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Research VP Issues Updated Guidance for Laboratory Research Activities

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The Office of the Vice President for Research has issued updated guidance for researchers conducting laboratory-based research in all campus facilities. The message reads as follows:

Coronavirus UpdatePlease review the guidance that was provided on March 12th to researchers about planning and preparations for possible disruptions to research activities due to the COVID-19 threat.  This document provides further guidance for researchers conducting laboratory-based research in all campus facilities.

At the present time, essential laboratory-based research activities may continue, with the provisions noted below.  Non-essential research should be curtailed.  Principal investigators should be aware that SBU leadership, in consultation with SUNY and health officials, may determine at any time that curtailment of all research is necessary in any laboratory. Continuity of research operations must account for all current SBU guidance relating to essential and non-essential personnel and alternate work locations, and recognize that the health and safety of students, postdocs, and staff remain the highest priority.

All Principal Investigators must create a research continuity plan for their lab and forward it to the department chair no later than Friday, March 20th.  The continuity plan should address:

ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES

•Identify essential operations (subject to review by the Chair and, if necessary, the Dean) needed to support ongoing experiments and research that would suffer a major impact if temporarily discontinued, such as loss of years of effort, data, or loss of a major investment.  Maintenance of essential equipment, cell lines and other essential samples, as well as care of research animals may also meet the criteria for essential operations.

•Curtail non-essential research projects and postpone initiation of any new experiments.

•Immediately develop plans for a lab shut down if so directed.

PERSONNEL

•Create a communication plan for lab personnel (including all students) and ensure its effective functioning.

•Identify minimum personnel needed to ensure continuity of essential or high-priority research.  Ensure that lab personnel know their responsibilities.  Account for possible changes due to illness or inability to come into work.

  • Identify and encourage all opportunities for work at different locations (e.g., home), and ensure their remote access.
  • For personnel who must have some presence in a lab, implement social distancing and/or staggered work days/hours.  If applicable, account for high-risk activities (e.g., not working alone).  Maintain recommended hygiene and PPE usage.  Eliminate in-person group meetings; use on-line alternatives.

EQUIPMENT AND CRITICAL SUPPLIES

  • Establish usage and maintenance policies (including extra cleaning/disinfecting) for instrumentation, facilities, and common areas.
  • Develop plan for shut down or standby operation of instrumentation if conditions or lack of supplies, reagents, or PPE require.
  • Ensure that high-risk materials (biohazards, radioactive materials, hazardous chemicals) are properly secured.

HUMAN SUBJECTS AND ANIMALS

  • PIs must be aware of temporary changes to human subjects research described here.  Describe plans to curtail such research if so directed.
  • Prepare for continued animal care and access to DLAR facilities.

Each lab should begin implementing their research continuity plans immediately.  And please be aware that this guidance may be updated at any time.

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