On Monday, June 8, 2020, New York City was allowed to re-open under Phase 1 of the New York State Forward re-opening process initiated by the Governor. In this phase, Higher Education Research was allowed to resume on-site research subject to meeting College, University, city and state standards as well as obtaining the required approvals to do so. The linked documents in the Safety Information and Guidelines section were consulted in designing this plan to insure consistency. Research activities were approved to resume at Lehman on Monday, July 20, 2020.
General Guidelines | People | Physical Distancing | Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces | Workplace Activity | Movement and Commerce | Health and Safety Training | Screening and Testing | Controlling to Campus Access | Tracking and Contract Tracing | PI Responsibility | Locations | Communications | Safety Information and Guidelines
General Guidelines for Lehman College Research Lab
These guidelines will apply throughout the re-opening process and research priorities will be informed by the stages outlined in the section above. Faculty will structure and schedule their lab in the most efficient and productive manner in accordance with state, city, university, and college requirements and guidelines. Approval to return to the laboratory is a two-step process: first the general practices (this document) is designed and approved through the appropriate CUNY processes; second a specific floor plan and PI implementation plan is required for local approval. PIs can prepare their lab-specific plans based on these guidelines and submit them to the Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences who will provide a preliminary approval and then to the VP for Administration and Finance and ultimately the President for final approval.
It is important to note that no one will be required to attend to research in-person. Where possible all research participants will be supported to work at home. Those who chose to come to Lehman College will be supported to engage in the best safety practices possible.
The college followed CUNY’s 4-stage plan to open the research labs. The College began the planning process in early May 2020 (Stage 1). Lehman College’s adaptation of the stages include:
- Stage 1 - Plan and prepare to phase in on-site research, with an eye toward Stage 2 research priorities. Plans include establishing clear research priorities and CUNY approval processes per city and state guidance, working with relevant researchers, to discern space, equipment, and personnel needs for safety, developing health and safety protocols, and establishing communication and health monitoring plans.
- Stage 2 - Expand on-site access to research (up to 50% capacity), priorities including: externally funded and deadline-driven work (regardless of researcher rank or tenure status), research by graduate students who are near degree completion, untenured faculty research, and/or research requiring season-specific sample collections. Plan and prepare for Stage 3 priorities.
- Stage 3 - Expand on-site access to tenured associate and full professors, and graduate students and postdoctoral research associates. Plan and prepare for Stage 4 priorities. Stage 3 at Lehman will continue at 50% occupancy in the labs.
- Stage 4 - Expand on site access to undergraduate students. Except for funded undergraduate researcher, undergraduates will not be allowed on campus prior to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year and will fall under the College’s plans for returning to campus. Until an effective vaccine or effective treatment of the SARS-COV-2 virus, all research activity, including Stage 4 activity, will be conducted at 50% physical capacity in all labs. Plans for mentoring of undergraduates, demonstrating equipment use, safe practices when it is necessary to violate 6ft rules must be submitted to the College as part of the return to campus before undergraduate students can be admitted to the research labs.
Responsible parties (research oversight team) at Lehman College include:
- VP for Administration and Finance (Ms. Rene Rotolo): ultimate oversight of plans and enforcement of safe practices, oversight of cleanup
- Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences (Dr. Pamela Mills): will review specific plans, ensure training occurs, review logs, engage in contact tracing for faculty in research labs located within the school (anthropology, biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, psychology).
- Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing will review specific plans, ensure training occurs, review logs, engage in contact tracing for faculty in research labs located within the school (exercise science, nutrition, speech).
- Director of Environmental Health and Safety (Ms. Ilona Linins): run trainings, review logs, review safe practices and authorize plans for safety
- How to properly wear a mask or face covering, how to remove a mask or face- covering and how to properly dispose of PPE
- Gloves – when and how
- Proper hand washing
- COVID 19 FAQs
- Keeping a safe workspace
- Safe social distancing
- Cleaning and disinfecting your workspace
- Limiting duration of face-to-face interactions
- Director of Facilities (Ms. Robin Auchincloss): provide and install required signage
- Safe, Social Distancing Reminders
- Elevators – one person per trip
- Bathrooms – one person at a time
- Shared office space – stagger work schedules to ensure safe distancing
- Public spaces – masks or face-coverings must be worn at all times
- Hallways (where needed directional signage)
- Safe social distancing markers in common gathering or waiting are
- Hand Washing Reminders – Hand Hygiene
- Wear Mask or face covering reminders
- Cough/Sneeze Etiquette
- If Sick – Stay Home
- Cleaning protocols
- Wiping down equipment
- Chief of Staff of President, (Ms. Gladys Maldoon): report all COVID infections
- Dean of Students (Dr. Stanley Bazile): report all COVID infections involving students and engage in contact tracing for students
- Chief CLT of Chemistry, (Mr. Sharif Elhakem): ensure PPE is available for researchers located in Davis Hall, facilitate safety practices, prepare safety training sessions, be responsive to the needs of the research personnel.
