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Fall 2020 Plan

The formal plan shared with the University community

On this page, you will find the comprehensive plan that was shared with the University of Rochester community to resume campus operations for the Fall 2020 semester.

The planning effort was informed by our guiding principles and shaped by input from the faculty, staff, and students on the planning committees.

Explore details of this plan below. You also may download the comprehensive plan:

Download “Redesign Principles and Framework” guide


With the fall semester under way and the Restart plan in effect, this page will no longer be updated with new information.

We will continue posting the latest news and updates on the University’s COVID-19 website. Updates will also be shared in the University’s daily newsletter, @Rochester. Subscribe here.

Coordination with public health officials

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 07:54 am

Coordination with public health officials

Any reopening activities will closely follow state guidelines and phased gateways for the Finger Lakes Region. The UR Guidance document is based upon several key sources. First, the phases outlined align with the New York State (NYS) “Metrics to Guide Reopening New York” and closely follows New York State recommendations outlined in Guidance for Higher Education, along with state guidance for other relevant industries.  In addition, this guidance builds upon framing outlined in the American Enterprise Institute Report National Coronavirus Response: a Road Map to Reopening (March 28, 2020) and the White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. This Plan is subject to change as federal and state guidelines are amended.

As reopening activities commence, the University will continue to work closely with the Monroe County Department of Public Health in monitoring infection levels in our community and University representative remain active participants in the Finger Lakes Regional Control Room.  In addition, we receive daily guidance from the University of Rochester Medical Center.

topics: Health Monitoring,

Academics and educational delivery

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 02:53 pm

Academics and educational delivery

The University of Rochester plans to adjust the academic calendar for Fall 2020 to reduce the potential risk from the spread of the virus with students traveling away from Rochester during academic breaks. This plan involves beginning the undergraduate academic semester as planned on Wednesday, August 26, but eliminating the fall break. The last day of in-person classes would be Tuesday, November 24, at which point we would break for the Thanksgiving holiday. After that date, all instruction would be moved online, and students would not return to campus for the remainder of the semester. Accommodations will be made for international and domestic students who are unable to return home.

Modifications to mode of education delivery/technology

To meet standards for physical distancing this fall, a hybrid online and in-person approach to classes will be necessary. All large lecture classes will be conducted online. Smaller classes will be a hybrid of online and in-person to reduce density and to accommodate students who will be unable to attend in person. Instruction will take a variety of different formats, ranging from in-person and hybrid to entirely online, and these differences will depend on faculty needs and accommodations as well as the possibility government restrictions may change and require adjustment for emerging safety recommendations

Faculty at the University of Rochester have spent the summer developing online versions of their fall courses that leverage thoughtful and systematic approaches to organizing, planning, and designing effective learning experiences for our students. To support a multimodal form of instruction for Fall 2020, we have upgraded a significant number of classrooms so that required classrooms have streaming and online capabilities. The strategy of providing streaming capabilities covers a range of technology from additional high-quality microphones and speakers for smaller classrooms to newly fixed cameras with zoom infrastructure in mid-size and large instructional spaces. This is anticipated to significantly increase the quality of online education in a multimodal environment and to meet the increase in the demand for space due to overlaying physical distancing requirements.

Accessibility for students with disabilities

The University of Rochester respects and welcomes students of all backgrounds and abilities. In the event any student encounters any barrier to full participation in a course, our Office of Disability Resources will meet with the student to discuss the barriers and process for establishing accommodations. We recognize that additional concerns may arise from changes implemented to address physical distancing requirements. Guidelines are being developed specific to COVID-19 accommodations and include guidelines for arranging for additional proctoring and space for in-person accommodated exams, guidelines with respect to the use of online test proctoring services, guidelines around the provision of clear masks for instructors and peer educators serving students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and ensuring any approved tool for assessment or instruction does not interfere with assistive technology.

Clinical instruction

As New York State has approved the restart of clinical instruction, in-person learning will now include clinical learning and direct patient contact. All employees and students will be screened daily using our symptoms’ tracking app. Surgical face masks are required in all common areas of the medical center including education spaces. Masks are provided to everyone entering campus at main entrances as well as through department and program offices. For students working in clinical settings and for those who are conducting essential in-person education activities, face shields or glasses provided by the university may be required. Students will be informed if any PPE in addition to a face mask is needed. All lectures, mentorship and advising, and other learning activates will remain online.


topics: Academics, All Students, Teaching,

Surveillance, testing, and tracing

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 02:37 pm

Surveillance, testing, and tracing

The University has developed a plan for surveillance, testing, and contact tracing which involves a combination of symptom tracking of all students, faculty, and staff; initial testing of all students living on campus, using an established priority order based upon departure location/point of origin and of any symptomatic individuals; and contact tracing of all positive cases.

