Restarting Binghamton Plan - Approved July 1

Binghamton University is planning a phased return of faculty and staff to its campuses in the coming weeks with the intention of reopening classrooms and residence halls to students in August. 

This document outlines a series of guiding principles that will clarify the reopening process.

They are:

  • Protect the health and safety of everyone associated with the University: students, faculty, staff and community members.
  • Maximize the value of our education by maintaining access for all students admitted to the University regardless of economic means and maximize the success of all of our students to enhance their lives and futures.
  • Sustain the research activities of the University to the greatest extent possible.
  • Contribute to the economy of our region.

The plan for Binghamton’s campuses, approved by SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson on July 1, will be adjusted as necessary based on scientific data, and in accordance with guidance from public health and government authorities. Should there be an outbreak of the virus on campus after fall 2020 reopening, a proposed plan is included in this Restart Binghamton University document that outlines the actions the University will take.

In addition to the input I received from faculty, staff and students, a group of University leaders worked on this detailed plan with the goal of having onsite instruction and a residential experience for our students in the fall, only after the campus infrastructure and culture can be reimagined to provide a safe, high-quality experience for living and learning.

This reimagining has focused on safeguarding all members of the campus and community by limiting person-to-person contact as much as is practical, while allowing the University to meet its educational and research mission. However, there is no possible way to reduce transmission risk to zero, therefore it’s imperative we all do our part to minimize it. As a result, the following approved plan can be considered a working document that will evolve as necessary, based on guidance from public health and government officials.

This approved plan was updated at noon Wednesday, July 1. Addendum A.1 was added Saturday, Aug. 2.

  • 1. Guiding Principles

    On May 30, 2020, the CDC updated its guidance for Institutions of Higher Education. This guidance makes recommendations on six topics: General Settings; On-Campus Housing; Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread; Maintaining Healthy Environments; Maintaining Healthy Operations; and Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick. The successful restarting of Binghamton University depends on closely adhering to these recommendations. In addition, all of our decisions and plans are subject to the laws and orders of the state, county and municipality.

    1. Binghamton University will balance four overarching goals for its restarting decisions and actions.
      1. Protect the health and safety of all the people associated with the University: students, faculty, staff and community members.
      2. Maximize the value of our education by maintaining access to all students admitted to the University regardless of economic means, and maximize the success of all of our students to enhance their lives and futures.
      3. Sustain the research activities of the University to the greatest extent possible.
      4. Contribute to the economy of our region to the greatest extent possible.
  • 2. The Academic Calendar

    The academic calendar provides a timeline that influences decisions that the University makes to serve its students and that students must make with respect to registering for courses and securing housing. 

    Pre-semester activities

    1. Housing registration has two components:
      1. deadlines for returning students and
      2. deadlines for new students, both first-year and transfer.
      Returning students registered for housing in February 2020, and had until April 1, 2020, to modify their registration. Recognizing that some students might wish to re-evaluate their decisions, we will extend the deadline for returning students to cancel housing registration to July 3. After that date, they will be obligated to fulfill their housing contract. New students will select their residence hall and room preference along with their choice of roommates and suitemates between June 18 and July 1.
    2. To comply with limits on large gatherings and to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff, we have developed an online orientation for new students. The dates for new student orientation have been posted for several weeks and can be found at the following links:
    3. Returning students have already registered for fall courses and will have the ability to change their schedule before the start of the fall semester and up to the add/drop deadline. As originally scheduled, new students will select their courses during the online summer orientation period, from June 17 to June 26 for transfer students and from July 6 to July 24 for first-year students. We have prepared a series of online modules to help students prepare for online one-on-one meetings they will have with advisors to help them register for classes. International students can participate in these sessions or can complete their online orientation and registration when they arrive in August.
    4. Move-in days will occur for new and returning students living in residence halls between Aug. 19 and Aug. 25. Move-in procedures are addressed in Section 4: Residential Life.

    Fall Academic Calendar
    As originally scheduled, the first day of classes will be Wednesday, Aug. 26.

    Fall vacation days: Traditionally observed days without classes will be suspended for fall 2020. These include Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7; Yom Kippur, Monday, Sept. 28; and Fall Break, Thursday and Friday, Oct. 8−9. Accommodations will be provided for students who elect to miss class for religious reasons. 

    Academic assessment period: No classes will be held Sunday through Tuesday, Nov. 22 through Nov. 24. These days will be reserved for academic assessment (exams, quizzes, etc.).

    Thanksgiving break: No classes will be held Wednesday to Friday, Nov. 25, 26, and 27.

    After Thanksgiving: Classes will be held exclusively online from Nov. 30 through Dec. 7. The last day of classes will be Monday, Dec. 7. This is earlier than originally scheduled due to continued instruction on the holidays.

    Final exams: We will not have a traditional final exam period in fall 2020. Faculty will be encouraged to conduct frequent assessments throughout the semester to minimize the impact of a potential full campus return to remote learning. Three days are set aside for academic assessment prior to the conclusion of in-person instruction at the Thanksgiving break (Nov. 22, 23, 24) and three days are set aside after the last day of online classes (Dec. 8, 9, 10). Faculty may choose to request a time slot for course assessment during one of these three-day blocks, but not both.

    A very few regularly scheduled classes are held on weekends. Students will be encouraged to not travel out of Broome County during weekends. They will also be directed to not gather in groups. Failure to meet these directives will endanger our ability to maintain the integrity and operation of our University during the fall semester. We are developing a comprehensive set of rules that students must follow to keep themselves and others safe and will include them in the Housing License Addendum they sign and in the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We are also developing a set of progressive sanctions that can be imposed if students fail to comply.

  • 3. Course Delivery

    All courses that were scheduled for the fall 2020 semester will be offered at the same times and days of the week. Some courses may be canceled if enrollments are low or faculty are unavailable. The enrollment capacity of a course will be at the size previously determined by the department offering the course, unless a department wishes to increase the enrollment for a course that is taught completely online. 

