K-State laboratory/studio/research site reopening plan for the 2020-2021 academic year

Purpose and scope

This document describes considerations for the restoration of laboratories/studios/research sites following the lifting of laboratory/studio step-down directives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reopening considerations will be different for individual labs/studios/sites and each will need a tailored plan, which must be approved by the department head and ADR/Dean’s Office.
Completed plans should be submitted to department heads and ADRs. ADRs should keep a spreadsheet of completed plans and submit to the OVPR and EH&S. Facilities will need a list of buildings/rooms that are being reopened, which will be submitted by department heads.


The objectives of this plan are to:
  • Achieve an orderly and safe restart of research operations, personnel, and facilities
  • Minimize staff exposure to potential COVID-19 cases to the maximum extent possible
  • Restore all research in your locations as soon as reasonably possible
  • Prepare for possible Phase change back to a more restrictive Phase

Decision to reopen

The execution of this plan is dependent on Federal, State, and Local guidance on reopening approaches. This document is not meant to contradict guidance from the State of Kansas, Riley County, K-State leadership, or best practices from public health officials, with respect to social distancing and mitigating the exposure and spread of COVID-19. All employees who will return to campus complete the EHS training.
Two checklists are provided: a general reopening list and a more specific should be reviewed and completed.
Develop a brief reopening plan that provides appropriate Safe Operating Procedures that comply with public health guidelines and are consistent with the phases of reopening. The plan should comprise the same elements that were included in your original Continuity of Operations Plans. Complete the relevant required consultations before any resumption of research.

Laboratory/studio/research reopening plan


Laboratory/Studio staff are the most important asset and must be granted a safe workspace. Until directed otherwise, physical distancing will still be a valuable tool to reduce spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.
No personnel will be allowed in shared workspace if they are exhibiting any symptoms of respiratory illness that the CDC associates with COVID-19 (cough not associated with seasonal allergies and shortness of breath, with any two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell).


Principle investigators will need to develop a brief communication plan for their reopening of operations and clear guidance about priorities and activities in each phase of reopening, including regular group meetings.

Research Priorities for reopening

PIs/directors must consider methods to support the safety/health of their work force, such as:
  • Forming staffing teams and rotations.
  • Limiting staffing numbers to promote physical distancing.
  • Implementing a slow-start approach: Assign minimal staff to make media, set up cultures, etc. before beginning full research.
  • Tracking who works when and with whom to facilitate contact tracing if needed
  • Requiring face masks or coverings when more than one person is working in a space and/or physical distancing cannot be not guaranteed.
  • Implementing disinfecting protocols for laboratory/studio and office spaces.
  • Assuring that no single individual is working in a lab alone with potentially hazardous materials. General lab safety standards still apply.
  • Instruct any staff members who may have symptoms and/or those with a sick member of his/her household to stay home and self-quarantine.
  • Encourage staff members who are in vulnerable populations to consider working from home as long as possible.

Activities under different phases

Careful attention should be given to the types and duration of research following reopening. Backlogs in purchasing and media prep, animal husbandry, reduced staff size, and potential subsequent step-downs must be considered. Researchers should document their research plan and flexibilities in this uncertain climate, by addressing questions such as:
  • What are your first planned/high priority experiments?
  • Which personnel are required?
  • What is the necessary duration of the research?
  • Will animals be required?
  • Can a staggered start be implemented while media is made, cell lines are started, materials and supplies reordered/restocked?
  • Will the research be easily halted if another step-down is necessary?
  • Can the research be performed with limited staff and/or rotating teams?

Specific safe operating procedures

Under a phased reopening of research activities, new SOPs or adjustments to current SOPs may need to be made. These should be called out in the reopening plan.

General Guidance