Plan for students

The University plans to test all students living in campus housing upon arrival using a priority testing order which accounts for travel means, duration, and point of origin, and together with daily symptom tracking, conduct tests of symptomatic individuals thereafter. Students living off campus can request testing. Where not covered by a student’s health insurance, the University will cover the cost of testing for students.

Students arriving from other states and countries will be required to quarantine on arrival if government restrictions apply to the location that the student is arriving from.

UHS will continue to support students in quarantine and isolation through the process developed this past spring semester. This will include having a nurse or physician make initial contact with the student as they are identified, and a plan will be arranged for routine follow-up phone calls. Telehealth visits can be arranged with our Campus Counseling Center. Students who require higher level health care will be referred to Strong Memorial Hospital.

When a student enters quarantine or isolation, relevant stakeholders including the Care Network and Dining Services, among others, are notified through a listserv. University Climate and Care team members notify the appropriate Care and Support representative to begin the outreach process for support. Dining will share all options for food which will be delivered to the student’s room. Care and Support Coordinators in each of the schools will coordinate support and services for students.

Plan for workforce (faculty, staff, and postdocs)

Plan for response and notification to state and local health authorities of positive cases

The University will continue to notify local health officials upon confirmation of any positive case.

Contact tracing

Plan for tracking and responding to infection surge

Shutdown plan

topics: All Students, Health Monitoring,

Facility density and physical distancing

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 02:40 pm

Facility density and physical distancing

Physical distancing principles

All individuals on campus (students, faculty, staff, visitors, and guests) should always endeavor to remain physically separated from others by at least 6 feet, acknowledging that hallways as well as exits to rooms and buildings will not accommodate a 6-foot separation. When in the presence of others, masks should be worn in addition to distancing measures. Masking exceptions include

  1. being out-of-doors while greater than six feet from others or
  2. while eating using social distancing guidelines.

Residence halls


Each school is developing detailed classroom plans which adhere to the following principles: Classrooms, instructional space and lecture halls including auditoriums shall use 40 square feet per masked person for determining occupancy limits. Occupancy plans should account for space consumed by furniture. Hallways will be marked or provided with signage at 6-foot intervals to prevent gathering outside of classrooms. Classrooms having two doors will utilize one for entrance and the other for exit, which will be clearly marked. Classrooms having one door will utilize a process for loading and unloading similar to airlines: back to front for entrance; front to back for exiting.

Common areas and shared spaced

Each school is developing plans for these areas, adhering to the following guidelines: smaller areas used for breaks, common areas or study areas should be limited to 1 person in the space or no less than 40 square feet per person.

Dining facilities and services

Faculty and staff offices

The University continues to require the majority of employees to work remotely by indicating that all work that can be done remotely should continue remotely for the foreseeable future. Once in-person activities begin to resume, all meetings where social distancing cannot be maintained, project discussions and seminars should continue to be conducted electronically (e.g. Zoom, Phone, FaceTime).

The University is developing a new Remote Work Policy and building job assessment guidelines and processes for establishing a more effective remote workforce and environment where it is appropriate long term.

Physical distancing policies

All individuals on campus (students, faculty, staff, visitors, and guests) should always endeavor to remain physically separated from others by at least 6 feet, acknowledging that hallways as well as exits to rooms and buildings will not accommodate a 6-foot separation. Entrances and exits will be clearly marked. When in the presence of others, masks should be worn in addition to distancing measures. Masks are not required when outdoors while maintaining greater than six feet from others or while eating.

Shared transportation

To promote safety for shuttle riders and drivers, shuttle bus capacity will be reduced initially to 50 percent seated capacity and standing will be prohibited. Every other seat will be taped off to easily identify whether capacity remains. Shuttle bus routes will be adapted in order to accommodate greater physical distancing with available resources. Extra buses have been added to the heavily utilized shuttle lines to spread out rider capacity and service hours will be expanded to accommodate a greater number of shuttles. Passengers and drivers will be required to wear masks. Sanitizer stations will be located at each bus point of entrance/exit. Shuttles will be wiped down after each route. Shuttle operations will end between midnight and 5am in order to have proper sanitization and deep cleaning time.

