UB releases safety protocols prior to fall semester

University will adhere to reduced capacity, face coverings and daily screenings

Brendan Keany
July 15, 2020 - 11:51 am

    BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Wednesday morning, University at Buffalo officials gathered at the Jacobs School of Medicine to announce return to school protocols for the upcoming semester, as students and staff plan on returning to campus in late August.

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    "We're asking all members of the UB community to adhere to these guidelines to reduce the spread of coronavirus and help keep everyone as healthy as possible, which will ensure a safe and productive semester for all," said Michael Cain, who serves as the vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine. 

    Under the plan, the university will significantly reduce the density of people on campus by offering both remote and in-person instruction, as classrooms will only have roughly 25% occupancy. Residence halls will also have reduced capacity.

    All students, faculty and staff arriving to campus in August will be asked to undergo a precautionary seven-day quarantine prior to the start of the semester. Those who are traveling from areas of higher infection rates will be required to quarantine for 14 days before coming on to campus.

    Face coverings and masks will be required both indoors and outdoors on campus. The exception to the mask rule only applies when students who live on campus are inside their own room.

    Within dining halls, everyone will be required to wear face coverings until they're seated and at least six feet away from another individual, and the university is mandating that masks be worn when people are not eating or drinking inside a dining area, and they must be worn upon entry and exit of those dining areas.

    Everyone will be provided reusable face coverings, and they will also be available for purchase on campus.

    UB will implement a process of daily screenings of all students, faculty and staff, using chatbot technology, followed by targeted testing of those who are exhibiting symptoms or who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Individuals who test positive will be required to undergo isolation for 10 days.

    These guidelines are also accessible at https://www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus/health-and-safety/health-safety-guidelines.html

    "One of the challenges with this pandemic has been asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals are the silent spreaders of this disease," said Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious diseases. "The one thing that can be effective in stopping that mode of spread is if everyone wears a mask. You can be infected an not know it; someone in the audience right now can be infected, but by wearing a facemask, you're protecting others.

    "That's why I think this is such a critical aspect of our program, and I am confident that we'll actually be able to effectively execute this plan and keep our cases of the new coronavirus infection down both at the University at Buffalo and in our community here in Western New York."

    Listen to the full press conference below:

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