What's It Like in BSRB?

May 28, 2020

Renee Beardslee is a Research Lab Specialist who has been designated to participate in the phased return to work at BSRB. She offered these comments on what it's like to work in the building, in these early days of research reactivation. We thought her thoughtful observations, as well as the photos she took, would be helpful for others, as they plan to return to the labs in the next waves of reactivation.


  • BSRB entry I had to scan my badge to enter like I would during normal after-hours entry; the doors were locked.  There was a person immediately present that gave me a sticker with date that you have to wear all day.  The lobby is all set up with lanes for entry and departure and there was a second person that screened the questions.  There is a website set up now where you can answer the questions online and just show them the date-time-stamped result.  Then there was a third screening spot with a police officer in a booth with plexiglass and they took my temperature.  If you have bangs, you have to push them aside for it to work!
  • You also have to leave through this door.  Couldn’t just enter here and then leave anywhere.

General building environment

  • BSRB Atrium All furniture has been rearranged, marked off or removed to allow for 6 feet distancing.  There are signs specifically instructing people that they are not allowed to move furniture.
  • Speaking of signs, they are EVERYWHERE!  Signs telling you: how many people are allowed in an elevator, the number of people allowed in a bathroom, occupancy of 1 at tables, occupancy allowed in kitchen areas.  They clearly put A LOT of thought into this part of things and it makes it very easy to know what is allowed.
  • Bathroom sinks and stalls are closed off or closed entirely for social distancing.  Lots of signs in the bathrooms.  Signs at drinking fountains; obviously can’t use those.
  • Atrium space dedicated to eating lunch, so you don’t have to go outside or go to your car!


  • BSRB labThere were ‘welcome back packs’ for each PI with blue painter’s tape, a few disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a few masks.
  • The first two days were split by floors; half came in on Thursday and the other half on Friday.  These two days were for marking the lab, plugging everything back in, cleaning and readying other things (e.g., running sink water if it hadn’t been used) only.
  • Everyone marked their workstations and six foot reminders as they feel are appropriate for their individual needs.  We also posted signage on ante rooms saying “Only one person occupancy” or at equipment saying “One person at shared equipment at a time”, etc.  Lots of signs went up!
  • We also marked off in red lab tape any bench space that can’t be used. e.g., anything in an entry hall that is needed for traffic flow, anything that is opposite a working bench etc. and posted a sign indicating “No work allowed here” or whatever is appropriate for the situation.  Posted cleaning logs and instructions for everything.
  • Cleaning everything was somewhat time-consuming.

Managing distancing

  • BSRB signs We were probably at only 50% of our “allowed” people (that is, 50% of the 30%) present in our greater shared lab space, and even with that and minimal movement because no one was actually doing lab work, we were definitely already running into each other in the walkways.  It’s tricky and there was a lot of dancing and stopping and getting out of the way.  Other labs reported that they plan to not even allow their max allocated because the distancing is somewhat difficult.
  • We identified that the shared equipment and other equipment may turn out to be a pain point because if it is near a workspace where someone is present, then someone has to move away or wait.  If both are working on time-sensitive items, this can possibly become problematic.
  • I generally felt safe, although it was actually pretty quiet and I speculate that the density will increase next week, so we’ll see.  Managing touching door handles and whatnot is always going to be tricky, but the CDC just indicated that their position is that touching surfaces “isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” so there’s that.

Many thanks to Renee for sharing these comments. CLICK HERE to learn more about the research reactivation process at BSRB. Questions? Contact ummsresearch@umich.edu.