Published January 31, 2022
These first few weeks of the spring semester at UB are important during this latest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While cases of the highly transmissible omicron variant have receded in recent weeks, the virus is still prevalent throughout the region, says Thomas Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a member of UB’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee.
“The first several weeks coming back we need to be really careful,” Russo says. “This is not the moment to drop our guard or become lackadaisical.
“And as we know, the best way to protect yourself is getting that booster shot.”
But Russo is also optimistic about the semester ahead.
He anticipates that by late February or early March there will be a lower burden of disease across the region and, as long as no new troublesome variants emerge, campus life will start to look a little more normal throughout the semester.
“I’m hoping,” Russo says. “I think it’s going to be the closest to normal we’ve seen since this pandemic began.”
Layers of COVID protocols were implemented to help keep the campus safe amid omicron, as in-person classes resume this week. Here’s what you need to know:
UB now defines “fully vaccinated” as having received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and a booster, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a booster.
UB has designated space in residence halls where residential students will be required to isolate or quarantine.
Students living off campus are advised to isolate or quarantine at home. UB employees who test positive or are in close contact with someone who has tested positive should do the same.
Employees are required to provide vaccination information to be exempt from weekly surveillance testing. In anticipation of an eventual need to provide proof of a booster, as well, Human Resources has started to collect that information via an improved upload process
All SUNY schools, including UB, will continue to enforce masking on campus throughout the spring semester, separate from the general statewide mask mandate currently under judicial review.
UB strongly recommends wearing a tight-fitting, high-filtration mask on campus, such as a N95, KN95 or KF94 mask. If you choose a cloth mask, it’s recommended you wear a surgical mask underneath.