Dear Graduate Students,
Last week, we issued guidance to Missouri S&T faculty about access to laboratories on campus in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the situation continues to evolve, we are continuing our practice of restricted access to laboratories for your safety and the safety of others. At this time, access to Missouri S&T research laboratories is restricted and, for many labs, expressly prohibited.
A limited number of S&T labs are operational, though on a restricted basis. These are listed in this memo from the vice chancellor of research. The principal investigators (PIs) for each lab have been notified of which students and staff currently have been approved as essential workers at this time. A list, by lab, of students/faculty/staff who may continue to have access to their laboratories has been compiled and has been shared with deans, department chairs, the Environmental Health and Safety Office, and University Police. If you are unsure whether you are on the list, please contact your department chair or your college’s associate dean for research.
Only approved faculty, staff and graduate students directly involved in the essential research underway in these labs have access to these facilities, and access is by card swipe only. No visitors are allowed in any of these laboratories. In many cases, experiments and projects were considered on a case-by-case basis. It is possible that others in your laboratory may have access to your laboratory, and you do not. If this is a concern, please ask your supervisor for clarification.
Even though much of campus and our facilities are shut down due to COVID-19, the essential business of the university continues. As a graduate student, you can continue important aspects of your research remotely, such as writing, literature reviews, and any modeling or other aspects of your work that you can conduct remotely. In addition, all graduate students, faculty and staff conducting research should understand and adhere to the following:
- Conduct all lab meetings, including one-on-one meetings, online or by phone.
- Disinfect common laboratory areas, including bench tops and shared keyboards/mice, as well as high-traffic touch points, such as doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors and telephones, with 70% ethanol or disinfectant at least twice daily.
- Stand at least six feet away from each other.
- Wash your hands frequently. Keep in mind that using gloves may transfer microorganisms to other surfaces, just as bare hands would do. If you do use gloves in the laboratory, you should remove them as you exit the lab.
- Know that paper or cloth disposable masks will not protect you from viruses.
- Prohibit undergraduates or external visitors from entering labs.
Each laboratory must have a protocol on how these procedures will be enacted in their laboratory that is specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should review this plan with your PI, as well as any other emergency procedures for your group.
If sick, stay home
If any of you are carrying out critical research activities in one of the labs listed in the document linked above and you become sick or exhibit any symptoms of illness, including but not limited to cough or fever, you must stay home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides detailed information about coronavirus symptoms, prevention and treatment, and frequently asked questions.
We are taking these substantial steps to limit the spread of the virus and to protect our students, faculty and staff. If you have any concerns at all about laboratory safety or access, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.