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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 10, Operational Update

April 10, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everyone, and happy Friday April the 10th, and this is our daily operation status report. Yesterday the US Department of Education announced that they are releasing approximately $14 billion to students and institutions of higher education from the recently enacted CARES act. We should expect at UNC approximately $7.65 million, of which 50% is to be used for financial aid grants for students. These funds should be here before the end of April. The cabinet and I are in the process of determining how these funds should be distributed, and I will provide more information next week. Also, the Joint Budget Committee will be reconvening in May to finalize the state budget. In our current economic conditions, the revenue forecast for the state is not looking good, and I believe that we will be negatively affected by this. I continue to work with other Colorado higher education CEOs to lobby for state and federal help from policy makers about the challenges we are facing.

President Feinstein (01:09):
Also yesterday, I had a small group discussion with a number of faculty, and I plan to hold more of these in the coming weeks. We talked about projected budget impacts from the virus, the new optional satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading changes for this semester, and our work on a commencement plan for our 2020 graduates. There were questions about summer and fall, and I do not have clarity on when normal operations will resume, but know that we are closely monitoring the evolving environment, and I will share updates. One thing I did hear loud and clear is how much faculty appreciate the work of our instructional designers. And thanks to Tuck Tucker, we have another wonderful guest speaker to start us off before we get into the coronavirus task force updates.

President Feinstein (02:00):
The psychological pressure of these rapidly changing conditions has placed a strain on all of us, so to better understand these challenges and to provide tips and insights into maximizing your mental emotional health during this crisis, we have invited our very own Dr. Heather Helm to discuss emotional response to sudden change. Dr. Helm holds a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss. She's a licensed professional counselor and a registered play therapist. She is also a professor and chair in our Department of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education and interim director of the UNC Counseling Center. Thank you for being here, Heather.

Heather Helm (02:46):
Thank you. It's so good to be here. Thank you for the introduction. I appreciate it. It's good to be with all of you this morning, and thank you, Tuck, for inviting me. It's great to have the opportunity to join all of you this morning to talk about a big topic during these stressful times. So talking about our mental health during very unprecedented times. One of the most distinguishing aspects of a pandemic from a mental health aspect, but I'll note I'm not an expert on mental health and pandemics, but no doubt this will be an emerging line of research in the field of counseling and psychology after all of this or during all of this. There are distinguishing aspects to this that we do know about, specifically the substantial and sudden change to our way of being, doing, living, and obviously interacting with the world and with each other.

Heather Helm (03:39):
The resulting stress of a sudden change can have a significant impact on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. All of you can probably think back to a time in your life when you experienced a sudden change. For example, a death or a job loss, an accident or a significant illness, and can draw upon what you experienced emotionally during that time to guide you through your response during this time. Though there's no single and predictive response to sudden change, there are typical responses that many experience, and many of you may be experiencing now as you deal with the emotional consequences of stay at home orders, distance from loved ones, and perhaps total isolation for some. Some of the most common responses to sudden and dramatic change are shock, denial, anger and depression. It's important not to view these as stages; the former beliefs that we move through adjustments to loss or sudden change sequentially are no longer supported.

Heather Helm (04:42):
Rather, we cycle through these sometimes on an hourly basis, which I can attest to myself, in response to change and loss. I imagine some of you might recognize feelings of shock or denial, anger and depression in yourselves right now over the last month or so. Interacting with these emotions and overlying manifestations of these emotions tend to be worry and anxiety. All of these obviously have an impact on productivity and focus and motivation, thus increasing the importance of identifying and allowing ourselves to experience them rather than avoid or ignore them as we continue with our education and our training and our work expectations. So while talking about these reactions, I thought it was important to very briefly identify the differences between emotions and feelings. We don't often stop to consider the difference and usually use the term emotion and feeling interchangeably. Of course, they're certainly interrelated, and they're important distinctions.

