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SFU's research programs are currently at Stage 3 of the four-stage Campus Recovery Plan.

Remote research is still encouraged at Stage 3 where possible, however in-person research is now permitted without having to submit a Human Participant Research (HPR) Safety Plan. Instead, researchers must now indicate within their research ethics application that they will follow the prevention measures outlined within SFU's Communicable Disease Plan.

If you are currently operating under an approved HPR Safety Plan, you have two options:

  1. You may continue to operate under the conditions of the approved HPR Safety Plan until such time that most precautions are removed under Step 4 of the BC Restart Plan, or
  2. You may submit an amendment for review and approval that removes the conditions of the approved HPR Safety Plan and goes back to pre-COVID research procedures.  If you select option 2, please remember that any HPR Safety Procedures that were incorporated into your study will need to be revised via the amendment process.  

If you currently have an HPR Safety Plan in the system for review, you will be contacted and asked if you wish for the review to continue forward or if you would like to withdraw your HPR submission and revert back to pre-COVID research procedures.  Please keep in mind that ethics applications submitted for review will also have to be amended if the procedures outlined within the application matched those within your HPR submission.

If you are in the process of preparing an HPR Safety Plan Submission, you have two options:

  1. You may continue with your HPR Safety Plan and submit it for review, or
  2. You may stop work on your HPR Safety Plan and simply submit an application for research ethics review, indicating that you will follow the prevention measures within the Communicable Disease Plan.

If you decide to continue with an HPR Safety Plan, this should be submitted to the Office of Research Ethics (ORE) for review and approval, along with the standard ethics applications prior to proceeding. Further information is detailed in the "Guidelines for Creating and Submitting HPR Safety Plans" section below.

If your HPR research is on an SFU campus be sure to indicate that you will follow the prevention measures outlined within the Communicable Disease Plan. 

Guidelines for Creating and Submitting HPR Safety Plans

The information included in the HPR Safety Plan must be reflected in the study documents (Study Detail, Consent Form, etc) so that all activities noted in the HPR Safety Plan are also noted in the study documents.

Please note: you will be asked to submit an amendment to revise your study documents if there is information included in the HPR Safety Plan which is not included in the study documents.  For example, text referring to the provision of PPE, any safety processes that will be followed, any alterations to the consent process, the provision of study documents, etc.

In-person HPR Safety Plan Workflow Process:

  1. Review guidance documents and other resources to assist in the preparation of your HPR Safety Plan.
  2. Assess the risks of transmitting COVID-19 while conducting your research. Factors to consider include:
    • Number of people present in the setting
    • The contact intensity - type and duration of contact
    • The status at the research location - plans in place, PHO directives, etc.
    • Is PPE required/in place?
    • Multiple sites - consider risks of transmitting between the sites.
    • Travel - is self-isolation required? What health services are in place?
    • Equipment - sharing equipment, cleaning protocols.
  3. Consider modifications such as:
    • Providing participants with information related to the pandemic and reducing their risk of infection, preferably before the visit.
    • Remote screening of participants prior to contact, using the BC COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool or a phone/email script such as this.
    • Additional training of research personnel to address screening, masking protocols and triage procedures should a participant be identified as at risk during a screening
    • Maximizing remote interaction by, for example, administering consent forms and questionnaires by phone or video.
    • Eliminating wet signatures on forms.
    • Protocols to follow if a participant is identified as infected before, during or after the interaction.
    • Minimizing risks associated with travel to the laboratory e.g. free parking or providing appropriate PPE for participants using transit.
  4. If the activity is on-campus, a Site Safety Plan may still be in use within your faculty. If so, the approved Site Safety Plan accompanies the submission of the HPR Safety Plan to Research Ethics.
    • Contact your Associate Dean, Research for information.
    • If the HPR and site ;plans are separate documents (i.e. for off campus HPR research), the two must be in close alignment and submitted as a package for review.
  5. The HPR Safety Plan, outlining the safety and risk protocols for HPR, is submitted to ORE ( for ORE/REB review and approval. Include as appropriate:
    • Approved Site Safety Plan (if required)
    • If the activity involves a protocol modification submit an ORE amendment form.
    • If the protocol is new, submit a new application form with the overall package.
    • If a new or modified protocol has already been tentatively approved (under COVID-19 restrictions), then the Site Safety Plan is submitted on its own.
    • Other supporting documents
  6. The ORE/REB review may require clarifications regarding safety and the normal TCPS requirements. ORE will reach out to SRS, VPRI, Faculty or others as required.
  7. The ORE will inform PIs when the activity is cleared to commence.


Access the HPR Safety Plan Form here

ORE/REB Approval

For new protocols, consult the guide below before submitting to the ORE. Protocols may be approved but put on hold subject to reduced hazard levels.

Just as before the pandemic, modifications to an approved research protocol require that the changes be documented and approved via the amendment process. The level of review is proportionate to the risks associated with the proposed changes.

The following guide illustrates the type of activities permitted at each level.

At any research stage the ORE/REB will accept requests to initiate or continue research related to COVID-19 or the pandemic.

Type of activity Requirement


  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Large Group Research (eg Schools)

Temporary shift to remote - Submit an Amendment Request Form, noting that the changes are related to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person research. When restrictions on in-person research are lifted studies with the appropriate approvals may transition back to approved in-person research activities via the amendment process.

Permanent shift to remote - Submit an Amendment Request Form.

These activities may operate during ALL stages of the Return to Campus plan.

Minimal intervention procedures: i.e. no physical contact and/or low intensity contact. (e.g. 1:1 interviews, in-person small focus groups in appropriate space)

HPR Safety Plan approved by the ORE utilizing appropriate PPE.

May operate during  Stage 1 and Stage 2 subject to approval

Medium to high intervention procedures: i.e. sustained physical contact, high intensity, or high risk of aerosol generation (e.g., research on wearable devices, collection of biological samples, exercise testing or respiratory function testing) HPR Safety Plan approved by the ORE utilizing appropriate level of PPE.
May operate during Stage 3 subject to approval
Impractical research: i.e impacted by travel bans or closures of facilities On hold. Amendments not required unless the delay affects the research significantly.
Last updated: July 29, 2021


July 29, 2021 - Content updated to reflect transition to Stage 3 of the Return to Campus plan

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