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OPRS COVID-19 Response Update

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OPRS COVID-19 Response Update

COVID-19 In-Person Human Subjects Research Guidance – Updated July 14, 2020

COVID-19 Human Subjects Research Safety Plan Form – Updated July 14, 2020

Human Subjects Research Return to Campus Operations – Updated June 10, 2020

Virtual Resources Guidance – Updated May 19, 2020

Researcher Guidance for the Use of Electronic and Verbal Consent – Updated May 19, 2020

Researcher Guidance for the Use of Zoom in Data Collection – Updated April 7, 2020

COVID-19 Campus Safety Information [Division of Research Safety]

Laboratory Ramp-Up Checklist [Division of Research Safety]

UPDATED: MAY 27, 2020

On May 6, Chancellor Jones announced that the Urbana campus has established an extensive, campus-wide planning and implementation framework to ensure a safe, careful and deliberate transition back to on-campus operations. Please review this information here. The OPRS is currently working with campus administration on return-to-campus operations and will provide guidance shortly.

As part of the transition, we are no longer accepting the ‘Emergency Change of Procedures Form’. Any changes to research protocols will need to go through the normal amendment process. Please note that current emergency procedures changes will expire on June 30, 2020. If you wish to extend these changes, a formal amendment will need to be filed with the OPRS for review and approval.

Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we navigate our current nationwide climate.


OHRP has issued “OHRP Guidance on COVID-19,” responding to questions received from the research community regarding how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) human subjects protection regulations (45 CFR part 46) apply to actions taken by institutions and investigators in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. OPRS COVID-19 Comprehensive Guidance


Yesterday, on March 31, 2020, Governor Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order in Illinois until the end of April. Please continue to suspend human research activities involving face-to-face contact with subjects.

Many investigators have successfully altered their research protocols to use virtual data collection methods. OPRS has extended emergency change procedure approvals through May 15, 2020.


Dr. Susan Martinis, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation released guidance for the campus research community pertaining to critical and essential research, as well as next steps. Please review this information here. OPRS guidance linked above has been revised to include this communication as well.

Now is a good time for researchers to help us with our record management by de-identifying datasets, deleting unnecessary ID keys / recordings, and closing old protocols. Additionally, we ask that you take time to review your study records and clean them up to prepare for restrictions to be lifted on research activities. Please also update CITI training as needed. If you would like us to prepare a list of your active protocols, please email your request to


Important Update:

You are all aware of the concerns and uncertainty from the covid19 pandemic. Because of this, we are asking that you evaluate your protocols and work with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) or and OPRS to develop safety procedures for your personnel and subjects. To allow time for careful evaluation, please suspend human research activities involving face-to-face contact with subjects for the next 14 days, until March 29. Please consider work with vulnerable populations and group meetings very carefully. Consider health screening procedures for both subjects and your personnel as changes you should make to your protocols. Use the OPRS Emergency Change of Procedures or submit standard amendment forms

 Like the University, the OPRS and IBC/Division of Research Safety are open and available to assist you. This situation is very fluid, so please look for further guidance as we work together to address developments in the future.

 Thank you for your ongoing partnership and your understanding as we work to mitigate the impact of this situation.


The Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (‘OPRS’) has existing emergency and contingency plans to protect our community and to ensure the continuation of human subjects research as much as possible.

The OPRS and the Illinois IRBs will remain operational in the foreseeable future. To assist researchers with challenges from COVID-19, OPRS is implementing the following provision, listed below. Please note that we are in a fluid situation and guidance is likely to change.

Researchers may need to make a temporary change in research procedures to protect the safety and welfare of subjects based on recommendations from the University, the CDC, and/or local officials. To minimize researcher burden for these changes, OPRS has instituted an emergency process to administratively approve changes of protocol procedures without an official amendment or document revision. Upon receipt of the Emergency Change of Procedures Form, OPRS will review proposed changes to procedures and provide approval for a temporary change.

At the end of the temporary approval period, all research procedures must return to their originally approved status or submit a request for amendment using the normal process.

Please note:

  1. This form is a temporary approval of updates/changes to procedures that are a direct result of the outbreak of COVID-19. Any changes that are intended to be permanent or are not related need to go through the normal amendment process.
  2. This form is applicable for Expedited and/or no more than minimal risk studies only. All more than minimal risk studies should submit a formal amendment for any changes. 
  3. There is no need to submit this form for emergency changes in procedures for exempt protocols. Temporary changes in protocol for exempt studies may be implemented at the PI’s discretion. 
  4. Unless receiving notification of an office-wide extension, no emergency change procedures forms will be accepted after April 15, 2020.
  5. You may reach out to the OPRS office (via email) to discuss any questions about what is or isn’t approvable under this form. 
  6. OPRS suggests the use of MTurk, REDCap, SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, or Box for data collection/storage if transitioning from in-person to online procedures.

For more information and any updates to this temporary policy, please check the OPRS website regularly and monitor the COVID-19 website  and OVCRI Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Research website for updates. We appreciate your continuing to work closely with us as more information becomes available.