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Emergency notification: University closure in effect. New procedures for accessing campus have been implemented. Read the latest.

Guidance for Conduct of Approved COVID-19-Related Research During University Closure

These guidelines were included in a March 22, 2020 communication distributed to HOLs with COVID-19 research programs.

All bench-based laboratory activity, with the exception of COVID-19-related research projects specifically approved by the president, was suspended as of 5 PM March 18, 2020. Laboratories not engaged in this category of research are now officially closed.

Entry to laboratories by laboratory personnel is limited to members of the lab that the Head of Laboratory (HOL) specifically identified to conduct certain critical activities (“Critical Laboratory Personnel”) and those specifically identified to conduct COVID-19 research activities (“COVID-19 Research Personnel”). We recognize that some lab members are conducting both types of activities.

HOLs must notify ResearchSupport@rockefeller.edu of changes in their Critical Laboratory Personnel or COVID-19 Research Personnel.

Critical Laboratory Personnel may perform tasks, processes or equipment management that require regular personnel attention to maintain laboratory viability (e.g., liquid nitrogen tank filling, animal support). Additional guidance for conduct of critical laboratory operations is available online.

COVID-19 Research Personnel may conduct only activities related to the specifically approved COVID-19 research projects or activities defined above for Critical Laboratory Personnel.

Activities in support of these projects that can be conducted remotely, e.g., use of computers for data-driven analytics, social-behavior studies that can be conducted by audio/video conferencing, and literature review, should be done remotely. COVID-19 research activities that require physical experimentation must be conducted in appropriate university laboratory facilities in accordance with this guidance.

COVID-19 Research Personnel should:

  • NOT come to campus if they feel sick. Follow University guidance for reporting symptoms by emailing or phoning the Occupational Health Office (OHS); OHS@rockefeller.edu; ext. 8414
  • Carry their ID cards with them at all times.
  • Enter campus through the 66th Street Gate and identify themselves as COVID-19 Research Personnel. Security will confirm this status against a master list. After initial confirmation, the COVID-19 Research Personnel will be issued a sticker to place on the RU ID card to indicate approval for campus access going forward.
  • Ensure that an FDNY C14 certificate holder is present in the lab any time that research activities are conducted.
  • Practice social distancing when entering campus and remain at least six feet away from Security staff. If arriving by car, stop and allow the Security Officer to verify your parking status and direct you accordingly. Display the issued temporary parking tag in your vehicle while parked on campus.
  • When conducting research operations, practice appropriate social distancing, handwashing, and workspace cleaning, including disinfection of any common laboratory areas and touch points (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, telephones) with 70% ethanol.
  • Coordinate with any other personnel accessing the lab to minimize time on campus and time spent physically co-working with others. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from others when possible and always keep lab safety in mind. It is imperative to minimize the number of personnel in the lab at any given time.
  • Be comfortable with and willing to serve in this role. Please contact ResearchSupport@rockefeller.edu if you have concerns regarding performing COVID-19-related research functions.
  • NOT remove or transfer materials from laboratories without the prior approval of your HOL.
  • In case of emergency, call ext. 1111 or 212-327-1111. University emergency personnel are available on site to respond.

Services and Support from Laboratory Safety & Environmental Health (LS&EH):
Limited LS&EH staff will be on-campus during normal business hours on Tuesdays and Fridays. Requests for services or questions should be emailed to labsafety@rockefeller.edu. Email will be monitored regularly. Emergency needs should be reported by calling ext. 1111.

Biosafety/Biosecurity:

  • Procedures should be performed only by personnel with demonstrated proficiency in strict observance of your Laboratory’s SOPs.
  • Current CDC guidance calls for BSL2 containment and work practices for most SARS-CoV-2. Virus isolation in cell culture and initial characterization of viral agents recovered in cultures of SARSCoV-2 specimens should be conducted in a BSL-3 laboratory. Spills or occupational exposures must be reported to the Biosafety Officer as soon as possible. If the materials involved include recombinantly modified materials, the spill or exposure must also be reported to the chair of the IBC as soon as possible.
  • Initial processing (before inactivation) of SARS-CoV-2 specimens should be performed in a certified biological safety cabinet (BSC).
  • Appropriate disinfectants with proven activity against enveloped viruses should be used (e.g., hypochlorite-10% bleach, hydrogen peroxide or other EPA-approved disinfectant with label claims to be effective against SARS-CoV-2).
  • Follow standard procedures for preparing biowaste for removal by LS&EH. Biowaste pick-ups will be conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays. Email labsafety@rockefeller.edu if you need additional pickups.

