The FishTracker program is resuming shipment of eDNA collection kits to teachers in New York. FishTracker kits can once again be requested using the online reservation system.
To minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the boxes and equipment used in FishTracker kits are wiped down with disinfectant before shipment, and again upon return to Cornell. Our protocols for packing and shipping disposables minimize handling, and kits are assembled by staff wearing gloves, a lab coat, and a face mask.
Recommendations for sampling in the era of COVID-19 – take hand sanitizer with you!
All COVID-related local and school recommendations should be observed when using the FishTracker kits. The following suggestions specifically relate to the use of FishTracker materials for the collection and processing of water samples and are not meant to replace or negate existing school protocols.
Working outdoors reduces COVID risk. Virus particles are diluted in a large volume of air, so collecting and processing water on site when it is possible to do so safely may be a useful option.
If student collection of samples is not feasible, teachers can collect water samples, record GPS readings, store samples overnight in the refrigerator (NOT frozen), and bring them into the classroom for processing the next morning.
Students should not share equipment between groups. Each site requires collection at 3 points. FishTracker provides 3 separate sets of equipment for each site. Each set should be used only once by one group of students and then returned.
Students should stay in their groups. (Note that if members of the same household or already- interacting student group are participating, they are good choices for a collection team.)
Students should wear masks.
Students should use hand sanitizer before and after using the equipment. Before, because they may touch something that is then touched by another student. After, to protect against picking up virus from the equipment during use, in spite of using hand sanitizer prior to collection and/or processing.
Distance should be maintained whenever possible. However, there will be brief periods when it’s not possible to maintain 6-foot distancing, as when students are cooperating to use a pump for water filtration. The use of masks and hand sanitizer is especially important during these activities, and students should be encouraged to maintain as much distance between them as possible when prepping the samples.
Don’t worry about careful cleaning of equipment before shipping it back. A quick rinse and dry is fine. Returned equipment is decontaminated upon return to Cornell.