Research Exemptions

Process for Authorizing Research Exemptions Using the Allowable Research Decision Tree:

  1. Faculty wishing to request an exemption prepare and submit to their chair: (1) a description of the work to be performed, individual(s) who would be on-premises, locations, dates and times (see template below); (2) A justification for the exemption citing specific criteria in Step 1 of the decision tree; (3) A hygiene and safety operating plan addressing criteria in Step 2 of the decision tree.
  2. Chairs review and forward to the dean. 
  3. Deans review and forward to Sue Sullivan (, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, who must approve the hygiene/safety plan.  Sue may work with faculty to modify their plan before approving.
  4. Sue forwards to David Patrick, Vice Provost for Research, who must approve the exemption and will notify all parties of the decision.
  5. Sue Sullivan keeps a master list of active approvals so she can notify faculty of any changes impacting their plans.



Our lab has a contract with a municipal water company to provide biweekly water-quality measurements necessary to monitor the safety of the community drinking water source.  We have been collecting these data without pause for many years as part of a long-term study of seasonal variations.  I need to send a researcher into the field twice each month to collect samples and deliver them to our on-premises lab.  The researcher also needs to work in the lab six days each month to analyze the samples. Failure to perform the measurements would negate the value of the long-term dataset and leave a gap in monitoring the safety of the water supply for the community. 

 Response: With an acceptable safety and hygiene operating plan, an exemption would be allowable.


I have some perishable supplies which if not used in the next two weeks will expire and have to be re-purchased at a cost of hundreds of dollars.  I would like to finish up my work with these materials in my on-premises studio to avoid what I consider to be an undue cost.


I have an impending deadline for a book contract / research proposal / artistic commission.  My work product would be significantly better if I could finish some last pieces using on-premises resources.  This is an important opportunity for me professionally and for my students who are involved in the project.

Response: In such cases an exemption would probably not be allowable.  The Governor has directly acknowledged that his executive order will impose costs on individuals and organizations throughout the state, and that in some cases those costs will be high.  The order will cause many businesses for example to incur inventory and operating losses and potentially damage their future business prospects.  Nevertheless, the Governor believes the order is necessary.  The costs associated with examples 2A and 2B are not unduly higher than those being borne by many other Washingtonians. 


My research involves care of live vertebrate animals / a difficult-to-replace cell culture / vital equipment that requires ongoing maintenance.

Response: Research involving maintaining vital equipment, cell lines, and animals, is allowable.



The university is asking researchers to reduce work on campus as much as possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, in line with the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Using the Allowable Research Decision Tree as a guide, please first identify if your research applies to one of Gov. Inslee’s justifiable categories to physically come to campus with justification included.   

Insert them here:



The second step is to create a plan that adheres to public health measures.  For example, researchers need to enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet.  We recognize that space restrictions and research group size may create challenges to accomplish the need for social distancing.  Also, cleaning and disinfecting after lab usage is critical.  Please contact Facilities Management (by filling out a Ready Request or calling x3420) for disinfectant wipes. 

Please send your plan to your department chair; it will then go to your dean, Sue Sullivan, and David Patrick for final determination. 


Below is an example of how Jeff Carroll’s lab is planning to overcome these restrictions (part 3 of Step A above). 

So my rough plan for the next week is this:

  1. Today, maintaining social distancing, I need you guys to wrap up any bench work that needs to be done in the next 4 days. Basically, be ready to walk out of the door today and not come back until Wednesday. Spread out as much as you can.
  2. Monday and Tuesday, our main goal is to get our JSC call with CHDI done. This is a Zoom meeting anyway, so I want everyone to take it from home on Zoom. I need everyone on the call for questions, so make sure you have a computer with a camera and a quiet-ish place to sit and take the call.
  3. Wednesday-Friday, I want people who can work from home to do that as much as possible. For people who need to be in the lab for mission-critical and/or mouse-critical experiments, you need to only be 1 person in a given lab. I’m hoping that we can spread out using a few approaches:
    1. Rotate who is in the lab at a given time by coordinating on Slack. E.g. if Sydney comes in on Wednesday early, and then Bobby or Mei or Jeff comes in afterwards, just coordinate with each other to avoid overlap.
    2. Spread out: The Finlay and Kaplan labs have agreed to let us use their bench space.  Please clean and disinfect thoroughly and preferentially use the Finlay lab space. So in the event that more than one person is on campus at a given time, you need to be in different rooms. Another option is to set up bench space in the histology room, which might work for some tasks.
    3. Use of the tissue culture room: The tissue culture room is the one room we can close access to while someone is in the main lab space. So, until you hear otherwise from me, if one person is working in the tissue culture room, it’s OK for another person to be in the main lab space, just be mindful of maintaining social distancing when entering/leaving.
  4. Beyond Friday: Stay tuned, this is all changing really quickly and we’ll update our plans next week.


Other things:

  1. Alert me and  when you’re on campus, so we know who’s where.
  2. Stay flexible and check your email and slack – the rules might change so I’ll be sending out emails and/or slack notifications with updates.
  3. Be safe!