Updated February 18, 2021
On this page is specific guidance on the current COVID-19 situation for members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
If you have a question or concern not addressed by this information, please contact: Dr. Terry Gustafson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for undergrad instruction, Dr. Christine Thomas (email@example.com) for graduate student questions, or the department chair, Dr. Claudia Turro (firstname.lastname@example.org) for other concerns.
UPDATED - Reopening of research labs and resuming research activity. Researchers will be allowed to resume some on-campus activities during Stage 3 of the re-opening process, beginning June 22. Re-opening steps and protocols are detailed in this CBC-specific document (see text below or PDF here) and EHS safety checklist. Contact Dr. Christopher Hadad (email@example.com) with questions or for general information see https://research.osu.edu/news-events/coronavirus-and-your-research-program/staged-approach-to-returning-to-on-campus-research/.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Students, faculty and staff have done a commendable job in persevering with their studies and the university’s mission under trying conditions. While broad vaccination is on the horizon, it is essential that we continue to implement best practices to ensure that we can continue with our research and studies. To that end, this document updates departmental requirements based on updated standards, and clarifies best practices to facilitate adherence to safety protocols.
These guidelines apply to all laboratory personnel (postdoctoral researchers, students, faculty, staff, and any authorized visitors such as service technicians), regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 illness.
1. Daily Health Check. A daily health check to report body temperature and health status through the Ohio State mobile app or compass.osu.edu is required for all students, faculty and staff each day they come to campus.
2. Flexible work accommodations. The department supports maximum flexibility to help our faculty, staff and student employees balance the demands of work and home life during this COVID-19 pandemic. To minimize the spread of illness, remote work options are supported whenever feasible. https://hr.osu.edu/coronavirus/working/
3. Wear a mask. Wearing a mask is the most effective means of halting the spread of COVID-19. Face masks must be worn properly (over nose, mouth and chin) everywhere on campus. The university has compiled guidance on how to respectfully encourage compliance with face mask guidelines on campus. Exceptions include (1) when in a private office with the door closed; (2) for momentary (< 30 sec) breaks to change or adjust a mask, drink a beverage, or consume a snack, while spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart; (3) when dining in a suitable space; (4) when washing one’s face in a public bathroom; or (5) when a prohibitive medical condition exists. The time duration for non-mask usage should always be as short as possible. Disposable surgical or N95 masks are required in laboratory spaces; reusable masks are permissible in all other spaces. Face shields may be used in addition to disposable surgical or N95 masks, but everyone must wear a mask.
4. Personal Safety Practices. Everyone is expected to follow the safe and healthy personal safety practices, including face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene. High-touch surfaces (door handles, benches, hoods, desks, keyboards, equipment) should be cleaned with a suitable disinfectant (e.g., 70% ethanol or 10% bleach, and soap, as needed) before and after use.
5. Lab density. To comply with social distancing guidelines, personnel must schedule laboratory and office access times. Simultaneously-used work spaces must allow researchers to remain a minimum of 6 feet apart.
6. Use of shared spaces. Online sign-up and logs are required for all common research areas and equipment rooms. Coordinate with adjacent groups or personnel, as needed, in order to minimize cross-contamination.
7. Limiting on-site time. To facilitate social distancing requirements, and to allow other laboratory members access to the lab, personnel should limit time in the laboratory to that required for experimental work.
8. Exchanges of samples or other materials: When possible, exchanges should avoid unnecessary social contact, preserving a 6-foot or greater separation, and disinfected upon receipt.
9. Training and collaborative activities: Video conferencing is encouraged, including use of a webcam to demonstrate techniques where possible. For in-person training, the trainee and trainee should strive to remain at least 6 feet apart when possible; training periods within a 6-foot distance should be as short as possible and may not extend beyond 15 minutes within a two-hour period. Disposable surgical or N95 masks must be worn at all times (i.e., no drinking or eating) while within a 6 ft distance.
