By the University at Buffalo
It’s not likely we’ll be completely out of the woods with COVID-19 when the fall 2021 semester rolls around, but the University at Buffalo’s three campuses will look more like they once did — most notably, with students and faculty in classrooms.
In advance of the fall 2021 course schedule being released on Monday, students received an email Thursday (March 25) providing them with important information on registering for courses. Unlike this past academic year, the vast majority of courses in the fall will have an in-person component, reflecting a strong desire among UB faculty to return to campus.
It’s important to note that “in-person” means there is some element of classroom-based instruction, but a course can be hybrid, HyFlex or in-person and be classified as an in-person course. Still, the fact that so many courses will have an in-person component will come as a huge sigh of relief to Zoom-fatigued faculty and students.
“We are very optimistic about the university’s ability to safely deliver the majority of courses in person this fall, given the tremendous progress being made against COVID-19,” says Graham Hammill, vice provost for academic affairs.
“At the same time, we understand the need to be flexible, and we are planning for multiple scenarios as a result. The health and safety of our campus community will take precedence in any plans that are implemented for the fall,” Hammill added.
Beginning Monday, students can view their personal enrollment appointment information in the HUB Student Center. Appointments for undergraduate students will begin in April.
Students will also be able to see the time the course is offered, the intended modality of instruction and, for in-person courses, the campus where the class will be offered. Classrooms will be assigned in July.
UB’s goal is to publish the final fall schedule by mid-summer.
More detailed plans on the return to in-person courses will be communicated to the campus community once they are finalized.
Each academic department is responsible for determining the mode of instruction for a course – in person, hybrid or remote – based on public health guidelines related to occupancy and physical distancing, as well as curricular requirements and learning outcomes.
All decisions about class modality will be made in coordination with UB leadership and the local and state health departments.
UB officials remain optimistic about the university’s ability to safely deliver many fall courses with an in-person component due to UB’s very low on-campus positivity rate, which has been less than 1% throughout the spring semester.
In addition, declines in the spread of the virus across the state over the past few months, combined with the increasing availability of vaccines in the coming weeks and months, are cause for optimism heading into the fall.
Another factor will be compliance with requirements that may be in place this fall, including mask wearing, physical distancing and regular COVID-19 testing. UB officials note that students have done a tremendous job in adhering to these public health measures during the current academic year.
The first day of classes for the fall 2021 semester is Aug. 30.