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Updated Pandemic Guidance for Human Subjects Research

July 07, 2021

Dear Ohio University Colleagues,

I am writing to notify you of changes in requirements for pandemic safety in relation to research involving in-person interaction with human subjects.

Ohio University policy has significantly changed in its COVID-19 risk-reduction recommendations to allow greater degrees of in-person presence for faculty, staff, and students, open building access, reduced social distancing for vaccinated individuals, and elimination of mask wearing requirements for vaccinated individuals, among other loosening of restrictions.   

In light of these changes, the IRB is modifying guidance for in-person human subject research, and is providing the following direction going forward.

  1. Researchers no longer need to submit Research Restart forms to assess risks imposed by COVID-19 in human subjects research, and special procedures put in place under current Research Restart forms are no longer required.
  2. Investigators in studies involving unvaccinated, vulnerable populations, such as children, immunocompromised individuals, and religious groups that are not vaccinated, should encourage researchers and participants to wear masks and maintain social distancing under general University policy.
  3. All IRB-approved, in-person research conducted on-campus that involves research participants may continue provided current University COVID mitigation policy, and any applicable local, state, or federal regulation, is followed.
  4. Protocols conducted in community settings may also resume. Studies must comply with University policy for COVID mitigation, as well as any facility or local requirements or any state or federal regulations.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, please recognize that this guidance is subject to change in the future if infection rates increase or public health risks otherwise reverse course and become more concerning.  I appreciate your efforts to support Ohio University’s interest in safety and human subjects protection.


Joe Shields
Vice President for Research and Creative Activity
Dean of the Graduate College