    Most large lecture classes will be taught online. All courses, whether taught online or in person, will have access to in-person exam locations and times. These exam rooms will be large spaces where social distancing can be ensured. They will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday periodically during the fall semester. Instructors can choose to hold in-person exams at the time of their class, or in the evenings. If a student has a class conflict, illness or other approved absence, a makeup exam will be made available. Instructors will make alternate arrangements for students who are living remotely and taking their class online.

    Instructors will teach fully online if they requested this option.

    Smaller classes will be taught in person as space permits. Deans’ offices have worked with instructors and department chairs to determine which instructors should be provided an online teaching assignment and which courses should be prioritized for in-person instruction. Because the number of classrooms available to teach at the allowed density (6 feet of physical distancing between people) is limited, priority will be given to courses with the following characteristics:

    1. The course requires special equipment/space or involves performing activities that can only be done in person;
    2. The course will enhance the learning experience for our first-year students and help introduce them to the intellectual give and take of college-level work;
    3. The course is a capstone or senior experience (e.g. honors).

    Decisions about which courses will be offered in person and which courses will shift to online instruction will be supervised by the provost, with appropriate consultation. Most decisions will be made by June 18 to allow for new student course registration and faculty planning.

    To create as many in-person classroom experiences as possible, we are developing two new meeting patterns:

    1)  A new “A/B” alternating week model

    • Courses in this model will be assigned to classrooms for alternating weeks throughout the semester; this will allow two courses in the same time slot to each have some time in a classroom.
            o   e.g., Course One uses Room “X” on Schedule A and is in the classroom for weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13. Course Two uses Room “X” for Schedule B and is in the classroom for weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12.
            o   To teach students who may be taking the course remotely and all members of the class in weeks in which there is no in-person instruction, faculty will employ a Bingflex model of instruction that combines both in-person instruction with real-time (synchronous) video-conferencing.

    2) Student rotation model

    • Courses in this model will have a rotating subset of students in the classroom for each class period.
            o   e.g., A class of 90 students that meets twice a week (Tuesday/Thursday) in a classroom that can only hold 45 students with social distancing would have half the students assigned to attend class on Tuesdays, and the other half assigned to attend class on Thursdays. For tests and exams, separate space will be available so the whole class can take the test at the same time.
            o   To teach students who may be taking the course remotely and all members of the class in weeks in which there is no in-person instruction, faculty will employ a hyflex model of instruction.

    Students who are registered for an in-person class but wish to take it online will be accommodated in one of the following ways:

    1. The course will be streamed live by the instructor.
    2. The student can select another course that is offered online and will take the in-person class in a later semester.

    Students and instructors in classrooms will wear face coverings at all times.

    Personal-sized disinfection supplies will be made available to all employees and students to allow cleaning of contact surfaces when classes begin/end.

  • 4. Residential Life

    Occupancy: Campus residence halls will plan to open at near capacity, modified as follows:

    1. All sleeping rooms will be single or double occupancy, depending upon design. Designed triples will be reduced to double occupancy and the campus will control assignments to prevent over capacity and temporary triple rooms.
    2. One residence hall will not be assigned and will be reserved for use as a quarantine/isolation site. The campus has the capacity to bring up a second residence hall for additional quarantine/isolation space if needed during the fall term.
    3. The campus will increase the number of single rooms held out of the regular room assignment process to support additional requests for medical singles made through the existing process to request housing accommodations.
    4. Students will be required to wear face coverings in common areas (elevators, hallways, laundry rooms and study lounges) where 6 feet of separation cannot be clearly maintained.

    Returning students: Returning students who selected on-campus housing during the February 2020 room selection process will retain their existing room assignments except for a small number of students in designed triples. Returning students in campus housing have been provided an additional window, until July 3, to cancel campus housing without financial penalty once the campus presents the details of its fall 2020 reopening plan.

    New student housing assignments: The new student housing process will begin June 16 and run until July 1. Those first-year students who would ordinarily be subject to a campus live-on requirement will be provided an opt-out window. All new students electing to participate in the room assignment process following the opt-out period will choose rooms, roommates and suitemates through our traditional room selection process.

    Move-in process: The campus will modify our traditional move-in process to facilitate COVID-19 testing of resident students upon arrival to campus (off-campus students will be tested on a voluntary basis). The move-in period will be extended over the seven days prior to the first day of classes: Wednesday, Aug. 19 to Tuesday, Aug. 25. Each resident student will be assigned a specific move-in day and time window to modulate the flow of students on to campus and into any one residential area or building. Each resident student will be permitted to be accompanied on to campus by only two familys member or friends; however, only the student will be permitted to enter the residence halls.

    A dedicated working group is developing a logistics and policy plan for testing resident students and supporting their move into assigned spaces or isolation as applicable. Features of the plan include point of contact (PoC) testing on campus, potential decontamination strategies for personal belongings and customized University assistance for special populations (international arrivals, students with medical conditions, etc.). 

    Quarantine procedures for students coming from highly infected states and countries

    To guide us in developing a plan for out-of-state students who are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to New York state, Binghamton University is following a series of state public health guidelines. Students from one of these states (find the current list online for states deemed to have significant, active spread of COVID-19), must complete a 14-day quarantine prior to moving into their campus residence hall. 

    Students in this situation have three available options:

    1. Complete the required quarantine in New York state (or another location not subject to the quarantine requirement) independently prior to move-in day.
    2. Complete the required quarantine at the University's designated quarantine location (a nearby hotel). There is no cost for on-campus students. (Off-campus students are responsible to make their own reservations and pay their own costs with the hotel; however, they are entitled to the University negotiated rate and the University can provide meal delivery if they have or purchase a University dining commuter meal plan.)
    3. Enroll in remote course instruction for the fall term and cancel on-campus housing without penalty.

    All students who are required to quarantine must complete the New York State Traveler Health Form in advance of the 14-day quarantine period. Find the form and more information online. Students must then complete the University form found online, including a screen shot of the completed New York State Traveler Health Form in advance of permitting the student to move into the residence hall.

