City Tech Reopening Plan

Chemistry Department: Re-Opening Plan

Chemistry Department

Re-Opening Plan for Upper-Level Teaching Labs A509/A511/A308

Chemistry Department designated teaching lab areas are located on the fifth and third floors of the Academic Building and include the following rooms: A509, A510, A511, A512, A513 and A308. This plan is for the re-opening of chemistry teaching lab spaces in A509, A511 and A308.

Prepared by: Dr. D. Samaroo (Chemistry Department Chairperson) and Dr. A. Martinez

Rationale: Chemists are well trained to safely operate the chemical laboratories utilizing the standards for the chemical profession by OSHA and EPA.

Phase 1 – Pre-entry Procedures

All laboratory personnel and students will watch the return to campus video plus review safety and infection control procedures and any other guidelines or trainings session (provided by the EHS office)

Utilization of Teaching Laboratories A509, A511 and A308:
Laboratory spaces in A509, A511 and A308 will be the areas used for teaching courses CHEM3622, CHEM4312, CHEM 2323, and CHEM3312 in the Fall 2021. A509 will be the main space used for CHEM3622, CHEM 2323 and CHEM4312, whereas A308 will host CHEM3312. Laboratory A509 will operate at no more than 50% (12 students) of its maximum room capacity (24 students), plus the laboratory instructor. Lab A509 is 1,238 sq. ft. and houses 12 fume hoods with a separation of 3ft between them. Students will work individually using their own designated fume hood, which will allow to keep safe distancing (3ft.) with 50% occupancy. Additional equipment in laboratory A511 (825 sq. ft.) will be used as needed. No more than 3 students (25% capacity) will be in A511 at any given time, in order to maintain safe distancing. Likewise, laboratory A308 (1,206 sq. ft.) will operate at no more than 50% (12 students) of its maximum capacity (24 students). Laboratory A308 has two middle benches that are 19.5 ft. long and 4.5 ft. wide. No more than 3 students will use each side of a bench in a staggered manner to keep a safe 3ft distance with other students in all directions. Signs with maximum lab capacity will be posted on the doors of all three labs. Excess chairs in A308 and A511 will be removed (A509 has no chairs) and additional benches not in use will be taped. Signs will be posted in lab spaces A509, A511 and A308 to keep a record of lab utilization, as well as to instruct personnel and student to keep 3ft distance and to use face covers.

Prior to Coming to the Campus:
Pre-screening at home: each day before laboratory personnel and students reporting to campus, they will use Screening.NY.GOV to determine whether it is safe to report to the campus.

  • Laboratory instructors and students will answer the COVID daily health screening questions using the app Everbridge.

Campus/Building Entry:
Health Screening Guidelines: All laboratory personnel and students are required to complete the COVID pre-screening prior to coming to campus, using Everbridge. If asymptomatic and afebrile, they may come to campus.

  • The entrance of 285 Jay Street (Academic Building) will be the single designated entrance.
  • Only laboratory personnel with temperature lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and with appropriate face, covering will be permitted to enter the building and designated laboratory areas. Everbridge pre-approval will be required.
  • Access to the fifth floor can be via either escalator or elevators. Campus personnel will use the escalators with social distancing (3ft.) and disinfection of handrails every two hours.
  • Freight elevators will be designed to stop at each floor for handicap accessibility.
  • Upon arriving on the fifth floor, hand hygiene will be performed using the wall mounted Purell hand sanitizing liquid.
  • Faculty members and students will proceed to their assigned chemistry laboratory space.

In the Chemistry Teaching Areas (A509, A511 and A308)

  1. Social Distancing:
    • Social distancing will be maintained according to CDC and CUNY Guidelines.
    • Signs stating, “keep 3ft distance” will be posted in all three labs.
    • As social distancing is required, there will be a maximum of 12 students (plus instructor) in A509 and A308, or 3 students (plus instructor) in A511 on designated days.
    • Each student will be assigned a laboratory fume hood and lab bench and will maintain a social distance of 3ft from any personnel in the laboratory.
    • Lab benches will not be shared to maintain social distancing.
    • Laboratory instructors will remain by the instructor station and will only move to provide guidance always from 3ft or longer distance.
    • If an instrument demonstration is required, laboratory instructors will use the instrument, and students will remain at a safe distance in designated areas.
    • Common instruments will be used individually and disinfected after.
  2. Face Covering:
    • All laboratory personnel and students must always wear reusable and disposable protective face covering in the lab and safety goggles, which can serve as COVID protection as well
    • Signs stating “cover your face” will be posted in all three labs
    • The Chemistry laboratory instructors/CLT are well-versed in the usage of different personal protective equipment, and will use those as required by the chemical hygiene plan and experiment being carried out (disposable nitrile gloves, traditional or flame resistant lab coat, safety goggles or face shields; face shields may be used depending on the chemical reaction carried out).
  3. Personal Hygiene and Disinfection Guidelines:
    • Campus will establish cleaning and disinfection policies, which will be handled by Buildings & Grounds.
    • Buildings and Grounds will ensure that bathrooms are clean and operational, soap is available, and signage is posted. They will also provide soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant in bathrooms.
    • Laboratory personnel and students will be responsible for soaping and disinfecting every common area or instrument upon its use.
    • Laboratory personnel and students will be reminded of proper hygiene and disinfection techniques. They will review the CDC, CUNY guidelines regarding:
      • required PPE and mask type based upon task and risk of aerosol
      • review of hand hygiene protocols
    • Laboratory personnel and students will wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before commencing any work. It is common for lab personnel and students in teaching labs to wear gloves.
    • At the end of the lab session, lab personnel and students will discard gloves and wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • Laboratory personnel and students must always wear face coverings while working in the lab.
    • After use of any instrument, laboratory personnel and students will disinfect keyboards, mouse, and any part of the instrument that has been touched.

