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College of Medicine increases on-site laboratory research capacity

On Monday, March 29, on-site laboratory research activities at Penn State College of Medicine will transition from phase 4 to a modified phase 5 of the COVID-19 Ramp-Up plan.

Guiding principles for phase 5 are available on the coronavirus section of the college website.

As of March 29, laboratory research capacity will be returned to 100%. However, even at 100% capacity, it is the primary investigator’s responsibility to ensure the physical distancing policy (at least 150 square feet per person; at least 6 feet between individuals) is strictly adhered to along with all other safety precautions related to masking and hand hygiene, regardless of the vaccine status of lab personnel. This physical distancing requirement may prevent some labs with an already high density of research from moving to 100% at this time. Email Chuck Lang, PhD, at with questions regarding lab capacity.

Posting of weekly lab schedules is no longer required.

The increase in research capacity is directed specifically towards personnel directly related to laboratory research activities. The policy continues to be that all faculty, staff and trainees who can work remotely continue to do so to minimize the overall population density in the College. Data analysis and other research, where possible, should be performed remotely. Zoom should be used for all meetings and activities where in-person attendance is not essential and for those in-person meetings where an individual cannot join because of health-related concerns.

Small group research meetings are now permitted but need to adhere to masking, distancing and room occupancy restrictions. The size of a research meeting will be dictated by the availability of appropriately sized meeting rooms where physical distancing requirements can be maintained. Meeting duration should be minimized and no food or drink is permitted. Formal education instruction remains the priority for room space.

Meetings or events with 10 or more participants are still suspended. Meetings should not exceed the room capacity. The capacity for each room can be found on BookIT to reflect the reduced capacity allowed in each room. The occupancy limit is also posted outside the door, and chairs are marked in each room to comply with social distancing. As the number of faculty, staff and trainees on campus continues to incrementally increase, those individuals who are unvaccinated are urged to consider scheduling an appointment for their COVID vaccine.

The phased-in expansion of in-person research-related activities and the arrival of new students will continue in the coming weeks and months. Please continue to use the daily check-in and attestation process for COVID symptoms. Continue to read Friday’s weekly Pandemic Response Round-Up for updates to the guidelines. Badge access to the college and BMR entrances will continue and personnel is expected to swipe in even if the doors are already open.

As a reminder, all external visitors are required to complete the online vendor/contractor/visitor prior approval form before visiting campus.

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