UB’s intention to resume regular in-person instruction in the fall 2021 semester were communicated today in a university-wide email from UB President Satish K. Tripathi and UB Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber.
University-wide planning will follow best public health practices to ensure the health and safety of our university community. Tripathi and Weber stressed that the university needs to remain flexible and be prepared to adjust plans, as circumstances may change.
UB administrators provided an update on preparations for the upcoming spring semester in a memo to students today.
In addition, Student Life has revised the Student Guide in preparation for a return to campus this spring. The Student Guide is a resource to provide students and parents with the most up-to-date information, as it becomes available.
UB Student Life sent the following email to all UB students January 6 regarding the New Daily Health Check requirements for spring.
Know the rules for the Daily Health Check in advance of the spring semester so you can properly prepare for a safe start.
PRE-SCREEN FOR TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOUR RETURN TO CAMPUS
Starting two weeks before your planned return to campus to live, work, take classes or utilize services, you must complete the Daily Health Check every day to screen for COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 history and travel history, as mandated by SUNY.
UNDERSTAND YOUR REQUIREMENTS FOR SPRING
Once the spring semester starts, the following groups will be required to complete the Daily Health Check:
Those students who are not required to complete the Daily Health Check are strongly encouraged to do so out of concern for their own health and the well-being of those around them.
BE PREPARED TO SHOW YOUR BADGE AS PROOF OF COMPLETION
Over the course of the spring semester, campus officials may ask students for proof of Daily Health Check completion. Therefore, students must be prepared to demonstrate that they have met their obligation for that day.
MAKE YOUR DAILY HEALTH CHECK MORE CONVENIENT
To assist you in meeting these obligations, the Daily Health Check offers notifications via text for smartphone users. To sign up for text message alerts:
2. Enter your 10-digit mobile phone number when prompted.
3. Click the link in a follow-up text message to verify your phone number and finish enrollment.
Those without smartphones can also directly access the tool via the web by clicking “none” within the chatbot.
For more information about the Daily Health Check, including student conduct policies, exemptions, data privacy and more, visit buffalo.edu/coronavirus/health-and-safety/health-check.
Please note: The university is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone and applying the relevant accessibility standards to ensure we provide equal access to all users. If anyone experiences difficulties while using the Daily Health Check tool, please use the following form:https://www.buffalo.edu/studentlife/student-guide/daily-health-check-students.html.
UB Human Resources sent the following email to all UB employees January 6 regarding the New Daily Health Check requirements for spring.
Understand your obligations regarding the Daily Health Check so you are properly prepared for a safer start to the spring semester.
PRE-SCREEN FOR TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOUR RETURN TO CAMPUS
Beginning two weeks before your planned return to campus, all faculty and staff must complete the Daily Health Check every day to screen for COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 history and travel history, as mandated by SUNY.
REQUIREMENTS ONCE THE SEMESTER STARTS
At this time, faculty, staff and volunteer faculty and staff who work entirely remotely are not required to complete the Daily Health Check. However, all UB faculty and staff, whether required to do so or not, are strongly encouraged to complete the Daily Health Check on the days they are working throughout the holiday season out of concern for their personal health and the health of the entire community.
MAKE YOUR DAILY HEALTH CHECK MORE CONVENIENT
To assist you in meeting your obligation, the Daily Health Check offers text notifications for smartphone users. To sign up for text message alerts:
Those without smartphones can also directly access the tool via the web by clicking “none” within the chatbot.
For more information about the Daily Health Check, including exemptions, data privacy and more, visit buffalo.edu/coronavirus/health-and-safety/health-check.
Please note: The university is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone and applying the relevant accessibility standards to ensure we provide equal access to all users. If anyone experiences difficulties while using the Daily Health Check tool, please use the following form:www.buffalo.edu/administrative-services/forms-catalog/hr/daily-health-check-formstack.html.
Help keep UB healthy. Display posters and digital signage in public spaces to encourage the entire community to follow proper safety protocol.
UB’s plans for the spring were announced on Dec. 17 in a university-wide email from President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber.
In most cases, UB’s plans for the spring semester will mirror operations in the fall in that UB will follow a modified in-person format. That means courses will be delivered using a mix of in-person (and socially distanced) instruction, as well as online.
UB Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Graham Hammill and Interim Vice President for Student Life Christina Hernandez provided an update to students as the university gets ready to move to a fully remote schedule following Thanksgiving.
Their message provides helpful information on:
UB has reached 100 on-campus positive COVID-19 cases. However, the university will continue with in-person instruction until the Thanksgiving break, which begins Nov. 25.
The university is continuing operations in order to complete its COVID-19 surveillance testing of on-campus students.
The decision was made in consultation with the Erie County and New York State health departments, as well as SUNY.
UB currently has 100 on-campus positive cases for the two-week period that runs from Nov. 7 to Nov. 20.
On November 17th, UB President Satish K. Tripathi provided an end-of-semester update to the university community.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, Nov. 18, announced that Erie County is shifting to an ’orange’ zone cluster from yellow.
UB continues to follow New York State and SUNY guidance for higher education, and will offer in-person instruction until Nov. 24 as planned.
However, on-campus gatherings are now limited to 10 people. In addition, beginning Thursday, Nov. 19, in-person student clubs and activities will be suspended and campus dining and food service operations will offer takeout service only.