Campus and Laboratory Specific Pre-entry Guidelines

Campus will implement health and safety measures in buildings containing laboratories.

  • Laboratory (hazardous) waste removal will be scheduled with EHSOs. All hazardous laboratory waste containers should be empty before lab resumption. This was the case prior to the shutdown. Buildings and Grounds will place regular trash containers outside of laboratory areas for removal.
  • The EHSO will complete a health and safety inspection for Chemistry teaching areas and report findings to Chair and Dean prior to resumption of teaching activities by laboratory personnel and students.
  • Campus personnel (Buildings and Grounds) will determine the functionality of the infrastructure, elevator, HVAC, gas line, water supply and drainage. Along with EHSO, they will ensure proper ventilation, air flow, air exchanges and air quality in teaching laboratories.
  • Campus personnel will also check the functionality of safety equipment including fire safety systems, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, high-level alarms, safety showers, eyewashes, and spill kits. They will inspect storage tanks, boilers, generators, cooling towers, chemical and waste storage areas, and other potential hazards.

Laboratory-Specific Guidelines

EHSO will set up a meeting with all laboratory personnel prior to restarting work.

Laboratory personnel will review the chemical hygiene plans and other health and safety protocols to address potential lab hazards and specific PPE needs (

EHSO will place signage based on COVID-19 guidelines in labs before resumption.

Laboratory personnel and students will perform only essential teaching laboratory work, which cannot be done remotely. These include organic synthesis and preparation; and using analytical equipment that is only available on campus. Laboratory personnel and students will only work in the designated areas noted above.

The number of laboratory personnel and students in laboratory spaces will be limited. At most, laboratories A509 and A308 will operate at 50% capacity, whereas no more than 25% capacity will be allowed in A511. Maximum lab capacity will be indicated with a posted sign on the lab doors. Each student will have an assigned fume hood and an assigned laboratory bench. All other benches not in used will be taped. A schedule will be posted, listing the days and time laboratory personnel and students will be in the lab. A sign in sheet will also be posted in labs A509, A511 and A308 to keep a record of lab utilization. Signs instructing all personnel and students to cover their faces and keep 3ft. distance will be placed in all three labs. Upon entering A509/A511/A308, laboratory personnel and students must wash hands immediately and in accordance with CDC guidelines, before touching any surface or equipment.

EHSO will complete and document that a lab safety inspection of all lab spaces was performed before re-entry. This inspection will follow the CUNY Lab Safety Manual checklist.

College laboratory technicians will provide to the EHSO a current list of inventories for A509/A511/308, if needed. EHSO and College laboratory technicians will complete a lab equipment check, which includes an assessment of the functionality of fume hoods, glove boxes, refrigerators, freezers, gas, vacuum, and all electrical equipment. Compressed gas and chemical storage areas will be checked prior to resumption.

EHSO and College laboratory technicians will also check all safety equipment. They will flush all eyewash stations even if annual checks have been completed.

Phase 2 - Restarting Chemistry Teaching Laboratories

Establish Safe Teaching Guidelines

Laboratory personnel will implement updated lab-specific protocols and training based on COVID-19 lessons learned.

Laboratory personnel hold certificate of Fitness (C14) holder. Teaching schedules will be posted in A509/A511/A308

Laboratory personnel will be responsible for maintaining a clean and safe working lab space. PPE will not be shared. Any shared equipment will be disinfected after each use.

Laboratory personnel and students will complete the Blackboard training course “Welcome to NYS - Covid-19 Response: Return to Work Training”.

Laboratory personnel was provided with the following training and resources web links, in preparation of on campus activities resumption.

College laboratory technicians will check for proper chemical segregation, container conditions, expiration dates, labeling and signage.

The list below includes items that will be checked and if there are any issues, consult with EHSO. EHSO will assist College laboratory technicians with appropriate procedure. The following will be checked:

  • Laboratory and chemical inventories and note discrepancies.
  • Electrical cords (should be in good condition before reconnecting to power)
  • Startup of equipment, one at a time.
  • Turn on water in lab and check for leaks (if there are leaks, water will be shut off immediately and Public Safety notified)
  • Test compressed gas-piping systems for leaks before using.
  • Check freezers and refrigerators in case there was a power outage during the shutdown.

Phase 3 - Continued Teaching Operations

All guidelines and steps implemented in Phase 1 and 2 will be continued and updated as necessary and maintain compliance with Federal, New York State and New York City public health updates.

  • Review schedules and ensure continued social distancing
  • Make sure that all laboratory personnel and students continue to wear face coverings/masks
  • Ensure that any laboratory personnel or student who develop COVID-19 symptoms do not come to campus until cleared by physician

Fall 2021 Teaching Laboratory Schedule for Hybrid Courses

Course Section Day Time Room(s)
CHEM 4312 - Instrumental Chromatography OL82- LAB Mon 11:30AM - 2:00PM A509/A511
CHEM 3622 - Inorganic Chemistry OL81- LAB Th 2:30PM - 5:00PM A509/A511
CHEM 2323 - Organic Chemistry II OL72- LAB Mon 2:30PM - 5:00PM A509
CHEM 3312 - Analytical Chemistry OL72- LAB Fri 1:00PM - 5:10PM A308