June 29, 2020
As UNL continues making plans for the fall semester, the Research Task Force will send regular updates to investigators on topics related to resuming research and creative activities. This message addresses topics for the week of June 29-July 3. Messages are archived at research.unl.edu, and you can access last week’s update here.
Restarting in-person human subjects research
In-person human subjects research protocols will be allowed to resume July 6. Researchers must follow all university policies, guidance and relevant federal guidance, outlined on the Office of Research and Economic Development’s COVID-19 research planning webpage.
A few expectations to note:
>> Investigators must follow health and safety policies outlined in UNL’s Forward to Fall Guiding Framework. Investigators also must follow funding agency guidelines. If university and agency policies conflict, the stricter guidelines take precedence.
>> Researchers are encouraged to clearly communicate expectations with research participants. A COVID-19 participant information sheet is available on the IRB Templates/Forms webpage.
>> Prior to resuming in-person activities, researchers must submit a plan to their department outlining how interactions with participants can safely occur. This is in addition to the form for reopening research labs and creative spaces that investigators may have completed already. Plans for resuming in-person human subjects will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate chair, head or director of the investigator’s department/school/center.
>> If it would not be possible to follow UNL’s face covering and physical distancing guidelines while conducting the proposed in-person activities, additional exemption approvals are required from the cognizant chief academic officer. For example, assisting a research participant with an MRI scan would require both parties to be fewer than 6 feet apart.
>> If IRB approval is already in place, resuming in-person human subjects research does not require additional IRB approval. Please refer to the Institutional Review Board’s COVID-19 Response website and FAQ guide.
>> University-sponsored domestic and international travel is prohibited through July 31. If travel is required for research and creative activities, all faculty, staff and students are expected to continue following university policies on physical distancing, face coverings and hygiene. Remember to limit travel to only one person per vehicle.
>> University Communication has developed an online resource for COVID-19 signage, which research teams are encouraged to use throughout their spaces to promote health and safety. This will ensure consistent messaging and provide reminders at high-contact points.
Your efforts to ensure campus activities resume safely are greatly appreciated. The Nebraska research community has remained strong during this challenging time because of your commitment and flexibility.
This communication is distributed to principal investigators with approved research and creative activity re-opening plans as well as the associate deans for research. Please share this guidance with members of your research team as appropriate.