Campus News

UB updates COVID-19 workplace guidelines for employees

UB Faculty and staff working in a lab without face masks or distancing.

UB employees will again be able to work without having to wear face masks as long as they're vaccinated, according to new state guidelines. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published June 21, 2021

Michael Cain, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
“These updated protocols should make it easier for UB employees to return to campus and prepare for students coming back in the fall. ”
Michael E. Cain, dean
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Updated June 23, 2021

UB employees who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks or stay physically distanced while indoors on campus.

Employees who are not vaccinated are still expected to wear masks and stay physically distanced, but UB will not require proof of vaccination. Employees, instead, will be on an honor system and subject to periodic surveillance testing if they’re not vaccinated.

Those are some of the updated guidelines issued by the state Department of Health for state agencies, including UB, as pandemic rules continue to be relaxed amid falling COVID rates.

All students are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing in classrooms and class-based lab settings during the summer semester, according to guidance provided by SUNY. Vaccinated students do not need to wear masks or practice physical distancing in other indoor settings or outdoors. Unvaccinated students are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing in all indoor and outdoor settings.

Updated guidance from SUNY on the masking requirement for students is expected soon.

“I fully support relaxing mask-wearing and physical distancing on campus for vaccinated individuals, just as it is being done elsewhere throughout the general public,” said Michael E. Cain, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “These updated protocols should make it easier for UB employees to return to campus and prepare for students coming back in the fall.”

Earlier this month, UB announced that all employees on campus during the summer must continue to wear masks and stay physically distanced while indoors, unless they are alone in an enclosed office space.

Now, SUNY and the governor’s office have provided new guidance that takes effect immediately and includes updated rules for:

Physical distancing. Fully vaccinated employees do not need to remain physically distanced on campus.

Those who are not vaccinated should maintain 6 feet of distance or, in lieu of 6 feet, use an appropriate physical barrier.

Masking. Fully vaccinated employees no longer need to wear masks.

Those who are not vaccinated may remove masks indoors while physically distanced, seated, at their workstations or while eating and drinking. They do not need to wear a mask outdoors on campus unless they are in a gathering or crowded event where they are unable to maintain that 6 feet.

UB’s Health Guidelines Committee, led by Cain, will be updating guidance for organized events and informal social gatherings on campus.

“I believe what’s expected of us is that if you are not vaccinated you should be masked and socially distanced when you come into work,” said Mark Coldren, associate vice president for the Office of Human Resources.

“During the summer, campus units should work with their employees to make sure they understand the new guidelines and that workspaces are adjusted accordingly,” he said.

Coldren noted that in some cases, vaccinated employees will choose to continue to wear masks for their own comfort or personal medical reasons.

Proof of vaccination. Proof of vaccination is not required from UB employees.

However, employees will be required to affirm that they have read, understood and will abide by the guidelines. A document will be forthcoming, which all UB employees will be expected to sign and submit to Human Resources.

Employees are still invited to update their vaccination information to Human Resources.

“We’re going to continue to collect that information for the purpose of exempting people from surveillance testing,” Coldren said.

As of last week, proof of vaccination was collected from roughly 2,500 employees, Coldren said. He estimates well over 80% of faculty and staff are vaccinated based on those who have been coming to campus regularly and self-reported their status through Daily Health Check.

Daily health screening: Regardless of an employee’s vaccination status, the university still will continue to screen individuals for COVID symptoms, recent close contacts and positive COVID test results through use of the UB Daily Health Check upon arrival to campus for work.

Ventilation and air filtration: Airflow should be increased and ventilation improved for indoor settings where possible. Environmental health and safety experts at UB continue to evaluate and upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as they have done throughout the pandemic.

More information on COVID-19 protocols at UB can be found on UB's COVID-19 planning and response page.


I see no reference to busing. I feel concerned that this has not been addressed. In a closed vehicle, relaxing these standards leaves open the possibility of spreading illness. We have no way of being assured riders are vaccinated, especially with new strains developing.

Michael Snyder

Will students be required to wear masks in the fall semester?

Stephen Fitzmaurice

What about the traveling restrictions status for UB employees for national conferences and work-related travel? Do we still need to complete departmental forms for pre-approval to travel?

Christine Roach

Does this apply to those in the dental school as well?

Diane Elston