    Students who choose to quarantine at the hotel will have meals delivered and charged to their meal plans.

    Students who choose to quarantine at the hotel should plan to arrive Wednesday, Aug. 19, so that they will have seven days of quarantine completed prior to the start of classes. They will take courses online for the remaining seven days of their quarantine and then be able to move into their residence hall and begin attending the in-person classes on their schedule.

    The University will work with on-campus students who choose not to undergo quarantine to manage their class registration, withdraw them from housing without penalty and discuss options for returning to campus in the spring term. Email reslife@binghamton.edu or call 607-777-2322.

    COVID-19 Testing Protocols
    Testing/contact tracing and quarantine/isolation: The University will implement a retesting program for resident students. The re-testing model will adopt both a surveillance testing approach and a diagnostic testing approach rather than retesting every resident student. In addition, on a daily basis, all resident students will be expected to complete a screening tool, that is also used daily by employees, through a prompt upon login to the University portal. The specific elements of our retesting program are being developed by public health and health sciences experts. The University will also supplement the state/county contact tracing network with additional contact tracers, trained to the same standards, who shall work in coordination with the Broome County Department of Health. University practices with respect to quarantine/isolation of students in campus facilities have been and will continue to be reviewed with the Broome County Department of Health.

    Residential life programming and student support
    One of the guiding principles of this plan pertains to maximizing student success within Reopening New York Guidelines. Traditional strategies to create community through in-person group programming will be limited. Small gatherings of students will be limited to spaces that can accommodate appropriate social distancing and will require wearing masks. A cross-departmental working group including staff and student leaders has been created to develop virtual student life programs and services. In-person recreational programs (Club Sports, intramurals, outdoor pursuits, group exercise classes) will be planned in accordance with Reopening New York Sports and Recreation Guidelines. Dining halls and retail food services will operate in accordance with state Food Service Guidelines. Campus libraries, study spaces, computing labs and student service areas will operate consistently with relevant state guidelines and be designed to maintain physical distancing of patrons and staff while also requiring face coverings. In-person student group meetings permissible under state guidelines will be scheduled centrally in a manner that will support contact tracing. Special attention will be paid to creating a sense of belonging among new students. These programs will begin during the move-in process and prior to the first day of classes and continue through the semester.

    Campus calendar and student travel

    The campus is managing the semester calendar so that students will leave their campus housing for the semester break at Thanksgiving without needing to return until the start of the spring semester. The University is discouraging student travel outside of the Broome County region during the semester. Further, the University will, by policy and practice, prevent University support of non-essential student mobility to the greatest extent feasible. We are developing a comprehensive set of rules that students must follow to keep themselves and others safe and will include them in the Housing License Addendum they sign and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (updated 7-30-20)

    Food service
    Campus dining facilities will adopt operating procedures that provide food in single-serving, ready-for-takeout packaging; maintain physical distancing in ordering queues; and maintain seating areas that comply with physical distancing guidelines for all patrons.

  • 5. Use of University Spaces for Activities and Events

    The University will not generally provide campus space for external events subject to an exception/review process for mission-critical events that can meet physical distancing and other applicable safety standards as specified with reference to federal, state and local guidelines and directives.

    Events
    The campus will not host in-person events that are open to the public during the fall 2020 semester. Like our classes, co-curricular gatherings and meetings of student organizations will occur only with appropriate social distancing (at least 6 feet of space between people) and will require participants to wear masks (unless outside and appropriately physically distanced). There will be no plays, musical performances, film screenings, concerts or art exhibits with in-person audiences. Instead, we will encourage departments and programs to host virtual events.

    Campus events that cannot be done virtually or within applicable federal, state and local social distancing guidelines will be postponed from the fall semester to a future semester when guidance permits these types of events.

    The University has established centralized space reservation processes for instructional activities and for all other internal uses that can be in person so as to support contact tracing and effective communication/enforcement of applicable physical distancing and safety standards. All meetings, activities and events will be scheduled through this central process and event hosts must comply with use of space guidelines.

    The University has proactively allocated use of large event spaces that would have otherwise been used for large gatherings and activities to support core activities including instruction, academic examinations, food service, study space and recurrent testing for the virus.

    The Division of Student Affairs has established working groups involving Residential Life, the Dean of Students’ office and student leaders to develop virtual student life events with particular emphasis upon cultivating a sense of belonging for new students.

    Visitor policy
    We will discourage non-essential visitors from accessing campus to enter buildings and meet with or interact with students, faculty and staff. Instead, we will encourage individuals to arrange virtual visits and appointments to transact business whenever possible. We will, however, allow small, self-guided admission tours by families. Those who make in-person visits (e.g., to make deliveries, etc.) will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Auxiliary Services vendors have all submitted plans for operations that include the obligations of delivery persons to do symptom screening before coming to campus and to use all appropriate PPE. 

    Intercollegiate athletics
    The scheduling of athletics competitions for the fall semester is still to be determined based upon NCAA, state and local governance guidelines. Binghamton athletics will place the health and safety of athletes above all else. The department is working with its respective intercollegiate conferences to identify various scheduling models and safety protocols to safely resume competitive sports. Attendance at athletics events will be limited to participants, game management and University personnel.

  • 6. Employee Safety

    Employees who can successfully perform their work remotely will be allowed to do so, either in full or in part, and should develop a plan accordingly with their supervisor.

    For employees who must physically be on campus to perform their work, we will employ a number of different methods to socially distance them, including staggered start times, installing a drive-thru timeclock to discourage congregating while clocking in, staggered lunch times, etc. The total number of occupants at any given time will be limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy for that space and/or in accordance with physical distancing guidelines of 6 feet between people.

    Employees who wish to work on campus will have that option and it will be done in a way that reduces density and meets social distancing guidelines. The most viable option for this is to create a rotation of two or three sets of employees in each department/office. For example, employee set A comes on half of the days, employee set B comes on half of the days, and employee set C may stay home completely. Because offices and departments have different constraints and population densities, they will each be asked to file a rotation plan that shows the on-campus schedule of all employees within that department or office.

