Lab and Field Standard Operating Procedures

For the 2020 – 21 academic year, Bates College has special safety policies that it developed in order to safeguard the health of its community due to the pandemic. The keystones of those policies are universal face covering, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and frequent testing. We understand that the application of these policies is more difficult in certain instructional spaces such as labs. This document seeks to clarify the policies as well as provide some best practices.

Laboratory and Field Policies

Face Coverings:

  1. Students, faculty and staff, consistent with the college policy on face coverings, must wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth inside Bates buildings and when traveling in vehicles with other people for class or other college business.

Physical Distancing

  1. A 6 foot distance between people should be maintained for a large majority of the instruction period.
  2. Keep interactions between individuals less than 6 feet apart to intervals less than 5 minutes. 
  3. The daily cumulative total time of close interaction between any two individuals should be less than 15 minutes.
  4. Normal movement in rooms where individuals pass each other does not need to adhere to the 6 foot physical distancing standard.

Hand Hygiene

  1. Students and faculty must clean their hands by washing them with soap and warm water or using >60% ethanol-based hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting facilities or vehicles. 
  2. While working in the laboratory or field, students and faculty clean their hands by washing them with soap and warm water or using >60% ethanol-based hand sanitizer after using shared equipment and materials.


  1. In areas and activities that require eye protection, safety goggles are required. If you are interested in discussing alternatives to goggles in these citations, contact Jess Smith at Environmental Health and Safety (

Cleaning and Sanitation

  1. All shared equipment, instruments, computers, etc. must be wiped down with disinfecting cleaning products before and after each use. If in rare cases it is not possible to clean the shared equipment, instruments, computers, etc. all users should wear gloves when using it.
  2. Work surfaces should be wiped down with disinfecting cleaning products before and after use.  If in rare cases it is not possible to clean surfaces all users should wear gloves when working on the surface.

Field Protocols

  1. Transportation to and from field sites must comply with college transportation protocols.
  2. In courses with multiple excursions, create transportation pods of students that travel together within a vehicle for the duration of the course. 
  3. At field locations, use extra care to observe physical distancing. In situations where people are not clustered (e.g. an outcrop where space is not constrained and physical distancing of > 6’ can be maintained) removing face coverings is possible.

Best Practices

Face Coverings

  1. Individuals should wear their own face coverings in lab. It is recommended that face coverings be washed several times a week. 
  2. If the chemicals used and / or the activities performed in an instruction period have the potential to damage or contaminate masks, distributing disposable face coverings to participants should be considered.
  3. Each lab should have a small supply of extra face coverings in case an individual needs one.

Physical Distancing

  1. If group work happens, faculty should consider grouping students that live in the same residence hall, if  possible. See the policies above for time limits involving these interactions. 
  2. It may be possible that plexiglass barriers can be used to allow individuals to work within 6 feet of each other for longer than 15 minutes. Contact the Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir or Matt Duvall in the Dean of Faculty’s office to discuss if this is possible in your space.
  3. Setting up movement “traffic patterns” in some spaces may help reinforce physical distancing during instruction periods.
  4. In computer labs, consider “sharing screens” to help students in order to maintain physical distancing. For information on various ways to screen share with students, including via remote desktop technologies, please contact Michael Hanrahan ( from ILS’s Curricular and Research Computing department.

Hand Hygiene

  1. Handwashing stations should be well marked with adequate supplies available.
  2. Hand sanitizer (>60% ethanol) can be used if hand washing facilities are not available.

Cleaning and Sanitation

  1. Disinfecting cleaning products are sufficient, but a 60% ethanol solution works as well.
  2. Keep a large supply of cleaning materials readily accessible to users of facilities

Field Excursions

  1. For travel-related questions, please see the Fall Planning Team’s recommendations and the college policy stating that no students may travel out of the state of Maine. 
  2. For transportation pods, consider grouping students that live in the same residence hall,  if possible