Dear campus community,
Now that Riverside County is in the orange coronavirus tier, the restrictions brought about by the pandemic on conducting human subjects research can be relaxed. Starting today, campus laboratories that conduct human subjects research may resume operations as long as they abide by a matrix designed to assess the risk in conducting in-person research involving human subjects and their Work Site Specific Plans have been approved. The matrix is based on a similar matrix at UC Santa Barbara and adapted to the types of human subject research we conduct on our campus.
The matrix uses locations, participants, and types of activity risks to determine the overall risk of each study. The combination of all three risk levels determines whether the study could take place during the orange tier. The matrix is shown in Table 1; details of each risk type are provided in Table 2.
- As usual, lab PIs must obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before conducting the study. If the study has already been approved and not expired, and will be implementing no modifications, then no new approval from the IRB is needed.
- PIs must submit Work Site Specific Plans to Environmental Health and Safety for approval.
- All involved in the study must wear facemasks, practice physical distancing as described in the matrix, and have access to cleaning and hand washing supplies.
- All participants and lab staff must fill out the daily wellness survey for each day of the study.
- When possible, researchers must opt for phone/video sessions in place of in-person study visits.
- Researchers are strongly encouraged to use study areas that accommodate physical distancing.
Until now, COVID-19 paused non-clinical human subjects research studies that could not be conducted remotely. While I am pleased to resume these studies, I cannot stress enough that UCR remains dedicated to the safety of all our human research participants as well as the researchers conducting the studies. The matrix has been carefully designed to minimize the risk to the individual research participants and staff; tips on using the matrix follow the tables.
I thank the Research Ramp-up Committee for productive discussions that helped in arriving at a much-awaited decision that should greatly benefit researchers engaged in human subjects studies at UCR. I also thank our colleagues at UC Santa Barbara for generously sharing their materials on the subject.