CAS Information for COVID-19

This page includes CAS specific COVID-19 information.  For all university-wide COVID-19 information, visit buffalo.edu/coronavirus/dashboard.

Dean's Messages Info for Faculty & Staff Info for Students Need to Know

3/26/2020: A Message to Students from Dean Schulze

Dear Students in the College of Arts and Sciences,

Let me begin by saying that I hope you and your family and friends are healthy and safe.  

I hope, too, that you are settling in to the realities of life in the midst of a pandemic. Like all of you, I’m adjusting. I’m having to learn completely new ways of doing things every day. I’m discovering new things about myself and what I value. I’m sure that all of you are doing the same.

The resilience of the University at Buffalo community has been nothing short of astonishing during these challenging times. Your professors have been working tirelessly to provide academic continuity and adapt as quickly as possible to modes of remote instruction. Last week during Spring Break, the whole of the campus transitioned to distance learning in accordance with federal, state, and local mandates.

Many, many people were involved in making this happen. I sincerely appreciate the creativity and dedication of our instructors and staff and their commitment to making this unexpected transition as seamless as possible. The College is home to majors that range from Theater and Dance to Physics, from Communication to Chemistry. We teach on stages, in clinics, and in labs. We now need to do all of this, as best we can, at a distance. Undoubtedly there will continue to be challenges, but I want you to know that we care deeply about your well-being and your academic progress.

I encourage you to visit the university website www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus for important updates, and to check in frequently with your instructors and advisors. They miss you, and they want to hear from you.

All of this is particularly hard because we are such a connected and active campus. We know how disappointing this is for those of you who were engaged in club activities, hands-on projects, lab-based research, internships, and other experiences that involved interacting with the larger community. No matter where you are living now, know that the UB community is still here for you. We are one click or phone call away. We are here to support you.

We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward, and want you to know that your success remains our highest priority.

Take care and stay connected!

Robin Schulze
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

3/20/2020: COVID-19 Distance Learning Support Reminder

Dear Colleagues,

I understand these are challenging times as we continue to monitor the unprecedented events related to COVID-19. Thank you so much for all you are doing to continue our educational and research mission during this crisis. I know you are all working at lightning speed to learn or refine your distance learning skills in preparation to teach remotely on Monday, March 23, 2020.

Those of us who have been working remotely this week have had to adapt and work in new ways to stay connected. On Monday, our students will undoubtably have questions, concerns and may experience challenges with navigating distance learning. Please remember that flexibility is key and that our students need us now more than ever. We will try to support you in every way we can.

As a reminder there are a number of training sessions and resources available to you. The university supports UB Learns (Blackboard), Panopto, Webex, and now Zoom to conduct your class remotely. Please take advantage of the online training resources.

I’m proud of what the College has managed to do in such a short time. I sincerely appreciate your commitment to our students.

Thank you again for all that you do for the College, and for UB.

Take care,

Robin

3/17/2020: Temporary Alternate Work Assignments/Locations

Dear Colleagues,

I understand these are challenging times as we continue to monitor the unprecedented events related to COVID-19.  As the situation is changing rapidly, it is important for continuity of operations that we stay connected.  I sincerely appreciate your help.

All CAS departments and programs must complete the CAS Contact Form and return it to Michelle Scott at mscott2@buffalo.edu by close of business March 18, 2020.

This communication outlines important information about Human Resources and CASet Tech Operations and Remote Support current at the time of this email. By direction from the NYS Governor’s office, effective March 17, 2020 and until further notice, all non-essential SUNY employees shall be assigned to perform their work-related duties and responsibilities from alternate work locations, via telecommuting. Please note, the most current information for employees is available on UB’s COVID-19 website.

We are getting many questions about who is an essential and who is a non-essential employee. The terms essential and non-essential are provided by the State of New York and does not determine the value of any particular employee’s services to UB.

For purposes of the directive issued on March 16, 2020 by the State of New York, an “essential employee” is defined as anyone whose job function

  1. is essential to the effective operation of the University during this emergency response, or
  2. requires that an employee be physically present to perform his/her/their job, or
  3. is involved in the COVID-19 emergency response

In the College of Arts and Sciences, essential employees include:

  • All faculty, course instructors, and employees who are conducting research
  • All staff whose worksite presence is necessary to the continued operation of the University during this emergency response, such as those who are conducting ongoing lab research that would be compromised through sustained failure to provide on-site attention
  • All staff who are integrally involved in the COVID-19 response effort, such as information technology staff

Essential employees are urged to work from home as much as possible; however, they may be required to come to campus if they are unable to complete their job duties remotely. For example, if an instructor’s personal computer or device and internet setup does not allow them to perform some of the tasks required to teach their classes remotely, they may be required to go to their office to perform job duties. If they must come to campus, they should do so infrequently, and should follow best practices for hygiene and social distancing, following CDC guidelines and visit UB’s COVID-19 website.