- Chief CLT of Biology (Dr. Hunki Paek) ensure PPE is available for Biology and Chemistry researchers located in Science Hall, facilitate safety practices, prepare safety training sessions, be responsive to the needs of the research personnel.
- Brandon Begarly, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs, point person for Gillet Hall, Apex, and Speech and Theater when research is phased in (Stage 3 or Stage 4).
A. Physical distancing – for Stages 2-4 and until return to “normal” (post- pandemic).
1. Physical distancing will be designed for each research space. A minimum 6ft separation will be established in each lab unless specific research instrumentation requires otherwise. Where possible plastic barriers will be installed. Plans for specific layout within research labs must be approved by the researcher’s Dean (usually Dean of Natural and Social Science) and the VP for Administration and Finance. The table of occupancy of all research labs will used to determine occupancy. In Stage 2, occupancy will range between 20-50% but lower density will be encouraged with staggered schedules as well as physical distancing.
2. Separation barriers will be constructed by Lehman College Buildings and Grounds if necessary when six ft distance is not maintained. The need for such barriers will be clearly indicated in the plans.
2a&b. Lehman College will require face coverings. Standard medical masks and gloves will be provided by the College and will be located in the individual labs. Key safety personnel for the building are responsible for ensuring a supply of the masks and gloves. In cases where higher degrees of PPE are required, the College will supply the plastic shields or N95 masks. However, no N95 masks were used in pre-COVID research and, as of this writing, no one has requested N95 masks. PPE must be worn at all times as mandated by Executive Order and by authoritative guidance on re-opening procedures. In general, face coverings will be required and worn the entire time researchers are on campus. Masks and gloves will be provided in each research laboratory. Guidance on usage will be provided (see below under Training).
3. Standard density will be based upon a minimum 6ft separation (per state guidelines) but 10ft separation is desired. However, factors such as lab floorplan, set up, and building ventilation may require different limitations or flexibilities. Schedules will be constructed to minimize contact as well as minimize travel to and from campus. Where appropriate, such as in Science Hall alcoves, Lehman will limit the activity per one individual per alcove.
4.Occupancy of the workstations will be restricted to ensure a six-feet minimum distance between researchers. Eg. lab bays in Science Hall will occupy one researcher per one bench. Davis Hall labs will also maintain one researcher per bench. The plans for each lab will require approval from Lehman safety office. Factors such as lab floorplan, set up, and building ventilation may require different limitations or flexibilities.
5. Workstations will be disinfected using CDC recommended disinfectants between use. All personnel will be instructed in proper use of disinfectants and will be responsible for cleaning the workstation after each use (see Training). Appropriate signage will be posted next to shared workstations.
6. Buildings will be occupied based on a staggered schedule and those who must use public transportation are encouraged to schedule their work such that they arrive and depart before or after normal rush hours. Weekly schedules will be submitted to the Dean of NSS (or designee) weekly for approval. Elevator usage will be restricted to one person for each ride. Elevators in Davis Hall and Gillet Hall are accessible only with a key. Appropriate signage will be located outside and inside the elevators in each building. (There is only one per building).
7. Buildings will only be open for research activities at this time and all buildings will close for business at 7pm; there will be no gathering, teaching, office hours, group meetings or any high to medium density activities. Occupancy for personal reasons are not permitted. Appropriate distances will be labeled with clear tape around workstations and desks.
8. Signage that indicates appropriate safety practices, including hand washing, PPE disposal, and mask wearing, will be posted in the hallways, in the elevators, and in the restrooms. In addition, signage reminding researchers to dispose of refuse in the hallways will be located in the labs and halls. Access to restrooms will be restricted to one person with appropriate vacancy or occupied notice on the doors.
9. Entrance to the labs will be kept open to ensure ventilation when appropriate. In labs with negative pressure to ensure hood functioning, hoods will be tested daily to ensure appropriate ventilation.
