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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates | University Resources | COVID-19 County Status | Fall 2021 Plans

Weekly Operational Updates

UNC President Andy Feinstein and his cabinet are meeting weekly to discuss the structure in place for managing UNC's response to COVID-19. Updates are being shared regarding the impact on Academics, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Financial Aid, Facilities, Housing/Dining Services as well as other operations on campus that are affected as the situation continues to develop.

May 6, 2021 (Watch on YouTube) -- This is the last Weekly Operational Updates video until further notice.

Transcript:

President Andy Feinstein:
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, May 6th, and this is our weekly operational status update call. Thank you all very much for joining us. It is the final week of the academic year and what a year it's been. Congratulations to all of our students, faculty, and staff for your hard work this academic year, and a big congratulations to all of our upcoming graduates, who we will be honoring at commencement this weekend. As a reminder, commencement this spring is broken up into four ceremonies, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. All ceremonies will be outside at Nottingham Field and we'll take place rain or shine.

President Andy Feinstein:
And should there be inclement weather, we will communicate with the graduates with as much advanced notice as possible with information on how the ceremony will be impacted. Christina Edwards, director of university events will be joining us shortly to provide further details on commencement this weekend and maybe a little insight into what the weather's going to look like.

President Andy Feinstein:
Well, after 14 months, this will be the final weekly operational status update call until further notice. And if you recall, when COVID first hit, we were doing these calls daily and they were eventually scaled back to a weekly update. And I hope these have been helpful to our students, faculty, staff, and family members of students who wanted to know how COVID was impacting our university. It has been a university-wide effort to keep our community safe and healthy. And I'm so appreciative of everyone for following our protocols, as we have navigated the pandemic. And it's going to be a welcome site to have all of our students, faculty, and staff back here on campus this fall. I'd now like to turn things over to Christina, who is going to provide us with some additional information about commencement this weekend. Christina?

Christina Edwards:
Good morning, everybody. It's nice to see you all again. I will be brief today since I joined you just a couple of weeks ago to talk through the universities in person commencement ceremonies. Students are finishing up finals and we are just a few days away from the celebration. People are starting to finalize their plans, and I know some are nervous about what they're seeing in the forecast. There's a chance of rain both days. That forecast is looking better today than it was yesterday. So hopefully it continues to improve. It also looks like Sunday's going to be a little chilly. We are planning to host our ceremonies at Nottingham rain or shine. So if you're going to attend, please watch the forecast and dress accordingly. Bring an umbrella or a poncho if you think you might need one.

Christina Edwards:
We have the campus forecast from our meteorology department up on the commencement website to help you out. I want everyone to understand that if we were to move the ceremonies inside, just because of rain, we wouldn't be able to have guests in attendance. We would have much smaller capacity allowances. And one of the reasons we decided to add those additional ceremonies across the weekend is so that families and support people can be in the stands to celebrate with our grads. We're committed to hosting guests for our graduates and having that community celebration. The only way to do that is to be outside.

Christina Edwards:
That being said, we obviously won't continue if the weather becomes unsafe. Blaine has set up some custom event forecasts through the National Weather Service for both days. Thank you, Blaine. And there's going to be staff dedicated to monitoring the weather radar. If the weather requires evacuation from Nottingham, we'll do everything we can to hold a delayed ceremony later in the day, rather than cancel outright. Delays and cancellations are going to be communicated through the university's social media channels and the commencement website. I also want to remind everyone that the ceremonies are going to be live streamed on the commencement website, unco.edu/commencement. And you'll be able to find that link on the university's main page this weekend as well. Anything can happen during spring in Colorado. So I am holding out hope that we'll have dry ceremonies and joyful celebrations. That's all I have, thanks Andy.

President Andy Feinstein:
Thanks Christina, and now let's hear from Blaine Nickeson with the COVID update. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson:
Thank you, President Feinstein. Good morning, everyone. We're 48 hours away from our first of four commencement ceremonies as Christina was describing. That means this crazy academic year is coming to a close. It's certainly one that I will never forget. As I look back at my notes, I believe we did our first one of these operational status updates 415 days ago. It's pretty hard to wrap my arms around. As we start the summer period, UNC will be relaxing some of our COVID mitigation measures to align with our peers and neighbors, given that the state's COVID dial has become guidance only.

Blaine Nickeson:
Why we while still require masks indoors, except in private work areas or residence hallways, masks will not be required outdoors. Certain events may still require them and we'll continue to encourage them when around others outdoors. But the science shows that the bulk of COVID transmission is really happening in doors and that's where we're seeing those restrictions being relaxed. And also more and more people are getting vaccinated. More than a third of Coloradans are fully vaccinated. Nearly half of our population having received at least one dose.

