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Reopening Pratt Research Labs: FAQs

Last updated June 3, 2020. As plans evolve in response to changing conditions, please watch for additional communications. 

As Duke reopens facilities to support our research mission, our first priority is everyone’s health and safety.

Duke has provided extensive information and guidance for making this transition, which we recommend reading first. On this page, you can also find answers to Pratt-specific questions submitted by our community.

If you have additional questions, please contact your faculty PI, DGS, or email pratt-research@duke.edu.

Duke Guidance for Reopening

Duke Guide to Return to the Workplace

Duke Research Onsite Work Guidance

Duke Research FAQs for Graduate and Postdoc Lab Researchers

Facilities Management Reopening Toolkit

Keep Working: Staffing FAQ

Duke Research Town Hall FAQs


Town Hall Presentation

On May 18, 2020, a Pratt Town Hall covered reopening information specific to the Pratt community. Slides from the meeting are posted below. Please note that given rapidly changing conditions, some information may be outdated. Check the Q&As below the slides for the latest guidance.

Town Hall slide deck cover image

Download slide deck »


GENERAL INFORMATION

First, please read the Duke-wide guidance. Many of your questions will be answered there.

Opening Schedules and Who Will Return

What is the schedule for reopening Pratt research labs? Who can return to the buildings?

Dates are set for reopening labs only for individuals who need access to the labs to do their work, and/or who have been approved to return to campus by their faculty PI, department chair and Sr. Associate Dean George Truskey. All others who can work remotely should do so, as outlined in Duke-wide policies

Chesterfield and LSRC opened May 13 for those labs which have approved plans and completed screening forms.  Labs in the Fitzpatrick Center (CIEMAS) and French Science Center opened May 26. Labs in Hudson, Gross, North and Teer reopened June 1.

The faculty and staff in these labs received messages before opening with details specific to their building.

I don't work in a lab, but I need one-time access to retrieve an item. What should I do?

First, please notify your supervisor. Your supervisor will forward the information to Mitchell Vann at Pratt Facilities. Then, you will need to complete the Duke Employee Occupational Health and Welfare (EOHW) survey and the daily health screen. During your access, you must comply with the health and safety guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask at all times while in the buildings.

Will other staff also be returning (housekeeping, office staff, etc.)?

Duke Facilities Management housekeeping staff will return before the building reopens.  All others should follow the guidance in the answer above.

When will core facilities and services become operational? Who can access them?

As core services open, they will post policies for access and submission of samples. Please check the website for each core facility for the latest information.

How will common equipment be handled?

Labs that have shared equipment used by individuals in other labs will need to post signup sheets with available times for usage.

Can PIs or others enter the lab space before others to arrange the space for work?

If you need special access, email george.truskey@duke.edu.

How should we accommodate new employees or others scheduled to start in the lab in June or July?

All new employee orientation is happening remotely. Any practices done in your lab should be oriented remotely as well. Anything in the laboratory should be done following the plans PI have submitted. If you have new people arriving this summer, you may need to revise your plan.

Can vendors come on campus? What if I need a repair done in the lab?

See "Supply Deliveries and Vendor Services."

Are there special rules for people at high risk?

Individuals who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA Reasonable Accommodations related to Returning to the Workplace should visit the Disability Management System website or call 919-684-1424.

I am uncomfortable coming back to work in the lab at the present time. What should I do?

We have made many changes to the workplace to reduce our risks as much as possible. The guidelines in place are intended, if properly followed, to reduce risks as much as possible for our faculty, staff, and students. However, if you still feel uncomfortable, please speak with your advisor or chair about ways in which you might continue to contribute to the research effort from a distance.

When will undergraduate researchers be allowed back?

A date has not yet been set. We will notify everyone when a decision has been made to allow undergraduates to return to the labs.

When will we get back to normal operations?

This is being assessed at a university level and will be communicated as decisions are made, with the first goal of protecting everyone’s health and safety. Within a few weeks, if we have no problems with compliance and no reported cases of COVID-19, we could consider increasing the density of some of the labs to conform to a minimum separation of 6 feet.

