Jump to main content

COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 16, Operational Update

April 16, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:01):

President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everybody. Thursday, April the 16th, and this is our daily operation status report. It's beautiful outside. It looks like about six inches of snow fell at my home. And you can see from my background image that was taken this morning about 6:00 AM I'm assuming that it will melt up pretty quickly, but we'll see. This is my second spring in Greeley and I'm still getting accustomed to all the snowfall in April.

President Feinstein (00:26):
So the reason I was up early this morning is I was on KFKA News radio at 7:00 AM talking about the university and what's happening for our community, and we'll get that posted on our Twitter feed here sometime this morning. So with that, I'm going to hand over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, who's going to update us and moderate conversations with our other coronavirus task force leads. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:55):
Thank you, President Feinstein. I was really convinced you're sitting on your front porch for a moment there. It's a Thursday and the cabinet coronavirus task force will not formally meet today. The cabinet did meet for two hours yesterday to work on preparing for a Board of Trustees financial update that's scheduled for Wednesday. That meeting is going to be streamed online, and we anticipate sharing some additional information about how to join that meeting later today or tomorrow morning. That will include details on how to stream that discussion.

Dan Maxey (01:25):
That call is going to happen during our usual Monday morning update timeframe on Wednesday. So we'll discuss whether we don't have this call during that time or whether we sort of record something at a different time during the day on a Wednesday of next week. As our daily panel gets reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. I'll start off with the chair of our coronavirus task force, Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:56):
Good morning Dan, good morning everybody. Beautiful weather out there. I'm glad I don't have to drive in it. A little bit longer report today, but I wanted to share that Governor Polis held a press conference yesterday where he shared some of the steps that will be part of some kind of a return to normal. We expect the data over the next five days will tell us what level of social distancing we've achieved because there's very different infection rate models depending on whether we've achieved a 70% social distancing factor versus 80% for example.

Blaine Nickeson (02:30):
The governor laid out three phases of response. We're currently in phase one, which is described as the urgent phase, but it's essentially this lockdown style of approach. It's effective in limiting cases, but it's also draconian as well. Phase two, which we can hopefully enter sometime in the near future, is the stabilization phase, and that'll require a robust testing capabilities. The ability to do contact tracing, which is basically when somebody is identified as a positive, going back and finding who are the people they interacted with and putting those folks in quarantine. It won't look like the normal that we remember. The governor stated yesterday, "We want to dispel any notion that we can go back to the way things were." There will still need to be needs to distance ourselves. Large gatherings will be banned. Imagine your favorite restaurant but with half as many tables in it. That phase, per the governor, could last two months, three months or 10 months.

Blaine Nickeson (03:29):
The third phase, back to normal, really won't come until we have a vaccine or treatment for this virus. Locally, the impact of COVID-19 at the JBS plant here in Greeley continues to grow. The state's reporting 102 positive cases at the plant and four deaths among JBS staff. For statewide data, there's 8,280 confirmed positive cases. That's up only about 4% day-to-day. 1,636 have been hospitalized. That's up 80, or 5%, since yesterday. 40,533 tested, that's only up 2% again after yesterday the same. It appears that for the time being, testing capacity has sort of stalled out. And as I mentioned above, moving into the new phase is going to require robust testing, and we just don't have that right now.

Blaine Nickeson (04:20):
Colorado is reporting 357 deaths, up 9% since yesterday. That's after growing 7% the day before. So that's not a statistic that we like to see growing so rapidly. There's 83 outbreaks at nursing homes and residential care facilities and that's doubled in the last week. Locally, Weld County's reported 948 cases. That's up 7% day over day. And there's 57 deaths in the county, up two. Weld County continues to have a high rate of cases compared to our population. We're currently the fourth highest per capita behind Eagle County, Gunnison and Morgan Counties. Morgan County, our neighbor to the east, is actually spiking, and I believe that's related to the fact that they have an outbreak at a Cargill meat processing plant in Fort Morgan. So those are my updates from this morning, and I'll turn it back over to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (05:12):
Thanks Blaine. Next, I'll turn it over to Dean of Students, Tuck Tucker, for our report on impact to student life. Tuck.

Gardiner Tucker (05:18):
Good morning everyone. The student impact that I'd like to start with is our students are looking for ways to continue to serve and engage during this time of online and alternative education delivery. So our strategy is to find new ways to engage students with service. So today I'd like to talk about the Office of Academic Community Engagement who are doing that for our students, providing those opportunities. And Deborah Romero and Annie Epperson and their team have put things online for our students to find ways to serve. So their mission ACE, Academic Community Engagement, is promoting, UNC is promoting transformative education that infuses, supports and values reciprocal public engagement. What that means is service to the community and the community is part of our campus too throughout the academic enterprise.

