Campus Research Ramp-up Town Hall FAQs

Below Campus Research Ramp-up Virtual Town Hall held on May 6, 2020. Slides for this event are available here, but given rapidly changing conditions, the information may be outdated. 

Your question may not have been answered due to the ongoing finalization of information. Please contact your school research dean or unit leadership with your specific questions.

Please note: The following FAQs pertain to laboratory research based in the Campus schools. For information regarding SOM-based research, please refer to the SOM's Reopening Research Laboratories page.

Useful Resources

Related FAQs

PPE & Sanitation

Will masks be provided to returning employees? Are homemade masks permitted?

Yes—masks are available from Duke Emergency Management. Requests for masks are coordinated and submitted by your school’s dean’s office using this form; they will manage the process and schedule a time for picking up the necessary masks in two-week intervals. Homemade masks may be worn instead of disposables (Ref). See the CDC’s guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in addition to a DIY tutorial on sew/no-sew cloth face coverings.

Should gloves be worn?

Gloves should be worn when working in the labs or while cleaning and disinfecting. Wearing gloves in public spaces is not recommended by public health officials at this time.

Have guidelines been developed for sanitizing equipment such as microscopes? What about computers and keyboards?

Reach out to equipment manufacturers for advice on cleaning products and disinfectants that can be used on specialized equipment, including microscopes and other sensitive lab machinery, that may be damaged by harsh cleaners. OlympusZeissNikonLeica, and GE Healthcare have posted recommendations for disinfection, and Agilent has some helpful webinars. OESO ( can also help with these determinations if lab staff have Instructions for Use or similar documentation for a specific piece of equipment. For cleaning electronics, computers, and keyboards, avoid the use of spray cleaners or harsher disinfectants—use 70% ethanol wipes, when possible. Gently wipe the surface until visibly wet and let evaporate. If wipes are not available, a dry cloth soaked in 70% ethanol can be used; avoid getting liquid into equipment openings.

Who will be ordering sanitation supplies for each building?

Duke Facilities will provide hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for public spaces; spray bottles and disinfectant will be provided to dry labs upon request (contact your departmental business office to create a request). Wet labs customarily maintain necessary cleaning supplies (e.g., ethanol and paper towels). For further instruction on sanitizing work spaces, please refer to OESO’s guidance for reopening labs here.

If two labs share space that does not allow at least 6 ft of space, how should this be coordinated? What about equipment in shared spaces?

It is essential to create a schedule that permits safe distances in shared spaces. PIs should work together to create schedules that allow personnel to progress their research while adhering to the established safety principles. We understand that things do not always go as planned, and not all research can adhere to a strict schedule. Please work with your dean and respective school leadership to make the arrangements needed for your research.

How do we teach trainees new procedures if we can’t be near one other?

Social distancing poses special challenges for teaching new techniques. Some options for teaching techniques that require close proximity are listed below:

  • If possible, delay teaching that technique. This may not be feasible, but eliminating close contact is ideal.
  • Use technology to demonstrate the techniques. This could mean recording yourself performing the technique and narrating what you’re doing or using Zoom or WebEx to show the technique and then allow the trainee to try the technique while still having live feedback.
  • If live, in-person training is the only feasible method (high-risk activity, high-value samples or equipment) use chemical splash goggles or a face shield to protect the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) of both the trainer and the trainee in addition to other recommended PPE such as gloves and face masks.


How will equipment and other deliveries be handled?

During the shutdown, deliveries were directed to a central location for receiving. As buildings are re-opened, local deliveries will resume, but unit coordination will be important in order for things to proceed smoothly. All buildings will remain locked for the near future, and unit leaders will have a process for vendors and delivery companies to enter the building through the loading dock doors. Every lab will designate a point of contact(s) for deliveries via the Campus/SOM Laboratory Information Profile survey that is completed prior to returning to campus.