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

First, please read the Duke-wide guidance. Many of your questions will be answered there.

Testing, Check-In & Check-Out

Will medical screenings be required to return to the lab? Is there a check-in/check-out process?

Yes. See the Duke-wide protocols above. Sr. Associate Dean George Truskey will send detailed instructions about these screenings to each faculty member upon approval of their lab shift plan, which they will forward to returning lab members.

Do we know who we will check out with?

There will be a COVID-19 Employee Health Checklist which those approved to work on-site will fill out every day. When a lab plan is approved, the faculty member receives a message from George Truskey with information about completing a lab survey. The faculty member also will receive information about the process for the employee (and student) health screening and the daily health checklist and daily checkout. That information will be forwarded by the faculty member to the lab members returning so that they may complete the health screening and access the daily procedures.

Are there appropriate safeguards in place to protect our health information shared through any health screening?

All information is received only by Duke EOHW. Information about who has completed the required online check-in/check-out--and whether anyone has been asked to quarantine--will be shared with faculty lab supervisors, but no details about specific answers will be shared beyond EOHW. HIPAA privacy practices will be followed.

Does Duke have plans to have test all lab members? What is the plan for those who have asymptomatic cases?

Currently, testing will be done by EOHW for those who have symptoms of COVID-19. This is the procedure being followed at Duke Health for caregivers. To reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission, everyone returning to labs is required to wear a face covering and follow safety protocols outlined here. You can be assured that Duke's health and environmental processes and procedures have been developed in deep consultation with our Infectious Disease experts.

Masks and Face Coverings

Duke continues to require masks for individuals working in buildings on campus. See pages 7-8 of Duke’s Guide to Returning to the Workplace for information on masks/face coverings of various types. Cloth face coverings or disposable masks required for working in Pratt labs are intended to contain the wearer’s respiratory emissions. By wearing a mask, you help protect others.

Will Duke provide me a mask to wear at work? Can I bring my own mask, cloth or surgical?

Yes. Duke will provide disposable masks to those who need them. Labs may also use their own supplies, if applicable. Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash. (They can go in the regular trash as they are not considered medical waste.)

You may also wear a cloth face covering, which will help Duke reduce the need to purchase additional masks, which are in short supply.

Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly laundered before use again. Having a week’s supply of cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering.

Where do we pick up masks provided by Duke?

Detailed messages will go out before each building reopens with this information. Mask orders will be placed by Pratt Facilities based on the information in the approved lab plans and schedules. Each lab will initially be provided with enough masks for a couple of weeks. These will be distributed when the building reopens. One person from the lab should contact Mitchell Vann to reorder masks.

Can lab discretionary funds be used to buy reusable cloth face coverings/masks?

Yes.

Does Duke have guidance about cleaning masks for reuse? Or recommendations for where to buy reusable face coverings?

See pages 7-8 of Duke’s Guide to Returning to the Workplace for an explanation of the purpose of different kinds of masks and guidance on care and use of both cloth and disposable face coverings. Homemade masks may be worn instead of disposables (Ref). 

The CDC has published information on how to make cloth face coverings.

Cleaning & Sanitation

Duke Facilities Management has provided extensive information on this topic. Please see: Facilities Management Reopening Toolkit

Will the buildings allocate a certain time every day for complete disinfection?

The building will be undergoing routine cleaning on normal schedules. Enhanced cleaning of certain high-frequency touchpoints will be performed per OESO recommendation. In addition, Duke Facilities will provide building hand sanitizer dispensers and also spray disinfectant for use by building staff in breakrooms and conference rooms.

What supplies will labs be expected to provide?

Labs are responsible for cleaning lab benches and other high touch areas within the labs. They can use soap and water or 70% isopropyl alcohol solution.

Will cleaning staff restock paper towels and soap?

Yes.

Will sanitizing spray be distributed to labs?