Library facilities

Athletic facilities and events

We will follow guidelines issued by New York State for reopening gyms and athletic facilities. Athletics staff are developing a plan for reopening the Goergen Athletic Center for recreational use based on University guidance for student life and best practices for fitness facilities. This will involve reduced occupancy loads in activity spaces (25 percent of the established maximum) and efforts to promote physical distancing. Facility access will be restricted to students. In general, occupancies of gyms or athletic spaces will be limited to one (1) team for outdoor practices and one-half (½) the team for indoor practices.

Event facilities

Performance and event facilities, which are not yet approved to open, will follow specific sector guidance developed by NYS, once that is available. Planning is underway, and in general, occupancies of large gathering spaces (greater than 400 people), such as Eastman Theater, Palestra, Prince Athletic Complex and Fauver, should be limited to 25 percent of the space’s posted occupancy limit or according to NYS rules, once those facilities are permitted to open. Venues containing seating should space seating (for example, plan to seat every other row and every third seat). For outdoor spaces everyone must maintain 6-foot separations.

topics: All Students, Physical Distancing,

Research procedures and safety guidelines

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 03:03 pm

Research procedures and safety guidelines

Lab density

Consistent with New York State phasing, research activities have been reactivated in a phased approach with careful considerations. All approved research activities must abide by strict physical-distancing guidelines to reduce any possibility of spreading COVID-19 within the research community. There are also new guidelines for conducting research with human subjects, which include physical distancing and masking, to promote the safety of study subjects and researchers. Any research that can be done remotely must continue to be done remotely in order to keep building and office occupancy to a minimum.


Required PPE

topics: All Students, Physical Distancing, PPE, Research,

Travel and visitor policies

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 03:08 pm

Travel and visitor policies

Travel policies

With all travel, individuals are expected to follow all relevant social-distancing policies. Individuals must also adhere to standards and travel advisories set by New York State and the CDC and meet any additional restrictions required by the state and local jurisdiction to which they are traveling. It is incumbent upon the traveler to be aware of local social-distancing guidelines.

Travel remains complex due to various federal and NYS travel restrictions and quarantines. Those who are approved to travel internationally or to U.S. States that fall under NYS travel advisories should plan to remain away from campus for 14 days after their return and should monitor their health per CDC guidelines.


Restrictions on visitors coming to campus

In order to limit campus density, only essential visitors with formal appointments in units and invited guests with prior approval will be allowed to visit any facility at the River Campus and the Eastman School of Music Campus. Formal visitors and invited guests should have an obvious and documented relationship that overtly furthers the University’s academic and/or research mission. All approved visitors and guests will be required to complete the University’s COVID training and conduct daily symptom tracking. Casual guests and non-essential visitors are prohibited from these locations. Students may not host visitors or guests during fall semester.

All formal visitors and invited guests must register with the University to ensure that COVID-related training and University expectations regarding PPE is conveyed. Visitors and guests arriving from locations requiring quarantine by NYS or other health agencies must adhere to these quarantine requirements before coming onto campus.

Admissions tours will be adapted to maintain physical distancing for spaces on campus and student and guest numbers will be capped. Records will be kept regarding the staff and visitors in each session each day in the event that information is needed for subsequent contact tracing.

topics: Campus Visitors, Travel,

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 03:16 pm

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Ordering and distribution of COVID-related PPE and cleaning materials will be centralized for non-hospital units to avoid internal bidding wars and other supply chain disruptions which could affect hospital and other operations negatively. The Medical Center has a separate standard process for stocking and ordering PPE supplies. Environmental Services will continue to provide and replenish hand sanitizer in building entryways and common areas.

Availability to faculty, staff, students

Masks will be made available to all students and employees.

Requirements for PPE

Procedural or cloth face masks are required in all common areas (hallways, restrooms, break areas). Face masks must be worn in indoor public spaces any time there is more than one person in a given space, including times of brief interaction between co-workers or friends, and anytime another person is within six feet. Masks must be worn outdoors when 6-foot separation is not feasible. Employees working alone do not need to wear a mask.

Encouragement of flu vaccine

The University of Rochester will continue to encourage all faculty, staff, and students to receive an annual influenza vaccine. Health care providers are required to participate in the annual flu vaccination compliance program.

topics: All Students, PPE,

Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting efforts across campus

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 03:23 pm

Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting efforts across campus

The University has enhanced cleaning and disinfecting efforts across campus.

