Introduction

This document explains Stanford’s staged plan to resume research activity. Our goal is to re-activate our research enterprise while minimizing the risk that anyone transmits the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to anyone else within our laboratory environment.

The text box labeled How to Protect Yourself & Others summarizes relevant guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the world’s premier public health organization, and the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health (SCCDPH), the body that is legally designated to protect and promote the health of our local community. In brief, CDC guidance requires us to wash our hands often, practice social distancing (also called physical distancing), wear a mask when we are near others, avoid gathering in groups, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. The SCCDPH Order includes more details and at this time, also requires us to complete COVID-19 symptom screening before beginning work. If we follow these universal instructions, the probability is low that we will infect others or become infected ourselves. This Stanford guidance represents our effort to implement the CDC’s and SCCDPH’s instructions in the context of laboratory research.

The health of our community is our highest priority. Before we fully reactivate Stanford’s research endeavors, we must render our research environments and research practices as safe as humanly possible.

Beginning with the Shelter-in-place order on 03/17/2020, we entered Stage 0, in which the university asked us to eliminate our on-campus research presence, except to conduct Essential Research Functions: that is, to complete our shutdown procedures, carry out critical maintenance activities, conduct certain kinds of clinical research, or conduct COVID-19 research that could mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Beginning on May 11, 2020, we also approved Minimum Basic Research Operations, including work that either a) maintains the value of research inventory and samples or b) enables researchers to work from remote locations to the fullest extent possible. Stage 1, which focused on preparing labs for a return to research, was implemented on June 1, 2020, and Stage 2 will begin on June 22, 2020.

We will update this guidance frequently to reflect rapid changes in our understanding and in our external and internal environments. The website now offers the following content:

  • Definitions, prerequisites, characteristic activities, and best practices for each stage,
  • A checklist of researcher responsibilities for all laboratory researchers to review to assure the safety of the community,
  • Checklists for laboratories to help them operate safely, and
  • Guidance to library patrons.

As we focus on our mission of creating new knowledge, we affirm our shared commitment to the health and safety of our extended research community, including faculty, students, research staff members, support staff members, vendors, contractors, and delivery personnel.

How to Protect Yourself and OthersThe best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, between people who are in close contact with each other (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Everyone should

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus. Stay at least 6 feet from other people. Do not gather in groups. Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes. If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then use a household disinfectant.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html