The last two weeks have certainly moved quickly. Every day presents a new scenario and an unprecedented challenge. I want to thank you for your flexibility and your dedication to the Lab’s mission in the midst of so many moving targets in both our personal and professional lives.
The Lab’s sites are in “safe and stable standby” status, a more limited version of how we manage during a long holiday break, with only essential research and maintenance work continuing on our sites and the vast majority of us working remotely. Thank you to everyone for continuing to contribute to the Lab’s mission, and to supervisors for creatively and flexibly managing our people’s work in these challenging circumstances.
I want to provide you with additional information and guidance. This guidance will continue to adapt and evolve as the situation changes.
A key question on everyone’s mind is who should come on site, and what is considered “essential” on-site work. The shelter-in-place orders from the six Bay Area counties allows for a number of essential activities to continue. Our goal has always been to keep our Lab population and our community as healthy and safe as possible, and this requires that we minimize the number of people who come on Lab sites and who travel through our communities. We are defining “essential work” to be conducted on site as those activities needed to ensure:
Safe and secure facilities, systems, and equipment continue to be well maintained
The ability to respond appropriately to on-site emergencies and situations as needed
The long-term integrity of research materials (such as bio samples)
People’s abilities to effectively telework
Continued availability of DOE mission-critical systems
Note that we are currently including the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) as critical to the mission of all the DOE laboratories. Our other user facilities may be called on to contribute in various ways to the nation’s COVID-19 response, and we will evaluate those opportunities on a case-by-case basis.
People have asked whether they can come on site to collect an item from their office needed to telework. The answer is yes. This is considered an essential activity that enables you to work remotely. Please check with your supervisor before going to a Lab site, keep your visit to the Lab site to a minimum, and maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other people at all times. Please never remove research equipment, chemicals, samples, or other specialty materials from Lab sites, and please do not attempt to move heavy or bulky items such as chairs or desks.
Another question that is top of mind for us all is how employees will continue to get paid over a potentially long-term shelter-in-place scenario, a new challenge. As we have mentioned, we want to maximize the opportunities for our staff to contribute through telework. We also know that some of our employees can neither work on site nor work from home. We have a plan so that they will be, on a case-by-case basis as requested by division directors, authorized to use our finite Administrative Leave for Emergencies. At the same time, in partnership with DOE, the University of California, and the other national labs, we are exploring how to establish flexible leave and pay policies. We hope to have more information soon. For now, please see these revised leave, time charging, and pay frequently asked questions; check back often as these are evolving.
We also have received a number of questions about site services. Please review this revised Site Services Status page, this guidance on purchasing, as well as this guidance on IT services to help you telework more effectively.
The ALDs and division directors will receive additional information on identifying essential on-site activities and other topics.