmental planning, etc., and will be communicated as soon as available.  For immediate questions, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources Department team members hr@mbl.edu; 508-289-7422
  • Continue to check the MBL Coronavirus website for information about travel guidelines and other public health measures.  We ask that members of our community continue to support each other, avoid uninformed assumptions, and base your decisions about travel and health precautions on the best available information.

March 6: Update on Coronavirus for Employees

Dear Colleagues,

The MBL continues to closely monitor developments related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and is planning for the possible impacts to our campus.

While the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the safety of our faculty, staff, and students is the MBL’s primary concern.  As the situation evolves, we are writing to update you on the actions we are taking to protect the health of our community.

A subgroup of the MBL’s Incident Management Team has convened to plan response strategies and to work through potential scenarios with the goal of maintaining a continuity of research, education, and administrative activities. We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) and are coordinating with the University of Chicago.

The MBL is fully operational at this time and we will operate as usual until circumstances dictate otherwise. While we expect travel cancellations will impact individuals coming from severely affected overseas locations to our conferences and courses, there are no travel restrictions within the US at this time and no broad US-wide directives to cancel gatherings (i.e. in schools, conferences, athletic events etc.) or recommendations regarding social distancing.

Human Resources is evaluating policies and processes related to time away from work and alternative working arrangements. Updates and guidance will be available next week.

As far as travel goes, we strongly advise against travel to countries with “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission” of COVID-19. These countries currently are China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. If you do travel to those countries, you must stay at home and not return to the campus until 14 days from the time you departed that country. Because the CDC list of travel advisories is being continually updated, you should carefully consider the need for any international travel over the next few months.

In addition, visitors to the MBL from this same group of countries cannot join us on campus until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine. We do not have the capability to allow that self-quarantine in our campus housing.

We have established a webpage (mbl.edu/coronavirus-updates) to share information and resources regarding safeguarding personal health and travel guidance. We will post an archive of message updates on this page, including any major effects on operations, should they occur. We ask all staff to use this website as an ongoing resource. New updates will be posted moving forward.

Environmental Services (EVS) personnel have increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and restrooms in MBL buildings. In addition, hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in the lobbies of most buildings. Employees should clean their own workspaces to reduce infection spread. Supplies are available through EVS. More information is available on the MBL’s coronavirus webpage.

I encourage you to stay informed and make sure that you are aware and following the guidelines outlined by the CDC and MA DPH. Anyone who is ill or thinks they may be ill should stay home from work and seek medical care, as necessary.

We will continue to review and adapt our planning and strategies as the outbreak evolves and will keep you informed on a regular basis. Staff may contact Ann Egan, Director of Human Resources, (aegan@mbl.edu; x7622) with any questions or concerns or contact coronavirusinfo@mbl.edu.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

Feb. 28: Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Planning

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to update you on steps to protect the health and wellness of the MBL community and to ensure we are prepared for a range of contingencies related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are continuing to closely monitor developments in coordination with the University of Chicago. We are also relying on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH).

The current risk to people in the U.S. is low. However, as you have probably heard, CDC experts say they expect more cases in the U.S. with the possibility that this will become a pandemic.

Updated Travel Guidelines

This week, the CDC raised its coronavirus-related travel advisories for a number of countries, and issued its highest warning for South Korea – Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel. As a result, the MBL strongly discourages travel to South Korea, in addition to our existing guidelines discouraging travel to mainland China and Hong Kong. Advisories for other countries may continue to change, and we will provide updates on this. A good source for information on this and other related topics can be found on the University of Chicago’s coronavirus updates website. The MBL advises travelers to check carefully on the status of COVID-19 alerts and precautions at all destinations, including layovers.

Ongoing Preparations

The MBL’s Incident Management team is developing a response plan to cover this rapidly developing situation and we will communicate key aspects with MBL staff on a regular basis. All of our work will be guided by authoritative sources in the CDC and MADPH and will be done in coordination with the University of Chicago.

Staff are encouraged to reach out to Ann Egan, Director of Human Resources, (aegan@mbl.edu; x7622) with any questions or concerns.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory

Feb. 4: MBL Monitoring Coronavirus

Dear Colleagues,

As you have likely seen in the news, the U.S. State Department guidance on travel to China is currently set to Level 4: Do Not Travel due to the novel (new) coronavirus (Wuhan 2019-nCoV) that was first detected in Wuhan City, China and which continues to expand.

While nearly all confirmed cases have been in China, the public health situation in China and the U.S. continues to develop. On January 31, U.S. federal authorities declared a public health emergency and instituted new rules for travelers from China.

With the health and well-being of our campus community at top of mind, MBL leadership has been and will continue to monitor the situation and is coordinating with counterparts at the University of Chicago. The MBL strongly discourages all travel to mainland China and Hong Kong during this period by members of the MBL community. Because of public health measures in effect in China and the U.S., and the potential for additional steps in the weeks ahead, travelers are likely to have difficulty returning from China. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.

Individuals are encouraged to take steps that help prevent any respiratory infection—whether it’s the flu or a common cold. These steps include:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The latest information and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are available here.

The MBL will provide updates and relevant new information on the coronavirus as needed. Staff are encouraged to reach out to Ann Egan, Director of Human Resources, (aegan@mbl.edu; x7622) with any questions or concerns.

Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory