Published: Jan. 7, 2021

Through the spring semester, campus officials are providing regular updates, including dashboard stats and items of note related to COVID-19.

Boulder County shifts to Level Orange

Boulder County, following an order from Gov. Jared Polis, shifted to Level Orange: High Risk on the COVID-19 state dial as of Monday, Jan. 4. This shift will be considered as the campus analyzes conditions to determine if the return to in-person classes will resume on Feb. 15 as intended. The campus will confirm the spring 2021 plan by Jan. 14, and more information is below in this update. The Level Orange: High Risk restrictions impact various campus services, and more information will be shared before the spring semester begins.

The shift to Level Orange: High Risk eases some restrictions that were in place under Level Red. In Level Orange, some of what is permitted includes:

  • Building occupancy for higher education: 25% posted occupancy permitted, not to exceed 50 people per room, excluding staff with face coverings indoors and physical distancing of 6 feet.
  • Indoor and outdoor personal gatherings: up to 10 people from a maximum of two separate households with face coverings indoors and physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Outdoor dining: tables 6 feet apart with up to 10 people, face coverings and physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Indoor dining: 25% posted occupancy not to exceed 50 per room with face coverings and physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Indoor gyms/recreation/pools: 25% capacity not to exceed 50 people with face coverings indoors and physical distance of 6 feet.

You can learn more from the county’s news release Monday. As a reminder, it is important to continue following public health guidance by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and following the guidelines on personal gatherings.

Surveillance monitoring testing available for faculty, staff, students and immediate family/household members

CU Boulder faculty, staff and students with a Buff OneCard and their immediate family/household members can participate in the campus surveillance monitoring program. This option will continue as long as testing capacity permits.

All participants must be asymptomatic and arrive at the testing site accompanied by their CU Boulder affiliate/Buff OneCard holder. Buff OneCard holders seeking testing must first complete their Buff Pass. Surveillance monitoring tests are free to CU Boulder Buff OneCard holders’ immediate family/household members. For individuals with difficulty providing a sample in a tube, such as young children, as long as the participant is able to provide the necessary amount of saliva, the test can be processed.

There are four sites available, Monday to Friday. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all sites:

Parking for surveillance monitoring testing

Those visiting campus for testing may park at parking meters and pay-to-park lots located throughout campus, and should be prepared to follow short term parking guidance

Testing notifications

The surveillance monitoring test laboratory looks for signs of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Notifications of results are provided as follows:

  • If a Buff OneCard holder’s own sample indicates signs of the virus, the Buff OneCard holder will receive an email by the end of the next day from either Medical Services (for students) or Human Resources (for faculty/staff).
  • If a Buff OneCard holder’s test result shows no signs of the virus, is inconclusive or is unable to be processed, a notification email is sent by the end of the next day from
  • If a family or household member’s test result indicates signs of the virus, the associated Buff OneCard holder will receive an email by the end of the next day from the COVID-19 monitoring email address for every person whose test result indicates signs of the virus.
  • If a family or household member’s test result indicates no signs of the virus, is inconclusive, or is unable to be processed, no notification is sent.

About surveillance monitoring

The surveillance monitoring program involves a saliva-based polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test that looks for signs of SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic individuals. The test is not diagnostic and cannot medically determine if a person is positive or negative for COVID-19.

Contact tracing continues

The Public Health Clinic at Wardenburg continues to provide services related to COVID-19. Contact tracing, case investigation and diagnostic testing continue.

Other testing options

Chancellor news

On Jan. 5, Chancellor Phil DiStefano tested positive for COVID-19. DiStefano reported having mild symptoms and continues to isolate at home. See the Jan. 5 announcement for more information.

New Pandemic Response Office director; vaccination planning; expanded spring testing protocols 

New director of operations

Megan Hatten joined the campus Pandemic Response Office as the director of operations. Prior to joining CU Boulder, Hatten worked as the director of administration and finance with Boulder County Public Health. Her professional background includes project management experience and service as a captain in the U.S. Army.

Vaccination distribution

  • Boulder County Public Health has requested CU Boulder be a part of its vaccine distribution plan. The Pandemic Response Office is working with county and state partners on how the university will collaborate.
  • Information is not confirmed yet on when vaccines will be available for people beyond the state’s phase 1A (medical providers). More information will be forthcoming on timing, quantity, and recipient prioritization.
  • The campus anticipates serving as an optional site for vaccines as faculty, staff and students become eligible to receive them. The campus will follow the phases as outlined by the state.
  • The Pandemic Response Office is seeking clarification as to whether CU Boulder faculty are included among educators as defined in the state’s Phase 1B distribution.
  • Thus far, the university received 100 doses to begin providing vaccines to staff in Medical Services who provide direct patient care and are part of the state’s Phase 1A. Once Phase 1A is completed, the focus will be on Phase 1B.
    • As vaccines become available for eligible employees to receive according to the state framework, the employees will be notified of the option for receiving the vaccine through CU Boulder.
  • Updates regarding vaccines will continue to be shared as new information becomes available. Vaccines will be a focus in the COVID-19 weekly update articles, in campus Q&A webinars and through additional communications.

