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Phase 5

Resilient Research and Creativity Plan

Research and creative activities at New Mexico State University contribute to a vibrant system of higher education that supports our culture and commerce across the state. University leaders communicate frequently with state officials regarding best practices for vigilance and flexibility during changes caused by COVID-19. The top priority of the Research and Creativity plan is protecting the health, safety, and wellness of students, faculty and employees. 


The Return to Research and Creativity phased approach allowed research and creative sites to function successfully through the turbulent emergence of COVID-19 illnesses in New Mexico. The Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies coordinates with deans and unit leaders to evaluate procedures for research and creative activities to continue in a measured, safe way according to guidance in the NMSU Now action plan. Based on regular assessments of key health indicators for campus and the community, activities can be expanded or curtailed using criteria to prioritize such as:  

· Graduate students and capstone undergraduate research projects where research delays will impact completion of studies

· Research activities for completion of grants

· Data collection with longitudinal studies

· Experiments and studies close to completion, or those have effects on contingent experiments

· Ability to successfully operate with limited or staggered staffing

· Ease with which the research can adapt to new guidelines

Plan Overview

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NMSU Research and Creativity follows a six-phase approach adopted from APLU Council on Research to operate safely under pandemic action plans. Research and creative activities conducted under Phases 1 through Phase 4 require review and prior approval from the unit’s Department Head/Director, Dean, and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (VPR). A change in phase will be determined using current data from the CDC, New Mexico Department of Health, and guidance from state, local, and university administrative policies. All researchers must be prepared to return quickly to an earlier phase, if conditions change.  

Phase Summary

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Phases 1 and 2 (Initial Phase, expected through May 2020)

  • “Critical Research” only, as approved by Department Heads, Deans and VPR; research limited to social-distanced essential personnel needed for priority research activities
  • Research on COVID-19 related rapid response activities and associated facilities
  • Essential personnel required to protect life safety and critical research infrastructure/capability (maintaining cell lines, animal health, instrumentation, etc.)
  • On-site research limited to 15-35% normal levels

Phase 3 (Return to Research and Creativity, June 2020 - June 2021)

  • Expand on-site research approved activities to include time-sensitive research and deadline driven activities
    • Access for graduate students and postdocs close to completing degree/terms
    • Research nearing grant end dates (3 months)
  • Restart of select core research facilities, depending on customer demand
  • Animal experiments where a delay could result in euthanasia or loss of a colony
  • Expand field research approvals depending on current travel restrictions and conditions at destination sites
  • On-site research activity transitioned to an estimated 35-50% of normal

Phase 4 (Estimated Dates: planning for 2021 Fall Semester)

  • Expansion of field and on-site research
  • Critical new research allowed with limited personnel (50-70% normal capacity)
  • Limited access to offices for faculty and graduate students
  • Limited use of libraries, archives, and collection resources
  • On-site research activity estimated to be 50-70% of normal

Phase 5 (Estimated Dates: July 2021 - TBD)

  • Further expansion of on-site research
  • General access to offices, social distancing and enhanced cleaning still in effect
  • General access to libraries, collections, studio spaces, performance spaces and labs; social distancing, occupancy limits and enhanced cleaning still in effect
  • Limited close-contact Human Subjects Research allowed, as approved by Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Field research and research-related travel generally approved
  • On-site research activity estimated to be 70-85% of normal

Phase 6 (Estimated Dates: TBD)

  • Resumption of normal research operations
  • Research facilities, museums, libraries, field research and human subject research all open as normal
  • On-site research activity 85-100% normal


NMSU Return to Research and Creativity Plan Detail

Approval Process


Approval Process (Phase 1 through 4)

  1. PI completes “COVID-19 Health Safety Plan for Return to Research and Creativity”.
    1. Click Here to access the electronic form.
  2. PI submits “COVID-19 Health Safety Plan” electronically for review / sign off by the Department Head/Dean or Director/VP.
  3. The signed Plan routes to VPR for final approval:
    1. Package review / sign-off by Office of VPR (OVPR), with review by EHS&RM and subject matter experts as needed.
    2. PI and personnel listed in the Plan complete the pdf-icon.png “Research Health Training Supplement”. The self-certification statement at the end of the Training Supplement is routed electronically to the OVPR and attached to the respective “Plan” package.
  4. Notification of acceptance / approval to proceed and a PDF of the complete Plan package is sent to research unit / PI from OVPR.
  5. To modify the Plan after approval:
    1. To add or remove personnel – send email with the personnel name and details to
    2. Change location or activity – complete a new “COVID-19 Health Safety Plan”
    3. Contact for questions: or

Employee Expectations

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All research personnel, regardless of job title, position, or work location are expected to follow a core set of workplace guidelines and behaviors. Additional expectations, applicable to all NMSU employees, are in the NMSU Employee Safety and Administrative Protocols for Return to Work.

1. Stay home if you are sick.

2. Stay home / self-isolate for 14 days if you have had any direct personal contact with persons known to have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID-19.

3. Practice social distancing.

4. Wear a courtesy face covering as required by NMSU guidance, NM DOH and Research Safety Health Plan requirements.

5. Wash your hands frequently.

6. Take personal responsibility to keep your work area and equipment clean.

Training Package

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This training document is intended to provide a general overview of practices for preventing infections as NMSU researchers resume on-site research and creative activities. The COVID-19 situation in our community remains dynamic, and NMSU researchers recognize that not everyone has the same risks due to variations in individual health status and the workplace environment. Our guiding principle is that the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff is the highest priority.

Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (EHS&RM) provides training to help improve the working environment of NMSU, as well as ensure compliance with regulations related to safety, health and environment protection. Training requirements for laboratory and research areas, as well as non-laboratory areas, are found on the webpage at For questions about delivery formats, whether the training you need can be accessed online, in a face-to-face class, or customized for your group, please email

In addition to the regular safety training requirements, this training supplement is designed to provide a general overview of COVID-19 guidance. Each individual who will return to research activities on-site or at a study site is required to review this informational document, complete the self-certification page at the end, and communicate with the unit supervisor for site-specific directions.

View the Research Training Supplement

Safety Plan


VPR Campus Research Updates (Archive)

The VPR Campus Research Updates (Archive) provides researchers an overview of the emails Luis Cifuentes has sent to researchers during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

2020/03/20.pdf | 2020/03/24.pdf | 2020/03/24-2.pdf | 2020/03/24-3.pdf | 2020/03/26.pdf | 2020/03/31.pdf | 2020/05/18.pdf

2020/05/21.pdf | 2020/05/26.pdf | 2020/07/31.pdf | 2020/08/19.pdf | 2020/08/21.pdf