The University at Buffalo is closely monitoring an increase in COVID-19 cases among the UB community, which mirrors the uptick seen across Erie County, where UB’s three campuses are located.
Mark Coldren, UB's associate vice president for human resources, sent an email to all UB employees November 10 regarding the testing of in-person faculty and staff:
As you may know, parts of Erie County have shown recent increases in COVID-19 positivity rates, cases and hospital admissions, meeting the metrics for a “yellow zone” designation by New York State.
As a result, UB is now required to conduct COVID-19 weekly testing of at least 20% of our in-person employees.
Those faculty and staff members affected by this requirement will be notified in a separate email with further details about registration and testing options. To ensure the process is as quick and convenient as possible, walk-in testing is being made available on North, South and Downtown campuses. Employee testing will start tomorrow, Nov. 11, so please be on the watch for additional communications that describe how best to participate in the process.
These continue to be challenging and fluid times, so thank you once again for your ongoing cooperation.
Associate Vice President, Human Resources
The University at Buffalo is aware that the Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has designated parts of Western New York as a precautionary “yellow zone” area, and we are monitoring the situation very closely.
At this time, we are not expecting the yellow zone designation to have a major impact on UB operations because the university is already testing on average thousands of people per week through our random surveillance program and our mandatory pre-Thanksgiving testing of on-campus students.
In addition, the university’s health and safety guidelines currently address all of the applicable yellow zone restrictions being implemented in Western New York, with the exception that UB will now limit large gatherings to 25 people instead of 50 and will maintain a four-person-to-a-table maximum in dining areas, in accordance with the new guidance.
We will remain vigilant in our efforts to curb the spread of the virus through rigorous on-campus testing and by reinforcing the need for all students, faculty and staff to follow UB’s health guidelines at all times, including the required wearing of face coverings, indoors and outdoors, on our campuses and the need to maintain physical distancing.
The university will continue to work closely with state and county public health officials to monitor and respond to the current increase of coronavirus positivity rates in Western New York. The health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the university is our highest priority.
The University at Buffalo has been planning for the spring 2021 semester for several weeks and will be prepared to implement all aspects of SUNY’s reopening guidance for the spring semester, including:
In addition, UB will provide students with regular updates about UB’s plans for the spring semester, including providing information about the format of students’ individual courses prior to starting the spring semester.
“The health and safety of UB’s students, faculty and staff remains of the utmost importance as we conclude a successful fall semester and plan for a safe and productive spring semester,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.
The university will release full details about the implementation of its plans for the spring semester prior to the end of the fall semester.
UB will begin pre-Thanksgiving break surveillance testing on Monday, Nov. 9.
Any student living on campus, taking one or more on-campus classes, utilizing on-campus services, or working on campus must complete testing within 10 days of departing for break and no later than Nov. 18.
This is a SUNY-wide mandate intended to prevent community spread of the coronavirus as many students leave campus and finish the semester remotely.
To ensure the process is as quick and convenient as possible, appointment-based testing is being made available on campus.
For dates, times and locations, and instructions on how to register, please visit UB's pre-Thanksgiving break testing webpage at: https://buffalo.edu/coronavirus/health-and-safety/testing/testing-students-before-thanksgiving-break.html.
Students also have the option of providing documentation of the result of a COVID-19 test completed off campus within a specified time frame.
This morning, a new SUNY policy was announced that requires testing of students across SUNY’s campuses, including UB, before the university concludes in-person instruction prior to the Thanksgiving break. Per the SUNY policy, the following groups of undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be required to be tested by UB or other means during a 10-day period before November 25:
UB is in the process of developing detailed plans to implement this policy and will communicate additional information to students in early November following approval by SUNY.
More information may be found here.
Barbara J. Ricotta, UB's Dean of Students, sent a message to all students regarding Halloween 2020.
UB has seen a significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the fall semester. Officials attribute it to the university community’s cooperation with UB’s health and safety guidelines, and a surveillance testing program to detect asymptomatic cases before they spread on campus.
UB faculty, staff and students can get their seasonal flu shot — a vaccination that public health officials say is more important than ever this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — at influenza vaccination clinics being held now through mid-November on all three UB campuses.
As UB conducts surveillance testing for COVID-19, members of the campus community may be wondering what they can expect if they’re selected to take part.
The Division of Athletics has taken immediate steps in response to test results indicating that some student-athletes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
On September 29th, Interim VP for Student Life Christina Hernandez sent an email to students on the uniform SUNY-wide sanctions for COVID-19 health and safety violations and non-compliance.
Dean of Students Barbara Ricotta provided Important information for off-campus students.
As part of UB’s comprehensive efforts to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the university has established a phone line for students who have tested positive for the virus. With this phone line, students can report their positive test and receive assistance as needed.
Reachable at 716-645-1400, the phone line extends support to all UB students, including those living off and on campus. The phone line is not a medical helpline. Phone line staff are trained to assure confidentiality.
“We understand that students will have many questions and concerns as a result of a positive COVID-19 test result,” says Christina Hernandez, interim vice president for student life. “Phone line staff will provide students with important information regarding health, housing and academic resources. As necessary, students will be referred to UB Health Services or their primary care provider for medical care.”
