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From the Vice President for Finance and Management

Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2021

COVID-19 Guidelines for Summer 2021

Amid evolving guidance related to the pandemic, I am writing to inform you of the current status of Buffalo State College’s protocols related to COVID-19. This update provides guidelines related to health, safety, and administrative services as we resume in-person operations.

This information will be discussed by President Katherine Conway-Turner and members of her cabinet at virtual town hall meetings on August 3 and August 26. All faculty and staff members are welcome; please register to attend.

This guidance will also be updated throughout the remainder of the summer and will be shared in the Daily Bulletin and posted to the college's Coronavirus Information website. Questions may be addressed to vpfm@buffalostate.edu.

SUMMER 2021 GUIDANCE FOR FACULTY AND STAFF

Masks
As announced by President Conway-Turner on July 22 and consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SUNY, students, faculty, staff, and visitors who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks or practice social distancing in indoor or outdoor settings on Buffalo State’s campus, including classrooms, laboratories, studios, offices, residence halls, recreation spaces, and dining areas. Full vaccination status is considered to be effective two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.

Unvaccinated individuals and those whose vaccination status is unknown must wear a mask at all times indoors, including in instructional spaces, but may remove their masks while working at a physically distanced individual workstation or while actively eating or drinking in a campus dining area. Unvaccinated individuals and those whose vaccination status is unknown may remove their masks outdoors unless they are in a gathering or at a crowded event where they are unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.

Buffalo State is continually reviewing current CDC and state mask guidance and will notify the campus regarding any changes. As masking requirements for vaccinated individuals evolve, we want to remind our community that faculty, staff, and campus visitors may continue wearing masks for a number of reasons. Welcoming and accepting those who wear masks on campus is an easy step anyone can take to support others.

Air Quality
Buffalo State follows guidelines from the New York State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding mechanical ventilation and air filtration. The campus has installed and will maintain high-performance MERV-13 filters within all facilities with air handling unit ventilation systems. Ventilation systems will continue to operate for longer hours, with increased outdoor air being supplied to indoor spaces where possible. Ventilation systems in all student housing facilities and all restrooms will be operated continuously. General purpose classrooms, which are not supported by air handling unit systems and scheduled for use during fall 2021, will be equipped with air purification units. 

There may be areas of the campus that are warmer or cooler than usual as a result of these changes. Individuals are asked to please accommodate these minor inconveniences and dress appropriately, so that the whole community can benefit from these ventilation changes.

Attestation
Every campus employee reporting to work in person must affirm that he or she has read and understands the Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID-19 Public Health Public Emergency. Please follow the link to read the guidance and attest that you understand its provisions and will adhere to its requirements.

Building Access
Buffalo State has returned to the schedule for building opening and closing used prior to COVID-19. Under the normal schedule, all doors on academic and administrative buildings are opened by 7:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. Academic buildings are closed at 10:00 p.m., and administrative buildings are closed at 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any facility that requires opening on Saturday or Sunday will be opened upon authorized request from the Events Management Office.

Capacity
Workplace capacity is limited only by the space available for individuals to maintain physical distancing, based on vaccination status. For fully vaccinated individuals, no physical distancing is required.

At this time, proof of vaccination status is not required from employees; however, employees are invited to upload their vaccination information to Human Resource Management to be exempted from weekly surveillance testing. 

Cleaning and Disinfecting
Buildings have been prepared for a 100 percent return to in-person operations in compliance with CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. The custodial emergency response team is trained and equipped with specialized disinfecting equipment and is available to address any area of concern, at any time of day, quickly and thoroughly.

Custodial services has resumed normal cleaning operations and is augmenting these with disinfection of high-touch surfaces in public areas. Faculty, staff and students should make use of hand sanitizer stations and are encouraged to use the disinfectant wipes and spray provided by the campus to disinfect high-touch surfaces in their work areas.

Health Screening
State agencies and authorities may continue to screen individuals for COVID-19 symptoms, recent close contacts, and recent positive COVID-19 test results prior to or immediately upon arrival to the workplace, regardless of individual vaccination status. Screening may be performed via signage, by email and website, by telephone, or by electronic survey before individuals arrive to work. Temperature checks are no longer required as a part of health screening. Buffalo State will continue to use the daily health screening process for all employees who present to campus for work each day. 