Heather Helm (05:49):
As we work to find ways to manage — excuse me — to manage the emotions emerging from this situation, understanding the differences can be incredibly helpful. So, what are emotions? Essentially they are physical and instinctive responses. So let's say for example, you tear up when you see someone after a long time away. I have a feeling that many of us are going to experience this when we get through this. Or sweating when you're about to do something scary or anxiety-provoking, like I was doing right before I got on this call. These are both physical manifestations of the emotions of love and stress. Emotions are responses occurring in the brain, specifically in the subcortical regions of the brain. For example, the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, and the neocortex, which deals with conscious thoughts, reasoning and decision making. I won't get into a big lecture about the brain, but technically speaking, emotions are neurological reactions to an emotional stimulus like in the examples I used. And emotions are instinctive and universal to all of us.

Heather Helm (06:59):
So then what are feelings? They're the conscious experience of an emotional reaction. These are linked to our histories, our memories, our thoughts, perhaps to a trauma. Pretty much a feeling is the byproduct of your brain perceiving emotion and assigning meaning to it. So in many ways our emotions are hardwired and instinctive and largely universal. Think about fight, flight or freeze. And feelings are personal and based on experience, so they're unique to us. So while emotions are common to all of us, the feelings that emotions produce are unique and personal. So why should you care about the difference?

Heather Helm (07:43):
Learning to distinguish between your emotions and your feelings can help you understand why your feelings and the feelings of others can be so different from one another, even under very similar circumstances, and give you more compassion and patience for yourself and those around you. Your feelings aren't wrong; they never are. They're specific to you and your experiences. Also, understanding the distinction can give you space for experiencing a wide variety of feelings. So as a play therapist, this is one of the more important things we help children understand: that, and the difference between thinking and feeling, because we often confuse these two.

Heather Helm (08:23):
For example, we might make a statement like, "I feel stupid." So there's no feelings in the statement, "I feel stupid." Rather this is a thought: "I am stupid," which leads to feelings, maybe shame, embarrassment or hopelessness. So I'm going to encourage you as you go through your days to, when you use the words "feel" in a sentence or feeling in a sentence, to check in. Have you actually identified a thought, or a feeling? And if you did identify a feeling, is there an underlying emotion that you should be attending to?

Heather Helm (09:01):
So with the time that — we have a little bit of time remaining, though I think I get the opportunity to come back again soon — I'm going to ask as I pull up, I'm going to share my screen here. Hopefully this works. Pull up two feelings charts, one of them should appeal to each of you, to try to identify the predominant feelings you've been experiencing over this time of just significant change. I'll give folks a few seconds to identify these feelings and of course won't ask anybody to share. So let me pull this up.

Heather Helm (09:33):
So I'll give people a few seconds to just look at this, and I'll be quiet and give you a chance to see if you can identify some of the feelings that you've been experiencing during this time. So as you do that, I'll leave that up and just talk about, what next? To begin coping with feelings and emotions that are coming up for us right now, I encourage us to do some of the following. So if you're feeling off, and I think most of us know what I mean by that, that feeling of, "I feel like I'm irritable for no reason, or maybe I'm unusually distracted, or maybe the tearful," and just without fully understanding what's going on. Take a moment to identify what you're feeling.

Heather Helm (10:35):
Ask yourself if there's an underlying emotion. So for example, let's say you're feeling irritable, you're snapping at somebody in your house, or you're annoyed with something that wouldn't typically, annoy you, maybe identify, maybe you heard something on the news or saw something on social media that's scared you or created fear or anxiety. So in this example, the underlying emotion is fear, and the feeling that manifested was irritability. So once you've gone through this, I encourage you just to talk to somebody about the emotion or journal about it. If you talk to someone, you might find that even the person you're irritated with is experiencing similar emotions but demonstrating very different feelings. If you choose to journal, this may give you a starting point for understanding your emotions and taking steps to manage any negative outcomes.

