Director’s Blog 5/05/20

Director’s Blog May 5, 2020
By Ian Billick, PhD

Summer is starting to come into focus.  I’ll jump to the highlights.  And if you have plans to come out this summer and read nothing else:  We anticipate taking housing requests next week and prioritizing space shortly thereafter.

Other highlights.  The road should open next week.  Some scientists with second homes will arrive instantly, as is allowed by Gunnison County.  billy will go into hiding to avoid your germs.  The County’s public health order, which goes until May 27th, still limits travel to Gunnison County by nonresidents who do not own a home.  However, the County has indicated visitors will be welcome starting May 27 unless the State prohibits it, or there is a return of the epidemic.  With those caveats, let research begin!

Unfortunately, just because the floodgates open May 27th doesn’t mean smooth sailing.  RMBL is worried about a second wave.  In particular, we’re worried that we’ll get people here, the epidemic will start up again, and public health will kick everybody out.  So we are preparing an operational plan to submit to Gunnison Public Health that lays out not only how we will operate, but how we can continue to host scientists safely during a second wave.

What will Gothic look like?  It’s a work in progress which we will be presenting to the Board.  But given how quickly things are happening, here are some potential highlights.  Feedback is welcome.

  1. We will reduce occupancy from 180 to around 100-120 to eliminate most shared bedrooms.  We’re still analyzing additional limits associated with bathrooms, showers, and eating facilities.
  2. We will house scientific teams and necessary staff first, and then add in students.  We may push off student arrivals to late June or early July unless they are critical to research teams.
  3. We will reduce/limit interactions among Gothic residents, as well as with the larger CB/Gunnison community.
  4. Access to common spaces, including labs, will be limited to functions only served by that common space, rather than because they are comfortable places to work.  Access to common spaces may be extremely limited the first 7 days upon arrival.
  5. The dining hall will focus, at least initially, on serving meals on a take out basis, as well as facilitating food purchases for the entire Gothic community (to limit travel between Gothic and CB/Gunnison).
  6.  We are likely to require daily symptom monitoring and documentation.  This is now standard for many workplace environments and Gothic will not be different.
  7. We will not allow the general public into the townsite; as part of this, we will not offer a public outhouse as in years past.
  8. We will have staff at the Visitor’s Center to help manage the public so that scientists do not have to do it.  However, we will not operate retail sales.  We may have a small convenience store for Gothic residents and/or have online sales.
  9. We are still analyzing the K-12 programs and whether/how we could operate programs on a limited basis in Gothic.
  10. If there is a bus to CB, it will be very limited.  We will encourage people to bring cars.
  11. While our goal is to minimize any barriers to research, including safety, regulatory, and financial, we will be looking at our rate structure in light of serving fewer individuals at increased costs.  We do ask that you keep communicating with us if there are significant barriers to coming to RMBL, including financial.

A few final words.  This summer is going to be different.  No matter how well we plan, things will change and we will have to adapt.  Furthermore, success will not be based upon whether we make mistakes, which we will, but on how gracefully we deal with them.  We must all do our best to be flexible, creative, and compassionate.

Don’t hesitate to pass on ideas on the thoughts above as we finalize plans and move towards opening. Feedback and suggestions for blog posts are always welcome!