Mail and Parcel Delivery 
Mail delivery has returned to the normal schedules used prior to COVID-19. Special requests regarding mail and parcel delivery may be emailed to adminops@buffalostate.edu.

Parking
All faculty, staff, student and visitor vehicles parked on campus are required to display current parking permits appropriate to the lot designation, and according to permit instructions.  Parking meters provide short-term parking for visitors, and are available in lots R-3, R-4, G-25, and I-30. Vehicles in metered spaces must display a valid meter receipt.

To ensure proper use of campus lots with the return to in-person operations, full parking enforcement has resumed. Questions about parking at Buffalo State may be directed to parkingservices@buffalostate.edu.

Resources for Employee Wellness
During challenging times, it is especially important that we be attend to our mental health and well-being. Here are several resources available to support employees:

  • The Employee Assistance Program offers support to employees to promote wellbeing in and out of the workplace.
  • Headspace offers science-backed meditation exercises and mindfulness resources. In partnership with Governor Cuomo, Headspace now has a special New York collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises.
  • Health.gov provides evidence-based guidance for maintaining or improving health through physical activity.
  • The Professional Development Center at Buffalo State provides resources for employees to reconnect to campus and supports employee wellness.
  • WellNYS Everyday helps New Yorkers make better choices to be well and stay well.

Return to In-Person Operations
The Pilot Statewide Telecommuting Program (alternative work locations) has ended. Requests for exceptions involving extenuating circumstances limited to childcare, elder care, or specific COVID-19-related medical accommodations should be addressed to the Human Resource Management Office. For those with extenuating circumstances, an extension of telecommuting arrangements may be possible through September 7, 2021.

Social Distancing
Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be socially distanced, but unvaccinated individuals and those whose vaccination status is unknown need to maintain 6 feet of social distance in accordance with CDC guidelines. In instructional spaces, in lieu of maintaining 6 feet of social distance, appropriate physical barriers may be used as long as they do not present a health or safety hazard. A mask is considered a physical barrier. 

Spending Controls
In accordance with SUNY guidance and until further notice, all Buffalo State departments should continue to curtail Other than Personal Service (OTPS) spending. The restrictions described in the Procedures for Spending Controls: COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19 have been updated to reflect recently publicized changes to travel and personnel procedures  and apply to all state, Buffalo State College Foundation, and Research Foundation administrative funds.

Purchases must be limited to those items and services that are urgent, essential, and relevant to Buffalo State’s strategic priorities. Spending down of departmental accounts is prohibited. These procedures aim to provide methods for prioritizing, seeking approval for, and enacting essential OTPS spending at Buffalo State College during and after the COVID-19 impact.

Testing
COVID-19 surveillance testing takes place on Tuesdays from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. and on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Assembly Hall.

Fully vaccinated employees (two weeks after receiving the second dose or two weeks after receiving a single dose vaccine) are exempt from mandatory weekly testing upon the submission of documentation (vaccine card or Excelsior Pass) that shows completion of a full vaccination series (definition subject to change based on final recommendations on booster shots from the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC).

Employees interested in submitting proof of full vaccination are encouraged to complete a Proof of Vaccination form. Employees who do not wish to provide their vaccine documentation via the secure form may call Human Resource Management at 878-3042 to schedule an appointment to provide it in person.

Mandatory weekly testing will continue to be required for any employee who has a physical presence on campus and who has not been fully vaccinated or has not shown proof of vaccination status.

Travel
This guidance pertains to all state, Research Foundation, and Buffalo State College Foundation funds:

International travel continues to be prohibited. Limited domestic travel may be permitted if it is consistent with local health guidance, supports essential business of the college, and relates to

  • health and safety,
  • instruction and research,
  • student-facing experiences (e.g., Athletics),
  • revenue generation (e.g., Admissions).

All travel requests must be accompanied by a COVID-19 Travel Attestation Form and require approval from the traveler’s supervisor. With the exception of Research Foundation–sponsored travel, all requests require review and approval at spending thresholds consistent with ongoing spending constraints reviews. Proposed travel valued above $10,000 would be subject to approval of the College Budget Committee. Research Foundation sponsor-funded travel is allowable consistent with New York State and local health guidance.

Travel Cards (T-Cards) will be available for use on approved travel. To reactivate T-Cards, please secure supervisor and respective cabinet member approval and submit to Bonnie Heim, director of non-contract procurement.

Vaccinations
New York State provides information about vaccinations and appointment availability.

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