    Employees who are asked to return to work on campus who fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19 complications should contact Human Resources to discuss options for the possibility of a remote work assignment and/or accommodation. In general, these will be approved when requested, unless the employee’s job requires in-person work (such as grounds, cleaning and maintenance). Alternative work assignments will be developed for these employees so they may stay at home or work in a remote area. Students who fall into this category have the option of participating in classes online. Students with disabilities are directed to a dedicated office to provide reasonable accommodations as appropriate.

    Employees who do come to campus for work will be expected to limit their in-person interactions with others. Gathering socially in break rooms, lobbies, kitchens and other employees’ offices is prohibited.

    Cleaning

    Physical Facilities will deploy cleaning staff from third shift to first in order to enhance the cleaning of high-traffic areas and touch points across the campus, adhering to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health. In addition, in residence halls, suite and flat bathrooms will be cleaned once per week, scheduled to minimize staff and student interactions. Communal bathrooms in corridor-style housing will be cleaned daily. Cleaning in the residence halls will be performed in accordance with applicable CDC and NYS Department of Health guidelines, including the use of a disinfectant that is DEC- and EPA-registered for use against SARS-CoV-2.  

    Physical Facilities will provide cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, lobbies, building entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles).     

    All faculty, staff and students will receive a 2 oz. personal-size bottle of hand sanitizer that can be refilled at designated stations across campus. Employees should clean surfaces that are frequently touched. In addition, Physical Facilities is installing hand-sanitizing units at the main entrances to all buildings on campus and in multiple locations in high-traffic buildings.

    Health screening

    All employees are expected to self-monitor their health before coming to work each day as per guidelines provided by SUNY. If they have an elevated temperature (greater than 100.4 oF); have been in close contact with a person confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days; are experiencing any symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, troubled breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell; or have tested positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test in the past 14 days, they must remain home, contact their healthcare provider and follow their guidance.

    All employees are required to complete a very brief screening questionnaire prior to coming to campus, or within the first hour of being on campus, each day they are on campus.

    Employees who enter the workplace must also complete the 12-minute New York State COVID-19 Response: Return to Work Training. 

    If employees report to campus and have a persistent cough or are congested, they will be asked by their supervisor to return home and contact their healthcare provider for guidance.

    Binghamton University will be issuing two cloth face coverings to every employee. Employees must wear face coverings when in public spaces in buildings and in the presence of other workers. They can remove their masks when alone in a closed office.

    Employees must wear masks when outside their building and on campus property if the appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained.

    Plexiglass barriers will be installed in certain high-traffic locations that regularly engage with the public.

    Enforcement of these guidelines is expected to be done by the employee. Just as we have built a campus that is smoke free without enforcement, we expect to build a campus that is COVID-19 free through self-enforcement.

  • 7. Community Safety
    One of the guiding principles of this plan is to maximize the value of our education by maintaining access for all students admitted. For many students, this necessarily entails access to the campus infrastructure. This plan incorporates a broad range of risk-mitigation strategies to support the reopening of our campus, including density reduction strategies; screening, testing and contact tracing; academic calendar adjustments to address population migration risks; community education; and physical modification to our environment. The University’s opportunity to reopen the campus and provide access for all students also depends upon our region continuing to meet New York state standards for economic reopening. The success of our reopening plan and the opportunity for our region’s economy to remain open depend not only on the risk-mitigation strategies implemented, but also upon all community members accepting the responsibility to follow campus guidelines for physical distancing and safety on campus and in the community. Our plan intends to create a culture of compliance as follows:
    • The University is drafting a clear set of standards and responsibilities for all community members that establishes bright-line requirements for the use of face coverings; expectations for physical distancing, personal hygiene and cleaning of personal spaces; and cooperation with screening, contact tracing and testing initiatives. University standards will reflect all relevant federal, state and local guidance and directives and be updated accordingly.
    • The University will clearly and recurrently communicate these standards and expectations and they will be incorporated into course syllabi, the Housing License Addendum, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and other relevant University policies and procedures as appropriate. Students will acknowledge receipt and understanding of these standards and expectations and accept responsibility for compliance through the Confirmation of Enrollment process or similar pathway. We are also developing a set of progressive sanctions that can be imposed if students fail to comply.
    • University working groups have been established to create and disseminate training materials and educational communications regarding how to meet standards and expectations and why compliance is necessary.
    • Student leaders have committed to supporting University efforts at creating a culture of compliance by creating and distributing student-driven messages encouraging cooperation and personal responsibility.
    • The University has established a working group to liaise with local government, law enforcement, media and healthcare leaders to monitor the impact of the return of the student population on community metrics related to economic reopening. This working group will advance community initiatives related to education of the community on safety standards, safe use of transportation services supporting student mobility, safe access of municipal services and the adoption of appropriate ordinances or other effective measures to control student gatherings.
    • Students will be strongly discouraged from traveling outside of the campus region for the duration of the fall semester, absent an emergency.
    • The University will, when necessary, enforce compliance by interventions appropriate to the context. This could include adjournment of a class session by a faculty member, removal from campus housing pursuant to the housing license or denial of on-campus wireless access to the non-compliant off-campus student.

  • 8. Financial Planning
    The University is faced with a financially challenging 2020-21 academic year. The New York state budget is expected to have a shortfall of up to 25%, which will be passed to us through SUNY. This is estimated to be approximately $10 million for our campus. We are also uncertain of what occupancy our residence halls will have, and what enrollment numbers will be. We have asked all deans and vice presidents to reduce their spending for the academic year by 10% through any reductions possible, such as not filling open positions. We expect to receive approximately $6.8 million from the U.S. CARES Act and could potentially get more as the federal government considers other forms of support to state governments. We are in the process of refinancing the debt on our residence halls in coordination with DASNY. If we add all this up, with ranges of possibilities in enrollment and occupancy, we will have a very small margin for error.

