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Researching During COVID-19

As the spread of COVID-19 progresses, Rush University encourages students, faculty, staff and outside personnel to conduct their research with safety in mind. Please consult the following protocols and guidelines. 

General protocols

All personnel should abide by the most recent CDPH guidelines. They may conduct research under the following conditions: 

  • All researchers, students, staff and volunteers must be vaccinated.
  • All personnel must participate in universal masking. Masks are provided. 
  • All personnel must participate in social distancing.
  • All personnel should self-screen prior to entering Rush for symptoms of COVID-19.  
  • Some restriction access may apply to areas of the campus or clinics.  

Clinical research guidelines

As of February 9, 2022, clinical research operations continue while maintaining COVID-19 precautions for the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the public.

If the COVID-19 environment becomes more stable (with fewer cases) we expect to move toward "normal" research operations. All research staff must adhere to clinic protocols for management of participants.

  • Study initiation visits (SIVs) and study monitor visits can resume in an in-person format.
  • Home and community-based research should continue with the caveat that attempts should be made to transition these research visits to video or telephone-based platforms.
  • Any research that does not require in-person visits should continue remotely.
  • Clinical research must adhere to the clinical protocols, including universal masking, routine handwashing, and temperature and symptom screening for all participants.
  • If COVID safety protocols impact would research, the protocol should be reviewed by the Infection Control, Occupational Health and Research Compliance departments. 
  • Research staff are directed not to participate in research involving participants if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • In the event that a researcher believes they contracted COVID-19 and could have exposed others, they must file a report to the Rush IRB as an adverse event.  
  • If a City or State Stay-At-Home order is in place, the default for site PIs is to not do research that does not meet the criteria for Essential Research (defined in the guidelines below).

View the latest guidelines (updated April 2022)

Study monitor guidelines

Due to the recent decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in Chicago, RUMC has altered the visitor policy enabling visitors to Rush. Onsite monitor visits to the Rush campus will now be able to continue given the conditions outlined below:

  • No one will be allowed on campus with flu-like symptoms or that has been in contact with an individual confirmed to have COVID-19
  • All monitors must participate in universal masking. Rush will provide the mask to be worn on campus.
  • All monitors must participate in social distancing, particularly in all monitoring rooms.
  • All monitors should self-screen prior to entering Rush campus for signs or symptoms of Flu virus or COVID. If any signs/symptoms are present the monitor may not come onto campus and the visit should be rescheduled.
  • All monitors should coordinate visit dates/times with study staff. This will help to minimize the number of study staff members that would need to be onsite for the monitoring visit to protect the well-being of study staff.
  • All monitors must enter campus through designated entry points where they will be provided with a visitor badge, and a Rush approved face mask that must always be worn while on campus.
  • Monitors should not be working in clinical care areas. Appropriate conference rooms and offices located a distance away from patients is ideal.
  • There may be restrictions or areas of the campus or clinics where the monitor may not visit. Please check with Rush personnel for area-specific instructions.
  • For the safety of all staff, patients, monitors, and the public, please limit the time and duration of visits to only the time required. Any monitoring that can be done remotely or in an alternate manner should be explored.

View the latest guidelines (updated March 2023)

Laboratory research guidelines

As of February 9, 2022, laboratory research continues operations while maintaining COVID-19 precautions for the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the public.

  • All personnel should follow the universal masking protocol.
  • Physical/social distancing should be followed at all times.
  • Personnel with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher and/or other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, chest tightness, extreme fatigue, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, muscle aches) should not come to work.
  • PIs cannot coerce their research staff or students that do not feel comfortable with present COVID environment to come to work.
  • Department Chairs, or their designees will authorize the re-opening of specific labs and monitor their adherence to scheduling and safety policies. 

For the Comparative Research Center Animal Facility:

  • Proper PPE in the CRC includes a Rush issued face mask, gloves and covering or replacing of street clothes with a lab coat, yellow isolation gown or scrub uniform.
  • Social distancing should be practiced when possible and practical however, there is no specific limit on the number of personnel occupying a procedure room or operating room.
  • Teaching and training surgical laboratories have resumed and restrictions on the number of individuals attending these events have been lifted.

View the latest guidelines (updated February 2022)

Student and trainee research guidelines

Student and trainee research protocols differ from other protocols above. Here's what you need to know: 

  • Any student or trainee clinical research that can be done remotely should be done remotely. 
  • Clinical trainees seeing patients in person may do so at the discretion of their chair or section chief.  
  • Patients in clinical research studies who are on campus for clinical care may also have clinical research visits with trainees at the discretion of the chair or section chief.  

Travel guidelines

Anyone visiting Rush needs to follow the most current Chicago Department of Public Health Travel Guidance.

Faculty, staff or trainees who test positive for COVID-19

Faculty, staff or trainees who test positive for COVID-19 should follow these guidelines: 

  • If one tests positive for COVID-19, they must report this outcome to their supervisor and the Department of Employee Health Services immediately.  
  • If one has tested positive for COVID-19, they should comply with their treatment and inform their supervisor one day after they have been cleared.  
  • Once cleared, returning personnel must submit to contact tracing through Rush.