10. To ensure six-feet distancing in the narrow hallways and bi-directional foot traffic, signage, marking will be posted to ensure limited traffic and face covering is required.
11. Public safety will periodically make rounds through the buildings. Anyone in violation of the above practices will be issued an initial warning and if found to be in violation a second time will be asked to leave and will not be allowed to return. The initial warning will be sent to the Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.
12. There will be no food services on campus- all food must be brought in and should only be consumed in designated areas with appropriate distancing measures in place. Refuse will be disposed of in the hallway. All non- experimental refuse should be disposed of in containers that are located in hallways- no non-experimental refuse is to be left in research labs or offices.
13. Common spaces will be cleaned after usage and hand hygiene practiced after entering and before leaving any research lab and/or building. Use of EPA approved disinfectants will be purchased and provided to the research labs.
14. All space usage will be logged consistent with the CDC and DOH guidelines.
15. Individual PI’s will develop their own customized signage in compliance with DOH specific to their laboratory setting to cover their nose and mouth, hand hygiene and proper wear of PPE. The building CLT, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, and the Director of Facilities will vet the signage.
16. Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is strongly encouraged to reduce contact transmission. Soap will be provided in all rest areas and checked daily. Researchers can report to the Chief CLT of the building if any soap is missing from restrooms. Hallways and common spaces will have access to hand sanitizers. Empty hand sanitizers should be reported to the Chief CLT of the building.
17. Washing hands before and after touching any shared objects or shared surfaces, unless you wear clean gloves will be required.
18. Personnel are required to clean surfaces, workstations, personal devices, etc. several times throughout the day/shift, and at a minimum at the beginning and end of their shift/usage. Personnel will log their cleaning activities.
19. High-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons and door handles, common areas, and restrooms will be cleaned by Lehman custodial staff regularly, according to requirements from the CDC and Department of Health. Cleaning will be logged.
20. No sharing of food or beverages is allowed.
21. In the case of a confirmed COVID-19 case for an individual who has been in the building cleaning and disinfecting will be done by Lehman custodial staff, which will include the areas accessed by the individual and high traffic common areas.
B. Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces
1. Lehman will not approve in-person or other communal gatherings. Zoom, Webex, and other remote meeting will be encouraged. Lab meetings or any other form of in-class teaching sessions will be prohibited during Stages 2 and 3.
2. All teaching classrooms, stock rooms, and other communal areas will be closed and locked during Stages 2 and 3.
3. Signage will be located in restrooms indicating safety practices as well as single occupancy.
4. There will be only single occupancy in pantry areas and hallways during Stages 2 and 3.
C. Workplace Activity
1. Low density will be maintained at all time through physical indications of 6ft spacing, schedules that minimize occupancy, and signage reminding researchers to maintain social (work) distances. In Stage 2 and Stage 3, the maximum occupancy will be 50%.
2. At no point will researchers, faculty, students, technicians, be required to come to work. Researchers should feel free to express concerns to the PI and, if concerned about the PI, can report concerns to the Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences. Researchers are encouraged to work from home when that is feasible including time to write, read literature, and/or, if possible, access computers or equipment remotely.
3. Human subject work, not currently applicable in Chemistry or Biology or in Davis or Science Halls, will be permitted when returning to Stage 4. Almost all human subjects at Lehman College are undergraduates.
D. Movement and Commerce
All non-essential personnel will be prohibited from entering the Lehman College campus. All non-research related deliveries (food service) must report to the main security gate and food must be picked up by the researcher. Other deliveries (mail, packages, gases) will be delivered to the loading dock or, in designated cases, to the appropriate research building. (Helium and nitrogen to Davis Hall; liquid nitrogen to Science Hall).
E. Health and Safety Training to all on-site Research and Essential Staff
1. All essential, non-research staff are trained by the College and have been on campus since closure. This section deals with research staff who will be returning to campus.
2. Prior to returning to the lab, all researcher personnel (PIs, students, technicians, assistants) must participate in a formal training session organized by the Director of Environmental Safety and Health and/the Chief CLTs designated for each building. Materials have been constructed and have been loaded to an MS Teams site that has been used to prepare for returning to the research labs. A new MS Teams site will be created just for Safety and Health in the Research Labs. The materials will be maintained on this new MS Team site. In addition to the available materials, each lab member will participate in a formal training. The first formal training is to be offered the week of July 6th. The training session and materials will include information on:
- Expectations of behaviors while on campus including honoring all common space restrictions, following signage and other physical indications, maintaining safe distance, proper hand washing.
