Taking careful steps toward partial reopening

Essential staff on the steps of WHRC.

photo by Lee Geishecker

Nearly three months after the Falmouth campus of Woodwell Climate Research Center (formerly Woods Hole Research Center) shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center is taking the first small, cautious steps toward reopening. Woodwell Climate leadership has established a meticulous process to ensure staff that need to return to campus for research or other duties can do so while prioritizing safety.

Since early March, few Woodwell Climate staff have set foot on campus. Director of Facilities Fred Palmer, Facilities Assistant Annalisa Eisen, and Director of Information Technology Hilary Davis were the exceptions, as they handle essential operations. In May, the three took part in Falmouth’s Front Steps Project, an effort spearheaded by local photographer Lee Geishecker to build community by sharing photographs of people on their front steps during this period of social isolation. Other staff members shared webcam photos showing what work-from-home has looked like.

In recent weeks, as Massachusetts has begun phased relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, Woodwell Climate has responded with efforts to safely resume some lab, field, and office activities. Lab Manager Lindsay Scott has been designated COVID-19 Safety Director, creating a control plan and leading trainings for staff returning to campus. Employees must register visits, wear masks, limit movement within the building, and disinfect constantly. Lindsay is also working with Woodwell Climate scientists who have field research to make sure their projects restart safely.