Stage 0 for Laboratory Research

Environmental Factors

Stanford Research will remain in Stage 0 as long as any of these environmental factors persist:

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase.
  • The availability of testing and tracking remains too limited to assure the health of our community.
  • Personal protective equipment, face coverings, and supplies for cleaning, disinfection, or personal protection remain limited.

Allowed Research Activities

During Stage 0, Stanford is allowing access to campus laboratories and research spaces only for approved key personnel and only for approved Essential Research Functions. Essential Research Functions, defined in a March 17 memo, consist of a) maintenance required to preserve laboratory viability, b) certain clinical research described in the School of Medicine’s Guidance for Clinical Trials and Clinical Research, and c) COVID-19 research that has the clear potential to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or its impact on human health. Essential Research Functions require the approval of relevant department chairs, institute directors, cognizant deans, and review committees.

As of May 11, 2020, Stanford academic units (schools, departments, and institutes) may approve a small number of research visits to campus for Minimum Basic Research Operations that a) maintain the value of research inventory and samples, or b) ensure that remote work can continue to the fullest extent possible. For example, Minimum Basic Research Operations may include these activities: biobanking, making cultures, processing samples that would otherwise degrade, acquiring a final piece of data that will enable group members to analyze and document their experiments, setting up an experiment that someone can monitor and control remotely, or accessing laboratory data for subsequent remote analysis.

Laboratory Headcount and Building and Campus Population Density

During Stage 0, we expect that most research groups will have zero researchers coming to campus. For each Principal Investigator (PI), preferably no more than 1, and definitely no more than 2 personnel should work on campus on any given day, unless the PI has obtained approval for COVID-19 or other Essential Research Functions or Minimum Basic Research Operations. The main goal of these very limited visits should be to maintain the value of the research inventory and to maximize the amount of remote work that research group members can perform.

During Stage 0 and all later stages, we should limit the headcount in laboratory spaces to support adequate physical distancing (at least 6 feet apart). We need to limit population density not only in the lab, but also throughout the building, including in shared spaces such as equipment rooms, bathrooms, elevators, and other common areas, and on campus overall. By maintaining low density in the lab, throughout each building, and on campus, we can help protect researchers and limit the number of staff in support roles who must come to work. Stanford’s social distancing protocol must be followed.

A PI approved to conduct critical or COVID-related work who meets the personnel limits of the current stage cannot add more personnel to his or laboratory space until the research effort reaches a higher stage (e.g., until Stage 2).

Preparations for Stages 1 and 2 that can be completed during Stage 0

  • Labs and facilities take inventory of their personal protective equipment (PPE), plan their anticipated use rates, and purchase lab-specific PPE through normal channels. It is important to order supplies early, given the longer-than-usual lead times.
  • EOC Logistics a) purchases additional COVID-specific protective materials, including face coverings and cleaning and disinfection supplies, and b) coordinates with school facilities directors to distribute those materials if needed to smooth supply chain disruptions.
  • Labs and facilities create lab-level Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that incorporate rigorous training and enforcement.
  • Each school works with internal and external stakeholders to ensure adequate local planning. Efforts could include tabletop exercises, planning workshops, and/or department-specific discussions.
  • School facility directors coordinate with Land Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE) to reactivate building systems and housekeeping services at least two weeks before we enter Stage 1.
  • Building managers and lab support staff assess lab environment and configuration, then equip buildings and labs with floor marking and signage to reduce density and encourage physical distancing.
  • Laboratory support staff members operationalize shared facilities and animal research facilities.
  • All researchers and laboratory support staff members who are designated to return to campus are required to complete the COVID-19 Hygiene Best Practices, EHS-2470-WEB training through STARS before doing so.
  • EH&S, schools, and support units collaborate to implement the symptom tracking tool. Update: in response to SCCDPH guidance issued May 19, all personnel on campus must use the Health Check beginning May 22.