DCM COVID-19 Updates

June 14, 2021 Update: DCM is ramping within facilities in two stages:

  • Stage 1: Initial Steps: Monday 06/14 – Sunday 08/01
  • Stage 2: Full Ramp-Up: Monday 08/02 – onward

As we start Stage 1 of our DCM Ramp-Up today, Monday 06/14, we respectfully ask everyone to:

  1. Continue to respect room occupancy limits posted on the door of each room within the animal facility. We are relaxing room occupancy limits significantly. Revised room capacities will still allow those who wish to seek 6 feet of distance from others the space to do so. As we have gathered input from the many constituents who gather within our facilities, 20-32% of this community, including a subset of research staff who attended the town hall, have expressed a desire to keep room occupancy limits in animal facilities until the vaccination requirement has been fulfilled.
  2. Continue to mask within animal facilities, even if masking requirements are lifted elsewhere. Our animals are not vaccinated and may be susceptible to emerging variants. And, as a bonus, wearing a mask decreases your daily dose of allergens and may decrease your chances of developing animal allergies.
  3. Continue to sign up to schedule your time in shared spaces in the small animal facilities, specifically for procedure rooms (including surgery and necropsy areas) and the containment suite in Building 76 (rooms 710, 730, 740 and 750), using SuperSaaS. There is no need to sign up for time in animal housing rooms; room occupancy in those rooms will be indicated by the posted signs and governed by an honor system.
  4. No longer seek advance approval from DCM when planning to work in pairs or groups in the facilities. We trust you all to seek mutual consent from each other prior to working together.
  5. Join us for in person orientations and trainings again! Sign up for our routine menu of trainings via the Atlas Learning Center, or contact dcmtraining@mit.edu for your more specialized training needs. If you would feel more comfortable undergoing your training by Zoom, we have preserved the option and you can request it by email.

We anticipate that we will move to Stage 2 on Monday 08/02, and we will consider lifting room occupancy limits at that time.

This two stage plan will allow us to adapt to the current low risk environment at MIT, where we see a low prevalence of infection (< 1% COVID19+ tests in MA) and a high level of population immunity (currently 91% at MIT), while simultaneously maintaining a baseline level of comfort for the many members of the MIT community who come together from throughout the campus within our animal facilities.

Additional reminders:

  1. Wear clothing appropriate for animal facilities into animal facilities. We are with you in rejoicing about the arrival of summer! But please remember that shorts, skirts and open toed shoes are not appropriate attire for the animal facilities.
  2. Animal facility access is by key card access and should be accessed only by authorized individuals with proper approval and training. Visitors remain not allowed in our animal facilities even as the rest of MIT’s campus reopens to visitors.
  3. The CAC’s policy on photography and videography within the animal facilities remains in effect.

The Whitehead Institute’s Animal Facility will be adopting the Stage 1 guidelines above, including relaxing but not lifting room occupancy limits and requiring advanced SuperSaaS scheduling for shared procedure space. Additionally:

  1. The animal facility will honor MIT’s testing cadence (once a week).
  2. All entering Whitehead need to have a Whitehead ID and complete the daily pass preferably electronically. 

The Koch Institute’s Pre-Clinical Imaging and Testing Facility will similarly be adopting similar Stage 1 guidelines to those above, including relaxing but not lifting room occupancy limits. For the Imaging Facility specifically:

  1. iLabs will be used rather than SuperSaaS to schedule access to equipment. Be sure to log the presence of additional people under Event Notes when you make your reservation in iLabs.
  2. Walk-ins are allowed again.
  3. The chemical fume hood, procedure bench and shaving station are again available.
  4. Because working in pairs and in person trainings are again allowed, the rule against photography / videography will be reinstated.

And as you prepare to ramp up your research over the summer and fall, do not hesitate to reach out if DCM may be of help to your research goals! We have:

  1. Veterinary technicians who can help you with colony management, basic techniques (ie. injections, gavage) and sample collection.
  2. Veterinarians who can collaborate with you to develop and refine new animal models for your lab, or to find solutions for any problems you may encounter in your animal research.
  3. In house pathology and microbiology services to work with you to characterize your models and accomplish your research aims.

Thank you all for working together with us as we all work towards building the new normal. As we put DCM’s new Stage I ramp-up guidelines into effect this Monday 06/14, DCM would like to invite additional feedback throughout and following this roll-out. Please email kpate@mit.edusubmit your feedback electronically (there is an anonymous option available), or provide it at upcoming monthly Lab Rep meetings.