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Plans for Re-Opening the Microscope Facility
(updated Sun Sept 6, 2020)

The Microscope Facility is committed to the safety of all its users and its staff.  Covid19 is a serious disease that spreads easily via respiratory droplets and can cause death to people of all ages.  In this first phase (Phase 1) of our return to research activities, we rely on everyone to be vigilant, practicing social distancing and wearing masks.  Remember, infected individuals can be highly contagious while experiencing mild symptoms.  Go home and stay home.  Help protect the community.

We have developed a set of policies that are driven by the best available data and scientific information, guided by public health authorities and University policies.  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.  Our policies are meant to complement and reinforce University-wide safety policies (8/21/20).  Consistent with the University’s near zero-tolerance of non-compliance, violation of these rules will result in loss of MicFac privileges.

Summarized elsewhere, please see the highlights of these policies. Supplemental issues are addressed in a separate FastFacts in a Q&A format.

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

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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 policies 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.

User Responsibilities: Masks, good hand hygiene, and social distancing are the primary preventative measures for avoiding Covid19 transmission. Our community is protected only by the cumulative action of each individual.

  • Masks & gloves: Wearing masks and gloves are mandatory in the Facility, even when alone in microscope rooms.
    • We will provide hand-sanitizers and gloves.
  • Avoid proximity to others (stay apart >6 ft):
    • Communicate remotely: Avoid entering the main offices (Physiology G04). Communicate remotely (email, phone, intercom), instead.
    • Single-occupancy: Microscope rooms will be limited to only one person at a time. Wait until the prior occupant leaves before entering.
    • Occupancy gaps: Keep rooms empty (≥15 min) between users.  Leave promptly after disinfecting.
  • No walk-in usage or specimen drop-off: Schedule all visits in advance.
  • Campus restrictions take precedence. Only users know their Phase 1 schedules and should plan their Facility reservations appropriately.
  • Start of sessions: Protective coverings: Confirm that plastic protective coverings are intact.  If necessary, replace the coverings.
  • End of session:
    • Clean any spills first; they may interfere with the disinfectant.
      • If you use immersion oil, clean the lenses as normal with lens cleaner (they don’t need disinfecting).
    • Disinfect: Using 70% ethanol solution (keep damp 30s), disinfect all the high-contact surfaces and work surfaces, including protective plastic coverings.

Facility Responsibilities:

  • Regular disinfecting: For all equipment, we will regularly clean and disinfect the microscopes, replacing all plastic wrap coverings. For most equipment, disinfecting will be performed daily.  For very popular equipment, disinfecting will be done twice a day.

EM Projects: 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.

Self-use Equipment: Social distancing means that many microscopes must remain offline and not available via WebCalendar. Popular equipment are available online for self-scheduling. Future phases of re-opening will rotate availability of other equipment via WebCalendar. However, to enquire about accommodations to make offline equipment temporarily available while maintaining social distances.

Workstations: Except for one workstation, in-person usage is no longer permitted. Only remote access will be allowed, and instructions will be posted soon. The one, in-person workstation will be moved out of Physiology G04 into WBSB G11.

  • No drop-in usage.  Schedule reservations in advance.
  • Only one person allowed at a microscope at a time.
  • Mandatory masks and gloves, even when alone with microscope.
  • Mandatory gap between reservations (≥15 min). Rooms should remain empty.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment at the end of sessions.
  • Campus Covid restrictions take precedence; plan appropriately.
    • Only the users and PIs know who and when people are allowed on campus. It is your responsibility to make your reservations accordingly. We will charge according to calendar reservations.

Do not enter the Facility offices in Physiol G04. If during business hours, call us (410-614-6890) or to report any problems. If after hours, .

your training request. Trainings are now two-part: (1) remote Powerpoint/screen-sharing to introduce instrument logic and software, and (2) hands-on training with minimal close-proximity time, followed by distant/screen-share trouble-shooting for the rest of the training session. Hands-on sessions are limited to only one trainee per session, and trainees must fill a health form attesting their lack of Covid symptoms just prior to training. Plan for delays as we have reduced staffing, and hence, reduced training slots.


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