Expansion of on-campus testing

Information about expanded spring semester testing options for students is forthcoming. 

Updates to the COVID-19 dashboard

The campus COVID-19 dashboard will be refreshed at the start of the spring semester. Beginning Jan. 14, the dashboard will display data for the spring semester only and information about the fall semester will be available separately for those needing to access fall semester information.

Contacting the Pandemic Response Office

CU Boulder departments or units working on or planning any new protocols, operations or programming related to the COVID-19 pandemic should email the Pandemic Response Office.

Buff Info to launch Jan. 11

  • To provide the CU Boulder community a centralized point of connection and information, the campus is establishing Buff Info, a team of dedicated professionals to answer questions and provide connections with campus resources.
  • Buff Info liaisons can be reached at 303-492-INFO (4636) or via email at, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The university will extend these hours when needed.
  • The Buff Info team is available to answer questions on a wide variety of topics related to CU Boulder and help faculty, staff, students and parents connect with the appropriate campus office for additional information or assistance as needed.

Spring 2021 semester

The first four weeks of the spring semester (which begins Jan. 14) will occur in a remote-only format for all courses.The campus intends on returning to a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid courses on Feb. 15.

Spring 2021 commencement

The spring 2021 commencement ceremony will occur virtually, as it did in 2020, because indications are that large gatherings, such as commencement, will not yet be safe by early May.

Buff Pass 

  • Campus affiliates and visitors must complete the Buff Pass Daily Health Questionnaire daily before coming to campus. 
  • Updates to the Herd Tracker, which provides occupancy information for campus locations, are designed to be more readable. Users can also more easily find information on campus locations of interest.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions and contact information for support are available on the Buff Pass Information and FAQ webpage.

Building access

  • Most buildings on campus are locked. As of Monday, Dec. 14, campus has been operating on weekend/holiday access protocols. This will continue through Tuesday, Jan. 12. 
    • Students, faculty and staff who normally have weekend and after-hours access to specific buildings still have access to those buildings during this time. 
  • Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13, and running through Friday, Feb. 12, all CU affiliates will have general access via Buff OneCard to the Engineering Center, CASE Building and SEEC from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • This access provides students the use of these facilities for study space and use of computer labs during the fully remote start to the spring semester.
  • Prior access preferences established on Buff OneCards for students, faculty and staff will remain in place. Students, faculty and staff who normally have weekend and after-hours access to specific buildings will still have access to those buildings.
  • Anyone needing special access to a specific building is asked to contact their building proctors, C-CURE operators or department chairs to request the authorization/access needed on their Buff OneCards. 
  • University Libraries, the Recreation Center and the UMC publish their respective hours on their websites.
  • Building access protocols for beyond Feb. 12 will be updated once campus confirms in-person and remote learning plans for the remainder of the semester. 
  • More information is available on the COVID-19 campus building access webpage.

Exposure notification service available in Colorado

Whom to contact:

  • Beginning Monday, Jan. 11, the Buff Info team will be available to answer questions and connect people with campus offices and resources as needed. Buff Info liaisons can be reached at 303-492-INFO (4636) or via email at, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with extended hours when needed.
  • For campus technology issues or concerns, call the Office of Information Technology at 303-735-4357 (5-HELP).
  • For health questions, contact your health care provider or Medical Services at 303-492-5101 (24/7 nurse line available for students) for advice and recommendations.
  • For mental health questions or concerns, call Counseling and Psychiatric Services at 303-492-2277 (24/7 support available for students).
  • If you are experiencing trauma related to a crime or relationship, please call the Office of Victim Assistance at 303-492-8855 (24/7 support available for all students, faculty and staff).
  • For faculty and staff, call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at 303-492-3020.
  • For families, New Student & Family Programs will be happy to assist you. Call or text 303-492-4431 or email
  • For employment and payroll questions, call Human Resources at 303-492-6475.
  • Have additional questions about how COVID-19 affects your studies or work with CU Boulder? Use LiveChat at or submit your question via the ask a question form.
  • For students who need assistance or who may be in crisis, please contact Students of Concern at 303-492-7348,, or visit the Students of Concern Team webpage.