10. Reporting unsafe conditions: If unsafe behavior is observed, the following sequence of actions is recommended to address it, escalating only if the problem is not addressed: (1) respectfully ask the person to self-correct; (2) alert the PI/Director; (3) inform the local Building Coordinator; (4) alert Department Chair. For BI, BRT and RF, the building coordinator is Carol Barnes (.829). For all other CBC buildings, the building coordinators are Walter Williams (.5141) and Kevin Dill (.3). An anonymous reporting form is also available if the steps above cannot be reasonably taken.
11. Corrective actions: Disregard for these policies will not be tolerated. Researchers that refuse to abide by safety guidelines will be denied access to research laboratories and other shared spaces. Safety violations will be warned only once and expected to follow the guidelines. The seriousness of the potential health risks to others requires that the second offense by the same individual will result in immediate action.
Requirement to work from home. All employees who can work from home are still required to do so. This includes all of graduate students, undergraduates, postdocs, research scientists, faculty, and staff. Nobody is allowed to work from their office on campus.
Travel and Seminars. All international travel and non-essential domestic air travel are prohibited (essential travel does not include conferences, colloquiums or guest lectures). Students, faculty and staff who are returning from a CDC level 3 country (which now includes most of Europe, as well as some countries in East Asia and the Middle East) must self-quarantine for 14 days before they can return to campus. All CBC seminars and events for the remainder of the semester are cancelled.
News and Updates. Updates on the university's response to COVID-19 can be found at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/staff-and-students.
Prevention. The best way to prevent the spread of any type of infection is to practice routine hygiene etiquette:
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Use alcohol hand rub as a backup.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw away your tissue after one use.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are ill, stay home. Keep a safe six-foot distance from others to prevent disease spread.
- If you are seriously ill, seek medical advice.
- Complete and stay up-to-date on your Ohio State vaccination requirements.
- For more information, visit https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/healthcare-services
Jump to info for: Faculty, Instructors and GTAs | Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students | Staff
Faculty, Instructors and GTAs
Summer term classes continue to be online only. More information about autumn term courses is available at: https://news.osu.edu/ohio-state-announces-plans-for-an-autumn-semester-return-to-campuses/. In this Box folder are documents to help you create an online communication plan for your students, and an example for a Chem 1210 class.
ASC Student Well-Being Resources. The services and resources in this document are designed to assist our ASC students as they cope with this crisis. We want to approach students holistically. First and foremost, we encourage faculty, staff and graduate students to reach out to students and inquire about their well-being. As you reach out, inquire about their needs in the classroom and beyond, and please use these resources to assist students.
Lectures. While there are multiple possibilities for content delivery, the university’s site license for Zoom appears to work quite well. For courses under 300, it is possible to use Zoom (CarmenZoom) to give live lectures to your students. Since Zoom is limited to 300 attendees, we recommend that classes larger than 300 use prerecorded videos and post them. Instructors of smaller classes may wish to record their lectures as well. Recording them in Zoom provides the option of generating a transcript for SLDS students. The transcripts will likely need to be edited, but the majority of the work will be done. At the bottom of this section, there are additional tips for using Zoom. It is important to note that however you decide to proceed, please communicate clearly to your students what that process is.
Labs. There will be no in-person labs during summer term. We are requesting that our teaching assistants be available for office hours during their regularly scheduled lab times.
Recitations. We recommend that teaching assistants use Zoom to hold their recitations at normal times. The best method is to use a Personal Meeting Room option in Zoom for recitations. It might be useful to change your Personal Link in the Zoom profile to be just their name.#. Remember to consider the time zone that the students are in.
Office Hours. Teaching assistants will be holding their office hours remotely. Dr. Turner will be providing additional information about how this will be done. Some options include using chat apps, like Slack or Piazza, or via Zoom.
Exams. We are still finalizing the exact details for exams, but the current plan is to have students use ExamSoft on whatever device they have. We are sorting out how to do this in an unproctored environment, so more information will be forthcoming.
Zoom and Other Remote Teaching Tips
Christine Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org), Casey Wade (email@example.com) and Zac Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) are available to assist instructors who would like help with Zoom or Carmen, running a test lecture, or combining Smart Podium equipment in classrooms with Zoom.
