Please note that this is current as of posting–always consult goforward.uchicago.edu for current requirements.
On June 16, 2021, the University of Chicago issued guidance for a transition to Phase 5, which it defines as a return to full research operations, with new awareness and hygiene practices as the norm, and remote work used as needed. The University plans a full resumption of activities on campus this fall.
In Phase 5, Research Resumption Plans, including RRPS for human-subjects and field research, are generally no longer required. However, researchers are expected to follow the applicable local, University, CDC, and WHO guidelines and requirements with respect to quarantine requirements, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, use of PPE, personal hygiene, sanitation and disinfection procedures, self-monitoring, and reporting. Researchers should consult UChicago Forward for the latest University COVID-related guidance, and are encouraged to consult the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for current COVID-related guidance.
When planning your research activities, please give consideration to the following in light of the current state of COVID-19:
- What are the COVID-19 safety protocols of the research site (consider national, state, municipal, and institutional guidelines), and how will your team implement and adhere to the applicable guidelines?
- How will COVID-related safety be monitored on an ongoing basis?
- Are any individuals likely at heightened risk from COVID-19 infection due to health issues or other status (such as being over 65 and unvaccinated, or immunocompromised)? If so, how can risks be minimized?
- Please consider the safety of (i) the research team (e.g., level of PPE, disinfecting equipment, access to health care facilities, travel, evacuation plans); (ii) the participants (e.g., PPE, disinfecting equipment, research-related travel, public health precautions such as physical distancing); and (iii) others in the setting in which the research will take place (communities, collaborating institutions)
- How can the research be done safely given local COVID-19 conditions? Can any of the research tasks be conducted virtually? Does an IRB protocol need to be revised (e.g., to move from signed consent to a verbal process) to allow flexibility according to the situation?
UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR RESEARCH IN PHASE 5
- Research Ramp-down: Plan for and attend to the possibility of needing to adapt to changing conditions, including the sudden need to reduce or suspend research.
- Travel Policy: Travel waivers are currently required for all University-supported travel. Discuss travel plans with your department chair or thesis advisor. The Dean’s Office will review domestic travel and international travel to Levels 1 and 2 Countries, as defined by the U. S. Department of State, and the University’s Pandemic Travel Risk Committee will review international travel to Levels 3 and 4 Countries. Researchers are also encouraged to consult the UChicago Travel Toolkit.
- Mask wearing is currently required in all campus buildings. Please consult UChicago’s GoForward site for updates on University guidance with regard to current campus facilities.
- Safety and Incident Reporting: Continue to evaluate and monitor the safety of research activities. Encourage all personnel to share their concerns about any perceived unsafe practices openly with one another and with your Dean, and to report concerns through the University of Chicago Accident Incident Reporting System (UCAIR).
- COVID Exposure: If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu, even if you have not been on campus.
- IRB Protocols: The IRB Office does not need to be notified of, or approve, in-person research resumption if following the currently approved protocol. However, research that requires using procedures different than those currently stated in the approved protocol do need to be reviewed and approved by the IRB as an amendment, just as they would normally (e.g., switching from in-person collection to online, or changing from written consent to verbal consent). Please note, however, that the use of basic COVID screening and basic mitigation techniques (distance, PPE, etc.) do not need to be reviewed by the IRB as a change in protocol unless the changes materially affect the approved conduct of the study, or such information is being retained/used for the actual study. Any questions about required amendments should be directed to the IRB office: firstname.lastname@example.org.