Per the March 16, 2020 New York State guidelines, “non-essential employees” are defined “as anyone who does not need to be physically present to perform job functions, or they are not required to meet the core function and programs of their agency during this emergency response. At this time, non-essential employees shall work from home, to the extent practicable. Where non-essential employees can be assigned to perform critical work outside of their normal state workplace, this is permitted. Employees will not be charged their accruals to fulfill this directive.”

To translate, “non-essential employees” are those who do not need to be on campus in order to perform their jobs.  They are also those who are not absolutely necessary to the effective operation of the University during the conditions of emergency response.

For the College of Arts and Sciences, examples of non-essential employees include:

  • All staff involved in direct customer service or reception
  • All staff normally engaged with events, exhibits, and shows that have been closed or cancelled
  • All staff who can complete their normal work assignments remotely

Essential / Non-essential status may change at the discretion of management; accordingly, employees should contact their supervisor regularly to confirm their status. As the operational needs of the COVID-19 response change, management may modify specific job functions and/or work locations.

All staff telecommuters must complete the Temporary Alternate Work Assignments/Locations form that was sent this morning to all employees. All staff must obtain appropriate approvals, and send the form to Michelle Scott at mscott2@buffalo.edu by close of business Thursday, March 19, 2020.

*Important: These are temporary measures during this COVID-19 pandemic and are not meant to imply future working arrangements.*

CASet Tech Operation and Remote Support

  • All CASet resources are focused on prioritizing workorders that are related to academic continuity to ensure CAS faculty are prepared for remote instruction.
  • All technology purchases must be reviewed by CASet before they are made. This will occur through a response to a submitted workorder. The College of Arts and Sciences will either obtain the product for your department or provide approval to move forward with a department purchase. In the case of a department purchase it will be transferred via IDI to the Dean's Office in April as long as there is documented purchase approval from CASet. At this time, all emergency technology costs are planned to be funded by the Dean's Office.
  • If you need remote support, submit a workorder. If you have an emergency issue (for example, you are about to teach online using Webex and are having a problem) then please reach out to us via phone at 716-645-9199. Please, only use this number for urgent matters related to remote instruction.
  • CASet does not have loaner laptops or other equipment to deploy for uses beyond remote instruction. Staff approved to work remotely should use their own equipment to perform their duties. 
  • See CASet Tech Operation and Remote Support for instructions about how to secure your own devices so that you can work safely on the UB network and how you can access university systems remotely.

I ask that you continue to monitor UB’s COVID-19 website, for the latest developments and also visit the College’s Faculty and Staff Resource webpage for CAS-specific information.

Thank you for all you do for the College and for UB.

Take care,

Robin

Downloads

3/16/2020: Laboratory and Studio section Guidelines

Dear CAS Faculty,

As we work to implement distance learning on March 23, 2020, please review the below guidelines to move laboratory and studio sections to distance learning.

If you have questions or concerns, please seek support from your department chair or program director. 

I appreciate all that you are doing to shift to distance learning during this unprecedented emergency.

Take care,
Robin

Guidelines for Laboratory and Studio Sections
College of Arts and Sciences
Distance-Learning Transition March 16, 2020

  1. All credit-bearing courses in the College of Arts and Sciences are required to be moved to remotely accessible distance-learning prior to instruction resuming on Monday, March 23, 2020.
    1. This includes all Laboratory (LAB) and Studio (STU) sections.
    2. Preparations must be implemented by Thursday, March 19, 2020, per directives of Provost Weber.
    3. All CAS instructors may not require students to be present on campus for any credit-bearing activity for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
  2. Please have all undergraduate students vacate any laboratory or studio spaces used for credit-bearing activities.
    1. Undergraduate students should remove personal effects from laboratory, studio and workshop spaces if they are able to do so.
    2. Undergraduate students should return any keys for laboratories, studios, or workshops used for credit-bearing activities if they are able to do so.
  3. Please limit student access to laboratories, studios, or workshops between now and May 23, 2020.
    1. Even small groups of 2-3 students may pose health risks.
    2. Machines and equipment need to be sanitized after each use.
  4. Please share any “work-arounds” for distance learning that your department or program has generated with your cognizant associate dean and other departments/programs. Your ideas might help others.
    1. Be sure to seek the advice of graduate students and adjunct instructors who may have creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
    2. This is a collective effort! Information should be shared widely.
  5. Please be flexible when it comes to grading and evaluation. The abruptness of this transition will require a measure of improvisation on the part of both instructors and students. Please remember this when evaluating assignments and submitting grades.

Laboratories

  1. Try to capture any laboratory or bench techniques on video, in step-by-step fashion. Post video to the UBLearns site for each section.
  2. Post data-sets that students would normally generate in the lab to UBLearns, so that students may analyze the data and related problem-sets remotely.
  3. Encourage students to work in small groups via Zoom, Webex or other forms of digital communication.  Students may be able to provide answers, advice, and instruction to their peers.

