Returning to Classrooms & Research

Health & Safety in the Classroom 

The following guidance is specifically for instructors and students who are meeting in classrooms during the Fall 2020 semester. Please visit our general Health & Safety page for additional guidance. 


Classroom capacities have been adjusted based on room size and seating options to accommodate physical distancing procedures. 

  • In classrooms with fixed seating, such as lecture centers, capacity was reduced to 20%. 

  • In classrooms with moveable seats, capacity was reduced to 40%. 

In-person and hybrid courses will be rescheduled into classrooms that meet the new capacity limits based on course enrollment caps. Instructors can reserve any remaining classroom space for in-person office hours or small group meetings using the EMS reservation system. 

Classrooms too small to allow for proper physical distancing will be used to store extra furniture. 


While custodial crews will continue to follow CDC guidelines by regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-use common areas and workspaces, including handrails and door handles, additional care should be taken to wipe down and disinfect public surfaces used by multiple people. 

Instructors will be provided with disinfectant and sanitizer to use in the classroom. There will also be disinfectant wipes at the front of the classroom, so instructors can sterilize any areas they’ll touch. 

Disinfectant and sanitizer will be available at central locations adjacent to classrooms for instructors and students to acquire and wipe down surfaces as they enter the room.  


Face Coverings

Students and instructors will be required to wear a mask or face covering when attending an in-person class. Signs and syllabus instructions will clearly articulate and reinforce this policy. 

Disposable masks will be available to students and instructors in central campus locations during the first two weeks of the semester. Instructors can also request a face shield. 

Instructors can require a student to leave the classroom if they refuse to wear a mask.

Instructors may remove their mask while lecturing or leading instruction to ensure students clearly understand the instructions — but only if it is absolutely necessary and they are able to remain in the designated lecturing area, at least six feet from others, at all times. 

Instructors with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in their classes will be provided a hooded face shield or visible mouth mask.


Signs about physical distancing and furniture arrangement will be posted inside all classrooms. Extra chairs and furniture will be removed from classrooms, where possible. 

Students should only sit in designated seats. Markings or signs should not be removed. Furniture, including chairs, should not be moved.

  • In classrooms with fixed seating, such as lecture centers, seats that are not to be used will be covered or marked to establish safe seating patterns.  

  • In classrooms with moveable seating, tables and chairs will be replaced with armchairs and node chairs. 

Furniture has been removed from rooms and stored elsewhere to ensure physical distancing capacities are maintained. The remaining classroom furniture should not be removed from its original classroom or moved to another location.


Given space limitations, many lab courses will be delivered as hybrid courses with alternating attendance. Students will be split into groups with alternating schedules, so that while some students conduct in-person lab work, other students will complete alternative work assignments remotely.  

Cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols will be determined by CDC guidelines. Academic departments may release additional guidelines based on each course’s needs and assigned lab space. 


All classrooms will be equipped with audio-visual (AV) tools that support web conferencing. This will enable instruction to be broadcast to some or all students synchronously or to be recorded for asynchronous viewing. 

Resuming Research and Scholarly Activities  

The Research and Scholarship Continuity Task Force has developed recommendations for the resumption of research and scholarly activities and an approval process to verify that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure personal safety and the safe operation of laboratory and research spaces.  

Faculty and researchers who can perform research and scholarly activities remotely should continue to do so from home. However, physically being on campus will be permitted for research and scholarship that require the use of campus facilities and instrumentation.   

To start the approval process, please follow these instructions:

Step 1: Review the guidelines

Review the guidelines outlined in the Task Force’s Recommendations, as well as the literature cited and linked in the report.   

Download, print and post in your labs and workspaces the campus’s COVID-19 signage for safety and physical distancing.   

Also, please download and review UAlbany’s Environmental Health and Safety Checklist for Restarting Research Activities.

Step 2: Complete and submit an Approval Form

Complete and submit the Research Continuity Approval Form.   

Use the embedded link to email the form to the Division for Research and Office of Environmental Health & Safety. Please copy your department chair/director and your college/school dean on that email.   

If all requirements are met, you will receive approval from the Division for Research in a few days. 

Step 3: Inspect your lab

Once you receive approval from the Division for Research, you should then inspect your laboratory or workspace using the EHS Checklist. Keep a copy of the checklist readily accessible. Make sure everyone on your team is aware of and agrees to follow all pertinent recommendations and guidelines.

Please email with any questions. Find more information on the Division of Research’s COVID-19 website