Dean's Message on COVID-19

Published March 13, 2020 at 9:45 AM

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

The health and wellbeing of our Jacobs School community and our commitment to our educational, research and clinical programs are our top priorities. The realities of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic require us to modify our “normal daily lives”. 

This communication reinforces the “UB Transitioning to Distance Learning” document authored by Provost Scott Weber (attached) that was sent on Wednesday; and provides additional information specific to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences that covers, at least for now, the period from today through the end of May. Our goals are to reduce/modify/eliminate educational, research, and social venues having large densities of individuals and to decrease the number of individuals from outside our school community who enter our buildings. 

Working with senior Jacobs School leadership, I am implementing the plans detailed in Provost Weber’s document and providing the following specific information directly pertinent to our School activities at all sites where we conduct educational, research and clinical programs.  These elements are subject to change as the pandemic evolves. All changes will be communicated to you by email and on our School COVID-19 focused public website (School COVID-19 focused website).

The following changes will take effect on or before March 23:

  1. To the extent possible, converting classroom instruction in all classes regardless of class size to a modality that can be delivered remotely. UB is upgrading VPN connections and network bandwidth, and has provided the videos at ( and ( to help you learn WebEx and Panopto, respectively. In addition, special training sessions in the Jacobs School will be scheduled next week to further assist faculty.
  2. Replacing on-site medical student applicant interviews with remote interviews using Skype technology.
  3. Cancelling the Alpha Omega Alpha and Gold Humanism induction ceremonies.
  4. Modifying the Match Day event.
  5. Modifying PhD thesis defense seminars to limit attendees to the doctoral candidate and critical faculty.
  6. Cancelling all research seminars unless they can be delivered using a distance learning modality.
  7. Cancelling all clinical department grand rounds unless they can be delivered using a distant learning modality.
  8. Canceling all community-driven events scheduled to use space in the Jacobs School.
  9. Cancelling all non-essential tours of the Jacobs School.
  10. Cancelling all Jacobs School sponsored social events.

The following elements have not changed:

  1. Inpatient and outpatient clinical rotations for students and residents with the exception that students will not be assigned to patients with or suspected coronavirus disease.
  2. Campus operations, including research, scholarship, student academic support, health services, libraries, campus security, and university services.
  3. Essential small group learning activities that cannot be converted to distance learning delivery. Social distancing should be used If small classes need to be held.
  4. All professional obligations of faculty and staff.

The following events are still under consideration:

  1. Pre-match day retreat
  2. Medical School commencements (May 1 and May 17).
  3. Siegel Faculty/Student Awards reception

We face an unprecedented challenge. We are fortunate to have faculty, staff, and students who together will allow us to make sound decisions, adapt, and navigate this pandemic crisis. We will keep our community updated through email and our COVID-19 focused website, which can be found at this link (( and is designed to complement UB’s COVID-19 website (

Finally, please practice good health habits including frequent hand washing, and staying home if you feel ill. We care about and support each other. Stay well.

Thank you for your support and efforts,

Michael E. Cain, MD
Vice President for Health Sciences and
Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
University at Buffalo
955 Main Street, Room 6190
Buffalo, NY 14203-1121
Phone: 716-829-3955
Fax: 716-829-2179