Appendix: SUNY checklist for restarting on-campus activities and operations

  • SUNY checklist for restarting on-campus activities and operations

    1. Repopulation of the campus

    Capacity to maintain social distancing

    • The move-in/residence halls: Move-in will be extended over the seven days prior to the first day of classes: Wednesday, Aug. 19 to Tuesday, Aug. 25. Each resident student will be assigned a specific move-in day and time window to modulate the flow of students on to campus and into any residential area or building. Each resident student will be permitted to be accompanied on to campus by up to two family members or friends; however, only the student will be permitted to enter the residence halls. 
    • Academics: Nearly all classes with enrollments of more than 45 students will be taught online. This will allow us to ensure appropriate social distancing of 6 feet between people in our classrooms. All courses, whether taught online or in person, will have access to in-person exam locations and times. These exam rooms will be large spaces where social distancing can be ensured. They will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday periodically during the fall semester. Instructors can choose to hold in-person exams at the time of their class, or in the evenings. If a student has a class conflict, illness or other approved absence, a makeup exam will be made available. Instructors will make alternate arrangements for students who are living remotely and taking their class online. Instructors will teach fully online if they requested this option. 

    Classes with fewer than 45 students may be taught in person as space permits. Because the number of classrooms available to teach at the allowed density that maintains 6 feet between people is limited, priority will be given to courses with the following characteristics:

     i.      The course requires special equipment/space or involves performing activities that can only be done in person;

     ii.      The course will enhance the learning experience for our first-year students and help introduce them to the intellectual give and take of college-level work;

     iii.      The course is a capstone or senior experience (e.g. honors).

    To allow more courses to have an in-person component, many classes will meet alternate weeks in person and online. This will enable us to give twice as many students an in-person experience while ensuring social distancing in our classrooms. 

    Students who are registered for an in-person class but wish to take it online will be accommodated in one of the following ways:

    i.      The course will be streamed live by the instructor.

    ii.      The student can select another course that is offered online and will take the in-person class in a later semester.

    Students and instructors in classrooms will wear face coverings at all times.

    For most courses that are being taught in person, the University has implemented a hyflex model that allows students to take the course online if they choose to do so.

    •  Employees: Employees who can successfully perform their work remotely will be allowed to do so, either in full or in part, and should develop a plan accordingly with their supervisor. Employees who do come to campus for work will be expected to limit their in-person interactions with others. Gathering socially in break rooms, lobbies, kitchens and other employees’ offices is prohibited. 

    We are employing a number of different methods to socially distance employees, including staggered start times, installing a drive-thru timeclock to discourage congregating while clocking in, staggered lunch times, etc. The total number of occupants at any given time will be limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy for that space and/or in accordance with physical distancing guidelines of 6 feet between people.

    Employees who wish to work on campus will have that option and it will be done in a way that reduces density and meets social distancing guidelines. The most viable option for this is to create a rotation of two or three sets of employees in each department/office. For example, employee set A comes on half of the days, employee set B comes on half of the days, and employee set C may stay home completely. Because office and departments have different constraints and population densities, they will each be asked to file a rotation plan that shows the on-campus schedule of all employees within that department or office. 

    Employees who do come to campus for work will be expected to limit their in-person interactions with others. Gathering socially in break rooms, lobbies, kitchens and other employees’ offices is prohibited.

    • Campus pedestrian traffic: Modeling by faculty in our Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department has shown that moving many classes to online and allowing staff and faculty to work from home will drastically reduce the amount of close contacts on campus.   

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KBAD0eD5dMfGkLPS0aY9sEDBj7StVnJx/view?usp=sharing

    However, they have also shown that, at several pinch points on campus, we should reduce bidirectional pedestrian traffic, as well as create expectations of how to enter and exit classrooms:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-40nlP-DKrVUmpLRQfbpGoAt-sMaJ74_/view?usp=sharing

    We will incorporate these guidelines through social norming, signage and monitoring. 

    PPE

    • All faculty, staff and students will receive a 2 oz. personal-size bottle of hand sanitizer that can be refilled at designated stations across campus, a washable and reusable microfiber cloth for cleaning spaces and another for hand drying to avoid the use of hand dryers in bathrooms, as well as two cloth face coverings that can be laundered and reused. Face coverings must be worn in classrooms at all times.
    • Anyone in a Binghamton University (or University affiliated) space (including buildings, grounds, shared laboratory areas, conference rooms, restrooms, elevators, parking structures, etc.) must wear a face covering or mask that covers both nose and mouth at all times, except when alone in a private room, private office, private vehicle, cubicle space when appropriate social distancing can be maintained, in a more isolated area with no other people in proximity, or when exercising outside when appropriate social distancing can be maintained. 

    Screening and testing

    • The campus will modify our traditional move-in process to facilitate COVID-19 testing of resident students upon arrival to campus (off-campus students will be tested on a voluntary basis). All residential students will be tested for active COVID-19 infection upon arrival to campus and prior to move in. Students will be tested for active COVID-19 virus via saliva swab. Each test requires approximately 15-20 minutes to perform.  
    • A dedicated working group is developing a logistics and policy plan for testing resident students and supporting their move into assigned spaces or isolation as applicable. Features of the plan include point of contact (PoC) testing on campus, decontamination strategies for personal belongings and customized University assistance for special populations (international arrivals, students with medical conditions, etc.).

    The University will also implement a retesting program for resident students as well as student-facing employees. The retesting model may adopt a surveillance testing approach or a diagnostic testing approach rather than retesting every individual. The specific elements of our retesting program are being developed by public health and health sciences experts.

    Prior to the return of students for the fall semester, a small group of students currently living in summer housing will be tested as well as faculty and staff volunteers. This process will help the University evaluate the testing procedures for efficacy and efficiency.

    All tests will be performed by employees and students from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS), which has been certified by New York state as a Limited Service Laboratory for these tests, and the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

    Students who test positive for the COVID-19 virus will be asked to either return home to recover or to reside in a residence hall designated for isolation until medically cleared to move into their University on-campus residence.

