Research conducted on the Caldwell campus can be classified into two categories: Lab research and research that is done on-site (e.g., in schools). Most of the research is done in Social Sciences which requires the approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). While the University is in Stage 2 of the Road to Recovery plan, the IRB will not approve any in-person research. When the University moves to Stage 3, the IRB will begin reviewing the applications for research but will require all research that can be conducted remotely to be carried out remotely. For the research that cannot be conducted remotely, additional protocols and modifications that align with state, CDC, and institutional guidelines will be required before any research is approved or is allowed to be carried out in person. The IRB will weigh potential risks and benefits to human research participants before approving any protocols and/or modifications.
To re-open already approved research, the IRB will require all researchers to submit additional safety protocols and amended consent forms to inform the participants of the modifications to the existing protocols. All amended protocols will be reviewed for alignment with state, CDC and institutional guidelines on social distancing and safe conduct of research.
- What is the institution’s plan for the operation of research and research labs?
The plans are different based on the type of research conducted in each department/school. The Schools of Nursing and Public Health, Psychology and Counseling will conduct research remotely in Stages 2 and 3. The Department of Applied Behavior Analysis will open to continue services to clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) fourteen days following submission of this report to OSHE. In the School of Education, students involved in research and data collection at K-12 schools will follow the site’s safety protocols. In the School of Natural Sciences, research projects will be conducted remotely except for those that must be in-person. These projects will be carefully supervised following all protocols for cleaning, wearing PPE, and social distancing. Science labs have been outfitted with plexiglass shields for added protection. In addition to masks, students will wear goggles and nitrile gloves.
- How will researchers be informed about the plan(s) to conduct research?
During both stages,the information will be disseminated university-wide through
- Email communication to the Department Chairs and Associate Deans from the office of Academic Affairs and the IRB;
- Updates on the Academic Affairs, IRB and Graduate Studies portal pages;
- Updates during Curriculum Committee and Academic Leadership monthly meetings.
In turn, Department Chairs and Associate Deans will disseminate the information via emails to all constituents in their appropriate units. Faculty will also be informed at the Departmental/School meetings. Associate Deans and Department Chairs will remain in close contact with the research teams and will communicate all pertinent information.
- How will researchers be encouraged to reduce personal contact and engage in social distancing?
- The information about social distancing protocols will be disseminated to all departments where the research takes place.
- The IRB will require modifications to all previously approved research protocols to make sure that social distancing requirements are met. The IRB portal page will remind the faculty and students to reduce personal contact and engage in social distancing to conduct research safely and responsibly.
- Reminders will be posted in the labs and classrooms where the research takes place.
Department of Applied Behavior Analysis:
All research sessions that can be conducted while maintaining physical distancing will be conducted in this manner. All research sessions that can be conducted outdoors, will be conducted outdoors. Indoor research sessions that require more than one participant to be present at the same time will be conducted in a room large enough to maintain social distancing. If indoor research sessions do not allow for physical distancing, plastic or plexiglass barriers will be placed between people if possible. If indoor research sessions do not allow for physical distancing or the use of a plastic barrier, close physical contact between the PI/research assistants and participants will be minimized.
School of Education:
Researchers collecting data on-site will follow the site’s safety protocols.
School of Nursing and Public Health:
The research will be conducted remotely with minimal personal contact. If personal contact is required for study, the researcher and participant will utilize appropriate PPE and maintain social distancing.
School of Natural Sciences:
In both stages, the research faculty will enforce the School of Natural Sciences enhanced protocols to ensure the safety of the researchers at all times. Before the start of the research each day and before coming to the laboratories, the research faculty and students will hold a virtual meeting either as a large group or in a virtual one-on-one setting. Depending on the nature of the projects, the researchers’ may be scheduled to be in the laboratory on a specific day and time to conduct their research. Once the work for that day is completed, the researchers will be expected to clean up their work stations, properly store their materials and samples, follow the School of Natural Sciences protocol for cleansing, properly store their PPE, and leave the laboratory. If a researcher is not actively conducting research they will be asked by the research faculty to leave the laboratory. The research faculty will make sure the research laboratories are cleansed before any of the researchers come to the laboratories and again after all researchers have left the laboratories.
The School of Natural Sciences lab safety procedures may be found at this link: https://tinyurl.com/CU-science-safety
- What will be the cleaning protocol for research labs and research materials?
For both stages 2 and 3, the following protocols will be used in the operation of research labs:
Department of Applied Behavior Analysis:
All research materials and areas in which research is conducted will be thoroughly cleaned before and after each research session and between participants. All materials and surfaces will be wiped with a disinfectant cloth. When feasible, shared materials will be covered with plastic (e.g., cloth chairs or computer keyboards) so that they can be wiped with a disinfectant wipe or so that plastic can be replaced for each participant. When possible, disposable materials will be used.
Hand sanitizers will be placed in each research space. All persons involved in a research session will use hand sanitizers at the start and end of all research sessions. If participants are unable to use hand sanitizer independently, the PI/research assistants will apply hand sanitizer for the participant. Hand sanitizer will be available to PIs, research assistants, and participants during research sessions unless there is a risk of accidental ingestion (i.e., by young children).
School of Natural Sciences:
The researchers and research faculty will be spread between two laboratories to easily maintain the proper social distance of six feet between each researcher. The lab spaces will be equipped with movable shields to ensure each researcher area is properly separated.
Each researcher will try to stay at their research station as much as possible. If researchers need to move about the laboratory they will maintain the proper social distance. To help in this the materials the researcher will need will be gathered either by the research faculty or the stockroom supervisors. The supplies will be given in such amounts so that the researcher will have enough material for their project but not to have a large excess.
When provided, these materials will be disinfected and then the researcher will store the allotted materials at their assigned research stations.
The researchers will follow the School of Natural Sciences protocols (see the link above) for wearing PPE and for cleaning their research stations at all times, with special emphasis on cleaning at the completion of the day’s work. There will be times when the researcher or research faculty will need to use common equipment, which will be disinfected before and after each use.
As detailed above, all protocols will be the same in Stages 2 and 3 if any research is taking place.