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Covid19 and the Microscope Facility

Covid19 is a major public health threat and has resulted in serious illness and death in people of all ages.  The Microscope Facility is committed to the safety of all its users and its staff.  Despite our best intentions with many policy changes, we cannot eliminate the risks either in the community or in the workplace.  We rely on everyone to be vigilant, respecting and following the official public health advice from the CDC, the University, and the School of Medicine. Remember, infected individuals can be highly contagious while experiencing mild symptoms.  Go home and stay home.  Help protect the community — we're all in this together.

Details of our policy changes are described elsewhere, but the highlights are listed below.  The general principles are social distancing (limit of one person per microscope per session), universal wearing of masks (even when alone in the microscope rooms), and disinfecting high-contact surfaces of microscopes and work areas.  Below, we highlight the most popular issues affecting users.

Thank you for your support and patience during these unprecedented times.

We expect to be opening the Microscope Facility on Mon 6/15 at 9am.  In preparation, the Calendar will open starting Fri 6/12 at noon according to our new policies (highlighted below). Remember, the Campus Covid restrictions take precedence. If your lab's restart plan has not been approved or your lab's density exceeded, you cannot enter the building. It is your responsibility to make your reservations appropriately. We will charge budgets according to calendar reservations.

No Walk-in Usage or Services: Any presence at the Microscope Facility must be scheduled in advance.  Get in the habit of making reservations for everything.

Mandatory Masks: Always wear masks, even when alone in the microscope rooms.  Masks will reduce the generation of respiratory droplets that can persist after people leave the room.  Help protect the community.

Single Occupancy: Only one user is permitted per microscope per session.  Wait until the prior occupant leaves before entering the microscope enclosure, maintaining >6 ft separation.  When inside microscope enclosures, keep curtains and doors closed to prevent spread of respiratory droplets.  Continue to wear your mask throughout your session, minimizing any respiratory droplets trapped in the enclosed spaces. We're all in this together.

Limited Equipment: Social distancing means that many microscopes must remain offline.  Our priority is to bring the most popular equipment back online when we re-open.  See current availability of equipment. Future phases of re-opening will rotate availability of the offline equipment.

Limited Services: With more limited hours, our staff cannot provide as much preparatory and assistive services as they did previously.  As before, all project users must contact staff to schedule specimen drop-offs.  However, plan for delays as we work through the backlog of projects preceding the shutdown.  Contact us early to schedule your work.

Disinfecting: At the end of each session, all users are expected to disinfect the high-contact surfaces in their work area.  Clean any spills first; they may interfere with the disinfectant.  Allow time in your reservation to perform the disinfecting.  For popular instruments, the staff will thoroughly disinfect and replace plastic coverings daily, some twice a day.

Empty Gap Time: There will be a mandatory 15 min gap for the room to remain empty between reservations.  The gap is to allow time for potential respiratory droplets to clear, even though masks will be the primary safety measure.  Leave promptly at the end of your session, after you finish disinfecting the work area.

Trainings: Until we develop appropriate safety measures, we will be delaying training of new operators.  Social distancing is impossible in our tiny microscope rooms.  Minimally, trainings will be limited to only one trainee per session.  Additional precautions are still being developed.  When we restart trainings, users scheduled prior to the shutdown have priority.


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