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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 Conduct of Critical Laboratory Activities During University Closure

All bench-based laboratory activity has been suspended as of 5 PM March 18, 2020. Laboratories are now officially closed.*

Entry to laboratories by laboratory personnel is limited to members of the lab the Head of Laboratory (HOL) specifically identified to conduct certain critical activities. The University is referring to staff who are identified by the HOL to address these needs as “Critical laboratory personnel.”

HOLs must notify of changes in their critical laboratory 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); ideally these people hold C14 Certificates from the FDNY for supervision of a chemical laboratory, but this is not essential.

Critical laboratory personnel, in this role, are not permitted to perform experiments. 

Critical laboratory personnel should:

  • NOT come to campus if they feel sick. Follow University guidance for reporting symptoms by emailing or phoning the University Health & Wellness (UHW);; ext. 8414
  • Carry their ID cards with them at all times.
  • Enter campus through the 66th Street Gate and identify themselves as critical laboratory personnel.  Security will confirm this status against a master list.
  • Practice social distancing when entering campus and remain 3-6 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 essential on-campus research functions, 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 critical laboratory personnel assigned in the lab to minimize time on campus and time spent physically co-working with others.  They should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others when possible and always keep lab safety in mind.
  • NOT conduct potentially hazardous operations unless they are qualified to do so and unless at least one other qualified person is in the laboratory.
  • Be comfortable with and willing to serve as critical laboratory personnel. Please contact if you have concerns regarding performing the critical functions.
  • NOT remove materials (e.g., specimens, animals or sensitive equipment) from laboratories, other than computers, storage devices, or lab notebooks and papers, 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.

Procedure for obtaining replacement LN2, CO2 or other essential gases:

The University is in regular contact with the vendors. The vendors report that they do not expect any shortages and they will continue to make deliveries to the University.

Laboratories should ensure that critical laboratory personnel are trained on the processes they are being asked to do in relation to laboratory gases.    We recommend that you reach out to critical laboratory personnel identified in neighboring laboratories and cross train so that they can cover for you and you can cover for them if needed.  If conditions prevent any critical laboratory personnel from accessing campus to address LN2 or other critical gas needs, please contact

  • The Purchasing, Stockroom, Receiving and Mail Room Departments will continue to function during the closure but with limited staffing.  Requisitions and requests for materials must be to address critical operations or be related to conduct of specifically approved COVID-19 research.
  • Place Non-Catalog Requisitions within iProcurement as you do under normal operations.  If you have standing orders, those remain in place.  If you have a standing order but expect that the laboratory closure will result in reduced need, please alert Purchasing ( to modify your standing order in order to avoid unnecessary costs. 
  • Tanks will continue to be delivered to the labs by Custodial Services personnel.  Because of reduced staffing and increased demand on Custodial Services, delivery may not be available “on demand.”  Please make a request (Custodial Services, ext. 8117) for delivery of new tanks and removal of empty tanks at least one day in advance. 
  • If you have an LN2 tank in your lab that you do not need or have an empty one, please contact Custodial Services to retrieve the tank and return to Receiving so that it can be redistributed or refilled. This will help ensure that we continue to have sufficient supply for the campus.
  • If you have arranged for in-place delivery by a third-party gas supplier, the University will continue to provide access to the vendor to deliver the tanks to your lab.  Please plan to have a critical laboratory personnel present for these scheduled deliveries by the third-party gas supplier.
  • Connecting and disconnecting of tanks should be done by appropriately trained critical laboratory personnel.  Custodial Service staff will NOT connect or disconnect tanks.
  • Refilling cryogenic storage units should be done by appropriately trained critical laboratory personnel.  Custodial Service staff will NOT pour or transfer LN2.

Procedure for retrieval of items already received by the University Receiving Department:

Items received for labs that are not currently engaged in specifically approved COVID-19 research and do not have critical laboratory personnel to retrieve packages will be held by Receiving for the duration of the  University closure or until an authorized member of the laboratory retrieves them. Items requiring 4°C refrigeration will be placed in the Receiving department’s refrigerators which are on emergency power and temperature monitoring alert status.  Items requiring –20 to 30°C or –80°C storage which arrive with dry ice will be stored in the appropriate Receiving department’s freezer which is also on emergency power and temperature alarm monitoring status.  

Instructions related to laboratory animal activities:

  • Individuals who need access to the CBC to perform critical activities required to maintain important animal colonies will be granted that access. Entry procedures for the CBC remain unchanged.
  • Only those activities required to maintain the animal colonies may be conducted. No research procedures may be done.
  • Critical laboratory personnel should minimize as much as possible their time spent in the CBC.

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.

Following this guidance and minimizing the number of people on campus not only helps to prevent spread of infection, it also allows those personnel who are 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.

*Exceptions are made for the conduct of research activities on COVID-19 projects that have been specifically approved by the President. Guidance for COVID-19 research projects is provided separately.