Dear Colleagues –

More than 10 months ago when we launched the planning process for 2021 programs, we knew there were a significant number of challenges to overcome.  With everyone’s continued vigilance and compliance with public health precautions, together, as a community, we worked through those challenges to successfully resume our visiting research and training programs without an on-campus transmission of COVID-19 to date.

The fact that the MBL was able to host more than 700 visitors in person this summer without incident is testament to the diligence and resolve of our entire faculty and staff.

It bears noting that training programs at some peer institutions, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Jackson Labs, remain almost completely virtual.

As we approach the end of August, most of our Advanced Research Training Courses and Whitman scientists have now left campus, but several groups will be joining us this fall. These groups include the last of this year’s Advanced Research Training Courses, along with approximately 85 undergraduates, a handful of Whitman scientists, and a number of small conferences. You can view a complete list of programs and their timeframes at the end of this message.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is still a reality, and it is critical that we remain diligent particularly as we carefully monitor the impact of the Delta variant in our local community and elsewhere. This message describes how our campus will operate as we approach the late summer and fall programs, with public health precautions in place. As always, we have benefitted from the guidance of experts at the University of Chicago as well as local and federal public health agencies. We will continue to rely on expert guidance and public health mandates to limit the spread of the Delta variant.

Last month, the MBL announced that all faculty, staff, and program participants/registrants are required to confirm their COVID-19 vaccination status through a registry prior to arriving on campus. Vaccination greatly reduces the chances of contracting COVID-19 or developing serious illness, and it is a crucial part of our plans to continue resuming in-person programs throughout the remainder of the year.

The indoor mask requirement will continue until further notice. This requirement follows CDC guidance that all individuals (including those fully vaccinated) wear a mask indoors in public areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. If and when we move to a mask-optional environment, it will be for fully vaccinated individuals only. Anyone who has not provided proof of vaccination will be required to wear a mask indoors with few exceptions (e.g. in their office with door closed).

Exposure Protocols
Anyone coming to the campus is expected to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 daily and stay home if you are experiencing symptoms, and get tested if you have been exposed to COVID-19. The MBL’s required protocols for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 have been updated to reflect CDC guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. According to the protocol, any member of the MBL community accessing the campus who has a confirmed case, symptoms, or exposure must promptly self-report at to their supervisor and human resources and cooperate with the MBL’s Contact Tracing Team.

Quarantine/ Isolation: We will follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation that were updated this summer. For example, vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine after exposure to a known or suspected case of COVID-19 if they do not have symptoms, but they must be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in all settings (indoors, and outdoors when within 6 feet of others) for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. Even if you test negative, you should stay away from classes or work if you have symptoms that are unusual or out of character for you. Isolation protocols remain the same for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19; isolation housing is in place for program participants living on campus.

Mandatory Asymptomatic Testing Program: Anyone who has not been vaccinated must take part in MBL’s existing testing program. We are in the process of determining the testing cadence and the date on which employee testing will commence.

Voluntary Testing Program: If requested, weekly COVID-19 testing will be available to fully vaccinated individuals. Details on enrollment will be available soon.

Any members of the MBL community who experience symptoms or have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested at a local provider. Mandatory and Voluntary Testing Program participants should NOT attend their regularly scheduled testing appointment if they have been symptomatic or exposed.

Travel Expectations
At this time there continue to be no restrictions to MBL-sponsored international and domestic or non-essential personal travel, but this is subject to change. If the MA DPH reinstates travel restrictions, staff will be required to register their travel. Those planning international travel should consult CDC guidelines which currently state that all air passengers arriving in the United States are required to test negative no more than 72 hours before travel by air to the United States. Additionally,

Vaccinated individuals must get tested 3-5 days after travel.

Unvaccinated individuals must be tested 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days, or stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days without receiving a test.

Visitors & Vendors
Current policies for campus visitors and vendors remain in place. All visitors are required to register and wear masks inside campus buildings.

Building Access
Buildings will remain locked and accessible by MBLCard only. This will be the case for the foreseeable future.

We will resume hosting conferences this fall. All conference attendees will be required to be fully vaccinated (no exceptions) and must complete the MBL’s Attestation Regarding COVID-19. View the conference schedule at

Most campus tents will come down at the end of August, however the Swope Café tent and a smaller version of the Quad tent will remain through the bulk of our conference season to separate students and conference attendees.

Housing Capacity
Housing assignments will now include a combination of single and double-occupancy rooms. Double-occupancy rooms are available only for fully vaccinated individuals.

Hybrid/Remote Work
Leadership is reviewing results of the recent Workplace Planning Survey as part of development of a long-term flexible workplace policy. Staff whose responsibilities do not require them to be on campus or in another MBL facility should continue to work with their managers on their ongoing remote work arrangements. Survey results and additional flexible work guidance will be forthcoming.

Dining Capacity and Swope Café
This fall a plan to expand indoor dining capacity will be developed. For now, the Café will continue to be order ahead only. Employees may eat indoors, if desired, however eating in Main Dining is discouraged in order to accommodate students.

Stacks and reading rooms remain available for use by staff and programmatic participants, M-F, 8 AM – 5 PM.

There is no delivery or collection of mail from departments. Details on mail and shipping are on the website.

Social Events
No indoor parties or social events in MBL are permitted in on-campus buildings until further notice.

Public Access
Public access to MBL facilities (e.g. MBLWHOI Library, Swope Dining) and programs (e.g. tours, lectures) will continue to be suspended until further notice.

Thank you for your attention to these important details as we work together to continue expanding our programming as safely as possible throughout the remainder of the year.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer

Fall Education Programming

  • UChicago September Term August 30 – September 18 (60 students)
  • Semester in Environmental Science Program August 30 – December 14 (23 students)
  • Frontiers in Stem Cells and Regeneration (SCARE) – October 3 – 10 (16 students)
  • Gene Regulatory Networks for Development (GERN) – October 10 – 23 (14 students)
  • Deep Learning for Microscopy Image Analysis (DL@MBL) – September 25 – October 6 (24 students)
  • (10) Cape Cod Academy and (10) Falmouth Academy students – November (dates TBD)
  • Blue Economy Internship Program (BEIP) (10-12 interns expected)
  • SEE-Diversity to Success Workshop – August 27 – September 2 (23 students)

Conference Schedule