- Expectations of behaviors including logging all room occupancy
- Proper use of PPE, particularly masks and gloves
- Proper disposal of PPE, common refuse, and research specific waste
F. Screening and Testing
1) The College has been advised that we must follow NYS Forward screening requirements and has revised its screening plans as of 7/10/20. Testing of all research personnel will be required before leaving home and arriving to the campus, utilizing an online self-screening form that will be submitted to the designated supervisory level person responsible for research (Dean of Natural and Social Sciences). The Screening requirement will be aligned with the screening Guidelines from New York State (New York State COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance Daily Health Screen Template). Every research lab member must fill out the Daily Health Screening form prior to coming to campus.
2) The template requires each researcher who comes on campus to answer the following questions:
a) What is your temperature in Fahrenheit? The temperature must be under 100.0oF to come to campus.
b) Have you had any known close contact with a person confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 in the past 14 days? If yes, the person cannot come to campus.
c) Are you experiencing any of the typical COVID symptoms? If yes, the person cannot come to campus.
d) Have you tested positive to a diagnostic test in the past 14 days? If yes, the person cannot come onto the campus.
In order to come on the campus the employee must answer “no” to all questions and deposit the document according to the instructions. In the event the electronic system is not working, then the researcher must scan a paper copy and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be reviewed by the Dean.
3) The precise procedure for coming to the campus and working in the research labs is as follows:
1. Each week prior to the week of work, all research personnel must be placed on the weekly form with the time and room indicated. This signup is due by 5 pm Thursday the week before.
2. Every person on the weekly list must fill out the online form, even if they are feeling ill and are not intending to come to campus. Those who satisfy the criteria above will be admitted to campus.
3. The responsible supervisor (the Dean, who will have undergone training) will review all the forms a record of the outcome (pass/fail) will be kept. Specific health responses, including the temperature, will not be archived.
4. Any of the researchers who failed the screening will receive a follow-up with a text, email or phone call from the Dean or Dean’s designee and the person’s name will be referred to HR. The employee will quarantine for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms. In the event the researcher is a student at Lehman, the Dean will notify the Dean of Students. If the researcher is a student at the Graduate Center, the Dean will notify the Executive Officer of the program.
5. As per DOH Interim Guidelines for returning to work, a researcher who has COVID-19 symptoms can return to work 10 days after the onset of the symptoms. The researcher should have no symptoms upon return.
6. As per DOH Interim Guidelines for returning to work, a researcher who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 and has no symptoms must isolate for 14 days.
7. A researcher who begins to feel ill at work should report to the supervisor, leave the workplace and send an email to email@example.com. The research laboratory in which a suspected infectious person was present will be closed for two days while the lab is thoroughly disinfected internally by research personal (who have been trained by the Director of Environmental Health and Safety). The floors in the labs and the floors in the hallways will be disinfected. The Dean will notify HR and the researcher will be reminded of the need to seek testing and contact their health care provider. Information from the NY Forward video will be permanently uploaded to the MS Teams website.
8. The Dean of NSS will assume responsibility for ensuring continuous compliance with all aspects of the safety plan. Any violations observed by Public Safety or other members of the research community will report the violation to the Dean.
9. All personnel will be required to log their whereabouts throughout the day. A electronic log spreadsheet will be located on MS Teams. The Director of Facilities, Robin Auchincloss and the Director of Environmental Health and Safety have access to the log book and will review it daily.
10. In the event that a researcher reports a positive COVID-19 test, the Dean will immediately notify the Director of Human Resources, Mr. Eric Washington who will then notify appropriate state agencies according to college procedures.
11. HR and, in the event the researcher is a student, the Dean of Students, Dr. Stanley Bazile, will work with the Dean of NSS to begin tracing the contacts of all persons in the laboratory and on campus.
G. Controlling Campus Access – critical to know who is on campus, when and where – Public Safety
- Limit gates that are opened – Gates 5, 8 & 13 only, manned by a Public Safety Officers at all times.
- Card readers are installed at the open gates for no-touch check in to campus by staff, faculty and students.
