Dear CIRES Colleagues, As many of you have seen, CU Boulder campus is opening back up, and I wanted to explain what that means for CIRES and for you and your colleagues. This remains an evolving situation, and I expect things will shift. We will do our best to deliver timely updates by email and blog post, and please also plan to join me and some of the management team for the next CIRES Town Hall at 9 am Tuesday, June 8. 

In brief: 

  • NOAA-based CIRES people must continue to follow all NOAA policies (as well as CU Boulder’s).
  • CIRES people already approved to work in person are no longer required to fill in daily Buff Pass health questionnaires or to do weekly COVID surveillance tests.
    • For those who wish to continue testing, it remains available with limited sites.
  • Some—but not all of us—may consider returning to work in person soon, in consultation with supervisors. 
  • Others may be asked to return to work in person, if and when research needs require that.
  • On CU Boulder campus, everyone is still required to wear face masks, at least through the end of June. Building entry will require a Buff Card.
  • Travel, including field work, no longer requires a return-to-research form. Please fill out the CIRES Travel Request form on InsideCIRES prior to making any travel plans. Trip approval from CIRES is required before your travel costs can be charged to university funds. Visit the CIRES Travel Services website for more information or contact with questions.
  • We are developing a CIRES-specific remote work agreement for everyone and will explain more about it soon; the intention is to ensure we know where people are working, and when.

Some details:

  • NOAA-based CIRES people: 
    • All staff working in DSRC are required to follow DOC and NOAA guidelines as well as the DSRC Reintegration Plan and addendums. Currently, DSRC is operating in Phase 1 (essential and critical work only) and any access to the DOC campus and DSRC must be approved by the laboratory or program leadership on site. Please consult with your laboratory or program leadership if you have questions or concerns. 
    • If you are already approved to be back at work in the DSRC, you do not need to fill out the Buff Pass daily any longer, and you do not need to do weekly COVID surveillance testing (but if you wish to continue to get tested, you may). 
    • If you are not yet approved to return to work at the DSRC, please consult your supervisor and NOAA leadership before changing your workplace.
  • CU Boulder campus-based faculty (including research faculty), students, and postdocs: 
    • Many of you may return to work in person, following a careful discussion with your supervisor about expectations. 
      • A return-to-research request is no longer required.
    • You must wear a mask at all times in buildings on campus, at least through the end of June. (indoors, clarified may 14)
    • Some building common areas such as kitchens and conference rooms may not yet be available or may have limits. Please attend to signage and work with your supervisor to understand policies.
    • The CIRES building (with the exception of the CIRES Labs) will soon be CLOSED while the air handling system is replaced. People whose workplace is the CIRES building should work with supervisors to stay up to date on the construction schedule, but a return to the CIRES building is unlikely before July 1. 
  • CIRES Administration Team (including Education & Outreach): CIRES administrative team members not already approved to work in person may not return to work yet, pending development of a specific plan for safe return, and approval of that plan by campus HR. My team and I are working to develop a plan, which could include some in-person work as early as July 1. 

Overall, it is my expectation that all CIRES people will continue to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and avoid all in-person work if you experience any. You should not return to campus at this time if: 

  • you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis; 
  • you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19, or
  • you are caring for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19 subject or advised to quarantine or isolation.  

In those cases, you must be free of COVID-19 symptoms before returning to work on campus. If you are experiencing symptoms and seeking leave, please complete the COVID-19 Leave and Accommodation Request Form and email

As Director, I am permitted to put in more stringent requirements than CU Boulder’s, unique to CIRES or CIRES groups, to account for particular circumstances within a lab or unit as I deem appropriate. If you or your team needs to request additional measures, please reach out to me directly.I recognize this is going to be an adjustment period, and we’re not going to get everything right. Please practice patience and get in touch with your supervisors or with the HR team if you have questions or concerns. And please plan to attend the next Town Hall, when I expect to have more information. 


Waleed Abdalati
CIRES Director