Stage 2 for Laboratory Research

Environmental Factors

Stanford may enter Stage 2 when the local environment satisfies these criteria:

    • Stage 1 implementation reaches steady state.
    • Local COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to drop.
    • COVID-19 testing reaches full capacity.
  • PPE shortages may still exist but become less severe.
  • Public health authorities and the Governor allow small gatherings or relax restrictions on “essential workers and essential functions”.

Allowable Research Activities

Additional on-campus research activities will be permitted starting on Monday, June 22 as Stage 2 begins. During Stage 2, essential on-campus research functions and associated support activities will continue to ramp up as a small number of additional researchers return to campus to conduct research that cannot be done remotely because it requires access to facilities or materials that are only available on campus. Most faculty and staff members will continue to work off-site, including theoretical, computational, and other researchers who have not yet been granted access to on-campus facilities, consistent with County guidance.

As Stage 2 begins, each academic unit may adjust research activity levels depending on staffing and readiness, while adhering to the broader Stanford guidance. PIs may gradually increase the number of on-site personnel in their labs with approval from the academic unit. Headcount will be limited mainly by laboratory space considerations, with up to one person per 250 square feet of laboratory space permitted. (Note that per Santa Clara County guidance, total building occupancy at this time is limited to 300 square feet per person based on gross square footage, which would include lobbies, bathrooms, hallways, etc. Updated to 250 square feet per person on July 13, 2020.)

UPDATE: Effective April 12, 2021, there is a new density policy. Please see the Density tab for current information.

Tracking of essential personnel will transition from the Essential Research Smartsheets to the On-site Role Management System (ORMS). The ORMS will be used to track essential personnel and will be maintained by local units. For help updating your personnel lists, please contact your department to determine who is assisting with this function. The ORMS will also track completion of the COVID-19 Hygiene Best Practices, EHS-2470-WEB, as well as completion of the daily Health Check (it will not report health status).

High school and undergraduate researchers may not enter laboratories in Stage 2 until further notice.

UPDATE: Undergraduate research on campus is allowed under certain conditions. Please see this section for specific details and requirements prior to implementation in labs.

All researchers are encouraged to update Stanford Who to list their primary building location to help with ORMS, as well as for emergency management and disaster response. Stanford Who is currently being updated to allow for primary floor and room listing as well.

Beginning in Stage 2, COVID-19-related basic research will no longer need approval from the Dean of Research Essential Research Functions Review Committee. This research must still receive approval from the normal relevant panels, such as IRB, APLAC and APB, prior to initiation of work, and must also comply with all guidance outlined in this document. COVID-19 research involving Human Subjects must still obtain approval from the COVID-19 Clinical Research Review Panel (CCRRP); contact for details.

Local academic units may approve field research on a case-by-case basis, subject to travel restrictions, local restrictions at field sites, and the ability to maintain physical distancing at field sites. See the appropriate sections of this Handbook relating to Field Research.

Additional information about other types of research will be updated as it becomes available.

After the June 22nd transition to Stage 2 has been completed, and if public health conditions and county guidance allow, the use of offices, conference rooms, and teaching spaces in laboratory buildings may be allowed for non-lab academic or educational work activities. Those using these spaces must still adhere to the 1 person per 250 square feet density (or current density policy limits), physical distancing, use of Health Check, required online COVID training, good hygiene, wearing of face coverings, and all other requirements outlined in this document and required by the county and Stanford. Further updates will be posted here when available.

Laboratory Headcount and Building Population Density

Beginning on June 22, headcount will be limited mainly by laboratory space considerations, to a maximum of 1 person per 250 square feet. In rooms smaller than 250 square feet (e.g., tissue culture rooms, microscopy rooms, small instrument rooms, etc.), only one person at a time may occupy the space. PIs may gradually increase the number of on-site personnel to the maximum allowed based on room size, density requirements, and while observing physical distancing requirements. The university may change the lab density requirements on the basis of new evidence. Stanford’s social distancing protocol must be followed.

UPDATE: Effective April 12, 2021, there is a new density policy. Please see the Density tab for current information.

In Stage 2, research personnel must continue to maintain physical distancing. The limits established for Stage 1 regarding small rooms, distance between people, and distances between work spaces still apply. Laboratories may gradually relax the limits on the number of personnel in laboratories, up to a density of 1 person per 250 square feet in any space. Local units will determine the appropriate limits for population density in individual labs by evaluating the square footage, the layout, and the workable space.

Laboratories will remain ready to return to earlier stages expeditiously if the university or government agencies require them to do so. For example, laboratories should leave their Stage 1 floor markings in place even after the campus moves to Stage 2, and should be ready to implement shutdown procedures on experiments that they could not maintain under Stage 1 guidelines.

PIs, Departments, and Institutes, within the bounds of this guidance and the limits imposed by their units, must identify the maximum numbers of personnel who can work safely in their lab at the same time, enforce these limits, and implement a calendar or scheduled shift system to accommodate physical distancing.

Academic units must verify that PIs have identified appropriate limits to the density of laboratory personnel and the PIs are enforcing those limits. If research teams are not observing density limits or are otherwise failing to observe physical distancing requirements, academic units have the authority to cut off lab access until the issues are resolved and to revoke access altogether in cases of repeat offense. Before restarting, each unit should discuss how to best escalate these issues. We strongly recommend routine walkthroughs of buildings or laboratories to check for compliance.

Building Access, Non-Lab Areas, Hygiene, Health & Other Concerns

All instructions and recommendations provided for Stage 1 also apply for Stage 2.

Preparations for Stage 3

  • The EOC Research Continuity Team assesses the effectiveness of Stage 2 results, adjusts operating guidelines if needed, and advises the COVID-19 Policy Group.
  • Departments and labs train people who will return to research in Stage 3.
  • Labs continue to secure supplies that will allow more people to return to labs.
  • Campus partners staff other functions to handle the increased load.