Faculty and staff who are contacted by students who have tested positive for COVID-19 should direct students to the phone line, where they can report their positive test and receive assistance as needed.
The phone line is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers will be asked to leave a message when calling outside of these hours.
As UB continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health and safety of the university community remains paramount.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi informed the campus community via email Tuesday night that 22 students living off-campus are in isolation after having tested positive for COVID-19.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases within the UB community, including employees, to 27.
The university has reached out to all students who tested positive to offer its support, and to monitor their recovery.
Only those students and employees who have fully recovered and received approval from the Erie County Department of Health may resume normal campus activities. Additionally, UB is working with the health department to help with contact tracing.
In the interest of transparency and awareness, UB is posting data about known positive cases of COVID-19 on UB’s COVID-19 Planning and Response website.
"Given the significant disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused at universities across the country, let me take this opportunity to reiterate what I stressed on the first day of class: Each of us must adhere to UB’s health and safety protocols. To protect our health, and that of our friends, colleagues and neighbors, we must, without exception, follow the guidelines," Tripathi said.
As part of the next step in the university’s Health and Safety Guidelines, UB will soon begin random COVID-19 surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff using their saliva.
Mark Coldren, UB's associate vice president for human resources, sent an email to all UB employees August 19 regarding the daily health screening tool:
This message is for all employees to help clarify the introduction of the new daily health attestation process. Previously, individuals were asked to use an online form for daily attestation of health provided by the Office of Human Resources. This was a temporary process to be used until UB could introduce the ongoing tool. The new tool, Daily Health Check, was introduced on Monday, August 17. (https://www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus/bulletins/announcement-host.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2020/08/chatbot.detail.html).
The initial communication identified that all individuals must complete the Daily Health Check every day, whether they are working or not. This practice facilitates a comprehensive set of health data to assist in campus actions and decision making. However, to comply with relevant NYS laws, this requirement is revised as follows:
All employees are required to complete the attestation every day they are working – whether on campus or working remotely. Additionally, while not required, all individuals are strongly encouraged to complete the attestation on days they do not work. Daily attestation will greatly enhance the University’s goal of comprehensive data collection to accurately monitor COVID prevalence and transmission.
The goal of the Daily Health Check is to be able to collect critical data for all members of the UB community. Comprehensive daily participation by all members of the campus community including students, faculty, staff, and affiliates* creates the best data source to help direct campus response and better protect everyone.
In the initial release of the Daily Health Check, individuals are not currently asked to submit their name during the attestation process – this is different than what folks have been doing over the summer. Instead, upon completion of the process, users receive a notification badge for that day. Individuals were initially asked to print out a copy or save a screenshot of this badge. This is no longer required. By coming to campus, you are verifying that you completed the Daily Health Check and you have attested, to the best of your knowledge, that you do not have COVID-19 infection or exposure.
In certain unique situations such as entering a lab with specialized PPE protocols or in a situation where social distancing is challenging on our campus, individuals may be asked to show proof of Daily Health Check completion.
Individuals that complete a health attestation for other organizations every day such as hospitals, health care facilities etc., are not required to show proof but are asked to participate in UB’s Daily Health Check.
Messages for direction and action are an integral part of the Daily Health Check tool. Several of these messages will continue to be revised for clarity during this initial phase of implementation. Revisions will include:
In the upcoming technology update of Daily Health Check, all users will be asked to provide personal identification details for authentication purposes upon initial log in. This will then enable the tool to send individual text message reminders to you for daily attestation. The following information will be asked for authentication purposes:
After the first time, users will no longer be asked to provide this level of detail. Only thefirst three letters of your last name as well as year of your birth details will be required.
We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through how best to build for the UB community an effective screening and tracing process that takes into account the many variables inherent in a large university. Please continue to check the UB planning and response pages for more information:https://www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus/dashboard.html
*Affiliates includes RF, State, UBF employees, adjunct faculty, volunteers, vendors, visitors and invited guests to campus.
UB has launched an important new tool as part of its comprehensive Health and Safety Guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. The Daily Health Check is a virtual screener based on the latest scientific research that uses advanced chatbot technology to detect potential cases of COVID-19 infection early and provide users with need-to-know information tailored to their situation.
Beginning this week, all UB faculty, staff and students are required to complete the Daily Health Check every day, whether or not they plan to visit campus, including on weekends and holidays. Additionally, visitors to campus who are otherwise not affiliated with UB will also be required to complete the virtual screener prior to their visit.
Some clinical programs and programs that require practical in-person experiences are unable to fully comply with health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 because of the nature of the training or the experience, for example, in-person clinical experiences or community placements. These programs must develop plans to minimize potential exposure. For more information, including how to submit your plan for review, see Health and Safety Guidelines for Clinical and Practical Experiences
UB’s health guidelines and procedures for the fall were announced today in a university-wide email from UB Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber and Vice President for Health Sciences Michael E. Cain.
These guidelines will be implemented across the campus community and will allow UB to continue delivering excellent educational experiences and research programs while protecting the health and safety of the university community.
Mark Coldren, UB's associate vice president for human resources, sent an email to all UB employees July 15 regarding the Daily Health Verification Form.
