Public Health Behavior Expectations

Students are expected to comply with COVID-19 public health behavior expectations on campus.

Student Compliance Policy for COVID-19 Public Health Behavior Expectations

The University at Buffalo is a community, like your hometown, and as a community all members will need to adhere to public health guidance as it relates to the prevention of the spread of COVID 19 infections. If we all work together, we can build and sustain a culture that takes our health, public health and the safety of others seriously. As we return to our campuses in larger numbers in the midst of a pandemic, we must all follow a shared set of behavioral expectations to reduce risk. As part of the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and UB’s plan for a safe return to campus, health and safety guidelines were implemented across the university.

Behavioral Requirements in all Campus Public Spaces

 UB student requirements include:

  1. Students are required to obtain and wear masks/face coverings (preferably a multi-layered cloth covering or a surgical mask) in accordance with current health and safety guidelines.
  2. Students are required to maintain proper physical distancing (also known as social distancing) in public spaces and must stay 6 feet apart from one another. Even when physical distancing is possible, face coverings still must be worn in accordance with current health and safety guidelines.
  3. Students are required to follow health and safety guidelines when attending campus events and gatherings, while adhering to social distancing and face mask requirements.
  4. Students are required to limit the number of people participating in an informal social gathering to 10 people or based on the available capacity for that space (whichever is less), while adhering to social distancing and face mask requirements.
  5. Students are required to stay home if they are sick.
  6. Students are required to complete the Daily Health Check and answer all questions honestly.
  7. Students residing in campus housing and students who are on campus weekly are required to participate in surveillance testing.
  8. Students are required to abide by New York State, federal and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel restrictions and precautionary quarantines.
  9. Students are required to follow campus and public health directives for isolation or quarantine. 
  10. Should a student need to miss class due to illness, isolation or quarantine, they are required to notify their faculty to make arrangements to make up missed work.
  11. Living on campus is a privilege that comes with additional requirements. Residential students are required to follow specific Campus Living rules as outlined in the Campus Living Housing Agreement and Addendum, the Guide to Campus Living and any posted signage.
  12. Students dining at on-campus facilities are expected to follow posted information on any additional requirements specific to the dining environment. 
  13. Students are responsible for following any additional directives in settings such as labs, clinical environments etc.

To prevent and respond to non-compliant behavior, University officials should inform students of this public health policy during regular messaging regarding public space and classroom requirements. In particular, faculty or other instructional staff should clarify these public health standards as requirements of class, either in the syllabus, or by referencing the requirements cited in this policy or other relevant policies. Public spaces include but are not limited to: all common areas, lounges, meeting rooms, offices, classrooms, libraries and UB busses/shuttles.

Consequences for Students Who Do Not Comply With Public Health Directives

The university recognizes that faculty members, building managers and other university officials are responsible for effective management of the public space and classroom environment to promote conditions that will enhance student learning and promote community health. Fortunately, student non-compliance in public spaces and classrooms is rare and seldom leads to disciplinary actions. For this policy, the term “public health compliance” means “behavior that has widely been adopted by the University and in New York State public settings for prevention of COVID 19 infection spread,” including the expectations listed above.

Occasional mistakes and inadvertent non-compliance may happen from time to time. However, pursuant to UB’s Student Code of Conduct, when students refuse to comply with a reasonable request of a University official in campus public space, classroom or at other university functions, or when the health or safety of members of the campus community is endangered, the administration has approved the following:

  • If a student is not complying with public health directives they should be asked to comply and warned that continuing such behavior can result in disciplinary action. Many students may be unaware of the need to comply with public health directives; therefore, a private conversation with the student is often effective and preferable as an initial step.  
  • Should the non-compliant behavior continue, the University official is authorized to ask the student to leave the public space or classroom.
  • A student may be referred to Health Promotion’s online public health class to better educate them on the importance of these public health directives for the entire community. This offers the student an opportunity for an educational intervention that is non-disciplinary in nature. 
  • If a student refuses to leave the area after being instructed to do so, the student should be informed that this refusal is a separate violation subject to additional penalties.
  • If, in the University official’s best judgment, the student refuses to comply with public health directives, refuses to leave the classroom or public space, and/or the behavior creates an imminent public health or safety risk the university official should contact University Police (UPD) to assist in removal of the student for that day and UPD will make a referral for student disciplinary action as appropriate.

Updated May 2021

SUNY Policy on Sanctions

Effective 10/1/20, SUNY-wide standards for violations of COVID-19 safety protocols strengthen sanctions for reckless behavior and non-compliance. Students found in violation now face immediate academic and housing suspension, as well as possible dismissal, and student organizations in non-compliance face a permanent campus ban as a result of:

  • COVID-Positive Intentional Violations
  • Failure to Self-Isolate
  • Failure to Quarantine 
  • Prohibited On Campus Gathering (for Hosts and Attendees)
  • Prohibited Off Campus Gathering (for Hosts and Attendees)
  • Face Mask and Social Distancing Requirements
  • Contact Tracing
  • Failure to Comply with Campus Health Protocols (includes: surveillance testing and Daily Health Check participation)

View additional details and the full policy.

Confronting Student Noncompliance

There might be an occasion where it is appropriate for you to confront someone who is not following the Student Compliance Policy for COVID-19 Public Health Behavior Expectations. On such occasions, remember the following:

  • Be polite and compassionate. Most students will likely apologize and comply with your request.
  • Speak firmly and directly. A student may not realize that they are not following expectations.
  • Thank the student once they comply. We are stronger together and together, we are UB!

Some examples of confrontation interactions include:

  • "I noticed that you don't have a mask on today. To ensure the health and safety of everyone around, please put your mask on. If you don't wear a mask, I will have to ask you to leave. Thanks for cooperating!"
  • "The seat that you are sitting in is marked off to ensure that we are at least 6 feet away from one another in the classroom. Please move to a seat that is marked as available. I appreciate you complying."
  • "Could you please take a few steps back? UB is practicing social distancing, which includes staying 6 feet away from one another in public. Thank you!"

If an interaction becomes disruptive or threatening, contact University Police at (716) 645-2222.

Referring Student Public Health Behavior Concerns

Students who do not comply with the Student Compliance Policy for COVID-19 Public Health Behavior Expectations may be referred to Health Promotion to complete a Healthy Campus Public Health Class.  The class is an educational, non-disciplinary intervention.

The Healthy Campus Public Health Class is coordinated by Health Promotion.  Referred students will meet once virtually.  Examples of when a referral to the class may be appropriate include:

  • Repeated failure to comply with the Student Compliance Policy for COVID-19 Public Health Behavior Expectations.
  • Attendance in class or at an event when a student states they are sick upon questioning.
  • Refusal to comply due to lack of understanding.

When referring a student to the Healthy Campus Public Health Class, faculty and staff might say:

  • "This isn't the first time that I have noticed you not wearing your mask in public. The guidelines we are following at UB are meant to keep everyone healthy and safe. Because this is reoccurring behavior, I am referring you to Health Promotion to complete the Healthy Campus Public Health Class. Someone from Health Promotion will contact you with instructions. Thank you for understanding the importance of following our community expectations in the future."

Faculty and staff may refer a student to the Healthy Campus Public Health Class with an online referral form:

If you are referred to complete the Healthy Campus Public Health Class, it is a reasonable request and you are expected to comply.  As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, failure to comply with a reasonable request may result in student conduct action.

Need Help?

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University at Buffalo
114 Student Union, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260

Phone: (716) 645-2837; Fax: (716) 645-6234

University at Buffalo
9 Norton Hall, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260

Phone: (716) 645-6154; Fax: (716) 645-3376