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WSU looking for feedback on draft plan for returning to on‑site research

Washington State University is seeking feedback from across the system as it works to finalize guidance on the staged return to on-site research, scholarship and creative activities.

The current draft guidance can be found on the Office of Research website. Comments on the draft guidance can be submitted to the associate deans for research of their respective college or the vice chancellor of research for their respective campus.

The deadline for submitting feedback is close of business Wednesday, May 20. The draft does not contain a specific date for when the university will launch its return to on-site research, as it will vary based on numerous factors including guidance from local and state health officials.

Interim Provost Bryan Slinker emphasized during a town hall Tuesday that the document is not finalized, and even when it is, it will not mean an instantaneous return to research activities as they were before the public health crisis.

“We all want to do this,” Slinker said. “We need to work hard together to finalize this guidance so that we all feel like we have a plan to safely do it, but it’s not our decision alone as an institution. We have to interact with public health authorities because we still are in a state of emergency statewide.”

University leaders working on the draft guidance also noted that the guidance will not be all-encompassing, and that those with questions should contact their principal investigators, department chairs and others in leadership roles within their departments.

The draft guidance notes that researchers must continue to work remotely whenever possible, consistent with the phased Safe Start approach outlined by Gov. Jay Inslee.

WSU researchers, including those whose scholarship is in line with the current public health crisis, have stepped up to the challenge by submitting plans for research and working to meet local and national needs. This includes WSU faculty working with the Department of Health to model COVID-19 issues, according to John Roll, professor and vice dean for research and associate vice president for strategic research initiatives at WSU Health Sciences.

Lisa Gloss, dean of the WSU Graduate School, emphasized the importance of ensuring graduate students are working toward their degree programs and receiving the mentorship they need as the university looks to ramp up research safely.

A video recording of the complete town hall is available online. Additional questions on the draft guidance can be directed to the Office of research or by calling 509-335-5238.

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