This website is for any frequently asked questions (FAQs) specifically regarding SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and lab operations. New information will be added to this FAQ list as questions are asked. Each post will be dated to avoid any confusion.

This site was last updated: 7/13/2020

For information about what work is deemed essential, go to the UVM COVID-19 information page or contact your chair or dean.

For information more specific to labs (e.g. resuming lab work), go to the COVID-19 Laboratory Information page.

 

The questions have been divided into categories. For general, non-lab-specific information, go to the COVID-19 FAQs page. If you can't find an answer to a specific question, email us at safety@uvm.edu.

Lab Operations

I have already submitted a Research Resumption Plan and gained approval to re-open my lab. If I want to add personnel to my lab roster, do I need to submit a revised plan?

Labs must be able to continue to meet the COVID-19 requirements as they increase personnel or ramp up activities. As labs ramp up activities or increase personnel from an already approved plan, the additional personnel can be approved by the Dean of your College.

For example, if the Research Resumption Plan was already approved by the Office of the Vice President of Research (OVPR) with only 4 people listed in the Plan, and it will now increase to 6 people AND can still meet the physical distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, scheduling, face covering, symptom checking, etc. requirements, then that can be approved at Dean’s level. (6/25/2020)

Does the lab supervisor/PI need to be in the lab and on-site to monitor lab personnel symptoms?

A requirement from the Governor’s Order is that someone is “on-site” to monitor employee symptoms daily. Since this does not fit the academic model, UVM will accept Resumption Plans that state the use of email, TEAMS, texting, etc.

The key part of this is that a specific person or persons have been named who will review personnel status (symptomatic/non-symptomatic) and enforce that those who are symptomatic (or increased COVID-19 Risk) do not come to work. Those at increased COVID-19 Risk includes the following:

  • People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • People who have travelled to Vermont from another area within the past 14 days;
  • People who have tested positive for the virus, until cleared by healthcare provider;
  • People who have contacted another person who is presumed to have COVID-19 due to testing, symptoms, or direction from healthcare provider.

(5/28/2020)

How should disposable gloves and disposable face coverings (e.g. surgical masks) be disposed properly?

General use disposable gloves and disposable face coverings used in labs should be disposed in the regular trash. Please continue to dispose of chemically-contaminated materials  and biologically-contaminated materials in their appropriate waste containers (clear bag/waste label/waste tag for chemical debris, red bag/biobox for biological debris). (5/19/2020)

Am I allowed to work in my lab alone to maintain social and physical distance?

RMS does not encourage working alone when conducting hazardous activites. That said, the activites that can and cannot be done alone are determined by the lab supervisor and outlined in the Working Alone form in your Lab Safety Notebook. During these uncertain times, it is critical that you have a written emergency plan and have considered additional communications you might need if you must work alone. (5/19/2020)

Do I need to complete the April or May lab self-inspection checklist during the shutdown?

No. Do not come to campus just to complete the monthly self-inspection checklist. If your lab is currently operational, then the checklist should be completed as is required by the Lab Safety Program.

** Upon returning to campus and before beginning any lab work, please take the time to conduct a thorough lab self-inspection and document it on the checklist.  Also, take the time to run/flush the eyewash and safety shower longer than you normally would to clear any stagnant water in the pipes. (5/18/2020)

How should -80 freezers be monitored?

Some labs have paid for freezers to be remotely monitored using Sensophones. Some Sensaphone freezer alarms are set up to email or text the PI during a power outage or temperature loss. However, not all freezers have remote alarms. Freezers with local alarms, or no alarms, that contain critical materials may need periodic monitoring by lab personnel. Contact your Chair or Dean if this is the case in your lab.

Ensure that you know what type of alarm system you have on your lab freezer(s), if any. Freezers with local alarms and freezers located in areas where the alarm cannot be heard will be the most challenging. (3/27/2020)

Is there a form I should use if I need to leave something running unattended?

As is always the case, use the Unattended Operations form. This should be completed and placed on the outside of the lab door, cold room, etc. (3/27/2020)

Minimizing Potential Transmission

I need a plexiglas shield and/or floor decals to help maintain physical distancing. What is the correct process to follow?