Gardiner Tucker (06:11):
So today I just want to focus on four projects that they have going on. Their first one is they're working to move their information for new students to online to help them understand how to get involved. So throughout the summer and in the fall they're prepping for online sessions as well as in person, depending on what happens this summer. And that will help students to get a personalized account and find out where their interests are in the local community to serve.

Gardiner Tucker (06:42):
The second one is UNC Engage Partnerships. So they're finding ways to safely connect our students to service opportunities with community partners such as people who are susceptible to the COVID virus, maybe the elderly or those with limited resources, so our students can give direct service. And it connects community entities. So for example, our students can help with meal delivery, Meals on Wheels, food bank volunteers, donations through United Way.

Gardiner Tucker (07:12):
And if you know of other opportunities in the area for our students to serve, please contact ACE and they will list those for us. The third project of four is the kindergarten through high school AmeriCorps virtual community tables. I love this idea because it's really about connecting. So the Community Table 2020 project is a virtual set of discussions between faculty, staff, students and community members where they discuss topics like education, immigration, equity and inclusion and food security. So these help our community to stay engaged with one another and discuss important socioeconomic issues. And it's a collaboration between ACE, Academic Community Engagement, the K through 12 AmeriCorps program at UNC, and University of Denver's Grand Challenge Initiative. So it allows students to engage in these important issues and also overcome some of the isolation we get to feel and the anxiety around being isolated through social distancing.

Gardiner Tucker (08:13):
The final project I wanted to focus on is the U.S. 2020 census promotion that ACE is doing. They want our students to complete the census so that economic resources can be sent to the right places, and it's a collaboration between ACE, our library, and various UNC departments. Now what they're doing, which is interesting, is they're doing a Snapchat takeover soon, and what that means — I had to look this up — what that means is we do for three hours to a day through brand identity channels on Snapchat, we do a thing that puts out the word over all of Snapchat and social media sources about the U.S. Census so that students can find access through that process. So I'm wanting to give you a view of their website here. So let's see.

Gardiner Tucker (09:07):
So this is their website, UNC Engage. You can see in the upper left connecting campus and community. And you can volunteer now. If you look down, they have a whole bunch of ways that students can get involved. Grocery delivery on the right, lunch drop-off, Sew for Hope. And then some recent agencies that have connected with them like North Range Behavioral Health, Kiwanis and United Way. So this gives our students a chance to get involved during this time. So I have two updates for you. One is the Division of Student Affairs Outreach Program update, and I've invited Assistant Dean of Students, Dr. Colleen Sonnentag, to get us up to date. Colleen.

Colleen Sonnentag (09:49):
Thanks Tuck, good morning everybody. So the Division of Student Affairs alongside some other campus partners has connected with over 250 Bears who have said that they were planning on staying with us on campus during our virtual and remote work setting. And of those 250, 92 of those students indicated that they would be interested in frequent or occasional ongoing outreach from staff and some student leaders on campus. So Tiffany Pendleton in Institutional Equity and Compliance has been great in helping us coordinate phase two of this project.

Colleen Sonnentag (10:30):
So many of our staff are continuing outreach and are starting to develop ongoing relationships with the students that they have initially connected with. And those stories have been exciting to hear: connecting over hobbies and interests and "Oh my gosh, that's what I majored in too." So it's been really cool to see some of those relationships form and develop. But yeah, also shout out to Evan Welch and the Office of Student Life. Of those 250 or so students, many indicated that they would prefer ongoing outreach from a student leader on campus. And so Student Life is connecting those residential students with some of our student leaders so they can also maintain some relationships and build there so they're not feeling quite so isolated even though we are not doing so many engagement things live and in person.

Gardiner Tucker (11:27):
Thank you Colleen, that's great news. And it's amazing how many people are getting connected, and the community continues to evolve as we do this program. So great idea. Colleen came up with the idea so, I really appreciate all the work that you've put into it.

Colleen Sonnentag (11:42):
Thank you. Jenna, also. Jenna Finley. Shout out to coming up with the idea. And I will say overall even students who have indicated that they're not interested in ongoing follow-up from staff have just been, the response has been appreciation, overwhelmingly. So, "Oh my gosh. I don't really need anything, but thanks so much for checking in, and it means a lot." So that's been really cool to see.

Gardiner Tucker (12:08):
That's great. So thank you, Jenna and Colleen. Great idea. It seems to be working very well. Thanks for the update Colleen. And then my last update is to remind folks that tomorrow, April 17th, is the last day to withdraw from an individual class or from the semester. Of course, please check with your advisor first if you can. We encourage you to talk to them first before making that decision, but tomorrow is the last day to do that. And that concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (12:35):
Thanks, Tuck and Colleen. By the way, I saw that the Greeley Tribune had an article yesterday about members of UNC's football team and Alumni Association volunteering at the Weld Food Bank. It looked like a lot of fun. I'm glad to see Bears giving back. So appreciate that you're compiling some additional ways that we can help out our community during this time. So next I'm going to turn to Provost Mark Anderson to give a brief report on impacts to the academic mission. Mark.

