UB semester resumes this week through distance learning and with new precautions on campus

Geology professor Jason Briner interviews a graduate student via video conference in his lab.

Geology professor Jason Briner interviews a graduate student via video conference in his lab. Credit: Douglas Levere.

Release Date: March 23, 2020

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A. Scott Weber.
“In this extraordinary moment, I am encouraged and deeply grateful that our faculty, as well as our staff and students, are rising to the challenge and working hard to ensure that we continue to provide our students with an exceptional education. ”
A. Scott Weber, Provost
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The spring semester resumes at the University at Buffalo this week in unprecedented fashion, as the entire university community of faculty, students and staff transitions to new ways of delivering and participating in coursework while maintaining university operations and well-being in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since announcing it would transition to distance-learning mode 10 days ago, UB faculty from across the academic disciplines worked diligently around the clock to transition their courses. With the assistance of a dedicated group of information technology professionals and course designers within UB’s Center for Educational Innovation, nearly all UB courses and labs are online this semester.

The overarching goal: a commitment to ensuring students can complete their courses to the greatest extent possible while also reducing the risk of exposure of COVID-19 and slowing its spread.

Beginning today, more than 4,000 distance-learning courses – including all labs – will be delivered to more than 30,000 UB students who are completing their coursework from home locations all over the world. There is a small number of clinical courses, such as providing emergency dental care through, that are face-to-face.

“In this extraordinary moment, I am encouraged and deeply grateful that our faculty, as well as our staff and students, are rising to the challenge and working hard to ensure that we continue to provide our students with an exceptional education,” said UB Provost A. Scott Weber. “I am heartened and humbled by the amazing spirit of cooperation and collaboration of our university community.”

The vast majority of UB students will remain home or in off-campus housing for the rest of the spring semester. However, about 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 is usually 8,000.

The students living on campus are mostly international students that cannot travel home, or students whose primary residence is the university.

To accommodate students living on-campus, and to comply with public health guidelines on social distancing, significant modifications have been made to some university services, such as dining and transportation.

UB Parking and Transportation has implemented a modified busing schedule. Campus Dining and Shops is adhering to New York State guidelines by closing dining room seating and only offering to-go services. All campus recreational facilities are closed, including residential fitness centers. In addition, Campus Living Academic Success Centers are closed.

The university is providing virtual academic resources to all students and is providing technological support to students as they transition to online coursework. UB Libraries are open but at a reduced capacity, with the goal of lowering the number and proximity of people on campus.

Thomas R. Tiberi, director of Campus Living, said students who remain in university housing have been issued strict guidelines which they are expected to follow. UB is advising students to take the following steps:

  • Immediately contact Student Health Services if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Do not visit other residence halls. Instead, connect with friends via video chat, call or text.
  • Limit interactions with others, and always follow social distancing requirements by remaining 6 feet away from others (even in shared spaces).
  • Clean up after yourself in shared bathrooms. Use a shower caddy to transport your toiletries. Do not leave personal items in shared bathrooms.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
  • Self-monitor your health.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

To guard against the spread of COVID-19, the university has enacted mandatory quarantine protocols for suspected and confirmed cases of the virus. If a student, or other individual, tests positive, the Erie County Department of Health will take over supervision of that person and, in collaboration with UB, the individual will be isolated from the campus community.

Should individuals be placed in required mandatory isolation, they will receive ongoing support from the university. This includes medical and mental health services, faith-based and social services, food and mail delivery, daily trash removal, and laundry and maintenance services.

Additionally, the university is taking increased cleaning precautions across its campuses to ensure the health and safety of the UB community, in accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

UB has been communicating with the university community via its COVID-19 website, which has been updated almost daily since launching in January.

Media Contact Information

Cory Nealon
Director of News Content
Engineering, Computer Science
Tel: 716-645-4614
cmnealon@buffalo.edu
Twitter: @UBengineering