Blaine Nickeson:
Most of our indoor capacity limits will be dictated by the ability to maintain distance between individuals or cohorts. Our capacity indoors for dining seated events, the rec center, they'll be up to 100%, but with six feet in between those individuals or parties. Outdoor events won't have a capacity limit, but any event over 500 will require us to go through a special approval process with our local and state public health officials. To align with our summer return to work guidance, offices and workspaces can be up to 80% capacity, again with six foot distancing.

Blaine Nickeson:
Yesterday, we did a pop-up vaccine clinic for students in the university center in partnership with Weld County Public Health. Despite now widespread vaccine availability in the community, yesterday, Walmart and target announced that they could accept walk up appointments. We had a few hundred students take advantage of the convenience of receiving that single dose vaccine here on campus. My sincere thanks to Cindy Better and the student health center team, along with our friends at Weld Public Health for pulling this off on short notice.

Blaine Nickeson:
Also, thanks to all the support elements that had to mobilize, including marketing and communications and our events team for their support. We've scheduled a number of meetings for the next two weeks with the coronavirus task force and a number of additional key stakeholders in areas such as HR, admissions, IMT, and others, as we consider all the logistics and policy decisions related to the fall vaccine mandate that was announced last week. We're still planning to have most questions answered by May 21st. So stay tuned for that.

Blaine Nickeson:
To wrap up, I want to reflect on that number from the beginning. Our first one of these calls was 415 days ago. That also happened to be my first day working remotely. Prior to that, I had only been working at UNC for 208 days. I had to learn a lot about this wonderful university and its people and functions in a less than ideal situation to say the least.thank you to everyone for the grace you've granted me and our team as we've tried our best to navigate this pandemic. That's all I have for this morning, Andy, I'll turn it back over to you.

President Andy Feinstein:
Thanks, Blaine. It was nice to hear how many students actually took advantage of the vaccination pop up yesterday. So thanks for that update. And now, let's turn it over to Mark Anderson, our Provost and Katrina Rodriguez, our vice president for student affairs. Mark?

Mark Anderson:
Thank you very much, President Feinstein. As president Feinstein is indicated today is indeed our last Thursday morning update for a period of time, at least. And as Christina indicated, we have graduation coming up on the Saturday and Sunday. Graduation to me is a good time to reflect on what has happened over the past year as we celebrate our students and their accomplishments. And so today, I really wanted to look back and highlight some of the really outstanding work of our faculty, staff, and students over the last year, but first recognizing our students graduating. And I hope everybody, despite the weather, will be able to come to commencement to celebrate our students and to celebrate the efforts that everybody's put in over the past year.

Mark Anderson:
Two students in particular I want to highlight will be commissioned into the US army after participating in ROTC efforts over the course of their academic career. Those two students are Kathleen Hess and Emmanuel Hernandez. They'll be graduating this weekend, but on a Friday there'll be commissioned as second lieutenants into the United States Army. There is no greater calling than to serve others. And so, I want to particularly recognize Kathleen and Emmanuel. As Blaine indicated, we've been doing this for over 400 days now, and there's been so much good work. It's impossible to recognize everything, but just a few highlights to really call out the work of our faculty, staff, and students.

Mark Anderson:
Faculty in the school of special education received a Response Innovation and Student Equity grant, a RISE grant from the state and this grant supports innovation in high needs school districts. And the grant that they submitted was to really leverage best practices, things that we've learned over the past year and how we can better serve our students through remote instruction. Faculty in the college of humanities and social sciences recently recognized a couple of students for their outstanding undergraduate research over the past year.

Mark Anderson:
Those students are Blake Harrington and David Janssen. Really, I think what they've done is they've recognized the efforts of students and faculty to continue to engage in professional activities, to continue to engage in research, and doing it in a way that is creative and innovative while we are going through remote instruction. So congratulations to the students, but also congratulations to all of our faculty who've recognized and pivoted their research to continue to engage students and to continue to allow students to have these integrative experiences through undergraduate research.

Mark Anderson:
The college of performing and visual arts has continued to host performances, recitals, and different shows, albeit in a different manner than traditional, but it's allowed students to continue to engage with their materials with their disciplines in a professional way. And this has been done throughout the year with over 200 performances, including recently a production of Macbeth, which was held in the garden theater to a live audience. College of natural and health sciences have provided a unique virtual spaces for students to learn and engage with their disciplines.

Mark Anderson:
They operate at virtual clinics. They engaged in course-based undergraduate research experiences online, and they ran virtual poster sessions for students to present their research in a professional way. Not surprisingly, many of these unique experiences have been documented and were part of research programs and have been written up and published in the professional literature. And this is again consistent with the tradition of the university and as being the acknowledged experts and thought leaders in student teaching and learning.

Mark Anderson:
Finally, our faculty continue to engage in scholarship in different ways, and that scholarship has been recognized both locally, nationally, and internationally. So for example, Professor Joe French from the Munford College of Business was recently awarded a Fulbright Specialist Award so that he can conduct research and teach at the University in Columbia. Congratulations to Dr. French. These are just a few examples of the great work that our faculty and staff have engaged in to continue to serve our students over the past year.

