Direction and Guidance for Conducting Laboratory-Based Research on Campus
- Scheduling and Occupancy Limits: Faculty/Staff/Trainee time in labs or clinics may need to be staggered, scheduled in shifts or scheduled in alternate days, as appropriate, to reduce population density and meet the required 50% onsite occupancy limit. It is essential that individuals vacate buildings at or before their designated time and leave themselves ample time to clean and sanitize the lab work area before exiting. Schedules should be coordinated and assigned by a local manager who understands the capacity and features of individual buildings. Employees and trainees should not work alone, especially after hours. Plans should be in place for at least two people to work together, while following appropriate distancing guidelines.
- Physical Distancing in Lab Settings: While individuals should spend most of their time at a distance of at least 6 feet from the next person, lab activities often will require brief interactions at smaller distances. For laboratories where the typical number of active lab personnel would exceed this density, PI’s, in consultation with their School’s Research Dean, will be responsible for determining which individuals will be allowed to work in each designated shift for their group.
- Continued Applicability of Standard Safety Requirements: All standard safety requirements for laboratories should be continued in addition to COVID-19 specific safety practices.
- Animal Facilities: When working in animal facilities, coordinate with the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) staff to maintain appropriate distancing and other safety procedures. Large numbers of animal users within an animal room are discouraged. Time in animal rooms must be scheduled in shifts. It is essential that individuals vacate rooms at or before their designated time and leave themselves ample time to clean and sanitize the work area before exiting. DCM will limit the number of animal users to a room based on the number of hoods currently in a room. Mornings (e.g. 7 – 11am) will be reserved each day for DCM staff to perform animal checks and provide animal care. Labs will be contacted by building managers regarding scheduling individual animal and procedure rooms.
- Research Cores: Research cores must: (1) Develop and use a regular schedule for frequently cleaning and wiping touched surfaces and objects (e.g., door and cabinet handles, faucets, light switches, keyboards, and other frequently touched objects) with an approved disinfectant or disinfectant wipes. (2) Follow routine surface decontamination of common equipment like instrumentation and computers. (3) Disinfect any surface thought to be contaminated. (4) Use an approved disinfectant such as a 10% bleach or 70% alcohol solution. Please refer to the EPA list of acceptable disinfectants for use against SARS-COV-2 for more information.
- Rearranging Instruments and Equipment: Units should consider rearranging instrumentation to ensure the required physical distancing. If instruments cannot be moved and are within 6 feet of each other, SOPs should be created to take that into account or Plexiglas shields should be placed between those instruments.