    We are also recommending that students have limited contact with others for at least five days before they come to campus. 

    • All employees are expected to self-monitor their health before coming to work each day as per guidelines provided by SUNY, and to complete a very brief questionnaire found in the University's portal each day before arriving on campus or within the first hour of physically reporting to the workplace. It will take less than a minute to complete and can be done from a computer or smartphone. If they have an elevated temperature (greater than 100.4 °F); have been in close contact with a person confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days; are experiencing any symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, troubled breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell; or have tested positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test in the past 14 days, they must remain home, contact their healthcare provider and follow their guidance.

    Employees who enter the workplace must also complete a 12-minute video that was made available to all employees via individual links provided in an email message from 'BComply "NY Return to Work" Training Module Assigned.’ If employees report to campus and have a persistent cough or are congested, they will be asked by their supervisor to return home and contact their healthcare provider for guidance.

    • On a weekly basis, all resident students will be expected to complete the same screening tool, that is used daily by employees, through a prompt upon login to the University portal.  

    Residential living

    • Campus residence halls will plan to open at near capacity, modified as follows: 

    i.            All sleeping rooms will be single or double occupancy, depending upon design. Designed triples will be reduced to double occupancy and the campus will control assignments to prevent over capacity and temporary triple rooms.

    ii.            One residence hall will not be assigned and will be reserved for use as a quarantine/isolation site. The campus has the capacity to bring up a second residence hall for additional quarantine/isolation space if needed during the fall term.

     iii.            The campus will increase the number of single rooms held out of the regular room assignment process to support additional requests for medical singles made through the existing process to request housing accommodations.

    iv.         Students will be required to wear face coverings in common areas (elevators, hallways, laundry rooms and study lounges) where 6 feet of separation cannot be clearly maintained. 

    • Students will have access to the residence hall in which they reside, but guests, whether from on or off campus, will not be allowed in residence halls.
    • Physical Facilities will deploy cleaning staff from third shift to first in order to enhance the cleaning of high-traffic areas and touch points across the campus, adhering to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health.

    Physical Facilities will provide cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, lobbies, building entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles).

    • Resident students will sign a Housing License Addendum in which they agree to abide by measures put into place to meet public health standards established by state and local health officials, SUNY and the State of New York as a result of COVID-19.

    Operational activity

    • Binghamton University began allowing some research activity in June. Researchers must apply for the ability to return to campus and commit to observing social distancing guidelines as well as guidelines to disinfect spaces and other policies. To date, about 120 applications have been received and reviewed, with more than 400 researchers having returned to campus. The application process, and adherence to guidelines prior to any approval being granted, will continue. 
    • Some non-essential employees began returning to work on campus in mid-June. All employees are required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and complete a very brief screening questionnaire prior to coming to campus, or within the first hour of being on campus, each day they are on campus. This process will continue as more employees return to campus. Those employees who do not need to come to campus to complete their duties continue to work from home.
    • Nearly all classes with enrollments of more than 45 students will be taught online. All courses, whether taught online or in person, will have access to in-person exam locations and times. These exam rooms will be large spaces where social distancing can be ensured. They will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday periodically during the fall semester. Instructors can choose to hold in-person exams at the time of their class, or in the evenings. If a student has a class conflict, illness or other approved absence, a makeup exam will be made available. Instructors will make alternate arrangements for students who are living remotely and taking their class online. 

    Instructors will teach fully online if they requested this option.

    Classes with fewer than 45 students may be taught in person as space permits. Deans’ offices have worked with instructors and department chairs to determine which instructors should be provided an online teaching assignment and which courses should be prioritized for in-person instruction. Because the number of classrooms available to teach at the allowed density of 6 feet between people is limited, priority will be given to courses with the following characteristics:

    i.            The course requires special equipment/space or involves performing activities that can only be done in person;

    ii.            The course will enhance the learning experience for our first-year students and help introduce them to the intellectual give and take of college-level work;

    iii.            The course is a capstone or senior experience (e.g. honors). 

    Students who are registered for an in-person class but wish to take it online will be accommodated in one of the following ways:

     i.            The course will be streamed live by the instructor.

    ii.            The student can select another course that is offered online and will take the in-person class in a later semester.

    Students and instructors in classrooms will wear face coverings at all times.

    Restart operations

    • Our campus has been operational and some essential employees have been working on campus for the summer so all buildings’ HVAC systems have remained on and operational. Cleaning has continued as normal as well, thus we don’t anticipate problems reopening buildings as none have actually been closed. 

    Extracurricular activities including intramurals and student performances

    • One of the guiding principles of this plan pertains to maximizing student success and providing the richest experience possible for all students within Reopening New York Guidelines. Traditional strategies to create community through in-person group programming will be limited. Small gatherings of students will be limited to spaces that can accommodate appropriate social distancing and will require wearing masks. A cross-departmental working group including staff and student leaders has developed virtual student life programs and services. In-person recreational programs (Club Sports, intramurals, outdoor pursuits, group exercise classes) will be planned in accordance with Reopening New York Sports and Recreation Guidelines. Dining halls and retail food service facilities will provide all food in single-serve, to-go containers; will use only single-use, prepackaged utensils and condiments; and will deploy touchless payment systems. Campus libraries, study spaces, computing labs and student service areas will operate consistently with relevant state guidelines and be designed to maintain physical distancing of patrons and staff while also requiring face coverings. In-person student group meetings permissible under state guidelines will be scheduled centrally in a manner that will support contact tracing.

    Vulnerable populations

    • Employees who are asked to return to work on campus who fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19 complications should contact Human Resources to discuss options for the possibility of a remote work assignment and/or accommodation. In general, these will be approved when requested, unless the employee’s job requires in-person work (such as grounds, cleaning and maintenance). Alternative work assignments will be developed for these employees so they may stay at home or work in a remote area. Students who fall into this category have the option of participating in classes online. Students with disabilities are directed to a dedicated office to provide reasonable accommodations as appropriate. 

