Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

COVID – Research Restart

Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing (LSBFON) Guidelines for Research Restart and Recovery

Introduction

The University of Toronto is beginning the process of research restart and recovery. As per the University’s Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation, LSBFON Faculty Researchers and graduate students must be aware that,

The concept of minimal risk has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research that involves face-to-face, in-person contact with human participants will not restart on or off campus at this time (although there may be rare exceptions that will require specific prior approval).

Similarly, research that involves visiting or direct contact with vulnerable communities will not restart at this time. This situation should affect how the researcher assesses the risk level of the research, especially if it involves having participants leaving their homes to participate in research. Virtual or remote (e.g., surveys) research with human participants is encouraged where appropriate.

All researchers should be familiar with:

The LBSFON will follow the three stages proposed by the University of Toronto in the Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation. This plan reflects the Province of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province. This approach places the health, safety and security of all at the centre of decisions about restarting research. The timeline and guidelines for implementation of each stage will be coordinated by the LSBFON following Provincial and University direction. The LSBFON and the University may make faculty or institutional decisions if necessary to address public health concerns or institutional directions. This may result in revisions or update to this document.

Research Restart applies to research that was halted due to COVID research restrictions; it does not apply to research where the PI was able to restructure the protocol to conduct research remotely.

On-campus Research

At LSBFON and UofT, the potential stages of on-campus research restart will follow the stages set out in Ontario’s framework (For Further Details See Table 1 in the University of Toronto Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation. Initially, research that meets criteria for Stage 1 (Research Requiring Immediate On-Campus Activity – non-human subjects) will be resumed.

At the outset, on-campus research will be restricted and all research that can be undertaken from home will continue remotely.  Research that involves face-to-face, in-person contact with human participants will not restart on-campus at this time.  Similarly, research that involves visiting or direct contact with vulnerable communities will not restart at this time. Additional institutional guidance from the Research Ethics Board, based on government directives, will be developed.

Off-campus Research

At this time and in the near future, all off-campus research that involves face-to-face, in-person contact with human participants will not restart, nor will research that involves direct contact with vulnerable communities. Researchers are encouraged to take alternative research approaches – e.g., remote or virtual techniques – in these cases. All research that can be undertaken from home will continue remotely.

As conditions change, Faculties will approve off-campus recovery plans based on the ability of a field site or third-party site to accommodate the increase of occupancy while complying with public health directives. Additional institutional guidance from the Research Ethics Board, based on government directives, will be developed.

Researchers conducting research at off-campus or third-party sites (e.g., community centres, clinics, hospitals) should evaluate the risk level. See Table 2 in Approach for Research Recovery and Adaptation.

Reminder: Researchers who have modified or are going to modify currently approved research programs to enable online/virtual research must submit an amendment to REB.

Researchers conducting off-campus research (including at hospitals, clinics) where REB was obtained will be bound by the REB directives and regulations of those sites. The public health directives of these sites or facilities must be followed and if permission from the site is required, it must be granted and provided to the Associate Dean, Research & External Relations before proceeding with research. In order to resume research at a third party site, REB approval from the off-campus site must be obtained and provided to the Associate Dean, Research & External Relations.

Bloomberg Nursing Research Restart Approvals

Stage 1: Immediate Reopening

This approval process does not apply to researchers who have successfully converted in-person research to online/virtual.

Immediate reopening: LSBFON researchers who believe their research (or their graduate student’s research) requires and meets stage 1 requirements for immediate on or off campus activity should contact the research office (research.nursing@utoronto.ca) and complete the “Faculty Request to Access On-Campus Research Facilities” or “Faculty Request to Access Off-Campus Research Facilities”.

Stage 2 & 3: Resuming other research activities and expanding capacity

The LSBFON and University of Toronto will expand research operations to the next stages in line with the government and public health directives. 

Oversight

Faculty and institutional oversight of adherence to the guidelines will be in place and deficiencies may lead to suspension of the permit to perform in person activities.

Safety concerns can be reported to the LSBFON research office (research.nursing@utoronto.ca).

Access Request Forms

Bloomberg Nursing On-campus research restart request form

Bloomberg Nursing Off-campus research restart request form

Bloomberg Nursing PhD and PDF declaration form

Resources

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