"The Daily Health Verification Form has been updated on our website and is now available. As a reminder, in order to ensure the safety and public health of the UB campus and community, employees will be required to attest daily that they are free of COVID 19 symptom(s) before reporting to work on-campus," Codren said.
UB Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber provided academic and calendar updates in an email to the campus community.
Provost A. Scott Weber provided an update on the Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing Protocol Committee’s work to implement customized technology that will allow faculty, staff and students to engage in daily screening protocols.
Among its current tasks, the committee is conducting an inventory and assessment of UB’s classroom and potential classroom space pursuant to physical distancing guidelines.
The new class schedule, which will note which classes will be taught in-person, partially in-person or fully remote, will be posted online July 15.
Mark Coldren, UB's associate vice president for human resources, sent an email to all UB employees June 16 regarding planning employees' safe return to campus.
Interim Vice President for Student Life Christina R. Hernandez provided information on fall semester preparations in a memo to students and parents.
"In light of the recent announcement by President Tripathi and Provost Weber communicating that we will return to campus in a modified, in-person capacity, I continue to be optimistic that we can create a vibrant campus experience this fall. Student Life is committed to providing the best possible resources to support students’ academic setting," Hernandez said.
Student Life has created a Student Guide in preparation for a return to campus this fall that will keep students and parents informed on the most up-to-date information, as it becomes available.
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.
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.
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.
UB’s plans for returning employees to campus will adhere to any guidelines set forth by the governor and SUNY.
Student Accounts has worked with fee stewards across the university to determine credits due to students for the spring 2020 semester as a result of COVID-19.
Students have received prorated credits for certain fees where services have been discontinued or curtailed due to the COVID-19 emergency. A calculated credit amount has been determined for each of these fees.
After credits are applied to the student’s account, a refund will be granted where applicable.
Funds should be available in student bank accounts within 2 business days from the time the direct deposit refund is initiated, depending on your financial institution. Direct deposit refunds will be processed the week of May 4, 2020.
For students without a direct deposit profile, refunds will be mailed by check to the student’s permanent address the week of May 11, 2020.
In order to advance UB's academic and research mission during COVID-19, the university will create a framework of university-wide committees that will develop plans for a variety of short- and long-term scenarios, UB Provost A. Scott Weber wrote in an email to the campus community.
The committees are composed of faculty, staff, students and senior administrators.
“In these challenging and uncertain times, campus wide engagement, planning and prudent stewardship of our resources are critical to ensure that we continue to advance our research, education and engagement mission and rise among the ranks of the top public research universities in the nation,” Weber wrote.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi provided an update to the campus commuminty today on planning efforts for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year.
“Given the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are intentionally preparing for the challenges that lie ahead — from questions about public health, university finances, enrollment, academic continuity, research, and our overall student experience,” Tripathi wrote.
Tripathi has tasked UB Provost A. Scott Weber with leading this comprehensive effort. Weber will provide further details to the campus community this week.
“We will be planning for every eventuality — from a distance education model to a residential, campus-based experience in a less dense and safe environment, to a potential full return to conventional campus operations,” Tripathi said.
The university’s planning efforts will take into account the following:
At this time, there are two UB students and five staff and faculty members known to have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in Western New York in mid-March.
Three of these individuals have recovered, including the two students. The other four individuals are under quarantine in off-campus residences.
To protect their privacy, the university will not be releasing any other information about these individuals.
The figures do not include physicians who are members of the university community and have been working primarily in area hospitals providing care to patients during the pandemic.
Whenever there is a confirmed case that poses a risk of exposure to members of the university community, UB’s academic or administrative units will notify members of the university community who may be at risk.
In each of the seven positive cases, UB has worked closely with the Erie County Department of Health to take steps to reduce the risk of spread to others. This included contacting directly anyone identified as having had close contact with these individuals to provide guidance on additional precautions, and performing a deep cleaning of impacted areas at the university.
Steps taken by UB over the past four weeks to transition to distance learning and decrease the density of students and employees on its campuses are believed to have reduced the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the university.
We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and take all appropriate precautions to safeguard the well-being of our students, faculty and staff.
All members of the university community are advised to self-monitor their health closely, follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and check the university’s COVID-19 Information website for updates.
Mark Coldren, UB's associate vice president for human resources, sent a memo to UB employees on April 23 regarding Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's "NYS on Pause" extension to May 15.
The text of Coldren's memo is as follows:
In response to the continuing COVID-19 public health emergency, Governor Cuomo has extended to May 15 the directive indicating that all non-essential state employees in all New York State agencies and public authorities are not to report to work.
As a reminder, non-essential employees are defined as anyone who does not need to be physically present to perform job functions, or who are not required to meet the core function and programs of their agency/institution during the state’s emergency response.
Essential employees continue to be defined as anyone whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency/institution, or who must be physically present to perform their job; and those involved in the COVID-19 emergency response, and individuals who are currently providing a vital service for students who returned to campus and who are enrolled via distance learning. Once again, I would like to express the gratitude of the entire UB community to all of our essential colleagues for their efforts to maintain the operations of the University every day.
