Published June 4, 2020
Now that Western New York has entered Phase 2 of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reopening process amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UB is actively planning and preparing for a phased return of employees to campus. The emphasis will be on ensuring the health and well-being of everyone on campus.
“Today, New York State officially cleared Western New York to move to Phase 2 of reopening. We must actively prepare for the phased return of employees at both an institutional level and a unit level. And, of course, we are doing just that,” President Satish K. Tripathi wrote Tuesday in an email to deans and vice presidents at the university.
In a separate email to unit leaders, Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, provided guidance and a template units should use as they formalize their plans for returning employees to campus. Units have been asked to submit their completed plans to Human Resources by June 12.
This approach is in line with the “Ramp-up Plan for Research” that the university recently started to facilitate the reopening of labs and research work at UB.
“We recognize that operational needs will vary based on the role of each unique unit,” Hubbard wrote. “As such, we wish to begin the process of devising plans for returning employees to campus on a unit-by-unit basis.”
Additional information on UB employees’ safe return to campus, including health guidelines, is available on a new webpage on the Administrative Services Gateway website. Updates will also be provided regularly on the university’s COVID-19 website, which is being transitioned to include information on UB’s fall planning efforts.
The overall goal for UB will be to have a low density of people on campus, with as many employees as possible working remotely on any given work day. Units will be permitted to have a maximum of 50% of employees working on site. Plans must also follow all guidelines provided by Environment, Health and Safety, and the Campus Planning Operations Committee.
Tripathi said each unit’s plans should adhere to an overarching framework that emphasizes the health, safety and well-being of every member of the UB community as the top priority. Other key points in the framework include continuing to provide students with a distinctive, meaningful education; communicating effectively with faculty, staff, students and alumni regarding planning and key decisions; and continuing to pursue the university’s strategic goals as a national public research university.
“I thank you in advance for ensuring that our plans for this phased return are thoughtfully constructed and well-communicated, and that they foster a sense of safety and well-being for all members of our campus community,” Tripathi wrote in his email to senior leaders.
Hubbard stressed that the university is planning and preparing only at this time. “We will provide further guidance and issue approvals to proceed with plans at the appropriate future date(s) based on state, regional and other applicable guidelines,” she said.
Hubbard also noted that in preparation for employees’ eventual return to campus, Environment, Health and Safety has procured cloth face coverings for all UB employees, as well as disinfecting supplies for each UB office.
UB’s plans for returning employees to campus will adhere to any guidelines set forth by the governor and SUNY.
As a student, I do not feel safe returning to campus as yet for the fall semester because of the uncertainties and the chaos that are taking place right now. Will there be continued distance learning for those like myself, who are worried about our health and safety?