Heather Helm (11:29):
So I'll close my screen, and to wrap this up here, I appreciate you all for listening. I know that was putting a lot of information into a short amount of time, but I look forward to seeing you all again and just encourage you to really put some time and intention into attending to your mental health while we're doing so much work to attend to our physical health and the physical health of those around us. Obviously mental health and physical health go hand in hand. And just to wrap it up, in the words of Anne Frank, feelings can't be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem. So thank you for your time today. I appreciate it.

President Feinstein (12:15):
Heather, thank you so much for being here, and we look forward to having you come back in the near future again. So hope you have a wonderful day.

Heather Helm (12:22):
Thank you as well. Take care.

President Feinstein (12:23):
You're welcome. I'm now going to hand over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, to moderate discussions from the coronavirus task forces. Dan.

Dan Maxey (12:34):
Thank you, President Feinstein, and thank you, Heather. What a good way to start Friday. It is Friday, and the cabinet and coronavirus task force as well as most of the subcommittees will meet today. As our daily panel gives reports, please remember everyone to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. I'm going to turn things over to the chair of our coronavirus task force first. That's associate vice president for administration, Blaine Nickeson, for our developing issues report. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (13:03):
Good morning, Dan. Sorry about the camera problems there. The state's incident commander announced in a briefing yesterday that our social distancing and stay at home orders have shown success in flattening the curve so far, more evenly distributing the demand on our healthcare system and pushing the peak into May, which is great because it buys the state time to ramp up its healthcare capacity, such as what is happening at The Ranch with the 1,000-bed alternate care facility. The governor also signed an executive order extending the disaster declaration for another 30 days, which continues to give them flexibility around rulemaking and finance and all kinds of different areas. Also, yesterday it was reported that the JBS meatpacking plant here in Greeley, which is obviously a big employer, has emerged as a hotspot for cases in Weld County. More than 30 employees at JBS are testing positive and there's been one death associated with the facility.

Blaine Nickeson (14:08):
County health officials were there yesterday and are considering ordering it closed if they don't take more significant steps to protect the workers through distancing and keeping sick people at home. And at the same time, facilities like that and operations like that are considered essential national functions in order to keep food moving to our tables, and so this is an issue that's being tackled not just locally but nationally about how do we balance the safety of the people that work in those facilities with the important work that they're doing? For statewide data, there's 6,202 confirmed positive cases, up 10% since yesterday, but the state claims that the cases that I'm going to report and the death numbers are a little bit higher than usual because they're catching up on a backlog of data that gets provided to the state. The state can only report on what's been shared with them by the counties, and so they are catching up a little bit on a backlog.

Blaine Nickeson (15:03):
1,221 had been hospitalized. That's up about 5% from the day before. 31,180 tested, up 7%, so we're glad to see that moving a little higher than it has been. But testing continues to be a challenge in the state and nationally because there's a shortage of PPE for people to provide the testing. There's a shortage of swabs and also the reagents that they use to activate the tests. Colorado is reporting 226 deaths up from 193. Again, that number includes some sort of backlog that was loaded into the data yesterday. 54 outbreaks at facilities like nursing homes, a jump of 10 since yesterday, and here in Weld County reported we reported seven — or 627 cases yesterday, which is up 20 from the prior day, and there's 37 deaths in the county up to — Weld County is the second-highest number of deaths among Colorado counties. So those are my updates that I have this morning, the coronavirus task force will be meeting today at 11 o'clock and then we'll be meeting with cabinet at one o'clock, so I'll turn it back over to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (16:11):
Thanks Blaine. It's apparent to me that we need to sort of sandwich your news in between Heather and Tuck's good news.

Blaine Nickeson (16:18):
Yeah. [inaudible 00:16:20].

Dan Maxey (16:22):
I appreciate those updates, though. It's important for us to keep all of this in perspective as we go about our daily lives. Next, I'll turn it over to our morning update headphone champion and dean of students Tuck Tucker for our report on impacts to student life. Tuck?