Chemical Safety:

  • Follow standard procedures for preparing and labeling chemical waste for removal by LS&EH. Email labsafety@rockefeller.edu to request a pick-up. Do not interoffice mail the orange tag; leave it with the chemical waste container.
  • Chemical waste pick-ups will be conducted as needed on either a Tuesday or Friday.
  • Follow standard procedures for laboratory scale spills. For larger spills, or if you need additional guidance, call ext. 1111 and ask them to contact a LS&EH representative.

Radiation Safety:

  • Radioactive materials orders have been suspended during the University’s closure. Radioisotope requests must be approved by Anthony Santoro and Christopher Keogh.
  • Work with radioactive materials is limited to that to support COVID-19-related research and must be conducted in accordance with University guidelines and policies for radioactive materials.

Fume hood/biological safety cabinets (BSC): In the case of a fume hood or BSC failure, email labsafety@rockefeller.edu. LS&EH will coordinate response and repair with Plant Operations for fume hoods and with our third-party contractor, TSS, Inc., for BSCs.

Ergonomic and industrial hygiene issues (odors, potential exposures) will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. LS&EH staff are on call to assist. Email labsafety@rockefeller.edu to request assistance.

Purchasing, Receiving, Stockroom and Mailroom services:
The University is in regular contact with the vendors. The vendors report that they do not expect any shortages of most laboratory reagents and supplies, and they will continue to make deliveries to the University.

  • The Purchasing, Stockroom, Receiving and Mail Room Departments will continue to function during the closure but with limited staffing.
  • Place requisitions within iProcurement as you do under normal operations. Requisitions and requests for materials must be to address critical operations or be related to conduct of specifically approved COVID-19 research.
  • Request for reimbursement for items purchased outside of the University procurement system without the prior approval from Purchasing will NOT be approved.
  • Special requests for items required for personnel working remotely to meet their job responsibilities and that need to be shipped to a different address other than the University’s shipping address must be directed to Chris Keogh for review and approval. Any items purchased to support remote work activities remain the property of the University and may be required to be returned to campus.

More information about University procurement and receiving is available online.

Finance/Accounts Payable/Grants Support:
The Finance office is operating on a remote basis with limited on-campus presence throughout the University closure period. Payments will be made on a prioritized basis, largely executed through electronic payment methods (ACH/Wire transfers). Specific priority payment inquiries should be directed to Robin Maloney (maloner@rockefeller.edu).

The post-award grants office will be monitoring grant compliance requirements to ensure ongoing sponsor invoicing and communication. Post award grant inquiries should be directed to Regina Metz (metzr@rockefeller.edu).

Additional finance service information can be found: http://inside.rockefeller.edu/finance/

Instructions related to laboratory animal activities:

  • COVID-19-related research may only be conducted under an IACUC-approved protocol and in accordance with university guidelines and policies governing laboratory animal research.
  • Access to the CBC to perform IACUC-approved COVID-19-related research activities will be granted. Entry procedures for the CBC remain unchanged. Note that CBC staffing is limited, and some support services may be suspended or delayed.

The CBC staff will provide daily observations and essential animal care, including watering and feeding of animals in the CBC and CBC approved satellite facilities.

Resource Centers:
With the exception of the CBC, High Performance Computing, and Bioinformatics, the Resource Centers were officially closed at 5 pm on Wednesday. Requests for support from High Performance Computing and Bioinformatics should be made using standard procedures.

Resource Center staff want to support your approved COVID-19 research as fully as possible. The need to ensure safety, security, and operations while limiting staffing on campus requires us to suspend the usual procedures for accessing Resource Center equipment autonomously and limits the services that can be provided, and the schedule of such services.

Lab members should not enter any of the Centers (other than the CBC, which remains open to authorized lab members) unless they have approval from Research Support and the Resource Center head.

If your approved COVID-19-related research requires or would benefit from Resource Center support, please send an email to Amy Wilkerson identifying which Center(s). She will then coordinate communication between your lab and the Resource Center head.

Following this guidance, “Conduct of Approved COVID-19-Related Research During University Closure,” and minimizing the number of people on campus not only helps to prevent spread of infection but also allows those personnel still working full-time on campus to focus on the most essential activities and protect the entire University community, our facilities and key research materials.