Return to Research FAQs

Approval Process, Training

Cleaning, PPE, Face Coverings

  • What disinfectants are acceptable to use in my lab for COVID-19?

    In these unprecedented times the supply of disinfectants may be disrupted. So, make sure that before submitting your Laboratory Plan for Safe Return (DOCX) you have secured enough disinfectant to sustain your laboratory operations.

    The selected disinfectant must be part of the List N of the EPA for approved disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 and must be used at the concentration and contact time listed. The complete list N can be found at:

    Some examples of approved disinfectants are:

    a- 70% ethanol or 70% isopropanol for a contact time of 5 minutes. To ensure that surface remains wet for the 5-minute contact time, reapply solution if necessary.

    b- 10% bleach solution for 10 minutes

    If using diluted bleach, prepare the diluted solution fresh daily. Label and date it, and discard unused mixtures 24 hours after preparation before making a fresh solution.

  • Where can I find a poster for handwashing instruction?
  • Should everyone in my lab wear gloves all the time now?

    No. The CDC recommends that gloves only be worn for tasks that would ordinarily require them (for example when working with biohazardous materials or chemical hazards).  Frequent handwashing is still recommended for prevention of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Do I need to wear a face covering in my lab now?

    Yes, you are required to wear a face covering in the lab.  Face coverings are a crucial public health measure and help protect others by reducing exposure to droplets if someone is unknowingly infected with COVID-19.

    Face coverings are required for everyone (faculty, staff, students, contractors, suppliers, vendors and visitors) while on campus, either indoors or outdoors. You are required to wear a face covering except when you are in your assigned place of residence or in a private, single-occupancy office or lab space with the door closed where you can reasonably expect other individuals not to enter. Additional information regarding when to wear a face covering can be found at:

  • Who will provide the face coverings for employees in a laboratory?
    According to Michigan’s latest Executive Order, all employees must be provided a cloth face covering by their employer. At MSU, departments are responsible for purchasing face masks for employees who will come to campus to work. Cloth face coverings must be available for every employee in a laboratory before the lab will be able to restart research.

Other Research Questions

  • Are there any changes in my normal biosafety and chemical safety procedures/protocols?

    No. The same biosafety and chemical safety protocols you used before in your laboratory to conduct experiments are still in place and should be strictly followed. However, with the pandemic, there are additional safety measures, specific to COVID-19, that need to be implemented. These additional measures are outlined in your laboratory’s Plan for Safe Return and include:

    • Social distancing
    • Use of face coverings
    • Daily completion of a health screening prior to reporting to work
    • Frequent disinfection of high-touched surfaces with products found in the List N of EPA disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2
  • Are undergraduate students allowed to return to laboratory research?
    If an undergraduate student is employed, he/she is allowed access to the laboratory to work. If the student would be in the laboratory solely for educational purposes, he/she is not allowed laboratory access at this time.
  • Can I work alone in a laboratory?
    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is mandatory that personnel practice social distancing in all areas of the University, including laboratories. However, safety guidelines should be followed at all times. Working alone when conducting high hazard experiments or procedures is prohibited. Researchers should not work alone if required faculty or staff expertise is not available. If someone is working alone, someone else should always be aware of their location in case of an emergency.
  • How can I practice social distancing while still being safe in the laboratory?

    Establishing a plan for the laboratory will ensure that work is conducted with minimal disruption while maintaining a 6-foot physical distance and keeping the safety of lab personnel a priority:

    1. Minimize the number of research team members (faculty, staff, students, etc.) who access the laboratory at any time to ensure all individuals can continue to practice physical distancing, but keeping at least 2 people in ear shot of each other, so help can be provided in the event of an emergency.
    2. Stagger schedules of lab personnel, noting that working at extreme off-work hours is highly discouraged. Working too late or too early may put researchers at a higher risk of an accident due to diminished alertness.
    3. Create "teams" or a "buddy system" of lab personnel that will work at the same time daily.  This allows researchers to check on each other throughout the work shift and helps minimize the number of different contacts an individual may have. This is meant to reduce the number of people who would be impacted in the event of a positive case of COVID-19 within the research group.
  • Will I have to fill out the campus wide health screening form every time I enter my building?

    Yes, all employees must fill out a health screening form each day they come to campus to work. MSU IT and the University Physician’s office have created an online campuswide health-screening form that units can use. The submitted information automatically will be sent to an employee’s supervisor.

Additional Contacts, Resources