Please note that reopening plans are subject to change based on evolving health and safety information, guidance, and/or direction from the State of New York and the Governor’s Office.
In accordance with a directive from SUNY, throughout the spring 2021 Buffalo State College will conduct weekly COVID-19 testing of employees who are required to report in person to campus to complete some or all of their work obligation in a particular week. If an employee does not report to campus in a given week, they are not required to participate in testing that week.
Because of the critical need to quickly identify and control the spread of the COVID-19 infection, SUNY established agreements with UUP, CSEA, NYSCOPBA, PBANYS, and PEF to conduct mandatory testing of represented employees. Management Confidential (M/C), Research Foundation, and Buffalo State College Foundation employees are also included in the mandatory testing.
To detect COVID-19 cases and identify asymptomatic carriers, Buffalo State has implemented surveillance testing via self-administered saliva tests. Pool testing—combining samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples—will be used to quickly identify and address potential outbreaks within our campus population.
Times: 9:00–11:30 a.m., 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Location: Sports Arena
Early Morning Testing Hours
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00– 9:00 a.m.
Evening Testing Hours
Wednesdays, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
*Employees may select any day/time within the schedule to be tested each week.
On an employee’s planned testing dates, if they answer “yes” to any of the health screening questions on the Daily Health Screening Questionnaire—indicating they may have been exposed to COVID-19—they are instructed not to report to work or for testing.
Employees who are symptomatic will be asked to coordinate testing with their primary health care providers, and/or the local department of health. Should the employee be unable to do the college has identified Community Health Center as a vendor to conduct COVID-19 testing.
All campus visitors will be asked to register and conduct a self-health assessment upon entry to campus properties. (Registration and self-health assessment templates/links will be included in the Campus Events and Visitors Protocol, which is being developed.) Any visitors exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to leave campus immediately and report the information to the host department. If visitors do not have a host department, they should report information to the Weigel Health Center.
Buffalo State requires that all visitors adhere to Federal, state, and local governing guidance on appropriate health and safety protocols. These authorities are likely to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In addition to social distancing, face masks are required when maintaining social distancing of six feet is not feasible. Buffalo State will require all event hosts and campus visitors to adhere to the regulations put forth in the Buffalo State Campus Events and Visitors Protocol, currently being developed.
If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may need to be implemented again.
Daily monitoring will provide us with surveillance about early warning signs. Keeping a log of students who answer yes to the screening questionnaire or test positive will allow us to keep track of occurrences on campus. We will keep those who are symptomatic in quarantine; if they test positive, they will be isolated.
Triggers for a return to remote operations could include, but are not limited to:
Tracers will follow guidance and directives from the campus designated liaison, the assistant vice president for Weigel Wellness Center, in consultation with SUNY and the local Department of Health. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, tracers will share the appropriate information with the designated campus liaison and the Human Resources Management (HRM) Department. HRM will notify SUNY and report the information to Facilities Management for cleaning protocols to be initiated. The close contact log will be reviewed for appropriate information.
We have identified five employees who will enroll in the John Hopkins Tracing Program. Additional employees will be identified to complete the training, in the event additional tracers are needed to fill in during vacations or illness, or to accommodate changes in operational needs.
The plan is to have at least seven certified contact tracers who are employees of our campus. We will work closely with our county and state health departments and follow the guidelines set by them. Tracers will also monitor the online questionnaire response forms for completion and follow-up with people who test positive for COVID-19.
Staff who have been instructed to return to the workplace must conduct symptom monitoring. Employees will self-evaluate for COVID-19-related symptoms prior to reporting to work. If any symptoms are present, if the employee has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, or if the employee has received information that they may have been exposed, then the employee should seek medical advice and not report to work.
Employees must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 to be eligible to report to work. Each employee will complete a daily COVID-19 health screening questionnaire in an online or paper form. The employee submits the questionnaire to their supervisor at the end of each week.
Any employee who is sick will be instructed to stay home and charge the appropriate leave accruals.
COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include muscle aches and pains, fatigue, decrease in appetite, or loss of taste or smell. The employee should take their temperature without taking any fever reducing medications (i.e. Tylenol or acetaminophen), consistent with CDC guidelines. If the employee’s temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or if they have these symptoms the employee will contact their supervisor and Human Resource Management immediately. Human Resources will review the current medical state, ask questions pertaining to last day on campus, close contacts, and work location. Documentation from the employee’s medical provider will be required.
Human Resources will report information to Facilities Management for cleaning protocols to be initiated. Human Resources will also report the case to the SUNY Portal and Department of Health if applicable.
It is recommended employees will coordinate testing with their primary health care provider, and/or local department of health for those that are symptomatic.
If the employee is unable to test with their primary health care provider, and/or local department of health, the college has identified the Community Health Center as a vendor to conduct COVID-19 testing.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must contact their supervisor and Human Resource Management. Human Resource management will initiate contact be made by an appropriate campus tracer. Tracers will follow guidance and directives from the campus designated liaison, the Assistant Vice President for Weigel Wellness Center, in consultation with SUNY and the local Department of Health on next steps. The HR department will notify SUNY and report the information to facilities management for cleaning protocols to be initiated. The close contact log will be reviewed for appropriate information.
