UB has spent $12.4 million on COVID-19-related expenses since the start of the pandemic, according to university spokesperson John DellaContrada. These expenses include testing, supplies and the school’s transition to online learning.
The university projects that COVID-19 surveillance testing will ultimately cost $4.1 million by the end of the year. SUNY mandates that all campuses administer weekly surveillance tests to on-campus students, faculty and staff. UB uses the Clarifi COVID-19 test developed by Quadrant Biosciences and SUNY Upstate Medical University.
The university projects it will spend $4 million on costs associated with increased emergency personnel, such as IT staff, and projected salary adjustments “directly related to moving to an online teaching modality,” DellaContrada wrote in an email.
Hardware and software purchases to support online learning make up $2.5 million of total spending. DellaContrda says the school has purchased audio-visual equipment, services such as Zoom to support remote classes and exam proctoring software.
UB has also purchased $1.8 million worth of personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, air purifying equipment and other supplies to slow the spread of the virus on campus.
Taken together, these costs total $12.4 million, at a time when UB is already facing decreasing revenues and “exponential” deferred maintenance needs.
After the university was shut down due to COVID-19 in March 2020, UB was forced to administer $27.5 million in student refunds for dorms, apartments, dining and fees, according to the university’s 2020-21 budget book.
UB received $24 million in federal aid from the CARES Act, signed into law last March. Half of that aid, or $12 million, “[was] designated by law as aid for students impacted by COVID-19,” according to the budget book. The remaining $12 million was claimed by the university to help offset some of the costs associated with loss of revenue and pandemic spending.
Brendan Kelly is the assistant news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org