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May 15: Reopening Pratt Research Labs FAQs

Note: Guidance in this FAQ is current as of May 15, 2020. Please watch for additional communications and contact Sr. Associate Dean George Truskey,, if you have questions.  

Do we have a date for reopening research labs yet? 

Dates are set for reopening labs only for staff who need access to the labs to do their work.  All others who can work remotely should do so. Chesterfield and LSRC opened May 13 for those labs which have approved plans and completed screening forms. If all goes well with these reopenings, then we are planning to open Fitzpatrick (CIEMAS) and French on May 26. Again, if all goes well with these reopenings, Hudson, Gross and North will reopen June 1.

Since these dates are subject to change, the faculty and staff in the labs for a building reopening will receive a message a few days beforehand with details specific to their building.

What will be the new PPE requirements and will those materials (masks, etc.) be provided?

Masks will continue to be required and provided for individuals working in the buildings. Additional requirements for handwashing and other safety precautions are detailed in Duke’s Onsite Work Guidance for individuals returning to research laboratories.

Where do we pick up our masks? 

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 be provided with enough masks for several weeks to a month.  These will be distributed when the building reopens.  One person from the lab should contact Mitchell Vann to reorder masks. 

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

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. 

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.

Is the Onside Work Guidance document dated May 4, 2020 the most up to date version that is in use at Pratt? 

An updated document is now posted online at

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.

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 and Vice Dean for Basic Science at

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

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

Will sanitizers be placed in more locations?

Before each building opens, Mitchell Vann will review and add more sanitizers. Part of the reason for the delay between building openings is to ensure that the distribution of sanitizers is correct.

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

Housekeeping staff will return before the building reopens. They will be doing regular special cleaning of high touch areas such as doorways, bathrooms, and elevator buttons.

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.

Is everybody allowed to use core services or only certain numbers per lab?

As core services reopen, they will post policies for access and submission of samples.

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.

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.

Are buses (Lasalle Loop in particular) going to be running again?

The buses are currently not running.

Will the buildings allocate a certain time every day for a 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, Facilities will provide spray disinfectant for use by building staff in breakrooms and conference rooms.

Can a mirror be set up in the corner of the Fitzpatrick CIEMAS hallway?

We can have Pratt Facilities staff look at the line of sight to determine where such mirrors can be helpful to prevent accidental contact between individuals.