Building common areas and restrooms will be cleaned and maintained by University Facilities. In general, end users are responsible for cleaning high touch surfaces and shared work areas (desktop, keyboards, chairs, etc.) before and after use, as well as public surfaces before/after eating. Personal workstations should be cleaned at the start and end of each workday or shift. Facilities will perform fogging disinfecting as directed by UHS in classrooms and daily in dormitory bathrooms and other high touch points such as door, light switches, handrails and elevator buttons.

In dining facilities, a full sanitizing and disinfecting of food contact surface areas, serving areas, cooler door handles, points of service areas, etc. will be done at a minimum of every hour and before/after each service time utilizing Oxivir Tb wipes. Hand sanitizers will be available at all food service locations.

Extra buses have been added to the heavily utilized shuttle lines to spread out rider capacity. No standing on shuttles will be allowed, and all riders must have a seat. Shuttles are being disinfected regularly throughout the day and wiped down after each trip.

Special cleaning instructions for areas where an individual with suspected or confirmed coronavirus have been developed. These procedures include guidance on personal protective equipment that should be worn when cleaning and directions on disinfecting surfaces with approved EPA disinfectants, disposal of waste from cleaning, and laundering of items that have been in contact with an unwell individual.

Hand hygiene and hand sanitizer availability

Environmental Services will continue to provide and replenish hand sanitizer in building entryways and common areas. The University is installing additional sanitizing stations in common areas of buildings.

Building reactivation process

Many University buildings were closed due to state guidelines this spring. These buildings will be reactivated as state guidelines allow in regionally approved Phases. This reactivation process has already begun with the restart of some research activities and will continue as the University responds to NYS Phase 4 requirements for reopening.

The process for unit reactivation starts with a reactivation request and occupancy plan from a school dean. University Facilities will follow a detailed checklist to open buildings including full review of all HVAC and water systems. This includes checking sewage ejection pumps, charging chilled water lines, flushing drinking fountains and restroom fixtures, checking HVAC filters, flushing HVAC water lines, lighting inspections, and checking handicap access. Temperature setbacks will return to operation and ID swipe access will be activated. Facilities will ensure the building is cleaned and disinfected. Upon approval, the Logistics Sector will ensure appropriate signage is displayed throughout the building and confirm installation of disinfectant/hand wash stations. The unit occupancy plan checklist will confirm the number of staff, faculty and students essential to work in-person, confirm classes scheduled, confirm physical distancing diagrams are complete, and confirm PPE source.

topics: All Students, Facilities,

Communications plan

Rochester Restart
June 29, 2020 | 03:31 pm

Communications plan

Websites, newsletters, and social media

The Office of University Communications has developed a coordinated communications plan to provide information about our restart and recovery efforts to the University of Rochester community, including students and their families, staff, faculty, and the City of Rochester. This includes a series of leadership messages from the University President, Provost, the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, chairs of the Coronavirus University Restart Team, and deans and senior administrators. A key channel for information is the University’s COVID-19 website, which includes a section on Restart and Recovery. The University’s communications will be clear, transparent, and consistent across the institution.

They will take the form of written emails, video messages, articles on the University Newscenter, blog postings on the COVID-19 site, podcasts, and infographics, as appropriate. All content will either live on the Restart and Recovery webpage, which will be regularly updated, or will be pointed to from that site to the appropriate host location.

We will also share information through a series of newsletters and on the University’s social media channels. In addition, University Communications will tag and track communications so that we can measure how effective they are at reaching audiences and adjust or amplify as needed.

Faculty, staff and student training

All University students, faculty, and staff will be required to complete mandatory COVID-19 training prior to returning to campus. Individuals who fail to complete the training should be restricted from campus. This training has been developed by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) and will be available online in MyPath (faculty & staff) and Blackboard (students). It includes modules on the following topics: Introduction; What is COVID-19; Hierarchy of Controls; UR Requirements; Reporting Requirements; How to Wear a Mask.


The University will help maintain occupancy and avoid congregation by adding appropriate signage throughout campus. Managers, researchers, and supervisory staff will work with University Facilities in identifying locations for visual cues. Strategies may include placing visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, or signs to indicate to individuals where to sit and stand and placing one-way directional signage for large open workspaces with multiple through-ways to increase distance between individuals moving through the space. In addition to physical distancing reminders, signage has been created to encourage handwashing and the wearing of masks.

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