FAQs on UB's fall semester plans

Release Date: June 15, 2020


The following frequently asked questions contain additional information on UB's plans for the fall 2020 semester.

A news release on the announcement from UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber is available on the NewsCenter site.

On this page:


How was the decision made in regards to how the UB community moves forward?

  • In April, UB launched a framework of university-wide committees to develop plans for a variety of short and long-term scenarios in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Composed of over 180 faculty, staff, students and senior administrators, including 19 representatives of the Faculty Senate, these committees were charged with making recommendations on how best to allow UB to continue delivering excellent educational and research programs while protecting the health and safety of the university community. More information about this planning process can be found here: University Planning: COVID-19 website
  • Determinations about the fall semester and a phased return of employees also align with the Governor’s Executive Orders—including Western New York’s progress pursuant to the state’s Phase 1-4 regional benchmarks.
  • UB will proactively communicate new information regarding the pandemic, including health and safety guidelines, through multiple information channels including a weekly email bulletin and the university’s COVID-19 website and social media platforms.


When will the semester start and end?

  • Classes will start Aug. 31; the semester will conclude Dec. 21.
  • UB is considering holding classes on Labor Day.
  • All instruction will shift to distance learning after fall recess, which starts Nov. 25.  The final three weeks of the semester will be conducted remotely.
  • The Health Sciences schools’ academic calendars will remain as originally scheduled due to program requirements.

Will students be allowed to return to on-campus residence halls after the fall recess?

  • Students will be asked to vacate their on-campus residence hall room or apartment when in-person instruction concludes before Thanksgiving.
  • Those enrolled for the spring 2021 semester will be allowed to keep their belongings in their rooms/apartments until in-person instruction begins in the spring.
  • Housing will be available through the fall recess period until the spring 20201 semester begins for those that meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
    • Students, including international students, for whom university housing is their primary residence
    • Students for whom safe living and dining arrangements cannot be made
    • Students who have limited or no access to technology
    • Students who have in-person academic requirements

What does “modified in-person instruction” mean?

  • Course format (in-person, hybrid in-person/online or fully remote) will be based on course goals and curricular/clinical requirements.
  • In-person, seated instruction will be designed to provide for 6 feet of physical distancing. Face coverings will be required.
  • Students will receive a communication this summer confirming the instructional format of their classes.
  • Some professional programs will follow their regular calendars.

What will on-campus classroom settings look like?

  • We are finalizing plans for a classroom schedule for in-person modified instruction and are considering factors such as: seating capacity, modality of instruction and prioritization of courses for access to seated classrooms.  We are also awaiting final guidance from the governor and SUNY chancellor regarding campus operations and course delivery.

  • In-person education is a key aspect to our mission; however, the need to follow distancing guidelines and reduce overall density in buildings during pandemic conditions dictates that classroom seating capacity will be limited. For that reason, in determining access to classrooms and labs, consideration will be given, first, to curricular requirements that must be delivered in-person.

How will the university determine which classes will be in-person and which will be remote?

  • The amount of in-person instruction possible during the fall will be determined by classroom availability given the need for 6 feet of physical distancing, face coverings, and other health considerations.
  • Whether particular courses, laboratories, studios and other learning environments will be taught in-person, in a hybrid format, or fully remote, and how instructional spaces will be utilized will be determined by the schools and college based on course goals, curricular requirements, and university priorities.
  • UB will ensure that students, faculty and staff have the resources and training needed for modified, in-person instruction.

Can students choose a full remote option, even if one or some classes will be held in-person?

  • We will determine – and clearly communicate – curricular options and possibilities for students who are unable to come to campus.  Not all programs may be feasible for a complete remote option.

When will details for a return to campus/remote instruction plan for classroom instruction and clinical work be communicated?

  • A coordinated planning effort is currently underway across the university, involving central administration, schools/college, and departments. Plans should be finalized and communicated later this summer.

What is the university planning for the spring 2021 semester?

  • The university-wide committees that made recommendations for fall 2020 are now considering options for spring 2021. These recommendations will be made with the health and safety of the campus community as our top priority.

Campus Living

Will student housing be open?

