How one university is reopening research labs safely

Researchers go through a rigorous review process to ensure all COVID-safety guidelines are followed
By: | August 4, 2020
Researchers at the University of Rochester are more regularly working at night and on weekends to reduce the number of people in the labs at any one time. (GettyImages/Andriy Onufriyenko)Researchers at the University of Rochester are more regularly working at night and on weekends to reduce the number of people in the labs at any one time. (GettyImages/Andriy Onufriyenko)

By mid-summer, the University of Rochester had reopened about 140 lab spaces, allowing about 675 researchers to go back to work.

Before resuming, however, the lead researchers had to go through a rigorous review process to ensure all COVID-safety guidelines—such as use of PPE and social distancing—would be followed, says John Tarduno, the dean of research for arts, sciences and engineering

“We were very careful about the reopening process,” Tarduno says. “People need to think about how to do things a little bit differently.”

One the biggest challenging was revamping training sessions between faculty researchers and students.


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When it comes to hands-on training, all involved wear masks, gloves, face shields and other protective equipment while other types of training are now done remotely.

Researchers are also more regularly working at night and on weekends to reduce the number of people in the labs at any one time.

“Everyone realizes that to continue our research enterprise, we have to keep up this diligence,” he says.

“We put out fairly rigorous guidelines and many researchers have supplemented those with even more detailed plans to fit their particular operations.”


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