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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

From the Vice President for Finance and Management

Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

COVID-19 Guidelines for Summer 2021 - New COVID-19 Testing Requirement: Full Campus Surveillance Testing This Week for All Individuals, Regardless of Vaccination Status

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.

The 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.


HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELLNESS

Testing
With the increased prevalence and transmissibility of the COVID-19 Delta variant, SUNY has recommended that campuses situated in counties classified as “substantial” or “high” risk for community transmission of COVID-19 conduct regular precautionary surveillance testing of all students, faculty, and staff members, regardless of vaccination status. Erie County moved from a “substantial” to a “high” transmission risk county on August 21, which means that Buffalo State College will implement SUNY’s new surveillance testing recommendation.

Buffalo State is in close consultation with campus labor unions about this recommendation and will require all employees (vaccinated and unvaccinated) and students (vaccinated and unvaccinated) to complete surveillance testing this week. This comprehensive testing of our full campus population will help establish a baseline and inform our next steps for testing protocols of vaccinated individuals this semester.

As previously communicated, weekly surveillance testing will still be required for any student who is partially vaccinated or has received a limited medical or religious exemption, and for any employee who has not yet voluntarily provided proof of vaccination to opt out of weekly testing.

Testing is being conducted in Buckham Hall’s D Wing main gym, which is located on the lower level (enter from Lot R-12, closest to the Technology Building), during the following days and times:

  • Mondays 9:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 6:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesdays 9:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays 9:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–6:00 p.m.
  • Fridays 9:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–4:00 p.m.

Students, faculty, and staff members may choose a convenient time within the available windows to present to Buckham Hall for surveillance testing. Everyone is encouraged to complete the registration process through the online portal before arriving in Buckham Hall to expedite the process.

user guide to the registration process (PDF, 2.4 MB) is available online. Individual test results will be securely posted to the online portal, and test participants will be notified via email when their test results are available.

An informative video about the test registration and sample collection process is also available online.

We appreciate your continued flexibility and understanding as we work to maintain a healthy and safe campus community.

Vaccinations
We strongly encourage employees to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination to the Human Resource Management Office. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, having employees’ voluntary vaccination information is key to our efforts. You can upload your information or contact the Human Resource Management Office at 878-3042 to schedule an appointment to provide your documentation in person.

Governor Cuomo signed legislation on March 12, 2021, granting public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees are granted up to four hours of excused leave per injection. This time will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued.

Use of the vaccination leave should be requested in advance and approved by your supervisor. While up to four hours of leave with pay is available for COVID-19 vaccination leave, not every employee’s situation will require the full four hours’ allotted time.

The SUNY Time and Attendance System has been updated to provide a COVID-19 vaccine drop-down option in the non-chargeable category. If you have questions about recording the non-chargeable leave, please contact Al Galone, manager of payroll, 878-4124 (for CSEA); or Carey Seneca, interim manager of recruitment and classification, 878-3042 (for UUP).

Please note that as of August 23, the SUNY mandate that all students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is in effect. Buffalo State College strongly supports and will enforce this student mandate. 

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.

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 encouraged 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.

Masks
As announced by President Conway-Turner on August 4 and in accordance with updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Erie County Department of Health, Buffalo State College again requires all campus community members and visitors—regardless of vaccination status—to wear face masks while indoors on campus.

Face masks are not required when faculty or staff members are alone in their personal offices or when students are inside their private residence hall rooms, or for individuals who are actively eating or drinking in a campus dining area.

Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear face masks in all outdoor settings. Face masks are also required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in all large outdoor group settings of 200 or more people.

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 well-being in and out of the workplace.
  • Headspace offers science-backed meditation exercises and mindfulness resources. 
  • 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.
     

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.

ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS

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.

Events
All events must follow the Buffalo State COVID-19 guidance that is in place at the time of the event, and must be registered through the Events Management Office.

Consistent with current guidance, face masks are required at all indoor events for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Masks are also required in all large outdoor group settings of 200 or more people.

There are no capacity limits specific to COVID-19, but CDC physical distancing requirements for unvaccinated individuals are applicable when space allows.

Hosts should use event-related communications to remind all attendees of current campus COVID-19 guidance: Guests should monitor themselves for symptoms the day of the event and should not attend if they are experiencing symptoms or are otherwise concerned that they might be infected with the coronavirus or any illness.

Information Technology 
Some on-campus computer equipment may require a little “TLC” after sitting unused during the public health emergency. When you return to in-person operations, please inspect all your computers and peripherals at your earlier opportunity to ensure they are in good working order. Please check to ensure that

Instructors: Before the start of the semester please visit the instructional spaces into which you have been scheduled, especially if you are not familiar with the presentation technology in those rooms. Classroom technology training is available by appointment.

Please note that, consistent with the new policy implemented by SUNY System Administration, the campus no longer supports local desktop printers (e.g., HP Deskjet, HP OfficeJet).

Many hardware- and software-related problems can be resolved by simply restarting your computer. We recommend trying this first before opening a ticket for service. On a PC, press the Windows key > Power button > Restart; on a Mac, click the Apple menu > Restart. If your computer isn’t responding, you may need to perform a cold boot by pressing and holding the power button on the computer. The computer will turn off after 10 seconds. Once the computer is off, wait a few seconds before turning it back on.

If you encounter hardware-related problems that can’t be resolved by restarting (e.g., the monitor won’t turn on, the mouse or keyboard don’t work, you can’t print), please open a hardware issue ticket to report the problem to Information Technology (IT). Include any troubleshooting steps you’ve already taken to help IT find a solution more quickly.

If you encounter software-related problems that can’t be resolved by restarting (e.g., an application won’t launch, an application is giving a ‘license expired’ message), please open a software issue ticket to report the problem to IT. Include troubleshooting steps you’ve already tried in the ticket description. 

The deadline for academic software requests for academic year 2021-2022 was May 14, 2021. New software requests, depending on title, may require license review and installation preparation. You may experience delays if your request was not submitted by the deadline.

You may request IT assistance via the online portal, at ithelpdesk@buffalostate.edu, or at 878-4357; or by visiting the new Help Desk location in Butler Library 103, at the Ask Us Desk. Appointments are recommended for all in-person visits. Please visit the booking page to schedule.

Mail and Parcel Delivery 
Mail delivery has returned to 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.

Return to In-Person Operations
The Pilot Statewide Telecommuting Program (alternative work locations) has ended. Requests for exceptions involving extenuating circumstances limited to child care, 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.

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.

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.

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