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Updates on the University COVID-19 response and operations available here.
Updates on the University COVID-19 response and operations available here.
Updates on the University COVID-19 response and operations available here.

Guidance for Closing Laboratories

  • It is expected that all bench-based laboratory activity will be ended no later than 5 PM March 18 and that laboratories will be closed
  • Effective immediately, reduce the number of people in laboratories and resource centers at any one time. HOLs should establish a wind-down schedule that minimizes overlap of staff in the lab at any time. HOLs should remind staff to maintain appropriate physical distance from each other (3 to 6 feet) while they are in the lab.
  • People who do not need to be in lab should not come in, and people who must come to lab should end ongoing experiments as soon as possible and vacate the lab.
  • HOLs should immediately identify essential research experiments that are at a critical phase, meaning that abandoning them would cause a major or irreversible loss in project viability. This high priority work should be a very limited set of the current laboratory bench-based experimentation.
  • HOLs should also immediately identify experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed or delayed, and execute that plan.
  • Ensure that people who need to work remotely can do so effectively—check in advance that VPN and other functions operate.  Consider setting up a lab Zoom account so that scientific interactions and discussions about research projects can occur regularly, even though most people may be at a distance.
  • No new lines of research or experiments should be initiated at this time.
  • Graduate students about to start new rotations should wait for instructions from the Dean’s Office.
  • Laboratory work specifically related to COVID-19 may continue with explicit permission from the president.
  • The CBC has already implemented advance planning for contingency operations and will escalate those actions beginning March 16.
  • A person with even minor symptoms of illness, including but not only cough or fever, should stay home. If in doubt about whether you feel normal, do NOT go to work. Stay at home and call your primary care provider for specific advice. If you do not have a primary care provider, call Rockefeller University Occupational Health Services at (212) 327-8414.
  • Disinfection of common laboratory areas and touch points (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, telephones) with 70% ethanol should occur at least twice daily.
  • These initial actions should focus on the orderly and safe migration of research activities away from direct bench work. By the evening of March 18 you should have stopped all activities not critical to maintaining animals, unique reagents and essential equipment.
  • After March 18, no more than three critical laboratory personnel designated by the HOL will be allowed in the lab. These critical laboratory personnel will perform procedures, processes or equipment management that require regular personnel attention to maintain laboratory viability (e.g., liquid nitrogen tank filling, animal support); ideally these people hold C14 Certificates from the FDNY for supervision of a chemical laboratory, but this is not essential. These people are not permitted to perform experiments. Notify Research Support as soon as possible to indicate who these people are.
  • HOLs should clearly define processes and procedures for shutdown of expensive and sensitive equipment, particularly if incorrect shutdown might harm the equipment. If equipment should not be shut down, and you have not already provided this information to Amy Wilkerson, please do so as soon as possible using the form previously distributed to all HOLs.
  • Ensure that you have contact information for your students, postdocs and staff members.
  • Immediately consider cross-training research staff to fill in for performance of critical tasks for those who are out sick or unable to come to work.
    • Ensure staff members have the appropriate training.
    • Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions.
  • Review contingency plans and emergency procedures with your group.
  • Ensure that high-risk materials (radioactive material, biohazards, chemicals) are secured. If you need assistance, contact Laboratory Safety & Environmental Health.
  • We expect you will not make any immediate changes to the support of your staff members, students and postdocs. Please continue charging to grants as normal — see more information on federal guidance here. Our administrative and support departments are prepared to continue their critical and essential operations, working remotely, if possible, or on-campus if required. We have also been working to ensure we continue to operate in a fully compliant manner.
  • A checklist has been created to help you track actions in response to this request.