Campus News

UB Council briefed on fall semester plans

UB Council meeting on July 29, 2020.

President Satish K. Tripathi (middle row, right) briefs members of the UB Council on UB's plans for the fall return to campus. Photo: Sue Wuetcher


Published August 4, 2020

“We’re confident we’re making the very best decisions and taking appropriate precautions in this evolving situation to protect the health and safety of our campus and wider community. ”
A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs

UB’s first priority for returning to campus for the upcoming semester is to ensure a culture of health and safety for all members of the UB community, including visitors, President Satish K. Tripathi told the UB Council on Monday.

Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber briefed council members via Zoom on the university’s plan to return to campus for a semester that will feature a mix of in-person and remote learning.

UB’s plans align with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive orders, including Western New York’s progress in meeting regional benchmarks regarding the coronavirus, Tripathi said.

Weber outlined some specifics of UB’s plan:

  • Density will be reduced in residence halls, classrooms and offices to allow for physical distancing.
  • More time will be added between classes to decrease traffic in the hallways of academic buildings.
  • Dining services will be available, with additional takeout and delivery options.
  • Course delivery — whether in person, remote, or a hybrid of the two — has been determined by the academic units and departments based on course goals, curricular and clinical requirements, and in consultation with the course instructor.
  • UB will move to remote instruction after the Thanksgiving break for the rest of the semester, although some professional degree programs will maintain in-person instruction after Thanksgiving due to accreditation or licensure requirements.
  • Classes will be held on Labor Day to maximize class time and discourage travel over the holiday weekend. Weber noted the change in the calendar to incorporate Labor Day classes is supported by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

“These plans preserve our mission as a place-based, public research institution while providing us the needed flexibility to continuing caring for our campus community and providing the best possible educational experience for our students,” he said.

He added that the plans are based on the recommendations developed through a framework of university-wide committees composed of more than 180 faculty, staff, students and senior administrators.

Weber told council members that UB has instituted numerous health and safety guidelines, the top priority of which is “to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

The guidelines are based on evidence-based methods recommended by the most recent scientific research and CDC guidance for higher education institutions, he explained, were developed by a committee led by Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Committee members included campus medical, infectious disease, laboratory medicine, public health, and facilities and operations experts.

Under the guidelines, UB is recommending that all faculty, staff and students undergo a precautionary seven-day quarantine before returning to campus for the fall semester, and those who are traveling to UB from areas that are experiencing significant community spread to adhere to New York State’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.

UB will require face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, and members of the UB community will be asked to undertake a daily health screening using chatbot technology, followed by targeted viral testing of those who have COVID-19 symptoms or have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

All individuals who have tested positive will be asked to self-isolate. Students residing on campus will be isolated in a designed space on campus and provided with their daily needs, including meals and medication. Employees and students living off campus will isolate in their own residence.

Weber said UB is continuing to follow CDC requirements for hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and operations; hand hygiene stations also will be set up across the university.

UB’s health and safety guidelines will be updated regularly, he said, as new guidance is provided and new knowledge emerges from the scientific community.

“We’re confident we’re making the very best decisions and taking appropriate precautions in this evolving situation to protect the health and safety of our campus and wider community,” he said.

In other business, council members unanimously approved a resolution renaming Putnam Way in honor of Mary Talbert, a founder of the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and to remove Peter B. Porter’s name from the Porter Quadrangle residence hall in the Ellicott Complex.

UB is also removing the name of Millard Fillmore from the Millard Fillmore Academic Center, which is part of the Ellicott Complex and houses academic departments, student residences and other services. It will be known as Academic Center until a new name is determined.

The MFAC name change was approved by UB’s Campus Planning Committee and did not require council approval according to UB policy. Read the UBNow story.