Please also note that state-funded student workers are still operating under the governor’s executive order, which provides direction on pay, working from home, and reporting to work only if deemed essential. Supervisors of student employees should continue to submit timesheets for work up until May 15. Federal Work Study students should also continue to be paid until the identified funding is depleted. If any department has questions regarding FWS student funding, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Included with the governor’s May 15 extension is a host of tools for campuses to use, including but not limited to:
1. The ability to work remotely.
2. The ability to redeploy staff and provide alternate assignments.
3. Continuation of pay for full-time and part-time employees currently through May 15 for anyone not working or not assigned to work.
4. Continuation of pay for any employee quarantined up to 14 days.
In compliance with the State Executive Order for face coverings, UB’s Environment Health & Safety team is currently facilitating the distribution of masks for all essential employees. In anticipation of non-essential employees returning to UB campuses, we will need to prepare for resources and materials, per State guidance and mandates.
To be more efficient and effective in this transition, all Personal Protective Equipment and disinfectant materials will be sourced centrally for the entire University. This would include face coverings and disinfectant cleaning materials such as Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. Centralizing this process will enable consistent, compliance-based and cost effective purchasing to be accomplished.
Individual units should not initiate purchasing transactions for any of these items. Acquisition, storage and distribution will be managed centrally. More information about this process will provided as plans are developed for the return of non-essential employees to campus.
If you have questions about any of these matters, please contact me at email@example.com or 645-8155.
A staff member from the School of Dental Medicine has tested positive for COVID-19, Joseph J. Zambon, DDS, PhD, the school’s dean and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Periodontics and Endodontics, said in an email to members of the School of Dental Medicine community.
This individual is now under quarantine and is following the guidelines set by the Erie County Department of Health.
Based on the timing of when this individual was last in the school’s facilities, Zambon said there was limited exposure to others within the School of Dental Medicine.
Zambon said the school is working closely with the Erie County Department of Health to take steps to reduce the risk of spread to others, including contacting directly anyone identified as having had close contact with the individual who tested positive. The school is also deep cleaning impacted areas.
In a memo to all employees on April 13, Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources, provided an update to the recommended safety measures for essential personnel who are still working on UB’s campuses.
“In accordance with the recent Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo (4/12/20) and guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the voluntary use of face coverings, UB intends to supply our essential employees with suitable face covering materials for use in the workplace,” Coldren said. “As was shared previously, we are working to have these materials to be distributed with area supervisors as soon as they are sourced and available.”
“We know that these are challenging and fluid times. Please know that everyone’s health and safety is our top priority. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation to help us conserve higher levels of respiratory protection for medical professionals and first responders. This guideline is designed to be consistent with local, state, SUNY and federal guidelines so we can continue to protect the well-being of the entire campus community. Again, many thanks to all of our essential colleagues for all that they are doing for our campus community.
In a memo to all employees on April 13, Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources provided an update on the Governor’s extension of NYS on Pause.
“UB received confirmation in response to the continuing public health emergency for the COVID-19 virus, that the Governor extended his directive for all non-essential State employees for New York State’s agencies and public authorities in every county, to not report to work until April 29,” Coldren said.
“Essential employees continue to be defined as anyone whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency or authority, or who must be physically present to perform their job, those involved in the COVID-19 emergency response, and individuals who are currently providing a vital service for students who returned to campus and are undergoing distance learning. I know that the entire UB community joins me in appreciation for all our essential colleagues are doing to maintain the operations of the university every day.”
Coldren reminded employees that non-essential employees are defined as anyone who does not need to be physically present to perform job functions, or they are not required to meet the core function and programs of their agency during this emergency response.
We understand our students’ disappointment regarding the decision to transition to a virtual commencement. We sincerely appreciate that commencement is a significant milestone for our UB students. Every year, we look forward to celebrating this milestone with our graduates, their families and their friends. However, at this moment, we find ourselves in an incredibly challenging situation.
To ensure the health, safety and well-being of our graduates, their loved ones and our entire university community, commencement exercises have been moved to a virtual environment. We remain optimistic that we also will be able to recognize our graduates during on-campus commencement at a later date. Once it is safe to hold commencement, we will notify our graduates and the university community of our plans.
In a letter to the campus community, UB Provost A. Scott Weber announced the formation of a Research and Graduate Education Task Force which will focus on the challenges that UB faculty, research staff, postdocs, and graduate students are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 disruption.
“Now more than ever, it is critical for faculty, postdocs and graduate students to utilize available technology to maintain close working relationships so that, as a campus community, we can continue the significant progress we have made in increasing grant applications, scholarly productivity, clinical care, and research impact,” Weber said.
“Even in the face of the current challenges, I know that we all share the goal of sustaining this strong research momentum by reopening our research facilities and reengaging in our scholarship as soon as possible. We will do so but must maintain our first priority, which is to protect the health and well-being of all members of the campus community.”
The following letter was emailed to residents of UB's Governors Complex residence hall on April 6:
We are reaching out with health update for our student community. A resident of the Governors Complex is currently in quarantine with a presumptive case of COVID-19. This individual is experiencing mild symptoms and will not be tested at this time.
UB’s Health Services staff are providing support to this individual and they are also receiving the resources necessary to be able to make a full recovery. The individual’s roommate, who currently has no COVID-19 symptoms, has been relocated and is in precautionary quarantine. Both students have been given instructions by the university to remain in their rooms and the delivery of food has been arranged.
