Laboratory Research

Updated 7/20/2020

While many labs have already submitted their re-occupancy plans per earlier University-wide planning efforts, any labs that have not yet submitted a plan may still do so. However, researchers who can work remotely should continue to do so.

Policy and General Guidance

A great deal of cross-divisional and cross-university effort has gone into establishing clear guidelines and processes to support lab research that must occur on-campus. Guidelines, planning documents, and PI request forms can be found at https://provost.harvard.edu/research-laboratory-reentry.

Request Process

Formal requests for re-entry to lab space should be submitted by PIs to Department Chairs and DAOs using the information and forms in Appendices 3-5 on the Provost's lab reentry site. Example plans can be provided upon request; please contact Jennifer Shephard at jmsheph@fas.harvard.edu. Department Chairs should then forward comprehensive departmental lab plans to the Dean for approval. (If comprehensive plans are not available because different labs are returning at different times, the Chair can forward individual plans as they are ready, particularly if they involve different floors or buildings. Keep in mind that later plans may then exceed occupancy limits and will have to be adjusted.)

Laboratory personnel returning to campus must comply with all requirements for personnel detailed on the DoSS Guidance for Exception Requests.

Human Subjects Research

Guidance for human subjects research can be found in Appendix 5 on the Provost's lab reentry site and on the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS) site.

Density Guidelines

While at this time no more than one person may occupy a particular office within a given day, and while office occupancy density must remain at no more than 10% of offices on a given floor and lab density at no more than 25% of usual staffing levels, we recognize that some lab research may require two or more individuals to share a given space. In those cases, the following criteria apply:

  1. All parties must keep their masks on at all times (no eating or drinking in this space). This is the single most important measure individuals can take to protect themselves and others.
  2. The space in question must allow for all occupants to maintain at least 6’ distance (and preferably 9’) from each other at all times; this means that some human subjects testing rooms are off-limits if two or more individuals (e.g., the investigator and the participant) must be in the room together.
  3. Airflow should be, at minimum, 100 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) per person if more than one person will occupy the same space for >15 minutes. Physical Resources has conducted airflow evaluations in campus buildings and in many cases can provide HEPA filters to achieve the required airflow. Please contact Jennifer Shephard or your building manager if you need square footage or CFM information for a specific room.
  4. For human subjects testing, two hours between occupancies is the current recommendation; exceptions to this and the other criteria outlined above may be considered in conjunction with other protective steps, for instance additional PPE (this is currently being evaluated).