A positive case will be reported to the College’s reporting dashboard. The dashboard would note that the college partners with the Erie County Department of Health on contact tracing efforts and that any close contacts would be notified directly as appropriate.
Cleaning protocols have been revised with special attention given to high-touch surfaces. The campus has procured EPA-approved hospital grade disinfectant products that are effective on SARS-COV-2. Academic departments have been supplied with these hospital-grade products. All cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been modeled after current CDC guidelines and are reviewed for updated.
The college has initiated the “blue tape” system on office doors to monitor access and cleaning/disinfecting needs. Buffalo State has procured touchless hand sanitizer dispensers along with alcohol-based sanitizer, and is strategically placing and refilling hand sanitizer stations on campus.
Custodial Services will respond to campus cleaning needs upon determination of classroom and facility usage for the spring semester; and will re-assign custodial staff depend upon classroom, residence hall and facility usage. Staff sign in/sign out reporting procedures have been altered to provide social distancing. All staff have been provided gloves and reusable masks.
Custodial Services continues to “deep-clean” all academic and residential facilities in preparation for the repopulation of the campus.
Coordinated communications will be essential to keeping our community informed and safe. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, communications have been a central component of Buffalo State College’s incident management structure and response.
Considerations for audiences and modalities are reviewed ahead of all announcements and communications. The college utilizes e-mail, multiple social media platforms (institutional and department-level accounts), and the web to ensure current students (resident and commuter student populations), families, prospective students, faculty, staff, the local community, and alumni are informed of important decisions and announcements by the college. Additionally, the college’s Marketing and Communications Office has centralized all COVID-19 related communications, FAQs, resources, and protocols online at coronavirus.buffalostate.edu/.
Central to the college’s efforts toward containment, protocols, and safety measures will be communicating a sense of shared responsibility to the campus community. In her message to faculty, staff, and students on June 18, President Conway-Turner stated, “New York State has become the nation’s leader in reducing the infection rate of COVID-19. For that progress to continue as we return to campus this spring, we must recognize that preserving our health and safety will be a collective effort. Compliance with the face covering requirement and physical distancing will maximize safety for all.” A similar message was shared on social media. It will be imperative to continue communicating to students, faculty, and staff that their actions can and will impact the rest of the campus community.
Communication with students will include a variety of email, web page, and social media messages to assist them in preparing for campus operations and their responsibilities as the campus reopens. New students will receive health information during Orientation that reinforces face covering requirements (on campus and in residence halls), reinforces the requirement to keep physical distance between themselves and others, and provides information about why it is important to get an annual influenza vaccine. Post orientation, new and returning students will be directed to websites for updates and important information regarding their roles in keeping the campus safe and the expectations related to daily symptom reporting, what to do if they become symptomatic, and the resources available to support them.
Buffalo State will disseminate a clear, plain language notice on “What Students Should Know” to all students based on a template provided by SUNY System Administration. This notice will provide information about testing requirements, mandatory quarantine and isolation, uniform compliance, and the percentage of courses which will be offered in-person and virtual, so they can make informed decisions about their educational experience.
Buffalo State will provide students with a “What You Need To Know” document that is linked through the student’s registration system portal. Students will electronically sign off that they had read the document.
The document will include:
In addition to this document, residential students will be provided an updated housing license agreement that includes:
Buffalo State will continue to report daily COVID-related information to the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker in accordance with guidelines set forth by SUNY. Buffalo State will keep the data in its campus dashboard consistent with the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker at all times.
The dashboard, which is updated daily, offers a snapshot of the number of known positive test results across the on-campus population: 1) Resident Students; 2) Commuter Students who attend at least one in-person class or utilize campus facilities; and 3) Faculty/Staff who report to campus. Remote-only cases among commuter students with 100-percent online schedules and faculty/staff with 100-percent remote-work arrangements will also be tracked. In compliance with the New York State Department of Health’s Supplemental Guidance For Covid-19 Containment At Higher Education Institutions During The Public Health Emergency (PDF, 160 KB), the college’s dashboard also displays the number of on-campus cases over set two-week measurement periods. If the campus would reach 100 on-campus cases within a set measurement period, the college would shift to remote instruction for 14 days and limit in-person activity on campus. The dashboard notes that the college partners with the Erie County Department of Health on contact tracing efforts and that any close contacts would be notified directly as appropriate. Additionally the dashboard links to the SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker, the Erie County COVID-19 Case Mapping Tool, and the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker.
Consistent with the Chancellor’s Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations, Buffalo State will report to SUNY System Administration, as a continuation of fall semester reporting procedures, periodic statistical summaries of the distribution of instructional modalities among face-to-face, hybrid and remote methods as adjustments are made during the semester.
The division of Student Affairs has a robust plan to communicate health and safety protocols in preparation for phased move-in to the residence halls in January, and ongoing messaging during the semester. Modalities will include social media, posters/signage, virtual information sessions, and health ambassadors who will hand out educational cards to students about compliance with face masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene.
As part of the college’s phased Return to Work plan, faculty and staff receive training and information related to preventative protocols and practices. Signage is posted in campus buildings.
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