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Health and Safety

What would happen during a ‘pause’?

As directed by New York State, the University has developed a plan for the Temporary Cessation of On-Campus Activities—a “pause” that would go into effect on River Campus or the Eastman School of Music if 100 or more positive COVID-19 cases emerge among students, faculty and staff within a two-week period.  A pause is intended to be temporary—only a few weeks within the semester—with all in-person classes shifting to an online format. It offers University and public health officials, including the Monroe County Health Department, time to assess the infection spread and craft a remediation plan, while also reducing exposure pathways to COVID-19.

At the onset, University leadership will determine and clearly communicate the initial duration of a pause—two weeks, three weeks, or some other set amount of time. At the conclusion of the pause, further communication will outline the process and timeline to resume classes and activities. In the event that a pause comes near the end of a semester or academic year, the decision may be made to keep the pause in effect for the remainder of the semester or year and send students home. Implementing a pause on the Medical Center campus will likely look different because of the essential nature of much of URMC’s health care work and activity.

So, what would a pause look like?

Instruction and research

All in-person classes and educational activities will go online during the pause. In-person research activity, such as clinical, laboratory, or other essential projects can continue if public health and safety can be maintained. University leaders will consult with the Monroe County Health Department under these circumstances.

It’s expected that most instructors will teach remotely from their home, with exceptions handled on a case-by-case basis to allow for classroom access (e.g. the need for special A/V equipment, teaching tools, etc.)

University Libraries will be closed but may offer some services that can be delivered in a safe or remote manner.

Health and Safety Modifications

Outside access to campus and internal movements will be strictly restricted. All non-essential staff would return to a remote working status during the pause.

Masks will be required to be worn on campus at all times and in all places (both outside and inside), except by students in their assigned residence hall rooms and by faculty and staff when alone in a private office.

An enhanced COVID-19 testing program would begin and potentially include assistance from a New York State team of contact tracers, case investigators and testers who would come to campus to augment the University’s virus mitigation efforts. In addition, randomly selected individuals may be selected for greater surveillance testing to maintain vigilance across the campus community, beyond the identified cluster(s). Testing during a pause would continue to be available at UHS to any student who has symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

A plan would also be developed in conjunction with the Monroe County Health Department to ensure access to testing for faculty and staff.

Residence halls and living spaces

On-campus residential facilities will remain open and must remain open during a pause according to New York State mandates.  All on-campus students will generally be required to stay in their residential building for the duration of the pause—similar to the terms of quarantining at the University.  Aggressive disinfection protocols would be implemented for essential common areas (e.g. bathrooms, hallways).

All off-campus students will remain in their residences and cannot visit campus. If a student has the ability to depart campus during the pause (e.g. go home), they will need to consult with UHS in order to not potentially spread the virus outside of campus. Special circumstances may allow students to go home with the understanding that they quarantine there and remain off campus until notified to return.

If a decision is made to end the residential experience for all students for the rest of a semester/academic year, then the residence halls will be closed in a process similar to that carried out in spring 2020. In such circumstances, the University plans to again provide limited on-campus housing for students who may otherwise lack access to secure housing; cannot travel home; or who have other extenuating circumstances.

Dining and operations

All campus dining and food services will be converted to takeout and Dining Services will implement a new menu of dining options. Cohorts of residential life students will be scheduled specific times when they can report to an assigned dining facility to pick up a “to-go” meal option and return to their rooms to consume it.

The Goergen Athletic Center would close to everyone during the pause.

Because students, in particular, should not be moving around, the University shuttle service will likely implement a reduced schedule during a pause.

Student activities and services

In-person athletics, extracurricular programs, and non-essential student activities must be suspended or moved to an online format. However, in-person essential student services (e.g., medical care, counseling) may continue through a call-ahead or appointment only process, as needed.

In-person religious services would also be curtailed during a pause.


Further questions about a pause can be directed to the Coronavirus University Restart Team (CURT) on our Contact page.

View the University’s dashboard of COVID-19 cases (non-Medical Center).

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