vivarium mouse being held

Guidelines for Safely Re-starting invivo Research Activities in MSU Vivarium

These guidelines apply to all the vivarium users to assure the safety of all Laboratory Animal Research (LAR) staff and research staff during the re-start of invivo research activities.

General guidelines

  1. LAR will continue to provide daily husbandry and care to all animals housed in the Vivarium.
  2. LAR staff will work on different days to minimize the risk of exposure of the entire team and to assure consistency of support in case of any positive COVID-19 cases in the Vivarium.
  3. LAR staff will be able to provide some research support, e.g. assistance with sample collections and euthanasia. This effort aims to reduce the need for more research staff in the vivarium and allows for more social distancing during work. This kind of support will be arranged on a case-by-case basis. Arrangements will be made in advance with the Vivarium Director, before the study is commenced, and per diem rates will be applied.
  4. LAR will continue to oversee animal procurement requests. Animal ordering will re-start following MSU’s regular animal procurement process. Please refer to the LAR website for information and guidance.
  5. The continuity of any new invivo research project is subject to potential impact in case of changes in University operations mandated by the Governor of New Jersey. All Principal Investigators (PIs) must plan their studies, animal orders, and support staff schedules accordingly.
  6. PIs are highly encouraged to estimate and order the supplies needed for their invivo projects from start to end as possible. It’s very important to assure the supplies will be in good condition, and will not expire before the end of the study. Please contact the Vivarium Director for any assistance with locating the required supplies or vendors.

Vivarium Entry

  1. All Vivarium users must use the regular required PPE for entry (disposable hair bonnets, disposable gowns, disposable face mask or N95, disposable gloves, disposable shoe covers, and safety goggles). There will be no exceptions to this practice in the Vivarium.
  2. LAR will establish a Vivarium-entry sign-in log. Vivarium users will be required to sign in before entering the Vivarium and sign out upon exiting the Vivarium. All users are required to follow the University start plan in regards to the screening and reporting of positive COVID-19 symptoms or cases.
  3. Vivarium visitor access requests will be strictly limited until New Jersey enters Stage 3 and resumes “new normal” operations. Unless there is a dire need and it is required for the continuity of the invivo project, visitor access requests will be denied.

Vivarium use, work schedules, and spacing

  1. Animal husbandry activities will be conducted early in the day and on certain days. This will allow for minimal interaction or overlap with the research work. PIs are highly encouraged to check with the Vivarium Director regarding the husbandry schedule, to plan their days accordingly. The husbandry schedule for each animal holding room is posted on the back of the room log.
  2.  The following guidelines apply to all shared workspaces to assure a safe work environment and social distancing,
    1. No more than one person in an animal holding room at a time.
    2. No more than 4 personnel in a procedure space at a time.
    3. No more than one user of the biosafety cabinet at a time
    4. Research staff working in a team must follow the CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines, and the PPE must be worn all the time during work activity.
  3. PIs are highly encouraged to implement a staggered work schedule for their research staff to minimize the number of persons in shared spaces. Additionally, rotating individuals among teams is discouraged to reduce the possibility of unique contacts.
  4. PIs working on different invivo projects, and using the same procedure space are encouraged to coordinate their work activities, so there is no overlap in using the space between their research staff. Should there be multiple invivo projects in the same procedure space, an on-line calendar for reserving the procedure space will be established on the LAR website.
  5. Minimizing the sharing of equipment and devices is highly recommended. Any shared equipment and high-touch surfaces will be disinfected before and after use as per the University re-start guidelines.
  6. Face –to- face interactions between the research staff and LAR staff should be kept to the minimum possible. Communication via phone, email, or zoom is preferred.
  7. All PIs are required to identify the second-in-command in their research staff, and share this information with the Vivarium Director. This is essential to assure the continuity of communication and invivo project activities, in case the PI is temporarily unable to fill the lead role.
  8. PIs, research staff and LAR staff that are exhibiting any of the COVID-19 symptoms or has been in close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 are not allowed to enter the vivarium, and required follow the University plan in screening and reporting COVID-19 exposure.