Covid-19 Information for Researchers and Other Research Personnel

Chris Jones and Chaouki T. Abdallah

(left) Chris Jones, professor and William R. McLain Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and (right) Chaouki T. Abdallah, executive vice president for Research.

 

Returning Safely to Labs

Professor and William R. McLain Chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Christopher Jones and Assistant Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety Nazia Zakir share information and guidelines for researchers returning to Georgia Tech laboratories as part of the Institute's phased return-to-campus plan.

 

Town Halls

Institute leaders and experts answer your questions about our road to recovery in this series of virtual town halls. 

Graduate Students

Graduate students can also review information for students or faculty and instructors and refer to the Graduate Education Guidance and FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on February 9, 2021.]

Table of Contents  
Research and Labs Campus Operations

FAQ

Research and Labs

I don’t feel comfortable reporting to my lab, and my PI is insisting that I report in person. What recourse do I have?

In the limited cases where social distancing cannot be practiced, supervisors and PIs will determine how best to utilize teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing. 

Based on your particular situation, you may be eligible for an academic or employment accommodation. Students seeking an academic or employment accommodation (including graduate teaching and research assistants) should start by contacting the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Registering with ODS is a 3-step process that includes completing an application, uploading documentation related to the accommodation request, and scheduling an appointment for an “intake meeting” (either in person or via phone or video conference) with a disability coordinator. If you work as an undergraduate or graduate teaching assistant or graduate research assistant and are seeking an employment accommodation, you should also complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.

In addition to approved accommodations through these processes, we understand that an employee or student may not feel comfortable being on campus. In this case, please discuss your particular concerns and situation with your supervisor. If you do not qualify for an accommodation and cannot resolve a conflict with your PI or supervisor related to returning to the lab or other campus operations, you are encouraged to reach out to the HR Business Partner or HR Director within your unit. You may also seek support from the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies within your school or the Graduate Ombuds Office.


 

Will the remainder of research activities resume in the spring?

Research-related Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found on the Research Ramp-Up webpage.


 

What special protocols are being implemented to protect faculty, staff, and graduate students who will be working in labs?

Research-related Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found on the Research Ramp-Up webpage.


 

Will researchers be allowed to resume field work?

Research-related Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found on the Research Ramp-Up webpage.


 

How will positive cases in research laboratories be handled?

Research-related Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found on the Research Ramp-Up webpage.


 

If industry sponsors ask for work stoppage and suspension of payment or cancel projects altogether because they can no longer afford to fund research, what should be done about student support, especially for those in the last 12-18 months of their degree

Research-related Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found on the Research Ramp-Up webpage.


 

What are the guidelines for in-person undergraduate research?

Guidelines for in-person undergraduate research for the Spring 2021 semester are available on the Research website.


 

How many people are allowed in a lab at one time?

Effective December 9, 2020, we are piloting a revised guideline to accommodate laboratories with lower personnel numbers and sufficient excess space in their laboratory. Please see the Revised Guidance on Laboratory Research Density for details.

We will continue to monitor and assess personnel density parameters and make any future revisions, as necessary.


 

Can an exception be made to the research density guidelines?

Exceptions to the guidelines may be considered, but must first be assessed and approved by EHS. Please review the Revised Guidance on Laboratory Research Density for details. For more information, contact ehs@gatech.edu.


 

RESEARCH AND LABS CONTACTS AND RESOURCES


For questions not addressed in the FAQs, these resources contain a wealth of information on the subject(s):


FAQ

Campus Operations

Will I be able to study, work, or hang out in community spaces around campus?

Georgia Tech has several academic buildings with larger open spaces designated for our community to gather, including:

  • Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
  • Crosland Tower
  • Price Gilbert Memorial Library
  • The atriums of West Architecture
  • Klaus Computing
  • IBB
  • Scheller

These buildings will be open to the Georgia Tech community following USG guidelines.

Study spaces, reading rooms, collaboration and rehearsal rooms, recording studios, and group study spaces will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine capacity and whether social distancing can be achieved. Most reservable rooms have the revised capacity listed in the Event Management System and can be reserved per the guidelines outlined on that site. Some small rooms or spaces may be limited to individual study.

Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where 6 feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing.


 

How will dining locations operate in the spring?

Food at select stations will be packaged in single-serving containers and dining team members will assist with serving unpackaged items. Food carts and food trucks will be increased to encourage social distancing. All staff will wear appropriate PPE for food service and cleanliness, as outlined by CDC guidelines.   

Contactless/tap credit card terminals have been installed at all point-of-sale locations, and card readers will be disinfected frequently. Plexiglass shields have been installed at all point-of-sale locations to ensure social distancing.   

All dining operations will temporarily shut down after meal shifts for more thorough cleaning, and each facility will be disinfected overnight.   

Seating capacity in the North Avenue Dining Hall, West Village, and the food court in the Campus Center Exhibition Hall will be reduced. 

Brittain Dining Hall will provide to-go service only.

More information is available on the Dining Services website


 

Will the Stinger, Tech Trolley, and Stingerette run as usual during Spring 2021?

During the spring semester, seating on buses will be adjusted to accommodate social distancing. 

The Gold, Blue, Red, Green, Emory, Tech Square, NARA/TEP, and Grocery routes will operate during spring semester. 

The Midnight Rambler and the Weekend Gold routes will not operate during the spring semester; those resources will be refocused on providing socially distanced transit service across the remaining campus routes.

Detailed routes and schedules for spring semester can be found on the Parking and Transportation Services website.

Stingerette service is limited to a single trip request at a time, with a maximum of two riders, to allow for social distancing. Stingerette service is available every night from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., excluding official campus holidays.

Guidelines for riding campus transit: 

  • Avoid riding  Georgia Tech buses and Stingerette vans if you are sick.
  • Face masks  must be worn by all riders and drivers. Riders without a mask may request a disposable mask from the driver.
  • Boarding and exiting will take place through the back door whenever possible. 
  • Seating guidelines will be in place for social distancing.
  • Standing will not be allowed on buses. If no seats are available, passengers will need to wait for the next bus. 

All transit vehicles are cleaned at the end or beginning of shifts. Frequently touched areas are cleaned throughout the day.


 

How will operations shift to protect students, faculty, and staff when the Campus Recreation Center (CRC) opens in the spring?

  • Beginning Monday, Jan. 11, the CRC’s hours of operation will be 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 – 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a cleaning closure each day.
  • On Saturdays, the CRC will be open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 to8 p.m., with a cleaning closure midday. On Sundays, the CRC will be open from noon to 8 p.m.  
  • We will have adjusted hours on Monday, Jan. 18 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 – 10 p.m.).
  • The entire facility will be disinfected each night.
  • A reservation system will be used to help control demand and minimize gathering outside the facility. CRC members and currently enrolled students can visit mycrc.gatech.edu to sign up for reservation slots.
  • Only current CRC members and currently enrolled students may use the CRC. No guest passes will be permitted.
  • Fitness equipment is physically distanced.
  • Increased signage and ground markers will promote social distancing and help manage lines.
  • Plexiglass is installed at all front-facing service areas, and all points of sale will use contactless/tap technology.
  • Temperature checks will be required to enter the facility, and anyone with a temperature over 100.4oF will not be granted access.
  • The number of patrons will be limited in all areas of the CRC.
  • Group workouts will be restricted.
  • Intramural sports will be offered in the spring in a safe manner. For more information visit the Intramural Sports website.
  • Locker rooms and showers are open, but we ask that you come dressed and ready for your workout and shower at home whenever possible.
  • All CRC staff will wear face coverings and eliminate interactions that do not adhere to social distancing practices.
  • Staff are trained to work as extra fitness floor attendants to monitor patrons and help with cleaning efforts.Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the facility.
  • Face coverings are required at all times in the CRC, unless swimming or showering.
  • Most CRC events will have an online component.
  • A reservation system will be deployed for event attendance to promote social distancing.
  • Touchless temperature checks will be performed at entry.

A full list of FAQs for the CRC is available on the CRC website.
 
Virtual options are available now and encouraged for patrons  who do not wish to visit the CRC in person.