  • Yes, we are planning for university housing to be open; however, density in residence halls will be reduced to enable social distancing. Additional information regarding housing will be forthcoming.
  • UB will maintain vacant rooms for isolation spaces if needed. Common areas may be subject to restrictions depending upon current local health conditions; face coverings will be required; high-touch points will be cleaned and disinfected frequently; and sanitation stations will be available.
  • Dining services will be available, with additional takeout and delivery options.
  • Libraries will be open and services will be available remotely and in-person.

Health and Safety

How will UB ensure that students, faculty and staff come back to a safe campus environment?

  • In accordance and compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the New York State Department of Health (DOH), UB has put health and safety protocols in place to protect the campus community’s safety. This includes cleaning and disinfecting in each building as well as frequent cleaning of high-touch and high-traffic areas, providing protective barriers, controlling foot traffic flows, and using elevators and stairwells. UB’s janitorial staff has received additional training in CDC-recommended sanitization and proper bio-safety procedures.
  • There will be a reduction in density in classrooms, student housing, and offices across campus.
  • Face coverings will be required on UB’s campuses when physical distancing cannot be maintained.  Additional information regarding the use of face coverings in classrooms will be forthcoming.
  • This guidance will be reviewed periodically to ensure compliance with local, state and federal health organizations. 

What personal health and safety practices/ guidelines is the university putting in place for students, faculty and staff?

  • Individuals on UB’s campuses must use social distancing as a way to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread.  UB is asking individuals who are on campus to stay at least 6 feet from other people and avoid gathering in groups.
  • The university is requiring individuals to wear face masks on any of UB’s campuses when a minimum of 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained. All students, faculty and staff will receive a face covering from the university, and individuals are welcome to use their own face coverings.  Additional guidance for students, faculty and staff regarding social distancing and the use of face masks in classrooms will be forthcoming.
  • Students, faculty and staff will be asked to monitor their health daily for symptoms of COVID-19.  If students or employees feel sick, they should stay home and seek health advice. It is each member of the UB community’s responsibility and shared duty to comply and act responsibly, to help ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus. Additional guidance for students, faculty and staff and students regarding daily health monitoring will be forthcoming.
  • UB will continue to follow Erie County Department of Health protocols related to isolation and treatment of individuals who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or test positive. For students who live on campus, isolation space will continue to be available along with health care and food delivery services. While in isolation, students will be able to continue their classes remotely.
  • UB students, faculty and staff may experience high amounts of anxiety and stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it has forced on individuals’ academic, work and personal lives. UB is committed to helping all members of the campus community cope with mental and emotional challenges and will ensure that they have access to helpful tools and resources.
  • UB will be putting in place a university-wide health awareness campaign to remind students, employees and campus visitors of public health protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Health and safety protocols and general return-to-campus information is available on two new university websites for UB students and employees.

Is UB considering health screening as part of its health and safety protocols?

  • UB’s COVID-19 planning structure includes a Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing Protocol Committee, chaired by Michael Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
  • UB’s protocol for fall 2020 will be built on evidence-based medicine and include screening, contact tracing, education, and appropriate testing for students, faculty and staff.

When will employees return to campus?

  • Some essential UB employees have been working on UB’s campuses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including Facilities; Environment, Health and Safety; and Campus Dining and Shops, as well as various contractors. These individuals have been following all university, local, state and federal health guidelines. 
  • UB has begun planning for a phased return of employees working on campus in order to support work areas with key operational services. To maintain a low-density of employees on campus, each academic and administrative unit at the university is developing plans which require a maximum of 50 percent of employees on campus per day.
  • Individuals who have been authorized to return to campus will need to conduct symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus. Additional guidance for faculty, staff and students regarding back to campus requirements and daily health monitoring will be forthcoming.
  • Employees who return to campus will have the supplies needed to ensure their workspace is safe.

Athletics and events

What updates are there on UB Athletics and university events?

  • Athletics and other university events are an integral part of the UB community. While plans will continue to develop, whether the university will host athletic and other events on campus will be determined at a later date and will be contingent on public health circumstances.
  • In accordance with the NCAA, public health officials and university guidance, UB Athletics is planning to allow student-athletes to return to voluntary workouts in our athletics facilities in a phased-in approach. UB Athletics is establishing protocols that will be closely adhered to as we welcome student-athletes back to campus in phased groups over the next few months.

Media Contact Information

Media Relations (University Communications)
330 Crofts Hall (North Campus)
Buffalo, NY 14260-7015
Tel: 716-645-6969
Fax: 716-645-3765