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Research and COVID-19


For information relating to UNC community standards and its roadmap for returning in Fall 2020, please visit Carolina Together. This page is a resource for faculty, students, and staff in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience regarding research during COVID-19, with particular attention to those doing Human Subjects research.

Steps Required for Resumption of Lab Operations & Research



  1. Everyone is required to complete the EHS Protecting the Carolina Community from COVID and Department’s HS Reopening Training. The Group Resumption of Lab Operations (see #2) will require signed confirmation with dates that both were completed by all lab members, including PIs, other faculty, postdocs, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students.
  2. The College of Arts and Sciences requires submission and review of lab reopening plans, which our Department has modified slightly for internal use. This document should be completed: CAS Template Revised for Psychology and Neuroscience [DOCX] and emailed to reopeningplanspn@gmail.com for review. **All human subjects labs are required to complete and submit this template, regardless of the status of their human subjects research and whether their lab activities are in person or remote. This will allow the Department to have a current census of human subjects research and related activities as well as to track those changes consistent with the <50% occupancy established by OVCR.** If you are not doing any Human Subjects research, then the Group Resumption of Lab Operations may be your final step in this process. Once you submit your plan and receive an email notification indicating that your plan meets at least minimum criterion, then you may resume lab re-opening/re-entry.
  3. If you are also planning to do Human Subjects research, then the next step is to submit your IRB submissions for new studies and/or modifications to ongoing/paused studies. You should do your IRB submissions **only after you receive an email indicating that your Group Resumption Plan meets at least minimum criteria**. These should adhere to the guidance, including any COVID-related modifications as described in the Department Training and using any updated guidance as provided by IRB and OHRE website.
  4. Following ongoing guidance, we are discontinuing this step effective October 8, 2020. If your human subjects research involves any **in person** activities with participants, OVCR requires an additional layer of Department-level review. Once you receive IRB approval for your new study and/or any modifications to ongoing/paused studies, you will complete a brief Qualtrics survey [link offline effective 10/8/2020] that will be routed to our local IRB for review and certification.

Only after you have completed these steps, can you proceed with HS research.

Preparing Your Group Resumption of Lab Operations Plan


As noted above and in the Department Training, all human subjects labs are required to complete and submit this template [DOCX], regardless of the status of their human subjects research and whether their lab activities are in person or remote. Submissions will be reviewed by a committee of faculty. If the plan meets the minimal guidelines for lab reopening as described in the Department Training, the PI and Program Director will receive an email indicating that the lab may proceed with re-opening/re-entry (as relevant) using the proposed plan. If further information is needed, the plan will be returned to the PI for modifications and subsequent review.

Helpful hints before you submit:

  1. Have you completed all sections of the document before submitting for review?
  2. Does the demographic section include a specific, current count, rather than a range or projections (i.e., if/when you add someone, you will submit a Modification with changes to demographics and signatures)? This does include # of graduate students, postdocs, research staff, visiting scientists, and undergraduates. It does not include a count for PI(s), so in other words you are reporting the number of people the PI(s) works with/supervises in the lab/space.
  3. Does your social distancing plan meet at least the minimal requirements? For example, the rule of thumb is **1 person/150-200 sq ft.** [Updates and Clarifications to Department Training]. If you are proposing variations from this rule of thumb, please provide adequate detail regarding the PPE and other safety-related procedures and precautions for the committee to consider. For example, if you are proposing to have more than one person in a designated space, how will you allow for at least 6 ft of social distance between them? If there are situations in which at least 6 ft of social distance cannot be maintained (e.g., joint use of equipment), what other precautions will be in place? Please see School of Medicine diagrams for useful examples of how this general guideline can be implemented.
  4. Does your sanitizing plan meet at least the minimal requirements, as described in the Department Training (i.e., protocols/log for hand sanitizing/washing and cleaning work stations/equipment).
  5. Does your plan regarding masks meet at least the minimal requirements, as described in the Department Training (i.e., use of/policy re: OVCR approved masks, brown paper bags for storage).
  6. Does your plan regarding eye protection meet at least minimal requirements as outlined here? The committee continues to follow updates from the School of Medicine. Based on their evolving guidance, the committee now requires wearing eye protection (e.g., goggles, safety glasses, face shield) in addition to a face mask for any in person participant encounters and/or interactions among research staff that occur in close proximity (e.g., more than 1 person per 150-200 sq ft, less than 6 ft social distance between two people). For current science regarding eye protection, see: Chu et al. (2020). Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. the Lancet, 395, 1973-1987.
  7. Does the number of  signatures match the demographic count for the lab? The number of signatures in this section should reflect the demographic count in #1 above (i.e., graduate students, postdocs, research staff, visiting scientists, and undergraduates). The PI(s) will sign separately at the end of the form.
  8. Do all signatures include the dates each individual completed the EHS and Department Trainings? Please note that there seem to be various versions of forms floating around. The form that you will find via the link on the website is the correct form which includes spaces to enter the date that each person in the lab, as well as the PI, did the EHS training and date for the Dept Training.
  9. Did the PI(s) sign the form and enter the completion dates for the EHS and Department Trainings? As noted above, the PI(s) is not counted in the lab demographics or earlier signatures. Rather, the PI is the final signature on the form, which indicates responsibility for oversight of the implementation of the policies set forth in the plan.

Personal Protective Equipment


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available to faculty, students, and staff who are conducting research in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

The centralized ordering system is being coordinated through Program Directors. If you have questions or would like to place an order, please ask your Program Director about the process and standard supplies.

If you need something for your research that is not currently part of the standard supplies, please consult Chase Debnam and/or your accounting manager to determine if/how your university funds can be used to cover expenses.

Resources


Program Reopening Plans


Our doctoral programs have determined and outlined plans for its faculty, students, and staff and reopening of their laboratories. Please review your doctoral program’s reopening plan below. Please note that the Developmental Psychology Program plans to work remotely and has not outlined their reopening plans yet.