 

Will the Student Center be open as usual in the spring? How will operations and events change?

Services and operations will be modified for the next two years during the renovation of the Student Center. In the temporary spaces:  

  • Every other piece of furniture has been blocked off, distributed to other appropriate facilities on campus, or moved into storage locations to create space for social distancing. 
  • Increased signage and ground markers will promote social distancing and help manage lines. 
  • Plexiglass has been installed at all front-facing service areas, and all points of sale will use contactless/tap technology. 
  • All staff will wear appropriate PPE while in the facility and maintain social distancing. 
  • Staff will be cross-trained as extra attendants to monitor patrons and help with cleaning efforts. We will also implement intermittent cleaning throughout the day, between meetings, and after events.  
  • Facilities will be disinfected each night.  
  • All Student Center-planned events will have an online component. A reservation system will be deployed for event attendance to promote social distancing. 
  • Revised capacities for the event spaces have been developed for all spaces in the Student Center portfolio. 

 

Are the makerspaces on campus available for students?

Yes. Makerspaces will use virtual queuing and online scheduling when possible and designate waiting areas for high-volume machines.

Space managers will oversee lab and hand tool cleaning, ensuring that disinfecting processes are in place, that tools are cleaned after every use, and that all common areas are cleaned.

If you have questions about accessing and using a particular makerspace, please contact the individual space manager.


 

Will I still be able to get help with co-ops, internships, and career advising from the Career Center?

Information and answers to questions about co-ops, internships, and career advising from the Career Center (formerly the Center for Career Discovery and Development)in Spring 2021 are available in the Career Center FAQs.


 

Are construction projects on campus continuing?

Construction projects will continue as contracted during this time.

While on campus, all contractors, vendors, and sub-contractors are required to wear face coverings when working inside any lab, office, or classroom facility and to use all precautions to maintain a safe and protected environment. Violation or failure to comply with Georgia Tech Covid-19 requirements may result in cancellation of contract.

We have asked our independent general contractors and architecture/engineering teams to use their best judgment on all safety matters, including current health-related concerns, and to monitor their job sites as per their company policies.

If a member of their team displays any signs of illness, they are to send them home and take necessary precautions to clean/prepare the site to minimize exposure to other employees and to our students and staff, if they are working in an occupied area. The companies also continue to follow the direction of their risk management plans. More information can be found on the Facilities Management website.


 

Will outside vendors or other visitors be allowed on campus?

Yes, but all campus visitors and attendees at campus events will be expected to follow Georgia Tech’s health and safety guidelines.


 

Can I still get teaching assistant training from the Center for Teaching and Learning?

Yes. We will transition teaching assistant (TA) orientation sessions to a combination of synchronous remote or small-group sessions and asynchronous remote delivery using existing modules. The rest of the training programs, workshops, and academic courses for TAs will use a combination of remote delivery when appropriate and small gatherings with social distancing.


 

How are the CARE Center, Counseling Center, and Stamps Health Services operating and offering appointments?

CARE Center: CARE provides services primarily virtually via tele-behavioral health. We follow strict criteria that identifies which students need an in-person appointment and maintain staffing to accommodate those exceptions.  Any in-person appointments will be staggered to reduce the number of students present in the center at one time. Staff and students who are in the suite wear masks and maintain physical distance. Plexiglass is installed around the reception desk.

Counseling Center: Clients are served with our full range of services using tele-behavioral health and other forms of virtual meetings. We maintain in-office rotational staffing to support our remote work processes. In-office emergency appointments for established clients are available on a situation-by-situation basis. Staff and students who are in the suite wear masks and maintain physical distance. Plexiglass is installed around the reception desk.

Stamps Health Services: In-person and virtual appointments will be available to students. We will provide a separate treatment and waiting space for patients having symptoms associated with Covid-19 and use telemedicine when appropriate. Appointment schedules will be adjusted to limit the number of people in waiting areas, and all front-facing service areas will have plexiglass installed to promote social distancing.


 

CAMPUS OPERATIONS AND STUDENT SERVICES RESOURCES


For questions not addressed in the FAQs, these resources contain a wealth of information on the subject(s):