12 Tips for Maintaining Safe Distance in College Labs

Use these reminders and recommendations as you plan your socially-distanced labs.

Creating and maintaining social distance in your lab shouldn’t be a pain point. We’ve put together a list of recommendations to supplement specific guidance from your institution.

  1. Each student needs a lab station appropriately distanced from other students.
    1. Plexiglass barriers or small whiteboards can be used as partitions.
    2. Disposable cups and disposable pipets can be used to dispense water if sinks are limited in your lab.
    3. Alcohol burners can be used if gas ports are not available.
    4. Each lab station needs its own waste receptacle.
  2. Students should have their own lab equipment.
    1. Plastic graduated cylinders and plastic beakers are low-cost alternatives for expanding your lab glassware collection.
    2. Fixed volume pipets are good options for your biotech classroom.
    3. Students can use their cell phones as timers or stopwatches. Cell phones can even be used for spectroscopy.
    4. Consider providing a personal-size hand sanitizer for each student.
    5. Cleaned single-serving packaging like fruit cups or microwave meal containers can be helpful for holding materials for individual students.
  3. Modify labs to remove the need for lab partners.
    1. Students can record their lab experiments with their cell phones and review the video to record observations.
    2. Consider demos, videos, or virtual alternatives for labs that can’t be modified for social distancing.
  4. During the pandemic, students should have their own personal protective equipment (PPE), including goggles, gloves, and aprons. If this isn’t possible, shared items need to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between each use.
  5. Set up space outside the lab for students to leave bags or other personal items.
  6. If possible, mark separate entry and exit doors for lab spaces.
  7. Minimize traffic at supply stations.
    1. Place all needed materials for each student in labeled boxes or baskets to minimize unnecessary handling.
    2. Chemicals can be purchased in smaller volumes for each student.
    3. Place a lower cost digital balance at each lab station.
  8. Stay organized. Use boxes or baskets to keep lab materials together, especially for multiday labs.
  9. Follow all routine safety precautions. Review the lab safety rules at the start of the semester.
  10. Encourage frequent handwashing—and provide hand soap at every sink.
  11. Lab benches, lab stools, and shared equipment should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
    1. A spray bottle of methanol can be used to wipe down lab stations before and after every lab activity. (Make sure there are no open flames or active heat sources before spraying.)
    2. Protex® disinfectant spray and Protex® disinfectant wipes disinfect in just 4 minutes.
  12. Minimize the need to distribute and handle papers.
    1. Digital lab manuals and other digital resources not only minimize paper exchange but can also provide tutorials, simulations, or videos of lab techniques to facilitate instruction.
    2. Have students submit lab reports electronically.

Looking for lab safety supplies? Find PPE, safety equipment, and safety storage.

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