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March 19, 2020 - Guidance for researchers in light of COVID-19

Dear Researchers,

The university guidance to avoid face-to-face meetings in most if not all cases in response to the risk from coronavirus has led the IRB to ask researchers to pause all face-to-face human subjects research or to modify the procedures to involve remote interactions. These might include using a platform like Survey Monkey for online surveys or a platform like Zoom for interviews or focus groups.

These modifications should be made until the ACU community has received the all-clear to return to normal operations. See below for guidance:

  1. If your study letter indicates that your study was approved by exempt review, you may modify your methods to include remote interactions without submitting an amendment.
  2. If your study letter indicates that your study was approved by expedited or full board review, you should submit an amendment indicating a minor modification to reduce risk to participants. The amendment form can be found in the ORSP Canvas classroom or by emailing orsp@acu.edu.
  3. If you believe that you cannot pause your study or move to remote interactions, there must be a compelling case and a direct benefit to participants. To request an exception, please submit an immediate email to orsp@acu.edu to include:

a) justification for why the study cannot be paused or moved to remote interaction,
b) the direct benefit to participants to continue and why this outweighs the risk of exposure, and
c) an assurance that the following safeguards will be practiced:

  • All participants will be screened for potential exposure and respiratory symptoms before meeting face to face. Screening should include determining if the person has traveled to an outbreak area, has come in contact with someone who has tested positive, or who is exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness. More information can be found at the CDC website.
  • All research personnel will be symptom-free without known exposure.
  • Meetings will occur in a location with adequate hand-washing facilities, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
  • The researchers will abide by all health recommendations and required actions (e.g., maintaining proper distance, limiting meeting sizes to those recommended by CDC and/or required by the jurisdiction, avoiding bringing visitors to ACU campus, etc.).

Decisions regarding whether face-to-face research can continue will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Thank you for continuing your important work during unexpected circumstances. The ORSP staff stands ready to answer any questions you have and support your work.