Lab/Studio Reopening Updates: Group Meetings, Extended Hours
Posted on September 21, 2020. Some information or advice may have changed since posting.
I write today with two updates to the guidance we posted for Phase 3 operations in late June. These changes are at the request of researchers and are changes that the Research Task Force believes are safe in light of what we have learned to date about viral transmission in environments like labs and studios.
In-Person Lab Group Meetings
At the beginning of Phase 3 in early July, we published guidance that lab group meetings should continue to be held virtually. Now that in-person instruction seems to be going well, we are amending that guidance to allow in-person group meetings that conform to the same standard as in-person classroom instruction. When meeting, lab groups should wear masks and adhere to the guidance the Research Task Force has developed for in person group meetings. Research groups should only use rooms, either classrooms or conference rooms, that are on a regular Building Services cleaning schedule.
We will also relax the limits on allowable hours for use of labs/studios. Phase 3 guidance limits hours from 6 AM to 10 PM. To allow experiments to run to completion and for other extraordinary purposes, we are removing all time restrictions. Other safety protocols should be in place relative to operating safely in the labs at these extended hours, including ensuring that researchers are not alone in labs when they are conducting dangerous experiments. Please observe these safety practices and be very mindful to avoid working when fatigued.
The record of labs and studios has been very good to date. Based on self-reports, we are aware that there have been several cases over the summer and fall where lab researchers contracted COVID-19 outside of the lab and were present in the labs before they tested positive. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no instances of viral transmission to other researchers in the lab for these cases. These results confirm what we had expected, that the protocols in place protect researchers even if someone in the lab is infected. Please keep up the good work.
Robert J. Bernhard
Vice President for Research
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556