All plexiglas shield and all floor decals must be installed by PPD (Physical Plant Department). Submit a FAMIS work request or contact SOS@uvm.edu to start the process. (5/28/2020)

Can I eat and/or drink at my desk that is now in the lab in order to afford proper physical distancing?

No. As usual, no food or drink is allowed in labs. If your desk is temporarily placed in the lab, this does not give you a space in the lab to safely eat/drink. (6/4/2020)

Since 70% ethanol solution is one of the approved disinfectants I can use in my lab against COVID-19, is there a specific contact time to kill the virus?

The correct contact time is about 1 minute. Observe the contact time, then wipe off the excess material. (5/28/2020)

Since 70% ethanol solution is one of the approved disinfectants I can use in my lab against COVID-19, is it okay to use to disinfect my lab equipment?

You should check with your equipment manufacturers and manuals before you apply a specific disinfectant to your equipment. (5/28/2020)

Can hallway and lab doors be propped open to avoid touching frequently used door handles?

Hallway doors are fire doors and must remain closed to remain in compliance with NFPA regulations. The exception to this rule is if a hallway door is on an automatic magnetic release, it may remain open.

The same regulation applies to lab doors. All lab doors are considered fire doors, and unless they are on magnetic releases, they must be closed. This also ensures that the lab's air changes per hour and overall ventilation is able to work properly as designed. (5/18/2020)

Lab Support Services (e.g. waste, COVID-19 signage, TSP, PDC, etc.)

Where can my lab get Covid-19-related signage?

Departments may order from a pre-approved UVM COVID-19 inventory of signs, decals and posters. The cost for this signage will be paid for out of the central Covid-19 chartstring, and the 2020 purpose code must be used. Departments are encouraged to use pre-approved signage to maintain consistent signage around campus and to be ADA compliant. 

If departments would like to create and order department-specific signage, they must pay for it using a department chartstring (and also use the COVID-19 2020 purpose code). Signage may be ordered using the UVM Print and Mail website https://www.uvm.edu/printandmail. (7/13/2020)

If a critical piece of equipment breaks, what should I do?

TSP (Technical Services Partnership) has been deemed essential and will maintain a presence on campus. Should ESSENTIAL lab equipment need repairs, please reach out to Tom Cota or Scott Whiteman or call their main office number (covered 24/7). See: https://www.uvm.edu/research/tsp/forms/contact-us (3/27/2020)

My lab is closed, but we left some lab waste there for pickup. What should I do?

Waste pickup needs on campus will be monitored remotely. Just make sure your waste is tagged and entered online properly. (3/27/2020)

My lab technician will not be present when the waste collection occurs. How can I make sure that waste will be collected?

Safety personnel have CatCard and/or key access to most campus labs. If the location of your waste is not obvious, please provide the storage location information in the "comment box" of the online Tags Entry page. Additional lab waste questions may be directed to waste@uvm.edu. (3/27/2020)

My lab is being renovated. Will this construction proceed as planned?

Our understanding is that only construction related to any type of COVID-19 facility or effort is continuing. For more information, contact UVM Planning, Design, and Construction (PDC) to find out which construction activities will continue. See: https://www.uvm.edu/arch/contact-us (3/27/2020)

Will UVM Service Operations Support (SOS) still be functioning during the campus closure?

Yes, UVM SOS is considered critical personnel and can be reached for questions at SOS@uvm.edu. For more critical needs, call 802-656-2560, ext. 1. They can page the appropriate personnel on campus if you provide clear details of your need. Remember to provide them with your full name and a cell phone number so those responding can contact you for more information. (3/27/2020)

Will biowaste pickup still occur during the shutdown?

Yes. Any lab that has Chair/Dean permission to remain open, and that generates biowaste, should be able to bring their full biowaste boxes to the Shed at the HSRF loading dock. Labs that are functioning and in buildings that get biowaste box pickups on Mondays need to email waste@uvm.edu before Monday mornings to let us know they need assistance. (3/27/2020)

IACUC- and IBC-Related

(IACUC-related) Will protocols continue to be reviewed by the IACUC?

Yes, IACUC protocol review will continue as usual until further notice. Contact iacuc@uvm.edu with any questions or concerns. (3/27/2020)

(IBC-related) Will protocols continue to be reviewed by the IBC?

Yes, IBC protocol review will continue as usual until further notice. Contact ibc@uvm.edu with any questions or concerns. (3/27/2020)