Gardiner Tucker (16:38):
Hello everyone. Good to see you. Just so you know, Saturday used to be hat day for us and now we've changed it to Friday because we're not meeting on Saturdays anymore. Just a tip for those of you who have hats. And also you might want to bring Heather back on after Blaine's report because I'm having emotions and feelings simultaneously. I'm not sure which direction to go. OK, so a couple of updates today. First, one of the challenges our students have is finding relevant information for getting engaged and finding out what's going on on campus. So a team has developed what's now known as Bear Connection, which is a source of relevant information, and a big thank you to the communication and outreach committee and to the University Advancement web communications group for putting it together and implementing it. So let's take a look at the website and see what's going on.

Gardiner Tucker (17:34):
So I will share my screen here. So here we have Bear Connection website. As you can see, it comes — as you come down, you see on the right side there is our operational updates, which are these meetings and all of them, if you click on you can go to that source. Then we have resources for UNC students, families and alumni. And then for students and families, we have these areas like virtual events, learning online for staff and faculty, working from home, teaching online and other things. Then we have staying connected with virtual events, and we have current students, future alumni and athletics, alternative delivery, academic success resources, online tips, time management, test taking, and then student support services such as on-campus, off-campus, Dean of Students. We have the Counseling Center here, so if you would like to get in touch with them, and I encourage it during this time, and virtual Admissions appointments for all of you coming to UNC, and then UNC experts on COVID-19. A list of experts and what they're doing to help with this situation. So let's see what's going on, say, for current students.

Gardiner Tucker (18:45):
When we click on that, we see current students, a whole list of things for students that want to be engaged or get connected or find out what's going on right here. So let's see what's happening with Campus Recreation because yesterday we had a discussion about exercise, nutrition and some videos on how to do that. So let's see what Campus Recreation is up to. They have a running challenge, fitness and wellness. So the here you can get to their website, and this has their information on what they're doing that way. Virtual fitness programming.

Gardiner Tucker (19:20):
So let's go here and see what's going on on Instagram. And here you see they have different categories for staying healthy and working out and some examples of how to work out at home. Well, let's see what Jenna is talking about today. So today is mental health day at the rec center, so they post things on keeping your mental health strong, which fits with Heather's presentation today. So all of these things are there for us to find out what's going on and how to get involved. So I encourage you to check out Bear Connection and to see what's going on on campus.

Gardiner Tucker (20:08):
So my next announcement — so thank you again, thank you to the communications and outreach and to University Advancement, web communication for the implementation. So quick reminder that individual and semester withdrawal deadline is next Friday, April 17th so you have another week for that. And then my final word is just a picture to remind us of what matters, this is our cat by our UNC pillow just resting away, so please try and get some rest this weekend and see if you can recover, a la what Heather was telling us earlier, and that concludes my report. Thank you, everyone.

Dan Maxey (20:48):
Great, thank you, Tuck. Next I'll turn it over to Provost Mark Anderson for his reports on impacts to our academic mission. Mark?

Mark Anderson (20:56):
Good morning. As Tuck said, today is Friday hat day, and I'd like to first of all thank Heather for a really wonderful presentation. I am coping with my emotions because today is the second day of the Masters Tournament, and so I'm wearing my Masters hat today, and my wife gets mad at me because I get emotional every time I watch the rerun of Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters, and she doesn't understand how I can get emotional about something like that. Nevertheless, I wanted to report a couple of things. Andy mentioned the really fabulous work that IDD has done, and I just have a few numbers. They've been hosting webinars about converting classes into the alternate delivery. They've had 249 webinar attendees.

Mark Anderson (21:49):
They had, in the first week when we returned from spring break, they had 97 students download instructions on how to use Canvas and faculty, how to convert their classes to Canvas. They've had 346 support consultations, and they've also been working with Zoom to increase the security of Zoom. So IDD has really done a wonderful job at supporting the transition into a new course delivery. I also want to point out many of our programs engage students in clinical aspects of instruction and that clearly has been impacted by the change brought about by social distancing and remote delivery.