    Hygiene, cleaning and disinfection

    • Physical Facilities will deploy cleaning staff from third shift to first in order to enhance the cleaning of high-traffic areas and touch points across the campus, adhering to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health. In addition, in residence halls, suite and flat bathrooms will be cleaned once per week, scheduled to minimize staff and student interactions. Communal bathrooms in corridor-style housing will be cleaned daily. Cleaning in the residence halls will be performed in accordance with applicable CDC and NYS Dept. of Health guidelines, including the use of a disinfectant that is DEC- and EPA-registered for use against SARS-CoV-2. 

      Physical Facilities will provide cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, lobbies, building entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles).

    2. Monitoring

    Testing responsibility

    • The University plans to test all resident students upon arrival to campus, as outlined in Section 1.a. Screening and Testing. Off-campus students can be tested if they wish at the beginning of the semester, dependent upon the availability of tests. Any students who present with symptoms at any point during the semester can be evaluated for the need to be tested through the Decker Student Health Services Center. Student-facing employees will be tested both through surveillance and diagnostically. Employees are required to self-monitor on a daily basis before coming to campus and report results to the campus.

    Testing frequency and protocols

    • The University will implement a retesting program for resident students. The retesting model will adopt both a surveillance testing approach and a diagnostic testing approach and will not retest every resident student. The specific elements of our re-testing program are being developed by public health and health sciences experts. The University will also supplement the state/county contact tracing network with additional contact tracers, trained to the same standards, who shall work in coordination with the Broome County Department of Health. University practices with respect to quarantine/isolation of students in campus facilities have been and will continue to be reviewed with the Broome County Department of Health.

    Early warning signs

    • Faculty and staff are required to self-monitor on a daily basis before coming to campus and report results to the campus. (Symptoms and exposure times can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.) A high number of absent employees could be one warning sign. An increase in the daily usage of the Decker Student Health Services Center by students with COVID-19 symptoms will be a second early indicator. A large percentage of absent students from in-person classes will be an indicator as well. Also, our surveillance and diagnostic testing program will identify new cases, their origin and potential outbreaks.

    Tracing

    • The University will supplement the state/county contact tracing network with additional contact tracers, trained to the same standards, who shall work in coordination with the Broome County Department of Health. 

    Screening

    • The University will implement a retesting program for resident students. The re-testing model will adopt both a surveillance testing approach and a diagnostic testing approach and will not retest every resident student. The specific elements of our re-testing program are being developed by public health and health sciences experts.
    • Employees are required to self-monitor on a daily basis before coming to campus and report results to the campus.       
    • Campus visitors will be limited to essential visitors only, such as delivery personnel for food, mail and supplies, and for small, self-guided family admission  tours. Auxiliary Services vendors have all submitted plans for operations that include the obligations of delivery persons to do symptom screening before coming to campus and to use all appropriate PPE.

    3. Containment

    Isolation

    • The University practices with respect to quarantine/isolation of students have been and will continue to be in consultation with the Broome County Health Department (BCHD). Returning home for quarantine/isolation is always an option for students if they are able and have private transportation. 
    • A residential hall has been reserved for on-campus residing students who need quarantine/isolation and who wish to remain on campus. This hall has two separate wings of three floors each where students will be assigned; ill students in the wing designated for isolation, those requiring quarantine in the other. There are two additional residential spaces on campus identified if surge capacity is needed. 
    • Students in on-campus quarantine/isolation spaces will be provided with a “care” kit that includes items such as a thermometer, Tylenol, masks, hand sanitizer, water pitcher, etc. This kit will also include educational materials on what students should do in quarantine/isolation; expectations of behavior in the designated spaces; instructions on meal ordering, laundry and trash removal; and resource and emergency numbers.
    • Off-campus students will be quarantined/isolated in their off-campus residences as per the guidance of the BCHD.
    • The University will be developing a team of contact tracers who will work in coordination with the Broome County Health Department. These trained tracers will make daily contact with students in quarantine/isolation, residing on and off campus. In addition, students who were seen by the Decker Student Health Services Center will receive regular follow-up by health provider staff from the health service.  
    • Many services on campus (i.e. University Counseling Center, Case Management, tutoring) will be providing the option of tele-services in the fall, and students in quarantine/isolation, on or off campus, will continue to have access to these services. The proposed academic plan will allow most classes to be offered remotely so that students who are unable to attend classes in person can continue their educational endeavors while in quarantine/isolation.
    • Students will be required to quarantine/isolate until medically cleared to resume their normal activities.
    • Employees who test positive and/or are exposed to an individual who has tested positive are expected to isolate/quarantine as per the guidance of their healthcare provider.

    Quarantine

    • See isolation section above.

    Students confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19

    • Students who test positive for the COVID-19 virus will be asked to either return home to recover or to reside in a residence hall designated for isolation until medically cleared to move into their University on-campus residence. 

    Hygiene, cleaning and disinfection

    • Physical Facilities will deploy cleaning staff from third shift to first in order to enhance the cleaning of high-traffic areas and touch points across the campus, adhering to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health. In addition, in residence halls, suite and flat bathrooms will be cleaned once per week, scheduled to minimize staff and student interactions. Communal bathrooms in corridor-style housing will be cleaned daily. Cleaning in the residence halls will be performed in accordance with applicable CDC and NYS Dept. of Health guidelines, including the use of a disinfectant that is DEC- and EPA-registered for use against SARS-CoV-2.             
    • Physical Facilities will provide cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, lobbies, building entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles).
    • All faculty, staff and students will receive a 2 oz. personal-size bottle of hand sanitizer that can be refilled at designated stations across campus. Microfiber towels will be made available to employees so that they can frequently clean surfaces in their work areas. In addition, Physical Facilities is installing hand-sanitizing units at the main entrances to all buildings on campus and in multiple locations in high-traffic buildings. Each employee and student will be provided with two washable and reusable face coverings. We will also provide employees personal hand-drying towels to avoid the use of hand dryers in bathrooms.

