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COVID-19 Policies

To follow Yale's current guidance on research activities during the Phase 2/3 reopening, we have taken measures to protect our users and staff from the virus. The core facility is taking steps to sustain continuity in support for flow cytometry while remaining mindful of the Yale's requirements for physical distancing. This webpage will be updated frequently, as will the webpages for individual equipment.


Phase 2/3 Re-opening

1. What steps are being taken for disinfection and physical distancing within the Flow Core Facility? What is the code of conduct with this core facility during Phase 2/3 reopening of research?

To follow Yale's current guidance on research activities during the Phase 2/3 reopening, quite a few adjustments have been made to equipment access, the reservation process and staff interactions. The approach taken to ensure physical distancing in the rooms housing analytic cytometers is described below in more detail and includes the relocation of some equipment, a reduction in the number of available analyzers, and the ability to reserve some small rooms in their entirety. Adjustments have also been made to cell sorting procedures, largely relating to staff contacts and sample exchange.

Please see the FAQs below for more information.

Although core facility staff will disinfect equipment and laboratory room touch points with 70% ethanol each work day morning, you are expected to adhere to the following policies within core facility spaces:

  • A face mask satisfying Yale guidelines should be worn at in core facility spaces at all times. Gloves will be provided.
  • Six feet of physical distancing is to be maintained at all times. For this reason, only one person is permitted to be at an instrument at a time, and in all rooms except TAC 613, only one person per room at any time.
  • Disinfect your workstation when your work at an analytic cytometer is done. This should include the computer keyboard and mouse, and the equipment touchpoints such as the vortex, cytometer acquisition buttons, SIP tube arm and any other instruments components that were touched. Spray bottles of 70% EtOH will be available at each active instrument.
  • Communication with core facility staff is to occur remotely, primarily via e-mail in advance when possible, or by calling (203)785-7958 to troubleshoot via screen-sharing if urgent.
Only one person can be in the following rooms when operating analyzers: TAC 617A (LSRII TAC6-GS), TAC 533 (LSRII TAC5-UV), Amistad 103 and 300 George Street 203B (Symphony B). Teams of more than one person in these rooms is not permitted as this would violate Yale and EHS COVID policies for these facility rooms. Failure to adhere to this policy in core facility rooms is considered a violation with these repercussions:
  • First violation - an email will be sent to the violators. Their PI will be cc'd on the email as well as the department's COVID safety officer if known, or the department chair if not.
  • Second violation - facility privileges for the violators will be suspended for one month, including access to any analyzer.
  • Third violation - a more significant suspension or possible loss of access to the facility.
2. Will cell sorting still be offered as a line of service? How will sample exchange occur? Can I choose gating settings as before?

All of the staff-operated cell sorters (with exception of MoFlo) will be available during standard working hours, although the Aria at 300 George Street will be available ~50% of its usual hours to accommodate use of the analyzer in that room with the requisite physical distancing. With current constraints, self-sorting is not possible during Phase 2/3.

Samples can be dropped off without contact with the staff operator, either at a safe distance within the room or left on a table in the hallway outside the room. Please contact the relevant staff member to obtain more information on the best approach for that instrument's room. We encourage you to discuss your experiment needs by e-mail or phone as much as possible. Please fill out the "experimental information" form that can be found at the bottom of this Cell Sorter policies webpage. Please ensure that the tubes you will drop off are legibly labeled and their contents clearly identified (single colors, unstained, sample number etc).

When possible, please also make clear your sorting strategy in advance by sending the staff operator a figure demonstrating the desired sequential gating. Adjustments to the gating criteria for the sorting can be done by either 1) allowing the operator to step out of the room so you can confirm or alter the parameters or 2) having a more extended discussion while screen sharing using Microsoft Teams. This software is available to all Yale-affiliated researchers and should be downloaded in advance (https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads).

Staff operators may need to give short notice on their cancellations if they are feeling ill. We will do our best to find another operator that day, but same day rescheduling unfortunately can not be assured. We likewise ask that if you are feeling unwell that you call to reschedule your appointment.

3. After hours sorting
Current plans for sorting are that operators will be available during normal operating hours (10am-4:30pm). However, we do appreciate that this may be challenging for some labs. If you are having problems scheduling your sorts please contact the sort operator to ask if after hours sorting can be arranged. We appreciate your making every effort to keep sorting appointments to normal hours and to minimize the need to sort after hours. Please note that all sorting experiments will have to be completed by no later than 7:30 pm.
4. Will there be physical distancing between analytic cytometers in the common rooms? Will all analyzers be available?

Most of the analyzers will be available, although a few were taken offline to allow for sufficient distance between users (CytoFlex B, Amnis Imagestream). The LSRII TAC5-GS has been temporarily relocated to TAC 617 A. However reservations of a cytometer in Amistad 103 or TAC S533 requires that you reserve the entire room. Through this approach, you may use either instrument in those rooms, but the room remains single occupancy. Please note that only one person can be at an instrument at a time and in Amistad 103 or TAC S533 and only one person in the room at any given time.

Booking of equipment is otherwise the same. Only available analyzers will appear on the https://yaleflowscheduling.internal.yale.edu/website. Please remember that a VPN connection is required when off campus.

To enhance physical distancing, a plexiglass separation has been installed at the sink in TAC S613 and an additional barrier placed in front of the CytoFlex A. Equipment and laboratory room touch points will be disinfected with 70% ethanol each work day morning. As always, you should wear gloves upon entering facility room and when using the instruments. The university requires face coverings in common spaces and core facility rooms are no exception. You are required to disinfect all equipment touchpoints when you are done, including the vortex, sip tube arm, acquisition control buttons, computer keyboards and mouse.

As before, analyzers will be QCed each week day morning and email alerts will be sent if any cytometer demonstrates a poor performance. Please note however that staff will not be on-site to troubleshoot instrument issues later in the day - this will be done remotely via screen-sharing using Microsoft Teams instead.

5. Will training sessions for the analytic cytometers still be held?
During Phase 2/3 of research reopening, in-person training sessions are prohibited in all core facilities. We encourage labs with experienced users to have them operate the analyzers instead. Alternatively, staff can be hired to run the samples for you on a fee-per-service basis. However, remote training sessions will be possible through a combination of video tutorials and subsequent screen sharing. Please contact christine.cote@yale.edu for more information.