Mark Anderson (22:41):
Many of the programs, like Teacher Education, Clinical Psychology, Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology have clinical aspects, and all of them have had to change the way they think about clinical to instruct their students in this very difficult time. I wanted to acknowledge Speech-Language Pathology in particular and call out Tina Farrell, Nicole Reisfeld and Kim Murza and all the faculty really in Speech-Language Pathology who've done a wonderful job at finding alternate ways for their students to get the clinical experience, including running telepractice and simulated patient and other creative solutions for providing students our clinical practice.

Mark Anderson (23:30):
Finally, we are wrapping up the first week where summer enrollment has been available to students. We're lagging a little bit behind, but having said that, we're comparing our current enrollment numbers to enrollment numbers from last year, partial week to a full week of enrollment. So we are having a lot of students accessing Ursa, and a lot of students enrolling for the summer. So I'm cautiously optimistic about the summer, but I want to encourage all of our faculty to talk to students about opportunities for taking classes in the summer. We're also beginning to monitor fall enrollment, and fall enrollment also started this week, and we're just wanting to monitor that to get a sense of what are our retention numbers might be for the fall. So I want to thank everybody for all their hard work. Thank Heather for a really wonderful presentation to help us all understand the emotions and feelings that we're all having these days. And with that I will turn it back to Dan.

Dan Maxey (24:35):
Thank you, Mark. We have no Facilities report today, but Human Resources director Marshall Parks will next share some information on some HR related impacts, particularly for our student employees. Marshall.

Marshall Parks (24:49):
Thanks Dan. I didn't really know it was supposed to be hat day. I just didn't get my run in this morning so I haven't showered yet so that's why I'm wearing a hat. But I do really appreciate Dr. Helm this morning joining us, always appreciate her as a colleague, and she's just an amazing asset to the UNC community. In our office this week, we certainly are seeing the impact of the sudden change on our faculty and staff. So as she mentioned, let's please show one another that compassion and patience that she alluded to. So thanks Heather. Today I want to provide you a quick update on the important financial commitment we made previously to our student employees to continue to pay them to the end of April.

Marshall Parks (25:27):
We just processed our first payroll, and we paid a total of 1,210 students. 477 students are working remotely, so really appreciate the creativity of our students and their supervisors to keep them engaged. That's fabulous. When we announced this, I didn't know how much we were going to be able to do that and that was just a really pleasant surprise. We have 670 who are being paid on administrative leave who aren't able to engage remotely, and we still have 63 students working on campus, nine in the police department and the rest, 54, in housing. We also have some students that are available on-call in Dining and IT if things happen and we have classified staff who can't make it, who are willing to come in and help. So in total we provided over $400,000 in important financial support to our students in this important time. So much appreciated. And that's all I have today, and nice hat, Dan.

Dan Maxey (26:23):
Thank you, Marshall. I was getting a lot of teasing in the chat for not having a hat on today and I apologize, and I didn't have a UNC hat in reach. I'll make sure next Friday I'm ready. I want to thank everyone who's tuned in live or who's watching this by recording, and I want to just, following on our last couple of days of reports, give everyone a reminder to be kind. Please unwind this weekend. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder this wacky, wacky world will feel. I'll turn the floor back over to President Feinstein for some final words. Andy.

President Feinstein (26:58):
Thanks, Dan, and I'll be sure to wear a hat next Friday. I guess I too was out of the loop on the hat day, and now that I know, I'll follow up with a hat next Friday. This weekend, if you have a chance, you might want to consider stopping by one of our local restaurants for takeout or calling up for delivery and supporting one of our restaurants or brew pubs. I know that many of them are open for business over the weekend. So that would be a good thought. And I hope that all of you have a wonderful and restful weekend. Remember that our updates are only Monday through Friday, and there'll be no update Saturday or Sunday. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here at 9:00 AM on Monday morning. Take care everybody.