Testing Zoom. Please test Zoom and be comfortable with it before your first lecture. An option for testing is to enlist your grad students and set up Zoom in your grad research course CHEM 8999 in Carmen. It will auto-populate your grad students and then you check sound and visibility from both a presenter and student perspective.
PowerPoint slides. This is the easiest option, particularly if you regularly teach using slides and already have them prepared. Use Zoom, load up your PowerPoint presentation, and share your screen. You can point with your cursor using your mouse. No camera capabilities are necessary, you just need a microphone enabled on your computer.
PowerPoint slides with annotations. Many of you routinely use PowerPoint slides for your lectures, but annotate them with additional notes or work out problems using a SmartScreen in the classroom or using a tablet and stylus. If you have a tablet and a stylus, you can use Zoom, load up your PowerPoint presentation, share your screen, and write on your slides using the stylus as usual. If you traditionally use a SmartScreen such as the one in MP1000 in your classroom and you do not have a tablet and stylus available, there is no reason you could not use the SmartScreen and computer in your regularly scheduled classroom. You will need to log into Zoom on the classroom computer, load up your PowerPoint presentation, and share your screen, then proceed as you normally would.
Recording Lectures and Audio Caption. If you record your lectures using Zoom (recommended), Zoom has the ability to add captions at the bottom of the screen. This is a recommended option for accessibility purposes, however, you will want to make sure that you don’t have important content at the bottom of your slides, screen, video, because it will be covered up by the captions. See additional information on audio caption at: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115004794983-Automatically-Transcribe-Cloud-Recordings-
Writing notes on the chalkboard/whiteboard. Those of you that traditionally teaching by writing notes and working through problems on the chalkboard are likely feeling the most inconvenienced by remote teaching. You have several options:
(1) Most of you have access to a webcam, either as an external device or directly built into your computer. Zoom has the capability to interface with both types of camera on your computer (available through the Share button in Zoom), so you can just position the camera so that students can watch you write notes on the board. You will want to test this first, so that you have a good idea of how large you need to write, and what parts of the board the students can see.
(2) If you have a tablet with a stylus, you can use the “Whiteboard” option (available through the Share button in Zoom) and write your notes on your touchscreen using the stylus.
(3) Another option is the documentcam option described below.
Documentcam. Zoom does have the ability to interface with a documentcam attached to your computer (available through the Share button in Zoom). If there is a documentcam in your regularly scheduled classroom, there is no reason you cannot continue to use it as you would have under normal circumstances. You will need to log into Zoom on the classroom computer and interface Zoom with the Documentcam, then proceed as usual. Those of you that do not normally use a documentcam: If you have on in your regularly scheduled classroom, this might be a valuable substitute for chalkboard/whiteboard writing, particularly if you have a strong preference for writing on pen and paper rather than screen and stylus and are self-conscious on camera.
CarmenCanvas is the learning management system for Ohio State. Instructions for creating and modifying Carmen course sites are available on the ODEE Resource Center. Faculty and instructors should log in to https://carmen.osu.edu and submit the request to create a Carmen master shell for their course if they are not using Carmen.
BuckeyeBox is used for cloud storage, and we recommend that faculty and instructors log in to https://box.osu.edu to activate their account and move all teaching materials into a Box folder for remote access if needed.
Mediasite is a tool embedded into Carmen for lecture capture, and it can upload lectures once recorded. We recommend that faculty, instructors and lecturers login to https://mediasite.osu.edu to activate their account.
The ASCTech Digital Media Studio can record lectures (both audio and video) that can be uploaded to Carmen. Any faculty and instructors interested in recording their lectures should go to https://asctech.osu.edu to submit a request.
ASCTech technical support is available to all ASC faculty, staff and students for all of the tools listed. All members of the Arts and Sciences community can go to https://asctech.osu.edu to submit support requests.
