Carnegie Mellon University

Social Distancing Guidance for Researchers in Response to COVID-19

Updated: 3/16/2020
Originally posted: 3/13/2020

We are asking all researchers to adopt social distancing practices in research spaces and labs wherever applicable.  The following practices are recommended for all research activities:

  • Consider the use of lab schedules (shifts, assigned days etc.) to control the density of people in a laboratory or shared office space.  Be sure to account for situations where working alone is not permitted. The CDC guidelines suggest maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet or 2 meters from others when possible. (Based on what is currently known about the coronavirus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts within about 6 feet.)
  • Conduct meetings and collaborations via phone or video.  Computing services has guidance on remote work that will be helpful in deciding the right approach and tools to use.

We also ask researchers to keep their areas clean.  According to the CDC, “Transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus in general occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.” Cleaning and disinfecting is a best practice measure to prevent the spread of viruses.  Please:

  • Reduce clutter in your lab and office space. 
  • Increase the regularity of cleaning and disinfecting shared office surfaces and equipment, including benches, desks, chairs, keyboards, phones, etc. per the CDC recommendations. While FMS cleaning crews have increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols and schedules, the best approach is for lab personnel to regularly clean the surfaces with which they are in contact themselves and take into account surfaces that cleaning crews would normally not touch such as specialized equipment, etc. 

    If disinfecting materials are not readily available in the lab, researchers should work with departments to procure them.