Dear Colleagues –

Thank you to everyone who filled out the recent COVID-19 vaccination survey. The overall response rate was 84.6%, with 226 total responses submitted in all. There was close to a 50/50 split of research and other administrative staff who responded.

Of those who completed the survey, 94.7% indicated that they are either fully vaccinated or received their shot but hadn’t yet completed the two-week timeframe for full vaccination. In addition, 2.2% of respondents indicated that they are planning to get vaccinated but have not yet scheduled an appointment. In total, we anticipate that 96.9% of survey respondents to be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks.

Data from clinical trials and the experience of more than 300 million vaccine doses administered so far in the U.S. (more than 1.9 billion doses worldwide) have shown the vaccines to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. For the small percentage of our staff who responded that they are unsure or without plans to be vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to be vaccinated at your earliest opportunity.

The results of the vaccination survey, combined with the high vaccination rate we are observing among our course participants (students and faculty) and Whitman investigators, will guide our future planning. Over the next two months, informed by this data and local/regional COVID data, the MBL will be transitioning back to pre-COVID operations, steadily lifting restrictions and mitigation measures with the goal of eliminating most requirements by September 1, 2021. As part of this process we are exploring the creation of a vaccine registration system for employees as well as a vaccination requirement for any education program participant, Whitman investigator, or conference attendee in residence on our campus. Neither or these policies would go into effect until the fall.

We will measure our progress on a monthly basis and intend to announce policy changes or the elimination of restrictions to the MBL community on the same timeframe. The most immediate changes you can expect will be expanding density and easing distancing requirements in in our key meeting spaces (e.g. Clapp and Speck Auditoriums, Loeb G70) and in our laboratories. These, and any other changes, will be communicated to you later this month.

As we adjust to the changing “post pandemic” work landscape, we are also planning for MBL’s longer-term remote and hybrid work practices that will be offered beyond the timeframe outlined in the Administrative Resumption Plan or in laboratory RRPs. In spite of the unplanned nature of the shift to virtual work that was necessitated by the pandemic, as an institution we have seen the effectiveness for many groups of a hybrid working model as well as the benefits flexible work schedules provide to our employees. MBL will move to offering a hybrid work model for employees and teams for whom it makes sense, however we want to be thoughtful about providing the most productive work environment to support both the MBL’s mission and while also addressing individual needs and recognizing there is not a “one size fits all” solution as business and personal needs will vary from department to department.

We are considering the various elements of a flexible work model as we continue to move into the fall. For planning purposes, we intend to share our next phase of work plans by August 1 as you and your families/partners begin to make plans and schedules for the fall.

After more than a year of having to share sometimes very grim messages, I am excited that we are entering a more positive phase of our pandemic journey and thank you for all of the hard work over the past 15 months that has gotten the MBL to this point.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer