Indiana University took the unprecedented step of largely hibernating its research mission in response to the public health threats posed by the COVID-19 virus in March 2020 by restricting access to buildings and research activities. This document will help provide guidance for the staged reopening of research laboratories at IU, while still following procedures meant to control the transmission of COVID-19 between individuals working in research laboratories. All guidance should follow local safety and advisory warnings.
This document provides information for the gradual restart of research activities in the IUB LAR Vivarium during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This document applies to research laboratories using animals in the vivarium on the IUB campus.
The University will operate under these principles during research reconstitution:
- Plans will comply with relevant federal, state and local laws.
- Seek to return all researchers to full capacity as soon as possible, consistent with our goals and principles.
- Be strategic in our investment of scarce resources with particular attention to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving maximum impact from our research, and attracting external support.
- Recognize and respond quickly to new information about COVID-19, the success of measures to control its spread, and our experience implementing these guidelines.
- Respect the specific health conditions and other risk factors of every individual involved.
- Act in a coordinated way across the university.
- Communicate clearly and effectively with all members of the university community and be responsive to their concerns and needs.
Research Restart Instructions:
The mandatory requirements imposed by the university are put in place to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty with a gradual restart to research.
- The Research Restart form should be filled out by one person per research/creative activity team or human subjects study if they take place in different locations. If a PI or faculty researcher oversees multiple labs or studies with human subjects, it should be filled out once for each location.
- Approval of the restart plan by a dean, or department chair if delegated by the dean, is required to return to on-campus research.
- Graduate students may return to work in research settings in consultation with his/her faculty supervisors and/or graduate program advisors.
- Undergraduate students may only participate in research by completing the exception request and receiving approval from campus research leadership or the Vice President for Research.
- If you need access to animal research facilities, please contact Dr. Rogers via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to request access.
- Social distancing, frequent hand sanitizing and in many cases, PPE (cloth or surgical masks) will be required in public spaces and in face-to-face meetings while on campus and must be available for the foreseeable future.
- Frequently touched surfaces in research spaces and offices must be thoroughly cleaned BEFORE and AFTER use.
- Users should also wash hands before and after laboratory work. Hand sanitizers may be placed at strategic locations.
- Instruct students, faculty, and staff to stay home if sick or if a household member is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- All students, faculty and staff must self-monitor health symptoms of COVID-19 and use IU Health’s virtual screening protocol when symptomatic.
- The impact of primary school, daycare closures and care of family members will likely impact all research roles and should be taken into account.
- Flexibility, empathy and clear communication are keys to successfully reopening offices and research spaces.
- Maintain at least 6 feet between people/workstations. Place plexiglass or other barriers in workspaces where people must face each other or are unable to be 6 feet apart.
Timing required to get started:
- Animal orders- Can be placed as of May 18 for arrival June 1 or later.
- Animal orders placed one week will usually arrive the next week (with some exceptions) – animal orders by Tuesday at noon generally will arrive the following week (Jackson Laboratories on Mondays; Envigo on Thursdays).
- PI’s must order animals and follow active approved IACUC protocols.
- PIs must let animals be held or acclimatize for 2 days post-arrival, before beginning research activities.
- All faculty researchers and scholars who are planning to conduct research/creative activity on campus starting summer 2020 should complete the form BEFORE they order animals and resume research as noted above.
- Provide animal vendors as much advanced notice on animal orders as possible so that the animals will be available for shipping when needed.
- Breeding activities can resume as of June 1 keeping in mind to only breed the animals needed for immediate experiments. If the university needs to close again, excess animals may not be able to be used. If the COVID-19 situation worsens, we will try to notify you in as much advanced notice as possible.
- Some groups have maintained breeding at a reasonable level and would be able to start experiments sooner.
- The announcement to gradually restart research activities has been compiled over the last several weeks giving PI’s time to restart their research at the beginning of June and ramp up their research during the month of June.
- LAR Staffing
- Census is down about 10% with mainly husbandry and animal care duties being performed. As research begins to ramp up, please use the forms on the indiana.edu website to request services, transfers, animal orders, etc.
- LAR staff will be transitioning back from performing husbandry alone to providing additional services as before. Please be patient as we make this transition and once again accommodate your requests.
- Access to LAR facilities will remain restricted to approved personnel (those who have filed research restart forms on line submitting to their dean or department for approval).
- For work being performed in the animal facility, the average lab should have no more than 2 people designated to work in the animal facilities. These people must abide by the PPE requirements, social distancing and maximum capacity delineations on each room door.
- If additional lab personnel or students need facility access, these requests should be made using the exceptions request form.
- Masks (homemade cloth or surgical) must be worn within the animal facilities at all times. Cloth masks can hold allergens from the animals in the facilities so you should switch to using surgical masks once you enter the animal facilities.
- Homemade masks are appropriate as long as they are not used for procedures where surgical masks or N95’s are required as is stated on the room access sheets.
- LAR does not have enough inventory of PPE to provide surgical masks to lab personnel for use outside of the animal facilities so please request extra PPE through your department.
- All other PPE requirements for LAR would remain the same and as posted on signs on the doorway entrance – isolation gown or blue lab coat, surgical face mask, gloves while handling animals, specimens, chemicals, etc. No gloves in hallways or common areas.
- For all work – lab and vivarium – research personnel are to verify that they have all supplies in-house and ready to go before starting a research project.
- Supply chains are slower
- Includes PPE
- Includes reagents, drugs, surgical supplies, etc.
- Satellite facilities personnel can stop daily reporting of status to LAR starting June 1. If the satellite facilities have any problems with procuring materials or taking care of animals, please contact LAR for assistance.
Working within the Animal Facility
- All work areas MUST undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfection both BEFORE activities are conducted and AFTER personnel are finished using the area. Surfaces used and equipment (common use such as the IVIS imaging system) should be cleaned before and after use with a cleaning solution available through LAR.
- The LAR Director will be responsible for addressing any questions/concerns about the scheduling and entry of any housing or procedure space.
Scheduling/controlling access to ensure that social distancing is being maintained.
- Signs are posted on each room door specifying the maximum capacity for the room. Please abide by the maximum capacity indicated to abide by social distancing practices. Only 1 person should be allowed on an elevator.
- Large housing and procedure rooms allow 2 people. Small housing and procedure rooms should have only 1 person based on square footage.
- People will be required to wear face covering to enter the facility (see overall rules for working on campus).
- Continue to abide by recommendations made by EHS for hazard work and IACUC policies for surgical procedures in terms of the type of PPE that is required for special situations.
- Standard PPE is required otherwise - gown, mask, gloves when handling anmals/performing procedures.
- Based on personnel/space limitations listed above, the amount of work that Research groups should anticipate being able to accomplish initially is approximately 25%-50% of pre-COVID levels and then increasing around normal capacity by July unless instructed otherwise.
- Keep entries into the Animal Facilities or Satellite Facilities to a minimum with allowing people to work from home if possible:
- Labs are REQUIRED to use people currently approved on the essential list to start new projects and manage breeding initially.
- Any new lab personnel must undergo training and facility orientation before entering the animal facilities.
- Shared laboratory space within the vivarium must abide by the maximum room capacity for that room. Research groups needing the space should schedule time on calendars available on room doors.
- Limit to 2 people per time slot in large housing and large procedure rooms. Small housing and small procedure rooms only 1 person due to square footage. Distribute time slots fairly if the space is used by multiple groups
- Each lab group will be limited to signing up for a 2 hour time limit.
- More than 2 hours needs to be justified and approved by the Director.
- Help different PI lab groups in same rooms to coordinate among themselves.
- Each PI lab group can only sign up for 1 time slot per day until other labs using that same space have had a chance to schedule.
- Investigators with time scheduled in housing or procedure rooms can enter areas where they are not scheduled for a brief period (NO MORE THAN 5 MINUTES) to retrieve/return cages or supplies, quickly check a cage of animals, etc.
- If entering an occupied space, people should announce themselves and give the individuals in the room time to move if they are in the area that needs to be accessed.
- LAR will block off time from 7:30 AM – 12:30 PM in all spaces to delineate husbandry duties being conducted by Animal Care Staff.
- NOTE: LAR is working on adding a room scheduling system to facilitate scheduling times for working in animal rooms or procedure rooms. This system will be introduced and training will occur as the system becomes available to us.
- Resources- Count of animal housing rooms and procedure rooms
- MSBII- 18 housing, 5 procedure, 7 cage wash, office, storage
- Psychology- 6 housing, 3 procedure, 5 office, storage, cage wash
- ABL- 3 housing, 2 procedure, 4 storage, office, cage wash
- JH- 11 housing, 3 procedure, 5 storage, office, cage wash
- OPT- 4 housing, 1 procedure, 2 cage wash, storage
- RSB- 3 housing, 1 procedure, 12 office, cage wash, storage
- Total housing rooms = 45
- Total procedure rooms = 15