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University Operations

Guidance on fall semester events, guests and visitors

The Coronavirus University Restart Team (CURT) is providing guidance on the types of events and activities that can go forward this semester, how to manage and host them safely, as well as updated policies for visitors and guests on campus. These updates align with current health directives from New York State and will stay in effect until further notice.

Campus events

All University events need pre-approval of a Cabinet-level official prior to any significant planning or reservations taking place. Under COVID, the University is defining an event as any gathering of more than five people in one indoor or outdoor space that is not part of a class, work-, or course-related activity, and that is organized by an academic or administrative department or student organization or paid for with University funds. Event approval requests can be submitted as follows:

  • Student group events: Student groups in AS&E, Eastman School, Simon School, and Warner School must complete this event proposal form. Schools that are part of the University’s Medical Center campus should contact their respective dean’s offices for approvals.
  • Departmental/unit events: Any person or organization in any school or administrative area requesting to host an event must complete this event proposal form.

Cabinet-approved on-campus events that would normally be open to the public are now only open to students, faculty, staff and approved visitors and guests—those who are already approved to be physically present for essential academic or research activities. These events include, but are not limited to, receptions, picnics, ceremonies, colloquia, student activities, and town hall meetings. See below for more information on Visitors and Guests.

Performances—events that involve theater, music, singing, or dance—are a distinct category. No indoor, non-curricular performances are permitted, and curricular performances must be conducted without an audience until further evaluation of this guidance later in the semester. Outdoor performances or concerts must adhere to current state and local gathering limits.

With regard to capacity limits, essential activities (instruction, dining, religious services) may exceed New York state’s 50-person limit by following other specific guidelines (NYS Department of Health guidelines for higher education or religious services, University Restart Plan, etc.). Non-essential activities (all other activities and events) should follow any specific New York State Phase 4 capacity limits established for various events and activities (e.g. 25 percent of maximum pre-COVID occupancy of venue for indoor events; 33 percent occupancy for outdoor events), and not exceed the 50-person gathering limit. These events must also align with any City of Rochester ordinances in effect.

Additional event guidance

  • Everyone must properly wear a face mask/covering whenever inside a building, or outside when 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible.
  • Events or exhibits should not include interactive or high-touch components where individuals touch or share the same object or surface. In the event the activity (e.g. bean-bag toss) requires sharing, rigorous cleaning and sanitation processes should be used between turns.
  • All event staff and attendees should remain six feet apart at all times, and any seating should employ the same seat distancing practices. Outdoor singers and vocalists should have a minimum of 12 feet of separation between one another and between themselves and the audience.
  • Event staffing should be kept to a minimum, and organizers should manage registration for all events.  If tickets are required for students, faculty, staff or approved guests to attend, online purchases or registrations should be utilized if possible. If check-in/registration counters are needed, these should be outfitted with plexiglass or other physical barriers between staff and attendees. To the extent possible, attendee and staff lists should be maintained for all events to assist with contact tracing, and event organizers will confirm that attendees and staff have completed Dr. Chat Bot and are cleared to be on campus on the day of the event.
  • There should be no food, drink, or other catering service at events, unless approved by a Cabinet-level leader, and eating should only be permitted in designated spaces on-campus. Events that are approved to offer catering should utilize Meliora Catering to ensure that all NYS guidelines for “Food Services” are followed.

Of note, the Memorial Art Gallery was permitted to welcome the public back to its galleries as part New York State’s Phase 4 reopening stage and with guidance from health and government officials. As part of this reopening process, the MAG adheres to specific limited capacity measures, has implemented several new safety procedures, and has closed all interactive exhibits.

Students or student groups who require additional clarification on this guidance can contact the Office of Student Activities at (585) 275-9390, wcsa@rochester.edu. Student Activities departments from various schools will have some additional event-hosting opportunities and flexibility due to their missions. Student organizers will be and trained in COVID event management, have supplies necessary for physically distant events, and tools for event registration.  Student groups originating in the Medical Center campus should contact their respective dean’s office.

Off-campus events

University-organized or –sponsored events that are off campus (alumni events, admissions activities) are discouraged. As necessary, they should follow the same guidance for non-essential activities and follow any specific New York State Phase 4 capacity limitations and local ordinances established for various events and activities (e.g. 33 percent occupancy and 6-feet separation), not to exceed the 50-person gathering limit.

Independent gatherings not using University resources should follow New York State and local guidance, be optional, and organizers should understand that many individuals are inclined to self-isolate and they should not feel compelled to attend. For these reasons, the University recommends against these independent gatherings at this time.

Campus visitors and guests

River Campus and the Eastman School of Music campus continue to be closed to general visitors and guests. This decision aligns with safety precautions in place to help limit infection exposures to those individuals who live and work on these residential campuses. Students may not host visitors or guests, including family members, on-campus during the fall semester. And at this time, no admissions offices will host on-campus visitors; this guidance will be reviewed as needed throughout the fall semester.

Only approved visitors and guests who are essential to the academic and/or research missions of the University will be permitted to enter University campuses with residential populations during fall 2020. These approved academic or research visitors or guests should have an obvious and documented relationship that clearly furthers the University’s academic and/or research mission.

Visitors

Essential academic and research visitors are those who have or will have formal academic or research appointments (e.g., visiting research scientist, visiting professor) in their host University department. Departments and units hosting essential visitors should use the standard appointment processes through their schools and, if international, Global Engagement and the International Services Office (ISO). Departments shall ensure that all essential visitors receive appropriate training relevant to their visiting role (e.g. safety) in addition to the COVID-specific requirements outlined below.

Guests

Essential academic and research guests are those whose purpose for being physically present at the University relates to the University’s academic and/or research mission.  Unlike visitors, guests do not have a formal appointment in their hosting department or unit, which is usually due to the short time period guests will be physically present at the University. Departments and units hosting essential guests must develop a mechanism to track their arrival at the University and ensure all general required trainings are conducted (e.g., safety) in addition to the COVID-specific requirements below.

COVID-specific requirements for visitors and guests

  • Essential visitors and guests shall follow all federal, state, local, and University protocols as outlined in the University’s Restart Plan, including but not limited to social distancing parameters, masking, and group size limits.
  • Departments and units hosting visitors and guests during fall 2020 need to ensure that they receive and comply with all University guidance for COVID-19, including the University’s COVID-19 training and daily symptom tracking via Dr. Chat Bot. The University’s COVID-19 training is in MyPath for visitors with a formal appointment, and departments should provide essential guests with a copy of the training slides.
  • For guests who will visit the campus for a research study visit, principal investigators and research teams are responsible for complying with the Guidance for Human Subject Research.
  • Visitors and guests arriving from locations requiring quarantine by New York State or other health agencies must adhere to these quarantine requirements before coming onto campus.

Individuals who must briefly visit campus for the purpose of supporting University operations, for example vendors and service personnel, must wear face coverings and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.

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