In light of COVID-19 concerns, the Rice University IRB office would like to keep you updated on research operations. The IRB office is fully functional and operating at normal capacity. Usual operations are expected to continue even as COVID-19 crisis management evolves. The IRB staff is able to work remotely should it become necessary. You and your study teams should carefully consider your research protocols that involve in-person interaction or intervention in the light of the evolving environment and should reference University, Houston Health Department, and CDC guidelines as you proceed.
At this time, the IRB is requiring all in-person studies (e.g. in-person visits, in-person surveys, sample collection, etc.) to be halted immediately until the IRB has approved appropriate safety precaution modifications to the protocol. Protocols with the ability to conduct these study activities remotely should proceed as such to enact safe social distancing and social interaction procedures as recommended by the University. If your in-person study is unable to be conducted remotely, contact the IRB immediately to discuss appropriate safety precaution modifications necessary for your protocol.
Studies currently involving in-person interactions with participants and approved to conduct study procedures remotely, are required to conduct the study procedures remotely and do not require submission of a modification.
In-person studies that currently do not list procedures to conduct the study remotely can be modified, to replace in-person visits with remote options for questionnaires, interviews, screening, and consenting. These changes must be approved by the IRB prior to implementation, unless they are necessary to remove apparent hazards to participants or researchers.
For pending and currently approved protocols that involve in-person research procedures that can’t be completed remotely, please submit a modification of your protocol to provide the IRB with assurances that appropriate precautions will be taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of researchers and participants. Work cannot proceed until the IRB has reviewed and approved the modification.
Research participants with possible exposure or symptoms of illness should be scheduled (or re-scheduled) for a date in the future. You should advise participants NOT to come to campus or participate in person if they have symptoms or have been around individuals with symptoms.
Please note that NIH and other sponsors will need to be notified of the halt to all protocols involving in-person research activities. This does not apply to studies that have already been approved to conduct all research activities remotely.
For studies involving travel, follow University guidance for domestic and international travel. At this time, Rice has banned all university-sponsored international travel for faculty, staff, postdocs and students through April 30.
Please visit the Rice Crisis Management website for additional guidance regarding COVID-19 safety management and updates.
The IRB will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to research operations as circumstances evolve.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your protocol, please contact the me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-348-3586.