Duke Facilities Management will provide a limited amount of spray bottles. We will prioritize distribution to labs without sinks. To request a bottle, contact Mitchell Vann with Pratt Facilities, mitchell.vann@duke.edu. Labs with sinks can use soap and water or 70% isopropyl alcohol solution.

How often will hand sanitizer stations be resupplied? What if we run out?

Pratt Facilities will check the stations daily and submit work orders for refilling the stations. If you know of one that needs refilling, contact Mitchell Vann or a Pratt Facilities team member. 

Do we have to specifically request that hand-sanitizer stations be placed outside particular labs?

Supply is currently limited, and we are prioritizing dry labs that don’t have sinks. If your lab has a sink, please use that for sanitizing. If you want to request a sanitizer station, contact Mitchell Vann or a Pratt Facilities team member. There will also be hand sanitizers placed inside building entrances and near elevators.

What is the plan for keeping communal breakrooms clean?

Duke FMD will provide enhanced cleaning for breakrooms. However, please note that any use of communal spaces should be limited and must follow Duke policies.

Social Distancing

How should we handle procedures with multiple people?

Animal procedures involving more than one person need to have the vivarium staff review and approve. Most likely this will involve full PPE, including face mask, face shields, and gloves. Other procedures involving more than one person may need to follow similar protocols, but we will consult the infectious disease physicians based on details of the procedure.

Does the department set the rules for shared spaces such as autoclave rooms, cold rooms and bathrooms?

All rooms have to conform to the social distancing of either six feet between individuals or 250 square feet (sf) per person. Most of the autoclave rooms and cold rooms are less than 250 sf and so only one person can be in those rooms at a time. Those rooms in Fitzpatrick CIEMAS have windows so you can see if someone is in the room.

The policies for Phase 3 reopening note that only one person should be in the bathroom at a time. We will put up a sign that will enable people to specify that the room is occupied when they enter.

Can we do a 1:1 exchange of people between our two labs during shifts?

If a faculty member wants a person to work in one lab room during one shift and another room during a second shift, that is permissible, as long as the overall density of individuals is within the limits and spaces are cleaned during change of shifts.

Other Concerns

How can I report a breach of safety guidelines?

If you believe that your co-workers or colleagues are not observing the safety measures put into place, please contact the anonymous hotline at 800-826-8109 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), or at oarc.duke.edu

What happens if one of us gets COVID-19? Will we need to go through an extended shutdown again?

Individuals who feel sick should follow the guidelines on Duke’s Keep Working website.

If someone working on-site tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will be done and those who had contact with the infected individual will need to self-quarantine and be tested if they display symptoms. Extra cleaning may occur in the affected areas; Duke Facilities Management can clean and disinfect the area per the direction of OESO and Employee Health. If infections are contained then the other labs can continue to operate in the building.

Are there special rules for people at high risk?

Individuals who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA Reasonable Accommodations related to Returning to the Workplace should visit the Disability Management System website or call 919-684-1424.

I am uncomfortable coming back to work in the lab at the present time. What should I do?

We have made many changes to the workplace to reduce our risks as much as possible. The guidelines in place are intended, if properly followed, to reduce risks as much as possible for our faculty, staff, and students. However, if you still feel uncomfortable, please speak with your advisor or chair about ways in which you might continue to contribute to the research effort from a distance.


LOGISTICS

First, please read the Duke-wide guidance. Many of your questions will be answered there.

Building Access

Is card access going to be strictly regulated based on the schedules we submit?

Card entry and exit will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that the labs do not have more than the maximum allowed in their approved plans. If a lab has more people in the lab that the plan allows, they will be notified. Thus, it’s critical for everyone who enters to complete the checkout process.

Will we have access to other buildings?

You’ll have access to all Pratt buildings. School of Medicine research buildings have limited access to only those on the associated essential-individuals list. To request access, send a message to Jennifer Foreman at jennifer.foreman@duke.edu and Vice Dean for Basic Science at VDBS@duke.edu.