Mark Anderson:
I'd like to thank everyone for their effort, but also for their grace and understanding of the challenges that we all experienced. Everybody was working under very difficult situations and continued to do their best in the grace that everybody demonstrated to each other. And the understanding is very much appreciated. Finally, I just want to thank personally Katrina Rodriguez for her leadership over the past year. Academic affairs and student affairs here at the university of Northern Colorado have been partners in the truest sense of the word. And that's contributed not just to getting through this past year, but to excelling. I want to congratulate Katrina, wish her best of luck and godspeed, and I will miss you. And with that, I will turn it over to Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Thank you, Mark. I appreciate that. Can you hear me okay? Nope. Nope.

Mark Anderson:
Yes, we can.

Katrina Rodriguez:
You can hear me now?

Christina Edwards:
Yep. We can hear you.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Thank you so much. Mark, thank you so much for your kind words. I too have enjoyed the connection between student affairs and academic affairs and our partnership since the day you got here and working together to ensure that the student experience is as the best it can be for everyone. So thank you and I will definitely miss you as well. So for my report, I also want to thank the division of student affairs for all of their productivity, engagement, connection with students. Certainly during the past year, during the pandemic, they really showed their resilience in pivoting at every turn to continue to understand student needs, to meet those needs, to partner with folks across campus, to indicate what students were sharing with us.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Certainly, the amazing things students have been able to do and weather all of this and from the clubs and organizations to... Oh gosh, I feel like I'm going to miss folks if I start going down the list, but I just appreciate the care and the foremost ability to work with our students through all of the ups and downs and to truly come out at this time of year and see the results and see the resilience of our students as well, knowing that it has been challenging. And so I just want to appreciate so much. Words don't do justice to the appreciation I have for all of the hard work.

Katrina Rodriguez:
The other thing I want to share is some forethought into the fall here. And the new student days team created a survey for students who were first-time students in last fall and spring, who didn't participate in quote unquote normal orientation and bear welcome events given our ability to do some of those things in person.

Katrina Rodriguez:
And in the first two days, we had over a hundred respondents and 77% indicated they would like a redo and are interested in participating in new student days prior to start od classes in August. So the sophs or returning students, I know sophs is the new term, but it in quotes here. And so, I'm so excited and so appreciative of this team who are really, again, trying to understand what students want. So we're excited to welcome back any of our students from this past year who would like to be a part of new student days and bear welcome, certainly as a first-year student would.

Katrina Rodriguez:
We also are going to have in those new student days from August 19th to the 22nd, we'll have student leader facilitator training for all those who are going to be students who are going to be working with us to make all of this happen during those four days, as well as bear welcome. Convocation will be back either in the Bank of Colorado arena or Nottingham Field.

Katrina Rodriguez:
We will have Taste of UNC and Bear Fest Carnival, and those are such treasured memories of our first few days on campus. And then, all of the colleges will be doing welcome events. So we're excited to partner again with academic affairs and connecting all of the students to their colleges and programs. Bear welcome will start on that Monday of the 23rd until about the 10th of September and the first 50 days are is in event that we're working on and the new student days team are trying to generate campus and community alumni a list of 50 things incoming students should do in their first semester. So if you have suggestions to add to the list, please contact executive director, Evan Welch, in the office of student life. He is collecting this information on behalf of the committee. So please send those forward. There are lots of great things folks have done over the years that would be fun insights for new students.

Katrina Rodriguez:
We'll have a Downtown Greeley and UNC fall welcome. That's being developed. There'll be a drive in movie night at Nottingham Field, always a favorite. And then our fraternity and sororities are so excited to have in-person fall recruitment. Throughout the year, it's been a little bit difficult, especially in the spring to do recruitment. So to be able to be in person on campus, doing the recruitment efforts and getting students engaged will be really exciting. And finally, the cultural and resource centers, we all know how amazing their events are welcoming back students and being a huge presence and visibility on campus. So those events will also come back. So look forward to all of those. There'll be a lot of marketing and materials that will go out about the specifics as we get closer. But those are just a few things to keep in mind.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Also, please save the dates for family and friends weekend, which is September 24th through the 26th. We'll be playing Northern Arizona on the 25th of September, another Alma mater of mine, and also for homecoming activities and spirit week. That will be from October 4th to October 9th, we'll play Eastern Washington on October 9th. So those are some things to look forward to, and I'm excited about what everybody's put together. And then finally as our final call and my final two weeks here at UNC, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to serve for the past 23 years and to be a part of this amazing community. I will miss everyone and miss our students and all that UNC is and offers to all who want to avail themselves here. So thank you all for a wonderful experience and sending you my best. Andy, I'll turn it back over to you.

President Andy Feinstein:
Thank you, Katrina, very much for your service and your presentation today. Thank you, Mark, as well. I want to thank everybody for tuning in not only today, but for the last year. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you very soon. Take care, everybody.