Medical School Research Reactivation FAQs

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This page will be updated as more questions arise from our research community. CLICK HERE for more details about the Medical School research reactivation process.

Physical Space

Q: What is the COVID workforce (also known as COVID-socially distanced density) and what does the number posted on my laboratory door mean?
A: The COVID workforce is defined by the central-campus U-M Office of Research (UMOR), and applies to all laboratories across the three university campuses, as one person per 144 sq. ft. of the laboratory space assigned to a PI (e.g., a lab of 1000 sq. ft. has a COVID workforce of 6.94 individuals).

One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 is to minimize the number of people that come in contact with each other. Therefore, depending on the statewide transmission of COVID-19 and the state phase, a specific density will be permitted in the laboratories (e.g., 30%, 45%, or 60%) during the pandemic. As an example, if the density is at 30%, then two people are allowed in the prior example of a PI with a 1000 sq. ft. lab with a COVID workforce of 6.94 (i.e., 6.94 * 30% = 2 people). This number is the maximum capacity for the laboratory at one time (shift) and is indicated by the sign on your laboratory.

Q: What if there is a procedure room with a door that is closed during experiments, but the room is <144 sq ft?  How will that space be counted?
A: An individual within a room that is less than 144 SF should be considered isolated from other individuals. The room is independent in terms of the space available in relation to the adjacent room. However, density and social distancing practices must account for entering and exiting the isolated procedure room.  

Note that many procedure rooms, e.g., within the animal facilities, may have more than 288 SF. However, the placement of the door, location of equipment, and other features impacting the function of the room will be used to determine appropriate occupancy based on 6-ft distancing directives. When safe distances cannot be ensured, the default occupancy will be no more than one person per room.  

Q: Does social distance of 6 feet apply to individuals who wear masks?
A: Yes.  A mask is required to be worn by all personnel in the building and 6 feet of distance is expected to be maintained between individuals.  

Q: How is what we are doing compare to other institutions?
A: There having been many national calls among institutions, and while there is some variability based on local restrictions and virus severity, UMMS is responding in a similar manner to the majority of institutions.

Q: Given that some offices are adjoined with the labs, can these be opened to decrease density?
A: Density recommendations will be based on social distancing guidelines within wet lab space regardless of configuration. Office or non-wet lab activities are not permitted in phase 1, consistent with the State of Michigan orders for this reactivation.  

Q: With open lab space (e.g., BSRB), adjacent bays may be assigned to different department PIs.  How is social distancing going to be coordinated?
A: It is understood that open labs may have multiple departments and PI’s. The departments and PI’s that share the space should coordinate activity to maintain social distancing guidance. Ultimately, the personnel physically in the labs will be responsible for ensuring social distancing.

Q: Many PIs do not do much bench work, so how can they oversee their lab if they cannot use their offices?
A: Understanding that most PI’s aren’t actively engaged at the bench, the PI will be included on the building access list, but every effort will be made, within all public health and UM directives, to allow 30-40% of the actual bench workers to return to the labs. That said, when the PI is in attendance at the laboratory they will have to factor into the lab maximum occupancy count and ensure it is not exceeded.

Entry to Buildings

Q: What will the hours of operation be? Will it be 7 days/week?

A: Buildings will have screening to enter the building for 12 hrs (i.e., 6am-6pm), 7 days a week. Once an individual has been approved to enter the building, they can stay inside as long as they need as long as social distancing guidelines are maintained.  
*It is important to note that light cycles within animal holding rooms cannot be disrupted; therefore, these room cannot be entered during the “dark phase” identified on the animal room door.

Q: Are shifts allowed?
A: All buildings are now able to plan for shifts to bring back their personnel back into the lab while still maintaining the 30% density, 6-ft social distancing and PPE requirements during all shifts.

Q: With shifts, can the personnel rotate, or does it have to be the same 2 essential personnel every day?
A:  To aid experiments that are not conducive to a single shift and researchers that need more flexibility, teams can swap personnel between shifts where needed in order to schedule or optimize productivity.

Q: I am designated "critical/essential" - do I have to enter buildings through the screening checkpoints? What about after hours?
A: Critical/essential personnel must also enter buildings through designated screening locations. Even after hours, you must use those entrances because they are the only doors where your Mcard is programmed for building access. All emergency exits remain open. 

Q: Is there a phone app to track shifts?
A: As of now, there is no app to track movement in and out of the buildings.

