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UB announces plans for fall semester; to offer mix of in-person & online instruction

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Mon, Jun 15th 2020 11:50 am

Goal is protecting health & safety of campus community

By the University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo is planning to return to campus this fall, offering educational and research programs under a “modified in-person” format.

The plan, which centers on a mix of in-person instruction and online courses, will allow UB to deliver an excellent and impactful university experience while protecting the health and safety of the campus community during the COVID-19 pandemic. UB is the largest institution in the State University of New York system and one of only two SUNY schools to be a member of the Association of American Universities, composed of the nation’s leading research universities.

UB’s plans for the fall were announced Monday in a universitywide email from UB President Satish K. Tripathi and UB Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber.

“This decision will preserve our mission as a place-based, public research institution, while providing us needed flexibility to continue caring for our campus community and providing the best possible educational experience for our students,” Tripathi and Weber wrote.

All determinations about the fall semester and a phased return of employees will align with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s guidelines for reopening the state, including Western New York’s progress pursuant to the state’s four-phased regional benchmarks. 

UB leaders will provide additional details to students, faculty, staff and members of the community as plans for the fall semester are finalized and health guidelines and protocols are implemented in response to the pandemic. Several university committees formed by Tripathi and composed of over 180 faculty, staff, students and senior administrators are continually monitoring the situation to determine how the university will continue to deliver excellent educational and research programs while protecting the health and safety of the campus community.

The following are additional details of the plan:

√ Courses

  • Course format (in-person, hybrid in-person/online, or fully remote) will be based on course goals and curricular/clinical requirements. 
  • In-person, seated classroom instruction will be designed to provide 6 feet of physical distancing. Face coverings will be required.
  • Students will receive a communication this summer confirming the instructional format of their classes.
  • Some professional programs will follow their regular academic calendars. 

√ Academic calendar

  • Classes will start Aug. 31; the semester will conclude Dec. 21 
  • UB is considering holding classes on Labor Day.
  • All instruction will shift to distance learning after fall recess, which starts Nov. 25.  The final three weeks of the semester will be conducted remotely.
  • The Health Sciences schools’ academic calendars will remain as originally scheduled due to program requirements.

√ Campus health and safety

  • UB will follow all public health guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and using face coverings.
  • There will be a reduction in density in classrooms, student housing, and offices across campus.
  • The university will adhere to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as New York State, related to cleaning, providing protective barriers, controlling foot traffic flows, and using elevators and stairwells.
  • Face coverings will be provided for faculty, staff and students.

√ Student life

  • Residence halls will be open, with reduced occupancy to enable physical distancing. 
  • Dining services will be available, with additional takeout and delivery options.
  • Libraries will be open and services will be available remotely and in-person.

√ Screening, testing and tracing

  • UB’s COVID-19 planning structure includes a screening, testing and contact tracing protocol committee, chaired by Dr. Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

UB’s protocol for the fall semester will be built on evidence-based medicine and include screening, contact tracing, education and appropriate testing for faculty, staff and students.

While essential workers and a small percentage of UB’s student population have remained on campus since March, additional employees began returning to campus this month, and UB has begun the process of reopening some research facilities.

Health and safety protocols and general return-to-campus information for UB students and employees is available on two new university websites. 

UB will proactively communicate new information regarding the pandemic, including health and safety guidelines, through multiple information channels including a weekly email bulletin and the university’s COVID-19 website and social media platforms.

“We would like to thank the many faculty, staff and students who have contributed so significantly to the university’s planning efforts to ensure that we continue to advance our mission during these challenging times,” Tripathi and Weber said. “We would also like to acknowledge the patience and understanding of our campus community as we continue to negotiate this evolving situation. Throughout, we are here to support you in your academic, research, scholarly and professional endeavors.”

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