I don't work in a lab, but I need one-time access to retrieve an item. What should I do?

First, please notify your supervisor. Your supervisor will forward the information to Mitchell Vann at Pratt Facilities. Then, you will need to complete the Duke Employee Occupational Health and Welfare (EOHW) survey and the daily health screen. During your access, you must comply with the health and safety guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask at all times while in the buildings.

Will Fitzpatrick/CIEMAS-specific information be sent to medical school trainees and others who work in the building?

Yes, we are in communication with the School of Medicine to make sure everyone is apprised of the requirements.

Is Twinnies going to reopen as well?

Not at present.

Parking & Transportation

Please see Page 10 of Duke Guide to Return to the Workplace. Many of your questions will be answered there.

How will parking access be affected during this re-opening? Can students park in lots such as Bryan Research Garage during regular working hours?

We have temporary parking passes to the Circuit Lot, which can be requested by individuals approved to return to the lab. Please contact Emma Albright, emma.albright@duke.edu.

Will Duke buses be running again?

They are currently not running. Please watch for updates.

Is Safe Ride operating?

Safe Ride is available on campus. During the day call 919-684-2218, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. call 919-684-2020 for van services.

Supply Deliveries & Vendor Services

Will shipping policies be relaxed/changed to allow direct shipment to the lab again? Will there be regular pick-ups to allow shipping out of the lab?

We don’t know when shipping policies will be relaxed. Some vendors do have card access and can make deliveries directly to labs. We plan to have a single receipt point for the school for those deliveries that do come on campus now since building access is restricted. 

What is the plan for the delivery of lab supplies?

Beginning Tuesday 5/26, deliverers will be granted access to the Fitzpatrick back dock by an Allied Security Guard and to the Fitzpatrick building only.  All deliveries are expected to be delivered either directly to the lab if that was the process before COVID-19, or to a receiving point in the BME Administrative Suite, Fitzpatrick 1427. A small number of BME staff will manage this process 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The staff there will accept packages on behalf of Pratt and notify the recipients or business offices for pickup.

BME staff will notify recipients and provide them with 45-minute windows of when pickup may occur.  A photo ID will be required in order for the package to be released.  If someone other than the intended recipient is designated to pick up the package, the recipient needs to convey this via reply email to the BME staff member who initially contacts them about the delivery, stating the name of their designee, since no other record of the delivery will be maintained.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you will be expected to pick up deliveries on the same day.  BME has limited storage capacity, and no way to refrigerate perishable deliveries.

For labs in the Chesterfield, specific guidance on deliveries has been provided to the faculty PIs.

Will shared floor materials such as dry ice be regularly restocked?

Dry ice should be restocked. Liquid nitrogen and gases have been available continuously.

Can our lab call in an outside vendor/repair person if something breaks?

We understand the need for external equipment maintenance and repair personnel to visit Duke labs as we ramp up research activities. It is the expectation that all outside service providers will follow Duke’s established sanitation and distancing standards during their time in our facilities and leased spaces. While we have been advised against requiring symptom attestations for external visitors, a good practice would be to ask the service company to provide you with some details regarding the checks/monitoring they are doing with their employees. Keep this information in your records of the repair visit.

 The following general practices should be employed with outside service personnel:

  • When scheduling the service visit, ask that the technician wear a face mask before entering Duke buildings or leased facilities.
  • Ask your service technician to call you when they arrive at your building and meet them at the entrance or loading dock to let them in.
  • Have a face mask ready in case the technician is not wearing one.
  • Orient the technician to the location of sanitizing stations.
  • Explain the safety and distancing practices that must be observed while on campus (i.e., proper mask usage, 6 ft distancing, sanitization practices, etc.).
  • Escort the service technician to the work area; orient them to the location of sinks for hand washing, sanitizer spray or wipes for clean-up, etc.
  • When work is complete, escort the technician out of the building.
  • Report any concerns with contractor behavior to your departmental business office.