Based on the timing of the individual’s illness and the reduced number of people in the complex, we believe that there was limited exposure to others. Please know that the health and safety of our residents is of utmost importance to Campus Living and that we are collaborating with everyone to reduce the risk of spread to others. This includes directly contacting and providing guidance to anyone identified as having close contact with this individual.
Additionally, all members of the Governors community should be mindful of the need to self-monitor their health closely for the next 14 days. It is recommended that you check your temperature twice daily and monitor for cough and/or shortness of breath.
If you develop a temperature of 100.4° F or higher that is accompanied by a cough or shortness of breath, you should self-isolate and immediately and notify your health care provider or UB Health Services at 716-829-3316.
As health officials continue to monitor the community spread of COVID-19 in Western New York, we expecting to see an increase in the number of cases (presumptive or confirmed) within the university community. Please be assured that Campus Living is committed to keeping you updated about this evolving situation. In addition to regularly checking your email, please visit UB’s COVID-19 website.
Please remember that the leadership within Campus Living stands ready to help and support you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions. Please feel free to reach out via email to Julie Szrama (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your understanding and resilience as we face these trying times together.
On April 4 the CDC recommended that, in addition to maintaining 6-feet social distancing, the use of face coverings can help prevent spread of the coronavirus by people who have the virus but who have yet to show symptoms. In a memo to all employees on April 6, Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources, updated the recommended safety measures for essential personnel who are still working on UB’s campuses.
“It is important to remember that social distancing is still the primary way to slow the spread of COVID-19, and should be maintained regardless of whether a person is wearing a mask or face covering,” Coldren said.
“If social distancing is not an option or is not feasible, essential staff members are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when they are in close proximity of other individuals or when providing customer services. Essential staff members are not required to wear face coverings in situations when they are working alone in an area where they are isolated from other staff.”
Essential staff are welcome to wear a face covering they bring from home. Face coverings from home may include such items as cloth masks, surgical masks, shop/carpenter masks, bandanas, scarfs, etc. CDC guidance for making your own face covering is available here. Cloth face coverings can be laundered at home and used multiple times. UB encourages their re-use, unless the user suspects their face covering has been contaminated.
Commencement ceremonies will be held in a virtual environment this May, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said today in an email update to the campus community.
“As with all decisions we have made during these uncertain times, the health and well-being of our entire UB community is our guidepost and our priority,” Tripathi said, adding that planning for virtual commencement exercises has begun.
Further information about commencement will be communicated by each respective school.
“At this point, we remain optimistic that we also will be able to recognize and celebrate UB’s Class of 2020 during an on-campus celebration sometime later in the year,” Tripathi said.
Tripathi also reported that UB will maintain a distance learning platform throughout the upcoming summer session.
The faculty, staff and students of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB continue to respond in various ways to the COVID-19 pandemic in Western New York.
The Governor’s Executive Order enables members of our Class of 2020 to volunteer to participate as new members of the Western New York health care workforce.
We expect that members of our Class of 2020 will graduate on May 1, the original graduation date on the academic calendar.
However, should the apex of patients hospitalized overwhelm our health care workforce, we will be prepared to graduate early medical students who have both completed all of their education requirements and volunteer to be available.
A staff member from the Divison of Athletics and Recreation has tested positive for COVID-19, Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt said Saturday in a memo to staff.
The individual is currently under quarantine and being cared for at a local hospital and is doing well, Alnutt said, adding that the department has been in contact with the individual and their family to offer support and best wishes for a full recovery.
There was limited exposure to others within the division, based on the timing of when this individual was last in Athletics facilities.
“Please know that the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is of utmost importance to us and that we are working closely with the county Department of Health to take steps to reduce the risk of spread to others,” Alnutt said.
“These include contacting directly anyone identified as having had close contact with this individual to provide guidance on additional precautions, and performing a deep cleaning of impacted areas within Alumni Arena.”
Division of Athletics and Recreation employees have been reminded to self-monitor their health closely for the next 14 days, including checking their temperature twice daily while monitoring for cough and/or shortness of breath.
A student from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating at their off-campus residence, Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the Jacobs School, reported in a memo to students Wednesday night.
A close family member of this individual, who is also a Jacobs School student, is also under quarantine at their off-campus residence, awaiting testing.
“In light of this news, all of us should be mindful of the need to self-monitor our health closely for the next 14 days by checking our temperature twice daily and monitoring for cough and/or shortness of breath,” Cain said.
If you do not develop symptoms of COVID-19, then testing is NOT necessary. If you develop a temperature of 100.4 F or above AND a cough or shortness of breath, you should self-isolate and immediately notify your health care provider or UB Health Services at 716-829-3316 if you are a student.
“The safety and well-being of the Jacobs School community is our utmost priority. We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and take all appropriate precautions to safeguard the well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” Cain said.
Due to the unprecedented circumstances faced as a result of COVID-19, UB’s May 2020 commencement ceremonies will not take place as scheduled, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said in a message to campus on Tuesday.
“While we know this is disappointing news to UB’s Class of 2020 as well their families, friends and our university community, this is a necessary decision given the unprecedented circumstances we face,” Tripathi said.
Students will receive prorated credits for certain fees where services have been discontinued or curtailed due to the COVID-19 emergency, UB administrators Laura Hubbard and Christina Hernandez wrote in a letter to UB sutdents and parents.
