By the University at Buffalo
After the Thanksgiving break (Nov. 25-29), the University at Buffalo will transition to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester.
In consultation with the Erie County Department of Health, SUNY and the New York State Department of Health, UB intends to maintain in-person instruction as scheduled. This will give the university time to complete SUNY-mandated pre-break testing of thousands of students before they leave for the break.
“As we prepare to wind down in-person instruction on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in accordance with our fall 2020 academic semester calendar, it is absolutely critical that our students are tested before leaving for the Thanksgiving break,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said in a message to the UB community.
Guidance previously issued by the state required SUNY colleges and universities to immediately transition to remote learning when they hit the 100-case threshold for on-campus coronavirus cases, which UB is projected to do this week.
However, officials decided a sudden shift in university operations would disrupt plans to test more than 5,000 on-campus students this week, causing many of them to leave the university before being tested.
More than 11,500 UB students, faculty and staff have completed their required testing since Nov. 9. UB’s low positivity rate – 0.44% compared to nearly 6% in Erie County over a rolling seven-day average – was another major factor in deciding the university could safely continue campus operations until Nov. 24, the last day of in-person instruction before UB transitions to remote learning on Nov. 30.
As the number of COVID-19 cases rises across the country and in our region, to prevent further spread of the virus, in-person student programs and activities will be suspended and campus dining and food service operations will offer takeout service only beginning Thursday, Nov. 19. Athletics activities will continue as scheduled, strictly following NCAA, Mid-American Conference and UB health guidelines.
Additional information is available on UB’s COVID-19 website.
UB’s rigorous surveillance testing program, strict on-campus health guidelines and a significant reduction in density within classrooms and residence halls have helped the university prevent significant outbreaks for most of the fall semester.
The uptick in positive cases at UB over the past week mirrors the widespread increase seen across Erie County, where UB’s three campuses are located. According to university data, there isn’t a discernable hotspot or pattern to the increase in on-campus cases.
After the break, UB transitions to fully remote instruction, with the exception of students who need to complete in-person clinical, laboratory or other activities required to obtain or maintain professional licensure, or research that must be conducted in person. The fall semester concludes Dec. 21.