Beginning Aug. 22, thousands of students from around the world will flock to Buffalo for the start of the fall 2020 semester.
Under normal circumstances, students would have dozens of questions about what campus will look like in the new year. But these aren’t normal circumstances; if anything, COVID-19 has left students with more questions than at any time before.
These are the questions students have asked The Spectrum in the last few weeks:
Q: What must students do prior to coming to campus?
UB is recommending that students undergo a precautionary seven-day quarantine prior to returning to campus. Students from restricted states (33 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Students will be required to take online mandatory health screenings that will ask about COVID-19 symptoms and prior positive tests. If a student reports having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they will be required to go off-campus for testing.
Q: What is move-in going to look like?
New international students will move in from Saturday, Aug. 22 to Sunday, Aug. 23. New domestic students will move in from Monday, Aug. 24 to Thursday, Aug. 27. Returning students will move in from Friday, Aug. 28 to Sunday, Aug. 30.
Students will be asked to select a three-hour time slot to move in; they may only move in during this time. Students can have up to two “helpers” during the move-in process.
Q: When does the semester begin? When does it end?
Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 31. Classes will be held on Labor Day. In-person instruction concludes prior to Thanksgiving, on Tuesday, Nov. 24. The final day of classes will be Friday, Dec. 11. Final exams will be administered the following week.
Q: What is the policy regarding masks on campus?
Students must wear face masks at all times on-campus, in both indoor and outdoor settings. The only exception to this is when students are in their housing unit. UB will provide one reusable face covering to all individuals.
Q: Which Campus Dining locations will be closed?
A number of campus eateries will be temporarily closed next semester, including Seasons (CFA), Baldy Walkway Café, Whispers at Capen, Bert’s and NY Deli and Diner (Talbert), Mrs. Rich’s (NSC), The Bowl (Ellicott) and the Apothecary Café and Whispers at Abbott on South Campus.
Q: Will dining centers (C3, Governors, etc.) reopen?
C3 will be open nightly for dinner, beginning at 4:30 p.m., and will use a zone and timed reservation system through the GET App. Students will have 45 minutes to dine in one of four zones at C3. Each zone has 50 socially-distanced seats that will be cleaned and disinfected between groups.
The Goodyear and Governors Dining Centers will serve as retail operations that offer brunch, lunch and dinner.
Q: Will dining locations accept touchless payment?
Yes. Students can still use their UB Card to deduct meals, dining points and campus cash from their accounts, but they are encouraged to download the GET App for contactless payment.
Q: Where can students meet up with friends on-campus?
UB will permit smaller gatherings of up to 50 people. Students must wear masks and maintain six feet of distance from others. Students are encouraged to meet outdoors, if possible. UB has not yet announced where and when specifically students can socialize.
Q: Will recreation centers (i.e. Alumni Arena) reopen?
Alumni Arena and Clark Hall will reopen on Monday, Aug. 31, in accordance with state guidelines. UB will continue to offer CPR training courses, but with changes.
Q: Will students be allowed to gather on campus?
Events and gatherings will be permitted under a strict set of rules: low-risk indoor events can be held to 25% capacity, low-risk outdoor events can be held to 33% capacity and social gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed. High-risk events, like indoor concerts and productions, are cancelled.
Q: Will sporting events take place on campus?
UB is a member of the Mid-American Conference, which has postponed all fall sports until Sept. 3. Football is still scheduled to take place during the fall semester, but some of UB’s non-conference opponents — including Ohio State and St. Francis (PA) — have cancelled their games with the Bulls.
Q: Will students be permitted to attend sporting events?
On July 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that “no fans” can attend sporting events in the fall, so students will not be permitted to attend sporting events on campus.
Q: Will libraries be open?
As of now, yes. Beginning Aug. 17, the Lockwood Memorial Library, Oscar A. Silverman Library and Abbott Library will all be open seven days a week. The Silverman Library, which has been open for 24 hours in the past, will close at 10:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
Q: Will the UB Stampede and shuttle buses be operational?
The UB Stampede and shuttle buses will be operational. Students must wear masks and enter the Stampede from the rear of the vehicle. Passengers will no longer need to swipe their UB Card to ride. Some buses may limit the number of riders.
Q: Will students be able to purchase parking permits?
Parking permits will only be issued by mail for the 2020-21 school year. Students may apply for no additional cost on the UB Parking and Transportation website.
Q: Will study abroad programs continue during the pandemic?
No. All study abroad programs have been cancelled for the summer and fall by UB and SUNY.
Q: Will the UB Bookstore be open?
The bookstore on north campus is closed until further notice, but students can still purchase items online.
Q: Will on-campus WiFi be able to support students?
In April, UBIT expanded WiFi access into the Furnas Hall, Parker Hall and Greiner Hall parking lots on north campus. This expansion covered 651 parking spots. UB will continue to offer students “fast and secure” WiFi on-campus.
Q: Will students be allowed to host guests in on-campus housing?
Students living on-campus will not be permitted to host guests in their rooms, according to the updated 2020-21 housing agreement. Under the revised guest policy, “students may only enter the residence hall or apartment where they reside.” In addition, students may not host anyone in their room, including residents of the same floor or building.
Q: Will students receive a housing refund if the semester is cut short?
In the event that housing is terminated because of public health concerns, Campus Living will offer reimbursements according to the reimbursement schedule. A full breakdown of reimbursements by date and location can be found here.
Q: Will the package centers open?
Yes. Mail will be delivered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday until further notice. Students will also receive their on-campus mailing addresses in the near future.
Q: Where do students go to get tested for COVID-19?
If students report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive, they will be directed to an off-campus testing site for viral testing. UB will not be conducting testing on-campus.
There are a number of COVID-19 testing sites near north campus, at WellNow Urgent Care, the Amherst Highway Garage, WNY Immediate Care and KSL Diagnostics.
Q: What should students do if they test positive for the virus?
Students will “be immediately sent home or to a designated quarantine or isolation location.” UB will then notify the Erie County Health Department, which will conduct contact tracing procedures.
Students may be placed in “Required, Mandatory Isolation on campus.” These rooms have a private bath and have been designated for students who test positive for COVID-19.
Q: What happens if students or faculty do not comply with campus policies?
Students are asked to take a pledge to abide by these policies. If students fail to comply with these rules, “there will be procedures in place to manage those situations,” according to UB. The school has yet to say what those consequences are.
Q: Will students be permitted to choose an S/U grading option?
For the spring semester, students were able to request an S/U grade instead of a letter grade through the end of finals week. However, for the fall, grading policies will return to normal: students can choose to use S/U grading by the end of the drop/add period, but only for classes not required for their major (including prerequisites) or general education requirements.
This list will be updated.
Justin Weiss is the senior features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Justin Weiss is The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.