As previously communicated, resident students who leave campus housing this semester will receive a prorated credit for their housing effective March 23, 2020 through the end of their remaining housing contract.
Students who have meal plan contracts or campus cash will receive a prorated credit for the balance remaining on their meal plan/campus cash on their student account as well.
A calculated credit amount is being determined for each of these fees:
Over the past two weeks, UB has prepared for the return of a significantly smaller student population to campus housing.
Approximately 1,500 students — many of whom never left during the spring recess — are expected to live in residence halls and in on-campus apartments for the remainder of the spring semester.
There’s usually 8,000.
The decline is the result of UB’s transition to distance learning instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and steps UB is taking, including new protocols within campus housing, to safeguard the well-being of UB students, faculty and staff.
Thomas R. Tiberi, director of campus living, says students who remain in university housing have been issued strict guidelines that they are expected to follow while living on campus.
“Students must limit interactions with others and always follow social distancing requirements — remain six feet away from others, even in shared spaces,” says Tiberi. “Students are not permitted to enter residence halls or apartments other than their assigned living space.
“Students from other residence halls and off-campus guests are not permitted to enter residence halls or apartments. To connect with friends or other students, please video chat, call or text them.”
In order to maintain UB’s research enterprise while protecting the health and safety of faculty and staff, UB’s research labs will focus only on essential research activities over the next six weeks.
To assist faculty, UB’s research administration and support infrastructure is 100% operational with employees working remotely from home.
For additional details, see Vice President for Research Venu Govindaraju’s message to UB faculty.
In a message to the UB community, UB President Satish K. Tripathi addressed how the university is coming together as it transitions to distance learning due to COVID-19.
"We are all adjusting to a new—albeit temporary—reality. That we continue to uphold our mission and vision of excellence under such trying circumstances is nothing short of inspiring," Tripathi said.
The following is republished from the New York State Department of Health’s publication “Guidance on the Contacts of a Close or Proximate Contact of a Confirmed or Suspected Case of COVID-19."
As more cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are identified or suspected across New York State, and individuals and families are required or recommended for mandatory or precautionary quarantine, it is important that there is a common understanding of the risk to contacts of contacts of a suspected or confirmed case.
Person A is diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. If Person B had contact, close1 or proximate2, with Person A, Person B would be subject to mandatory quarantine3 (if close contact) or precautionary quarantine4 (if proximate contact).
Any individual (Person C) who is a contact of Person B (i.e. spouse, children, co- workers, etc.) is considered a “contact of a contact”. Person C is not at risk for infection and would not be subject to quarantine unless Person B had or developed symptoms, or tested positive for the virus causing COVID-19.
A member of the UB community has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the university learned today from the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH).
This is the first confirmed case among the UB community, and the individual is in mandatory isolation in their off-campus private residence, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
UB is working closely with ECDOH officials to reach out to any students, faculty or staff who may have come into contact with this individual. These people may, in accordance with CDC guidelines, be placed under a mandatory self-quarantine to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. They will not return to campus until they have completed the quarantine.
While health officials have said the potential for surface exposure is low, the university is thoroughly cleaning areas to ensure the safest environment possible.
Because UB is on spring recess this week, the vast majority of students are off campus and classes are not in session. Starting Monday, the university will move to a distance learning model, in which classes, labs and other learning environments will be taught online. Students are being advised to say home for the remainder of the semester if they are able to do so.
The full statement is available on the UB NewsCenter site.
UB's Office of Research Compliance has provided guidance in order to assist the UB research community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to COVID-19, UB will be temporarily pausing select human subject research activities. This pause will not affect human subject research that includes therapies or procedures directly benefiting study subjects, such as clinical trials.
Additional information is available on the Office of Research Compliance website.
Christina Hernandez, UB's interim vice president for student life, provided the following information in a memo to students. The full messagge is available on the Campus Living website:
Status of campus housing
Student housing will remain open for those who meet any of the following criteria:
Housing and Dining refund status
Prorated credits for room and board (including, residence hall/housing and dining/meal expenses) will be granted to students with housing and meal contracts who leave campus housing. Non-resident students who have meal plan contracts will be eligible for a prorated credit on their student account as well.
Until further notice, UB Campus Dining and Shops eateries will offer take-out only. Seating will not be available.
This follows the executive order issued Monday by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directing all restaurants in the state to provide take-out service only in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
University Human Resources has issued guidelines and information for UB employees who may wish to work remotely temporarily during the COVID-19 situation.
The first seven confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Erie County are not believed to be directly connected to UB as students, faculty, staff or visiting scholars.
The entire UB community extends our thoughts and best wishes to these individuals and their families, as we hope for their quick and full recovery.
While spread of COVID-19 is concerning, it is not unexpected. The university has been preparing and responding to this eventuality for weeks under the guidance of Erie County and the State of New York. For example, the university last week, under guidance from the State University of New York, announced it would move to a distance learning model starting March 23.
The state of emergency declared Sunday in Erie County, where UB’s campuses are located, will give county leaders broader authority to respond to the crisis. It will not directly impact university operations. The university remains open and fully operational.
As more information is provided by state and county officials, we will keep the UB community informed of any new developments that impact our community and which require a university response.