Studios

  1. For performance-based studios such as Theatre & Dance or Music, please have students capture their work in a digital format.  Files may be posted to UBLearns or emailed to the instructor.
  2. For workshop-based studios such as Art, please encourage the use of paper and other materials that may be found in the household. Please do not require students to purchase additional materials that may be expensive or hard to find.
    • When evaluating these projects bear in mind that not all students have the same material resources.  Their projects should be evaluated accordingly.
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud will be made available to students in approved programs at no charge for the remainder of the semester.  For Art, please reach out to Domenic Licata (djlicata@buffalo.edu) and for Media Study, please reach out to Carl Lee (cl62@buffalo.edu).  Any other departments should submit a CASet work order.

3/13/2020: Travel and Events

Dear Colleagues,

As you are all now aware, UB is committed to following the Governor’s, Chancellor’s, President’s, and Provost’s guidance to employ distance learning as widely as possible in an effort to address health and safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.

This second note that I am sending you is one that addresses the issue of how to manage CAS travel and events in light of this guidance.

Travel and Events:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to countries with Level 3 (Warning) health notices, and cautions high-risk travelers against traveling to countries with Level 2 (Alert) health notices. The most up-to-date list of Level 3 and Level 2 countries may be found on the CDC website

In accordance with this recommendation from the CDC, the State of New York has prohibited all New York State work-related employee travel to level 2 and level 3 countries until further notice. CDC Travel Advisories are being updated and changed frequently. Travelers should visit the CDC's advisories website for the latest notices.

  • Please remember that it is a CAS requirement that you report all work-related travel that you will be doing between today and May 23, 2020 using State, RF, or UBF funds to the CAS deans’ office. Please contact department ATCs, who will collect and report this information to the CAS deans’ office.
  • To ensure that everyone has the same search process opportunities, the College of Arts and Sciences has decided that all faculty recruitment activities related to ongoing hiring must be conducted remotely. Please do not invite candidates to campus.
  • CAS guidance is that external visitors who are scheduled to travel to campus using State, RF, or UBF funds should be rescheduled or their visit handled through remote access. Events including external visitors should be cancelled, rescheduled or conducted remotely.
  • All scholarly conferences and workshops scheduled between today and May 23, 2020 should be cancelled, postponed, or conducted remotely.
  • Based on CDC guidelines, we strongly recommend cancelling all events with 250 or more people in attendance and we recommend that people seriously consider avoiding attendance at any event or location with 50 or more people, especially if it involves individuals from outside of Erie County and we strongly recommend that all people over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions do not attend such events.
  • The preference of the College of Arts and Sciences is that gatherings of larger than 50 people be cancelled or conducted remotely, but always rely on guidance from the Erie County Department of Health.

Clinics and Clinical Trials:

  • All clinics remain open for business. Staff should do everything possible to minimize the potential for infection. We will closely follow Erie County Department of Health guidance and notify you immediately should this change.
  • All clinical trials will remain operational. Those conducting trials should do everything possible to the minimize potential for infection.

Kate Ferguson, senior associate dean, is the point of contact for all remaining questions. You can email Kate at kgfergus@buffalo.edu.

For the latest information about UB’s preparedness and response please visit www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus. This situation is dynamic and rapidly evolving.

Thank you again for all that you do for the College and for UB.

Take care,
Robin

3/12/2020: Remote Instruction

Dear Colleagues,

As you are all now aware, UB is committed to following the Governor’s, Chancellor’s, President’s, and Provost’s guidance to employ distance learning as widely as possible in an effort to address health and safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.

I know that for some of you teaching at a distance will be new. I sincerely appreciate the time and effort you will all need to invest in order to make a full-scale distance learning operation work. We all need to pull together to make it possible for our students to complete the term while making sure that faculty, staff, and students remain safe and well.

It is critical that everyone in the College do his/her/their best to respond to what are truly extraordinary circumstances. We are all facing unprecedented disruptions to our usual practices and we all have roles to play in getting through this emergency. In the days ahead, the deans’ office team will do our best to help everyone succeed.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, we will be offering all credit-bearing forms of instruction remotely--including classroom-based instruction, lab-based instruction, studio-based instruction, performance-based instruction, and ensembles.  Faculty and instructors cannot compel students, graduate or undergraduate, to participate in non-remote forms of instruction, so remote forms of instruction must be available for all credit-bearing instructional activities. Under these extenuating circumstances, the University cannot require students to stay on campus or attend credit bearing learning opportunities in person.

This first note that I am sending you is one that addresses the issue of how to prepare to teach at a distance. 

  • Please remember that you need to use your UB email from this point forward so that all service providers at the university can keep in touch with you and meet your needs.
  • Consult CASet, by submitting a CASet workorder with the subject line “COVID-19 device,” before purchasing any emergency technology (laptops, visualizers, tablets, phones, etc.).
  • Please remember that the New York State Education Department has granted all instructors the ability to alter assignments in their syllabi as long as stated learning outcomes continue to be met. Please review your syllabi to determine if changes to your course requirements are necessary. 
  • Please contact your students by March 19 with information on how to access course content.
  • Please cancel all in-person group experiential learning planned between today and May 23, 2020.

If you are uncomfortable with distance learning, or need to refresh your distance learning skills, please make use of the University and College-level supports offered below.

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