Updated 16th February 2021

Microbiological Activities

We have had a number of enquiries asking whether additional control measures are required when carrying out microbiological activities in the classroom, given the situation with coronavirus.

The protocols set out by SSERC in the code of practice  ‘Safety in Microbiology’ are designed to prevent infection spreading from one person to another. The control measures, if adhered to, apply equally to coronavirus.

When assessing whether or not to carry out an activity, staff should consider:

  • Do we have adequate facilities to implement the control measure? (For example, access to hand-washing facilities)
  • Can the pupils be trusted to implement the control measures?

We have also been asked about activities using cheek cells. The guidance for this is contained in the code of practice ‘Materials of Living Origin’.  We are monitoring the situation but as yet can see no reason why this activity should not go ahead provided the guidance is followed.

Eye Protection & other PPE

We have had a large number of queries relating to eye protection. These are addressed in a separate document that can be found here (Eye-Protection and Practical Work)

It does seem that the potential for infesction from surfaces is significantly less that was feared in the early days of the pandemic. It is, however, not something that can be ignored and so prudent precautions are a sensible idea.

Gloves are not an issue as they are disposable.

Lab coats are unlikely to contribute significantly to any transmission. Even so, it would be good practice to minimise sharing of lab coats and/or clean or quarantine between uses.

Advice from Health Protection Scotland* on preventing the spread of infection includes:

  • routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces such as telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks and tables
  • promoting hand hygiene

*  https://hpspubsrepo.blob.core.windows.net/hps-website/nss/2973/documents/1_covid-19-guidance-for-non-healthcare-settings.pdf