Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

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COVID – Research Restart

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


Update from Lori Ferris: Update on the Omicron Variant and Research Operations; Updated May 2, 2022.

Update: COVID-19 General Workplace Guideline (October 5, 2021)


Introduction

The Province of Ontario entered the Roadmap Exit Step of its Reopening Plan on March 1, 2022. The University of Toronto is beginning the process of research restart and recovery. The University has developed guidance for the recovery of human research during the COVID-19 pandemic; the latest requirements about research requiring face-to-face contact with human participants are described below. 

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 updates to this document. 


Research requiring face-to-face contact with human participants

In light of changes to the provincial framework, a number of measures have been implemented by the university to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


On-campus Research (updated May 2, 2022)

At this time there are no changes to on-campus research. All on-site academic research spaces may operate at normal occupancy levels without 2m distancing, as long as appropriate masks are worn in addition to any other applicable PPE.

Update, May 2, 2022: While health screening through UCheck is unavailable, individuals can monitor their health using the provincial screening tool. Completing a health screening before coming to campus is highly recommended, and we continue to ask members of our community to remain at home if they are ill.

Human Participant Research (updated March 22, 2022)

The Face-to-Face (F2F) COVID-19 review process has moved to an attestation model as part of the ethics submission process. Researchers who submit an ethics protocol are expected to review and adhere to the following guidance documents, where applicable, and to local public health requirements: 

For studies that involve international travel, researchers should review the Safety Abroad in an Emergency webpage and graduate students requesting travel must register with the Safety Abroad Office. Please also review the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 travel, testing and borders web page for additional information. 

Masking:

All COVID-19 Risk Level 3 research will require the use of N95 or KN95 masks by members of the research team interacting with participants and research participants. COVID-19 Research Risk Levels 1 and 2 research will require the use of, at minimum, ASTM-2 medical masks by members of the research team interacting with participants and research participants. Please consult the Review of Face-to-Face and Off-Campus Research for explanation of the COVID-19 Research Risk Levels. 

For research involving participants where they are receiving a service that would be delivered/received regardless of the research, different requirements for masking and testing may be required to fulfill the service component. Please contact the Human Research Ethics Unit at ethics.review@utoronto.ca for confirmation that your research falls into this category and to discuss what these differences may be. 

COVID-19 testing and vaccination

Per the University’s vaccination guidance: All UofT researchers must be fully vaccinated or (with approved exemption) undergo rapid antigen testing (or PCR test) if conducting on-campus research involving human participants who are not fully vaccinated (defined as two doses of a Health Canada-approved vaccine) will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Participants who are not fully vaccinated will require a negative PCR test or two negative rapid antigen tests (RATs) within 24 hours of the F2F research activity.

Protocol amendments and approvals:

F2F protocols previously approved by the REB may resume, taking into account the new requirements above (i.e., masking and testing). New F2F protocols or amendments to previously online or virtual research (where F2F was not proposed previously) are being reviewed, and all renewals and protocol completion reports will continue to be reviewed to ensure that protocols remain in good standing. 

Special Circumstances: 

  • Where the U of T REB is not the Board of Record (e.g., a TAHSN REB is the Board of Record), researchers should follow the applicable direction of that institution (assuming the in-person research is not on a U of T campus).
  • Researchers currently in other provinces or countries conducting U of T REB-approved in-person research should follow all applicable public health directives and safety measures of that jurisdiction. If you have any questions/concerns regarding safety while conducting in-person research, please contact ehs.office@utoronto.ca

The Waakebiness Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health is developing guidelines for conducting research specifically in Indigenous populations.


Research at TAHSN Hospitals

Researchers should follow the direction of TASN hospitals for research conducted under their auspices  


Off-Campus Research

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.


International Travel

For more information about international travel, please see the Safety Abroad website and the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 and international travel website.

Anyone travelling internationally for purposes of University business is encouraged to review the Guidance on Research and Travel during the COVID pandemic.


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 at research.nursing@utoronto.ca.


 

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