Q: Given current data suggesting many with SARS-CoV2 may be asymptomatic, is a temp check for everyone entering the building(s) worthwhile?
A: This aspect of screening is recommended as part of the Governor’s Executive Order and CDC guidelines.

Q: Are screeners going to be present 24/7?
A: The screeners that allow personnel to enter the building will be there for 12 hours (6am-6pm), 7 days a week. 

Q: What should I do if I am exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 at work or in the community?
A: There are no work restrictions for most workforce members following an exposure to COVID-19 at work or in the community. Workforce members may continue to work following an exposure and should monitor for symptoms. Workforce members who work in research areas may be subject to work restrictions based on community exposure:

Q: One of the screening questions for entry into the building asks “have you had household contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?” I have a family member who has been caring for COVID-19 patients. Do I have to answer “Yes” to this question?
A: You would answer “Yes” to this question only if there has been a positive COVID-19 diagnosis of someone in your household, not if you live with someone who works with positive cases.

Q: There are several core labs that are part of the phased opening of BSRB (or another building). Can I enter the building to use them?
A: Yes, there are now guidelines cores and shared equipment users are following to allow you to enter a building different from your home building. The guidelines are listed below, and you will need to check with the core facility or shared equipment manager to determine what their specific process is.

  • A scheduling system must be developed for shared equipment or core facility that ensures adherence to maximum capacity and social distancing requirements.
  • Shared equipment must have a cleaning/disinfection protocol that is used before and after equipment use and a log (hard copy or electronic) that documents that cleaning/disinfection has occurred and that can be produced in the event of an audit or inspection.
  • Research laboratory personnel must be screened at their home building location and obtain a sticker for the day documenting successful health screening clearance.
  • If moving between building complexes, the building greeter in the core/shared equipment building will be shown the health screening clearance sticker.
  • Depending on the core/shared equipment laboratory procedure and instructions provided, a person may meet research personnel at the greeter station, may have notified the greeter with a schedule for the day and research personnel’s name will be cross-referenced against the schedule list, or may request research personnel to proceed directly to the core/shared equipment lab location.
  • Research personnel must adhere to all U-M requirements and any specific protocols or requirements of the core/shared equipment laboratory.
  • The laboratory where the core/shared equipment is located must ensure maximum capacity is not exceeded, that cleaning/disinfection protocols are being followed and logged, and that social distancing is practiced.
  • Research personnel should minimize the time they are in the core/shared equipment laboratory.

Q: Does authorized COVID-19 research have to fall within the density guidelines?
A: Yes.

Providing Masks

Q: Who will purchase the masks?
A: Central campus is purchasing the masks to prevent supply competition.         

Animal Questions

CLICK HERE for information regarding animal research re-engagement and FAQs.


Q: I have been parking in a structure without a permit.  With ramp up, will I be able to get a permit? Has there been coordination with The Ride as to when the commuter routes will begin running again? Will there be more busses, and and more available late evenings?
A: Enforcement in the parking structures will begin on June 22 (, and personnel can purchase a new permit beginning June 15. The AAATA has stated they currently plan to expand service in late August.  Please refer to their website for updates. Questions regarding Michigan Medicine commuters and parking can be directed to

Q: What do I do if there is a vendor or service provider that needs to enter the building?
A: If an outside provider needs to enter the building and lab to service an equipment or repair needs, they will need to be met at the screener location and escorted to their final destination. While they are working, the 30% density, 6-ft social distance and proper PPE requirements still need to be maintained.

Q: How will receiving and shipping for UPS and FedEx and their access to the building?  If the department offices aren’t allowed to be open, how will shipping/receiving work?
A: In alignment with the ramp down, full support is provided by receiving. Couriers have MCard access to support ramp up activities and will be screened at the dock. The couriers’ ability to deliver packages will be based on the labs ability to receive the packages and not on access.

Common Space

Q: What guidelines do we have on food and drink? Are there provisions for common areas to remain clean? And how will people density be handled in these common spaces?
A: The guidelines on food and drink remain the same and cannot be consumed in lab areas. Custodial Services will continue their program to disinfect high touch areas and clean designated common areas. Density of common areas will be managed through placement of table and chairs and reminders related to social distancing. Ultimately, social distancing will be managed by those in the area.

Q: Can we assure our staff regarding daily / regular cleaning / sterilization of common spaces by housekeeping?
A: Custodial Services has provided their program in response to the COVID-19 crisis at the following link They have committed to ramp up their staffing in alignment with the research ramp up needs.


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