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Laboratory and Biosafety FAQs

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021

Yes, the IBCP office is operational, but with limited staff.

Yes, but they will be meeting remotely using Zoom. If you would like to attend a meeting during this time contact the director (ibc@vt.edu) for the Zoom information.

Yes, please plan timelines accordingly as approvals might be delayed.

  • COVID-19 related Institutional Biosafety Committee protocol amendments and new applications will be prioritized for review by both the IBC program staff, and the IBC.
  • Some COVID-19 related IBC amendments may be able to be processed as minor amendments. These minor amendments will be reviewed by the IBC chair and biosafety officers, after the IBC program staff complete an initial review to check that all required information has been submitted.
  • COVID-19 IBC protocol applications that require review at a convened IBC meeting will first be reviewed by the IBC program staff to check that all required information has been submitted. The applications will then be placed onto the agenda for review at a COVID-19 IBC meeting. COVID-19 IBC meetings will be held weekly, as needed.

Yes, research involving the use of biohazards may be performed.

Yes, if personnel are unable to come to the laboratory, consider rescheduling experiments or activities that cannot be interrupted. If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and it is feasible to freeze or otherwise capture samples at specific steps, consider doing this, leaving analysis for later. Be sure to identify procedures that require ongoing personnel attention (e.g., cell culture, animal studies) and develop plans to protect against possible disruption.

You should disinfect equipment before and after use with a CDC-recommended disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. These include products that include 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, at least 70 percent alcohol, or 1-5 percent bleach diluted in water. Please refer to the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC) and EPA'slist of products that have been pre-approved by the EPA for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogen.

Contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 if you have any questions regarding the appropriate disinfectants.

Equipment and surfaces should be disinfected before and after use with a CDC-recommended disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. These include products that include 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, at least 70 percent alcohol or 1-5 percent bleach diluted in water. See Laboratory Disinfection Guidelines.

Lab workers/researchers should disinfect surfaces and equipment before and after use.

Please speak with the lab managers about purchasing appropriate disinfectants. For more information around ordering PPE for your unit or department, please refer to FAQ for the Acquisition of PPE from the University's Centralized Critical Supply Inventory.

Departments with employees currently working in a university-owned or leased facility and need face coverings to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order can email Virginia Tech Procurement at procurement@vt.edu to request a reasonable number of either disposable surgical masks or a daily wear cloth mask for those employees.

There are often other disinfectants that can be used for the specific agents being used. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Biosafety Group at ehs-bsg-g@vt.edu for recommendations related to alternative disinfectants for your specific agents.

Lab managers must maintain a log to indicate the date and times for which each individual is present. This is mandated for legal and health-related requirements, such as contact tracing.

COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures for On-Site Laboratories

If you receive a report from an employee of suspected exposure or a diagnosis of COVID-19, please report this to Human Resources at 540-819-2324 or sburks@vt.edu and contact Mike Mulhare of emergency management at 540-231-4871 for instructions on possible communication to the work team and next steps.

Advise the employee to not report to work or immediately leave work until they have contacted their medical provider or contacted the New River Health District at 540-267-8240 and fill out the online survey.

Face coverings (or respiratory protection if needed for a specific hazard) must be worn at all times while in labs/research areas and other spaces to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. However, anyone with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask is not recommended by their medical provider or anyone who has trouble breathing is exempted, but should wear a face shield instead.

Face coverings (or respiratory protection if needed for a specific hazard) must be worn at all times while in labs/research areas and other spaces to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. However, anyone with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask is not recommended by their medical provider or anyone who has trouble breathing is exempted, but should wear a face shield instead.