Additional instructor resources are available on KeepTeaching.osu.edu
Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students
The guidelines below are in effect through June 22, 2020. Beginning June 22, some research activities can be resumed. Re-opening steps and protocols are detailed in this CBC-specific document and EHS safety checklist. Contact Dr. Christopher Hadad (email@example.com) with questions about resuming research activities or for general information see https://research.osu.edu/news-events/coronavirus-and-your-research-program/staged-approach-to-returning-to-on-campus-research/. Please direct any further questions not covered by the below guidelines to the department chair.
Working from home. All employees who can work from home are required to do so. No group member should be performing research in the lab unless specifically directed by the advisor as a “critical task”. Such tasks must be approved by the research advisor and the Department Chair.
Critical tasks. Graduate student and postdoctoral researchers should only consider coming to offices and laboratories on a limited basis if they are absolutely required to perform tasks related to critical instrumentation maintenance, etc. — not to continue their ongoing research projects. These tasks should be assigned to group members by the research advisor and approved by the Department Chair. One example of such task is filling the liquid nitrogen on the NMR magnets.
Instrumentation shut down/maintenance. Many research groups have instrumentation that needs to be properly shut down, or there may be current experiments that need to be safely terminated. Faculty should determine which instruments need regular maintenance and set up a schedule for a group member to come in periodically to check on the instrument and/or upkeep. In some cases, it may make sense to shut down a given instrument or system. Faculty should determine the safest, most economical and practical measure on a case-by-case basis. These systems may include glove boxes, GCs, dewars, freezers, NMRs, solvent stills, cell line storage, etc.
Experiments currently running and retrieving data. Students and postdocs should coordinate with their faculty advisor and other group members to come into the lab briefly to shut down specific experiments (such as if you have a reaction running or you must take care of cell lines, etc.) or to gather data from the lab to work from home or download software. Please make sure that lab visits are staggered so that there is minimal interaction among individuals.
Check your area and the lab in general. As you are preparing to work from home, please check your lab area and the lab in general so that there will be no issues while the lab is unattended. For example, check that all freezers are operating properly, gas lines closed, sink faucets closed, etc.
Undergraduate research. No undergraduate research in the lab is allowed; only off-site literature or writing research work that can be conducted remotely is permitted for undergraduate students. Regional campus research is subject to the recommendations of the regional dean, but it is advised that they follow the recommendation of the Columbus campus.
Group meetings. All group meetings should be conducted virtually using Zoom, Skype, or a similar platform.
PhD Defenses and Candidacy Exams. If an “open” seminar was planned before the defense, this portion of the exam should be cancelled. The Defenses should be closed so that the only people in the room are the committee and the student. Candidacy exams should not be cancelled or postponed. Video exams are allowed during this semester and will not require a petition. Please work with your graduating students completing a candidacy exam, thesis oral exam or dissertation defense and be as flexible as possible. You are expected to protect the integrity of exam through whatever method is selected. Please use the resources on https://keepteaching.osu.edu and https://keepworking.osu.edu to help your student with a secure internet connection so the remote exam process can be successful. The Service Desk is available on extended hours through weekends if you have questions about these technology tools and teaching considerations. Contact Service Desk: Phone 614-688-4357, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing Resources. Resources for students working on writing assignments such as candidacy, review papers, thesis introductions, or manuscripts are available in this Box folder.
The Office of Research has issued guidance for continuing research programs under current circumstances. Guidance on this topic can be found here: https://research.osu.edu/news-events/coronavirus-and-your-research-program/.
All employees who can work from home are required to do so. Approved telework agreements are in effect through June 26, 2020 with the possibility of limited return to campus for individuals engaged in some research or approved activities. Individuals will be contacted if they are impacted.
Across all campuses, only critical services will be maintained on university property. If it is not essential for you to be on campus but your duties can’t be completed through teleworking, or if you don’t have the resources to telework, your Human Resources Business Professionals will work with you to determine next steps.
- More information on the university’s guidance in this area can be found here: https://hr.osu.edu/coronavirus/ and https://it.osu.edu/keepworking
- OCIO has provided these key strategies and resources for temporary remote work: https://ascintranet.osu.edu/sites/default/files/work-from-home-top-10-ocio.pdf