International Student Services (ISS) at UB has received guidance from the U.S. government that they intend to be flexible with temporary adaptations to online classes as the university moves to a distance learning mode of instruction, John Wood, UB's interim vice provost for international education, wrote in a message to international students.
The government recognizes there are extenuating circumstances because our courses were not intended to be online. Provided international students can continue to make normal progress in a full course of study as required by federal regulations, students’ legal immigration status is not in jeopardy.
International students should plan to participate in their classes in the format in which they are offered when they resume on Monday, March 23.
ISS has developed a helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to address many of the questions and concerns international students may have at this time.
Wood's full message is available on the ISS website.
Interim Vice President for Student Life Christina R. Hernandez updated the campus community on Student support during distance learning.
Hernandez's full update is available on the president's website.
In a letter to the campus community, UB Provost A. Scott Weber provided additional information on UB’s plans to maximize distance learning and reduce in-person instruction.
Weber noted that the transition to distance learning will be in effect from March 23 through the end of the spring 2020 semester. During this time, all courses, where possible and regardless of size, should be offered in distance learning format.
Some formats — labs, studio, field based programs, etc. — may not be amenable to a distance learning format in the short term, Weber noted. Accordingly, unit leadership has the authority to grant exceptions in some circumstances with the guiding principle to minimize density in the teaching environment.
Weber’s full update is available on the provost’s website.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi updated the campus community on UB’s plans to maximize distance learning and reduce in-person instruction, effective March 23 and through the end of the spring 2020 semester.
Tripathi's full update is available on the president's website.
For the past month, the UB has been preparing to move to a distance learning model for student instruction in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation.
With the governor’s guidance announced today, and in collaboration with SUNY leadership, UB will now move forward to implement its plans for distance learning beginning March 23.
The university is open this week. Classes, events and activities are operating on a normal schedule.
UB’s leadership will provide more information this week regarding implementation of distance learning at UB and the availability of on-campus services such as residence halls and dining for the period beginning March 23 and for the remainder of the semester.
UB has been communicating with the university community via its COVID-19 website, which has been updated almost daily since launching in January.
In accordance with guidance provided by SUNY, UB announced today that all remaining campus-administered study abroad programs in progress are suspended, and planned programs for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester are canceled or will be postponed.
The precautionary measure is designed to protect SUNY and UB students currently studying in countries not yet designated as at-risk locations for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Approximately 65 UB students currently studying abroad will be recalled.
The university is taking added precaution as it relates to student health and safety when planning international or domestic travel due to COVID-19, Christina Hernandez, UB's interim vice president for student life, said in a letter posted on the Student Life website.
For students who wish not to travel, the university has arranged for access to residence halls and dining facilities during the week of March 14-22. To request campus accommodations, utilize the Campus Living request break housing form by Wednesday, March 11.
Campus Dining will also be providing limited services during this period to accommodate those students who wish to remain on campus.
Students who choose to travel are urged to be aware of health and travel advisories for their destination.
Read Hernandez' full letter on the Student Life website.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to countries with Level 3 Health Notices, and cautions against high-risk travelers from traveling to countries with Level 2 Health Notices.
In accordance with this recommendation from the CDC, the State of New York has prohibited all New York State work-related employee travel to these countries until further notice:
Following the guidance of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and SUNY, UB has directed its students who are studying abroad in countries impacted by the COVID-19 to return to the U.S.
In addition to recalling students from affected countries, UB and SUNY also have cancelled all campus-sponsored travel to impacted countries for the remainder of the semester.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi updated the campus community on UB’s COVID-19 response, and announced the creation of several committees and working groups.
UB has been actively monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New York State Department of Health and the Erie County Department of Health, Tripathi said.
To ensure preparedness for any potential event in this evolving situation, Tripathi has established seven committees and working groups to maintain continuity among UB’s academic, research and business operations.
Committee descriptions and chairs are outlined on the president's website.
In a letter to the campus community, UB Provost A. Scott Weber provided updates on how university leadership has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation. In addition, Weber provided updates on study abroad and faculty and staff travel abroad.
“We are actively planning to ensure academic continuity should there be a disruption to our planned academic calendar and will keep you informed in the days and weeks ahead,” Weber said.
Weber’s full update is available on the provost’s website.
The university has updated its policy on English language proficiency requirements for prospective students who have been affected by the closure of testing sites for TOEFL, IELTS and PTE.
Information about prospective graduate and professional student requirements is available on the Graduate School website.
Information about undergraduate student requirements is available on the International Admissions website.
Students who returned from China at the beginning of the spring semester (Jan. 27) are now past the 14-day self-isolation period recommended for individuals who may feel sick with fever, cough or have trouble breathing.
There have been no reports of any cases of novel coronavirus in Erie County, including at the University at Buffalo.
It is important for individuals who have arrived, or those who will be arriving, after the start of the semester to continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidelines.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have adjusted their guidance to individuals who have recently traveled from China. For travelers who have arrived in the United States on and after February 2, 2020, the following guidelines apply:
Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.
Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials, and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.
If symptoms occur during their quarantine, individuals should follow the instructions given to them by the health department.
Students who fall into either category above should contact their faculty directly to discuss their absence from classes due to quarantine. Faculty, staff and visiting scholars who fall into either category above should contact their supervisor to discuss their absence from work due to their quarantine.