Campus News

UB to lift mask mandate March 5

 maskless students outside Greiner hall.

Effective March 5, UB students, faculty, staff and visitors will no longer be required to wear masks in most settings on campus.

By JAY REY

Published March 2, 2022

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Students, employees and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — will no longer be required to wear masks in most settings at UB, university officials announced today.

One stipulation is that masks continue to be mandatory for everyone while aboard UB buses and shuttles, as well as those in School of Dental Medicine facilities, and clinical health care settings on campus. That includes on-campus testing sites at UB.

Anyone who wishes to continue wearing a mask in a classroom, office or elsewhere on campus is welcome to do so. UB reminds the community to be respectful of those who still want to wear a mask, which could be for any number of reasons.

In fact, UB recommends that individuals still consider wearing a mask while indoors on campus if they are:

  • Unvaccinated.
  • Immunocompromised.
  • Eligible for a booster but have not yet received one and are either older than 50, have a significant health condition or are pregnant.
  • Live with someone from any of these groups.

Relaxing the indoor mask policy at UB follows a recent change in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a decision by Gov. Kathy Hochul to lift the mandate for K-12 schools.

The diligence of the UB community following health and safety protocols throughout the pandemic also made lifting the mask mandate possible at this time, noted 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.

As of March 1, 98% of UB students had been vaccinated for COVID-19, while 95% had received a booster shot.

“The combination of falling cases in Erie County and Western New York, together with the high vaccination rate among students, staff and faculty — and regular surveillance testing for the unvaccinated and those eligible for a booster but who have not received one — makes our campus one of the safest places in Western New York,” Russo said.

The welcome news was announced today in an email to the campus community from Provost A. Scott Weber and Allison Brashear, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. Brian F. Hamluk, vice president for student life, announced the news to UB’s student body.

“We are pleased to announce that starting Saturday, March 5, the University at Buffalo will make masks optional on its campuses,” Weber and Brashear wrote in a joint statement.

“With rapidly declining case numbers in Erie County and a strong vaccination rate at UB, we welcome this emerging return to normal,” they said in the statement.

UB will continue to monitor the COVID situation in consultation with local health officials. While masking is no longer required at large gatherings and public events at UB, the Health and Safety Committee is still reviewing whether to require proof of vaccination.

The campus community should regularly check UB’s health and safety guidelines for any further changes.

Meanwhile, mandatory weekly testing will continue for faculty, staff and students who are on campus regularly and not up to date with their vaccinations. Mandatory testing also applies to those with an approved medical or religious exemption.

“We are gratified to see our faculty, students and staff bringing renewed activity and energy to UB’s campus spaces, a trend made possible in large part by the commitment to safety shown by our community,” Weber and Brashear said in the joint statement.

“To continue this forward momentum, we urge everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, and to upload that information as soon as possible — students, using Health Services’ patient portal; employees, using Human Resources’ web form.”