H. Tracking and Contact Tracing
The COVID-19 Task Force established the protocol for reporting community members (faculty, staff and students) and visitors or contractors with exposures or who tested positive prior to leaving campus. This protocol will continue for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each PI must notify the Lehman Administration (the Dean of NSS) about any members of the lab tested positive for COVID-19, or any members of the lab exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test. Provide information about other members of the lab that had contact with the member who tested positive or who was exposed to someone who tested positive. Exposed members of the lab must be tested for COVID 19 before being allowed back in the lab. The lab must be immediately closed and 24 hours after closing be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to re-opening for research activities.
- Report exposure or confirmed illness to:
- College staff – Human Resources
- Visitors and Contractors – Public Safety and Campus Facilities
- Students – Student Affairs
I. PI Responsibility
1. Each laboratory space will have a responsible faculty member (the PI).
2. Stage 1 responsibilities (planning for return)
- The PI will work with the building Chief CLT to submit safe practice plans, with blueprints or schematics of the laboratory space. The plans should include maximum occupancy under 20%, 50%, 85% return.
- The PI will be acquainted with all training and logging plans and will reinforce the practices with all lab personnel.
- The PI will agree to engage in no coercive behavior that encourages students or laboratory personnel on campus to conduct research.
- The PI will work with the Building Chief CLT to ensure that PPE and refuse disposal is conducted safely and properly. Signage within the labs should be hung and indicate clear practices. Masks and gloves should be clearly available in the lab as well as soap for routine hand washing.
- The PI will request designation as a Stage 2 or Stage 3 laboratory according to the following description:
- 1. Stage 2: Externally funded research, untenured faculty member, doctoral student in final stages of research.
- 2. Stage 3: Other research personnel not eligible for Stage 2.
- 3. Stage 2 and 3 responsibilities
- The PI will submit to the Dean or Dean’s designee a schedule of personnel usage for the subsequent week by Thursday at 5pm the week before. This practice will continue while in Stage 2 or 3.
- Each PI for each lab will use a sharepoint doc available on the MS Teams site to log all movement in the buildings.
- PIs will report to the responsible party any members of the lab who have reported symptoms of COVID or have tested positive for COVID to being contact tracing.
- If a laboratory member has tested positive, the laboratory will be closed for 14 days. Cleaning will commence before reopening at the end of the 14 day quarantine. Before reopening the laboratory will be cleaned and disinfected by custodial staff (floors washed, counter-tops cleaned). Specific research equipment will be cleaned by the research laboratory.
II. Location - Research Locations and Building
1. Davis Hall. Building Chief CLT – Sharif Elhakem.
- Houses research labs in anthropology, biology, and chemistry
- Has Stage 2 and Stage 3 eligible researcher labs.
- Designated Common Space is DA- 318. Only one person per usage, room cleaned after each use (cleaning supplies clearly available). No food storage or common food sharing.
- For summer, only 2nd floor women’s restroom and 3rd floor men’s restroom available.
2. Science Hall. Building Chief CLT – Hunki Paek.
- Houses research labs in biology and chemistry
- Has Stage 2 and Stage 3 eligible research labs.
- Designated Common Space is Science 1404 (“pantry”). Only one person per usage, room cleaned after each use (cleaning supplies clearly available). No food storage or common food sharing.
- For summer, only 2nd floor restrooms available.
3. Gillet Hall. Building lead will be Brandon Begarly who will review specific plans– but no Stage 2 researchers in building.
- Houses physics, psychology, mathematics, environmental science, and nutrition
- Physics and mathematics research is conducted off site and includes only Stage 2 eligible researchers
- No research is expected to be conducted in this building until Fall 2020 academic year. Lab- specific plans will be developed according to all protocols and submitted for approval to the Dean of NSS and/or designee.
4. Speech and Theater building. Building lead will be Brandon Begarly who will review specific plans– but no Stage 2 researchers in building.
5. Apex building. Building lead will be Brandon Begarly who will review specific plans– but no Stage 2 researchers in building.
Communications with researchers and the broader Lehman community will be a multi- faceted approach that includes signage, email, the use of an MS-Teams site (that will centrally locate specific lab-research safety and procedural information), a central electronic logging site, and reporting procedures. Specific communications will include:
- Phased return
- Safe Social Distancing and Safety
- Video messaging, handouts and signage
- Reporting procedures
- Contact tracing procedures
The VP for Administration and Finance and the Dean of the School of Natural and Social Science will be responsible for timely and appropriate communication with all research personnel.
Safety Information and Guidelines
- New York State Department of Health: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/ & pdf “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/index.html
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
- NY Forward, New York State COVID-19 Response: Return to Work Video