Research Laboratories

Laboratory Directors (LD) and supervising Principal Investigators (PI) are responsible for research projects conducted in the laboratories under their supervision. Laborartory personnel must where personal protective equipment. Physical distancing should be observed in the laboratory at all times.

Access to Laboratories

  • Laboratory Directors (LD) and supervising Principal Investigators (PI) are responsible for research projects conducted in the laboratories under their supervision.  Signage with the name and current contact information of the supervising PI or LD must be posted outside the door to such facilities. Signage must include any access restrictions.
  • For laboratories shared by multiple PIs, the PIs must immediately select a Contact PI for the shared space and post the name and contact information for the Contact PI at the entrance to the shared space.
  • When selecting individuals who will be given access to the laboratories, LDs or PIs should prioritize students needing to conduct research to finish a degree.
  • LDs and PIs must minimize the number of individuals using specific pieces of equipment, and minimize the number of research team members in the lab at any one time.

 

General Guidelines

  • Laboratory personnel must don personal protective equipment (PPE), to include face mask at a minimum, upon entry to the lab. Cloth masks are not intended for use in laboratory or clinical settings that require droplet or respiratory protection.  Cloth masks are adequate for research settings that did not require any type of respiratory protection prior to the pandemic.
  • Research activities for laboratory staff and students should be scheduled to ensure appropriate physical distancing by at least 6 feet as recommended by CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html). Physical distancing should be observed in the laboratory at all times. The maximum occupancy of the lab should be guided by this requirement.
  • All research laboratories must have a sign-in and sign-out sheet easily accessible at the entrance to the laboratory. All persons entering or leaving the lab must legibly write their name, contact phone number, and the date and time of entry and exit.  These records will be kept in the lab and made available to EHS&RM personnel as needed.
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitation of high touch lab work areas and surfaces consistent with CDC guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html) is required.  Surfaces should be cleaned using EPA listed disinfectants from "List N" effective against SARS-CoV-2 virus (see https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sarscov-2). Colleges, Schools, Centers, and Facilities may provide additional guidance that is stricter in nature.
  • Where helpful, markings should be placed on the floor to assist laboratory personnel in recognizing appropriate distances.   
  • Use of shared equipment or shared spaces should be coordinated through use of posted sign-up sheets or other mechanisms to ensure that physical distancing can be observed.
  • When possible, laboratory meetings involving more than five participants should be conducted remotely. Physical distancing must be observed during small group meetings.
  • Random inspections will be conducted to monitor compliance with PPE, distancing, and other safety guidelines. Deviations from guidelines will be reported to departmental Chairs and Deans.
  • PIs and LDs should develop contingency plans and be ready to delivery labs in an online mode with short notice if issues related to COVID-19 require modification.
  • University personnel from Environmental Health Safety & Risk Management (EHS&RM) will be available to assist in securing masks, personal protecting equipment, and cleaning solutions as needed.

 

Human Subjects Research with an In-Person Component

For research involving Human Subjects with an in-person component please refer to the policies available at https://www.utrgv.edu/irb/

 

Lab Expenditures Related to COVID-19

Lab expenditures related to COVID-19 emergency (e.g., PPE that was not required prior to the pandemic, sanitation and cleaning supplies required to meet guidelines) must be coordinated with the following individuals: