Campus News

Town hall to address Health and Safety Guidelines for return to campus

Two members of the UB staff demonstrate current physical distancing and face covering best practices while walking around and working in an office space in Crofts Hall in July 2020.

Wearing masks while on campus is a key component of the Health and Safety guidelines. Photo: Douglas Levere

By SUE WUETCHER

Published July 31, 2020

Print

The guidelines that are now in place to protect the health and safety of the UB community as the campus prepares for the start of the fall semester will be the topic of a virtual town hall meeting next week for faculty and staff.

The program, which will begin at 3 p.m. on Aug. 5, brings together university medical and public health experts and professionals to provide an overview of the guidelines, and to respond to faculty and staff questions regarding the precautions and measures the university is putting in place to protect faculty, staff, students and visitors on campus.

Visit the Zoom meeting to join the conversation. Participants can submit their questions to panelists before or during the event, which will be recorded for viewing by faculty and staff who cannot attend the live event.

The town hall is being hosted by Provost A. Scott Weber and Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. President Satish K. Tripathi will offer opening remarks to begin the discussion.

Joining Weber and Cain as panelists will be several members of the committee that developed the guidelines: Thomas A. Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School; Jean Wactawski-Wende, SUNY Distinguished Professor and dean, School of Public Health and Health Professions; Joseph Raab, director, Environment, Health and Safety; and Susan Snyder, director, Student Health Services.

Also serving on the panel will be Graham Hammill, vice provost for educational affairs and dean of the Graduate School; Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources; and Mark Alnutt, director of athletics.

The event is presented by University Communications and University Events.

Students showcase currently best practices in social distancing around in a classroom with a professor in July 2020.

A faculty member teaches in a classroom reconfigured to promote physical distancing. Photo: Douglas Levere

The Health and Safety Guidelines — which are accessible on UB’s COVID-19 website — are based on the most recent available evidence on effective methods for preventing the spread of COVID-19. They were informed by guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State Department of Health and SUNY, as well as UB experts in infectious diseases, laboratory medicine and public health.

According to the guidelines, everyone on campus is required to wear face coverings at all times when in UB buildings, classrooms, labs and facilities, as well as in outdoor spaces, to further minimize the risk of infections as individuals travel from place to place. Faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times while on campus unless they are alone in a fully enclosed office or private vehicle. Students who reside on campus will not need to wear a face covering in their own room when alone or with their roommate.

The guidelines recommend that all UB students, faculty and staff returning to or arriving for the first time to campus after Aug. 1 undergo a precautionary seven-day quarantine prior to the start of the semester. Students, faculty, staff and visitors arriving in New York State from states that have significant community spread of COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days before coming onto campus, in accordance with New York State guidelines.

Once on campus this fall, everyone will be required to participate in a daily health screening via chatbot technology; follow-up viral testing will be required for individuals who report symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Course schedules have been adjusted to reduce density of students on campus and reduce congestion in the hallways, walkways and buildings. 

Everyone at the university — faculty, staff, students and visitors — will be required to follow the guidelines.