Mark Anderson (13:05):
Thank you, Dan, and good morning everybody. I'm not in the snow today, so just spending the day in Florida apparently. Nevertheless, Tuck mentioned the withdrawal deadline for individual courses as well as the full schedule. That is Friday, end of business. And we're monitoring the withdrawal pattern to see if there's anything we can learn from that, and withdrawal patterns so far has been fairly consistent with previous spring semesters, so nothing really to report there. We're also monitoring registration; today is the day when students with less than 25 credits I believe can register. So effectively, everybody who's been a full-time student over the last academic year now has fall registration available to them. And we're monitoring that to get a sense of retention for the fall.

Mark Anderson (14:01):
Yesterday we sent out an email to the campus community announcing the hiring of Kim Medina as the AVP for Enrollment Management. Kim comes to the university from the Colorado School of Mines. She has a lot of experience in the state of Colorado and a lot of experience in admissions, so we're really, really excited to welcome Kim to campus. She'll be starting on June the 8th. But that also reminded me that we have a number of other new hires, three new deans: Sher Gibbs who will be the incoming Dean for the Monfort College of Business, Jeri-Anne Lyons who will be the incoming Assistant Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, and Jennifer Nutefall who will be the Dean of the University Libraries.

Mark Anderson (14:45):
I've been talking to them a lot over the last four weeks. They're all excited to come to the university, but as you might expect, they're having some challenges just coming to Greeley to look for houses and those sorts of things. So we've been working with them to help to facilitate their transition. And it occurred to me that we have another, a lot of other hires, particularly new faculty, that we've made over the course of the academic year who will be starting with the university in the fall.

Mark Anderson (15:13):
And I would encourage you to reach out to the new hires, to assure them that we're excited about them coming, that the university is, is fully operational. Perhaps a little bit differently than when they interviewed with us but fully operational and that we are here to help them with that transition. So Lyda McCartin in CETL, Cindy Wesley in the Graduate School, are preparing for onboarding activities for new faculty. And Katrina and Tobias Guzmán have been really, really helpful with me for our new deans, and I'm sure they'd be helpful in onboarding and really helping to transition new hires into our community. And so we have to remember that we are continuing to hire folks, particularly faculty, and we need to really assure them about the operation of the university. Assure them that nothing has changed. We're excited to have them come. So that's all I have this morning, Dan.

Dan Maxey (16:22):
Thank you, Mark, for those updates. Kirk Leichliter has no report this morning for Facilities Management but did report that his crews are working on snow removal, getting rid of those several inches of snow that have fallen on campus this morning. So want to thank all of them for making sure that campus is safe for those students who remain on campus and the staff who are essential workers working on campus today. Finally, I'll call on Marshall Parks, director of Human Resources, who has a brief report on some HR-related issues impacting UNC employees. Marshall.

Marshall Parks (16:58):
Well, thanks Dan. Yeah, I wanted to talk just briefly about kind of our financial health as employees. Also after a pretty wild ride in the markets, it might be time for all of us to check up on our retirement accounts and probably better now than a couple of weeks ago, but TIAA will be holding virtual financial counseling sessions throughout April and May.

Marshall Parks (17:19):
Julie Nava sent out an email yesterday to all of our faculty and staff with TIAA accounts with the link to schedule a virtual meeting. All of our other retirement vendors also are offering similar services. Contact your advisor, or if you don't have that contact information, feel free to call our office at 2718 and we'll get you that correct contact information so you can do that. Reach out and take a look and see what the impact of the last few weeks has been on your retirement accounts, and maybe consider some changes you might want to do forward based on your personal circumstances. So just wanted to make sure people knew that those services were available from all of our retirement vendors and it might be a good time to do that. Just a financial wellness check. That's all I have.

Dan Maxey (18:01):
Dan. Thank you for that Marshall. And thanks everyone who's tuned in live or to the recording today. I'll turn the floor back over to President Feinstein, but first, Andy, I'm going to run this hat over to you. You look like you're cold out there. Maybe you'll jump back and make a snow angel for us later in the snow in the front yard there.

President Feinstein (18:21):
Thanks Dan. That's probably a good idea. I certainly am going to find some time today to take a walk around the block and check out all this beautiful landscape with the snow on it. I'm not sure how long it will last, but it certainly is beautiful. So for everybody that presented today, thank you so much for your time and your input, and for all of you who have tuned in today, thank you as well. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care everybody.