    Communication

    • The University will clearly and recurrently communicate all standards and expectations to all members of the campus community and they will be incorporated into course syllabi, the Housing License Addendum, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and other relevant University policies and procedures as appropriate. Students will acknowledge receipt and understanding of these standards and expectations and accept responsibility for compliance through the Confirmation of Enrollment process or similar pathway. We are also developing a set of progressive sanctions that can be imposed if students fail to comply.

    University working groups have been established to create and disseminate training materials and educational communications regarding how to meet standards and expectations and why compliance is necessary.

    Student leaders have committed to supporting University efforts at creating a culture of compliance by creating and distributing student-driven messages encouraging cooperation and personal responsibility.

    • The University will use all available communication channels to adequately inform students, faculty and staff about expectations and requirements. These channels will include direct email messages, the University’s website and social media, electronic signage, etc. 
    • The University has developed a website that includes guidelines for workplace reentry, research continuity, resources and frequently asked questions. This website is being updated as new information becomes available and will continue to be a main resource for communicating to all of our populations.

    4. Return to remote operations (shutdown)

    Operational activity

    • Academic programs: Binghamton will be well-positioned to continue in the event that we experience another disruption to our academic course delivery in fall 2020. Virtually every course delivered this fall will already be either fully online, hybrid or hyflex. Over the summer, faculty will prepare for non-traditional course delivery, and our instructional support team in the Center for Learning and Teaching will assist them with preparation. Our academic calendar further enhances flexible approaches to course delivery in the event of a shutdown since all courses will shift to fully online delivery after Thanksgiving. 

    In addition to course delivery, we are also in a stronger position for offering student support for academic success in the event of a shutdown. Our experience last spring has prepared us to offer high-quality tutoring, advising and other student services remotely.

    In addition, because we have revised our academic calendar to eliminate any breaks during the fall semester prior to Thanksgiving, when we will send our students home for the remainder of the semester, we will not have any issues with students being away should we require any level of shutdown.

    • Residential and Student Life: In the event of a shutdown, some students will, of necessity, need to remain on campus. The campus will have important resources already in place because of our general operating plan for the fall semester. We have the capacity to provide recurrent diagnostic and surveillance testing in a dedicated campus space. This capacity includes a dedicated quarantine/isolation building with 100+ beds. We are developing our own contact tracing capacity. Our food service is being designed as single serving/takeout and can be continuously provided, and we have clear and enforceable policies with respect to social distancing and masking that is being communicated to students in advance and supported with a broad-based education effort. We will distribute reusable masks, washable and reusable microfiber cloths, and refillable personal hand-sanitizer bottles to all faculty, staff and students, and we are modeling the impact of the return to campus of our student population on New York Forward metrics to plan for additional capacity in the local health system to accommodate the population increase.

    In the event of a prevalence of community infection that requires changes to the campus operating plan, the University will adopt additional protective measures designed to permit campus residents to effectively shelter in place. We will quickly transition to fully online instruction that will eliminate the need for off-campus students to come to campus facilities with limited exceptions. We will cease operation of our student bus system (OCCT) and rely upon Broome County Transit (BCT) to support the essential transportation needs of those remaining on campus (e.g., grocery store access for apartment dwellers). Restrictions on travel from/return to campus will be effectuated in collaboration with Broome County officials.       

    • Staff: Staff other than essential employees will transition to fully remote work. To the extent that limited small-scale and reduced-density, in-person meetings and activities had been permitted, such activities will cease or move to fully online where possible. For those employees whose jobs require that they physically be on campus, we are instituting staggered arrival and departure times, use of PPE, self-monitoring of symptoms as per the SUNY guidelines, as well as additional measures to assure the health and safety of all members of the Binghamton University community.
    • Physical Facilities: Should an individual on campus be confirmed to have COVID-19, Physical Facilities will provide cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, lobbies, building entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles). 

    Move-out

    • As we did successfully in March 2020, the University will deploy an orderly move-out process that will incorporate social distancing and continued housing to students who require it.

    Communication

    • In the event of a shutdown, the University will use all available communication channels to adequately inform students, faculty and staff what the process and procedure will be. These channels will include direct email messages, the University’s website and social media, electronic signage, etc.
  • Addendum A.1. Quarantine procedure for students coming from highly infected states and countries

    To guide us in developing a plan for out-of-state students who are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to New York state, Binghamton University is following a series of state public health guidelines. Students from one of these states (find the current list online for states deemed to have significant, active spread of COVID-19), must complete a 14-day quarantine prior to moving into their campus residence hall. 

    Students in this situation have three available options:

    1. Complete the required quarantine in New York state (or another location not subject to the quarantine requirement) independently prior to move-in day.
    2. Complete the required quarantine at the University's designated quarantine location (a nearby hotel). There is no cost for on-campus students. (Off-campus students are responsible to make their own reservations and pay their own costs with the hotel; however, they are entitled to the University negotiated rate and the University can provide meal delivery if they have or purchase a University dining commuter meal plan.)
    3. Enroll in remote course instruction for the fall term and cancel on-campus housing without penalty.

    All students who are required to quarantine must complete the New York State Traveler Health Form in advance of the 14-day quarantine period. Find the form and more information online. Students must then complete the University form found online, including a screen shot of the completed New York State Traveler Health Form in advance of permitting the student to move into the residence hall.

    Students who choose to quarantine at the hotel will have meals delivered and charged to their meal plans.

    Students who choose to quarantine at the hotel should plan to arrive Wednesday, Aug. 19, so that they will have seven days of quarantine completed prior to the start of classes. They will take courses online for the remaining seven days of their quarantine and then be able to move into their residence hall and begin attending the in-person classes on their schedule.

    The University will work with on-campus students who choose not to undergo quarantine to manage their class registration, withdraw them from housing without penalty and discuss options for returning to campus in the spring term. Email reslife@binghamton.edu or call 607-777-2322.