Dear Colleagues,

Last month we announced the formation of two working groups charged with assessing the capacity and space required to safely offer research and education activities at the MBL in the coming year.

The Visitor Working Group was tasked with developing a comprehensive list of the constituencies who come to campus and the space utilization that each group requires. The Space Capacity & Expansion Working Group was asked to analyze the capacities of all spaces—including housing, dining, lab, lecture, and childcare—and explore ways we might expand available space, for example by erecting tents. Our planning assumption is that the current Massachusetts COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions will stay in place through the spring and summer.

David Mark Welch and the Research team have determined the space available across campus for Whitman Scientists and Grass Fellows. Linda Hyman and the Education team are continuing to work with course faculty to think creatively about how they can augment course schedules and/or rosters to allow for the most programs as possible.

It has become clear that lab space will be the limiting factor for all programs. We do not anticipate having capacity issues for housing or dining. David, Linda, and Nipam Patel will meet over the next two weeks to make decisions on space allocations across programs and a draft programming schedule will be completed by mid-December.

The University of Chicago is providing technical support to help us work through these details and operationalize the schedule. Some of the challenges to be worked out include quarantine dormitory space, COVID-19 testing (requirements, capacity, and cost), additional cleaning responsibilities, and the associated costs of each.

We recognize that with the current pandemic situation it is difficult to think about having a busier campus, but we are hoping for a better situation in the spring and summer. We are appreciative of the efforts of the visitor and space working groups who helped us to gather this essential information and will continue to keep you updated on our progress.

Thank you,

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer