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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 2, Operational Update

April 2, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Good morning. Thursday, April 2nd, and this is our daily operation status report. As a reminder to our viewers, if you have a chance to go to unco.edu/coronavirus plenty of information on what's happening on campus including a very detailed FAQ that has plenty of information as well as updates every single day. There's also a way to submit your own question, and we'll get that answered, and there's also a link for students on the website to provide us with information on how things are going in your classes.

President Feinstein (00:33):
So we've had about a 100 questions in the last couple of days from students. We appreciate that. Please keep them coming. Let us know how we can help you. Again, that's UNCO.edu/coronavirus. So let's get started with our conversation, our updates I'm going to ask Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, to get us going. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:54):
Thank you President Feinstein. It's a dreary day in Greeley today, making it a little more appealing to stay at home. The cabinet and coronavirus task force as well as its various subcommittees will continue to meet today as our daily panel gives its reports. Please each of you make sure to remember to unmute your microphones and turn your cameras on. I want to say Kirk Leichliter did a fantastic job yesterday covering as incident commander for our coronavirus response. Today we're glad to have the chair of our coronavirus task force assistant vice president for administration, Blaine Nickeson, back. Blaine, how about you start us off with developing issues.

Blaine Nickeson (01:31):
Great. Good morning everybody and thanks for the patientce as we worked through those changes yesterday. Yesterday, Governor Polis announced that K-12 schools will now be closed through the end of April, but again, it's very unlikely they come back this school year. The state's working on scaling up testing. They're processing tests in about one day now versus the prior four to five days. A surge of cases and hospitalizations could overwhelm hospitals between mid-April into July. In planning for the future, a helpful resource that I found is the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, my alma mater. They're doing great work that the Feds are relying on. They're supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and they have about 500 statisticians, computer scientists and epidemiologists on staff.

Blaine Nickeson (02:22):
They forecast that the peak hospital bed usage for Colorado will come on April 17th. At peak compared today, we'll be short about 3,700 hospital beds, 750 ICU beds and will require a little over a 1,000 ventilators. But really good website. Their data and their website, it's fantastic. It's Covid19.healthdata.org and you can look at the nationwide data or you can look state-by-state, but it also really helps us sort of see not only this ramp-up period, but see how there is a light at the end of the tunnel and how as you look towards the future, there's recovery.

Blaine Nickeson (03:00):
The model assumptions are key. They assume that states without social distancing measures will start those this week and that the distancing measures that are in place stay in place nationwide through the end of May. Here in Colorado, we're over 3000 positive cases, 3,342, that's up about 13% since yesterday. Eleven more deaths up to 80, 620 hospitalized. That's up 22% and 18,465 tested. Up about 10%. Here in Weld County, we're reporting 311 positive cases and 13 deaths. Weld now has the fourth-highest county case rate per capita amongst the state. A drive-up testing site at The Ranch for first responders, healthcare workers and essential infrastructure employees will take place tomorrow, and there's also work on setting up a 500-bed alternate care site there as well. Those are going to be critical across the state as we deal with that shortage of hospital beds that I mentioned earlier. So those are my updates for this morning, and I'll turn it back over to you.

President Feinstein (04:02):
Blaine, quick question for you, it's Andy Feinstein.

Blaine Nickeson (04:04):
Yes sir.

President Feinstein (04:06):
Trends in Colorado, when should we start seeing some impact on the stay at home measures and the closures of dining and restaurants, et cetera?

Blaine Nickeson (04:15):
We're already seeing the benefits of the closing of the dining and the restaurants and the school closures. That's how we've been sort of seeing not a precipitous ramp-up, but instead a steady ramp-up. The governor said in his press conference, I believe on Tuesday, that we expect to see the dividends of the stay at home order within about a week. And so probably by next Tuesday or Wednesday we'll see the impacts of that. And again, that website that I mentioned, Covid19.healthdata.org, takes that into account. So when you go there and look at Colorado, it actually shows when did we put a stay at home order in place, when did we close schools, and that helps calculate into there to show how that curve goes up and then comes back down.

Dan Maxey (05:04):
Great. Thank you Blaine. Next up, dean of students Gardiner Tucker will give a report on impacts to student life. Tuck it's all yours.

Gardiner Tucker (05:12):
Good morning everybody. It's great to see you today. Well, see some of you anyway. So the first student impact was, I wanted to talk about a report I gave yesterday about the GSRC, and I made a pronoun error in referring to the director. And so my apologies to Stephen Loveless, the director. When I referred to Stephen, I used the wrong pronouns. I just wanted to emphasize why that's important for Stephen and for our students. And the reason is that we frequently use pronouns to describe people. And when we refer to people in the third person, we often use a gender-implied pronouns such as he for man or boy or she for women or a girl. And yet these associations are not always accurate or helpful.

Gardiner Tucker (06:01):
So we make assumptions about people based on appearance. And these assumptions can be harmful messages at times by implying a person has to look, be or behave a certain way to show their gender. Well this is not true. There are many gender identities and many ways to express gender, and using a person's correct personal pronouns as a way to respect them and to create an inclusive environment. So all gender identities and gender expressions are welcome. So I'm working on that, and I hope that you are too, to learn how to use the correct personal pronouns.

Gardiner Tucker (06:37):
So the next student impact I would like to focus on is again, our students are missing their smaller communities for belonging. So the strategy again is to develop virtual small communities. So the example today is our Cumbres program. It's a teacher preparation program where students are learning to teach English as a second language. It's also known as culturally and linguistically diverse education. The director, Aldo Romero, is in charge of the Cumbres program and those students are already familiar with online and digital learning because they've been using it since 2014. So this transition to alternative methods of education has been a much more easy for them.

Gardiner Tucker (07:19):
Their mentoring program is now online through LMS and the learning management system in Canvas and Zoom. Their teacher mentoring is temporarily suspended due to school closures. But we'll start back up when school's open. Tutoring and advising have all been moved to alternative formats. And finally, some of the leadership programs have been paused because they're about service in the schools in the area, but the leadership workshops are still going online. So they've moved all of the sense of the spirit and the community of Cumbres onto the alternative formats.

Gardiner Tucker (07:54):
Now the second student impact I would like to discuss is about student athletes because as you know, they're going through a lot of uncertainty. So I've invited Darren Dunn, director of Athletics, to report on this. Darren, you have the floor.

Darren Dunn (08:08):
Thank you, Tuck. Good morning everybody. Our student athletes are certainly going through some significant changes, just like everyone. I think they all have very structured lives during their seasons, and now that's very unstructured with no practice, no workouts, no competition. So yeah, they're definitely having a hard time with this transition. But fortunately, we have some good staff that are helping them through that specifically like our academic staff that works with them on a weekly basis, making sure that they have access and they're prepared for their online classes.

Darren Dunn (08:49):
So that's been really helpful. They actually have FaceTime meetings with almost all 400 student athletes on a weekly basis, so they're very busy on FaceTime with them every week. Our coaches are also engaging with our student athletes as much as they can on a weekly basis. They actually do some film work online. It's been really helpful. A lot of times our student athletes like goals and so they've been working closely with student athletes on goal setting as well as just simply helping them structure their week. Making sure they have all the things that they're supposed to be doing planned out for the week.

Darren Dunn (09:31):
As we go through this, I think also they're trying to have some fun things, fun activities. I think our coaches are having some student athletes post fun things that they're doing, sharing those with their teams. One team has a Sunday fun day, and they're required to do something fun and make sure they report to the team what they're doing. Football has a big Madden competition, so that's been something that again is trying to get them that competition that they desire going. The Big Sky conference is also creating a competition among all members. So I think that would be something fun for our student athletes to participate in.

Darren Dunn (10:12):
So those are some of the fun things that we're trying to do to entertain our student athletes. Our sports performance coaches send out weekly workout schedules, plus they're working with them from a nutritional standpoint and I'm hopeful, I'm going to buy into that because my clothes seem to be getting a little tighter over the past few weeks. So that's something that's been helpful for our student athletes. We also have athletic trainers that are still going into the office, working with a number of student athletes and helping them recover from their surgeries or injuries they had from the fall. So they're still meeting with them on campus.

Darren Dunn (10:53):
This time of year, we also have a key time where we start looking at summer school and that's something that I think we're all looking forward to is getting past this, hopefully. And setting summer school schedules for our student athletes based on what their needs are. And my last point is a reminder that we have 156 days to our first football game. So with that, that is my report from athletics today. Thank you.

Gardiner Tucker (11:21):
Thank you Darren. An excellent report. It's great to see that Athletics is alive and well during this time and engaging athletes in ways that I think surprise all of us. That's very effective. So appreciate that report, 156 days and counting. And then my final student impact is for Housing. Jenna, you have the floor.

Jenna Finley (11:41):
Good morning. We are still continuing to ... Today is the last day for students to complete the survey and receive their credit that dates back to March 23rd. We've had roughly 2100 people complete the survey. We're going through that right now because what we can see on the back end is that a lot of students submitted the survey multiple times. It looks like some anywhere from two to four times with the same answer. So we're removing those duplicates and trying to get a better sense and making sure we have accurate data. Within the most recent survey, we have about 170 students indicating that they're staying in the residence halls, and we will do another nudge today. We've done a couple of text messages to both parents and students just trying to get people to complete the survey and commit one way or another.

Jenna Finley (12:51):
We've had just over 1,000 students checkout. We will say even with reinstating the checkout process, it's been a little bit slower than it was initially. I think we are in most buildings they have seen three or four people check out in a day. That's still continued to be slow, but we are continuing to have a lot of people call and ask us questions about checking out. Dining, meals has stayed relatively steady at around 130 students served a day, and I think that's all I have. Thank you.

Gardiner Tucker (13:30):
Excellent. Thank you, Jenna. And keeping us on track with the ever changing world of Housing and Dining. Much appreciated. And that concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (13:39):
Thank you, Tuck, Darren and Jenna. Jenna, I appreciate the work that you're doing to follow up with students. I know that everyone feels a little overwhelmed by everything that's coming their way right now and appreciate those efforts to make sure that no one has missed the survey and their opportunity to share their intentions with us. Next I'm going to turn to Provost Mark Anderson to give his report on impacts to the academic mission. Mark.

Mark Anderson (14:06):
Thank you Dan, and good morning to everyone. As we are working through things, we want to plan for the future, and one of the things that, or two areas that have really cropped up in the conversation from both students and faculty are with respect to grading options. Particularly, pass-fail options for courses for this term, and summer. What are we going to do for the summer? So we have a proposal which is currently being vetted by faculty and Faculty Senate in particular to go to a pass-fail option. It turns out that we do not have a pass-fail option in our student information system. So the proposal is to go to a satisfactory, unsatisfactory option. We're being very, very deliberate and intentional in looking at this because there are a lot of implications to students in going to a satisfactory, unsatisfactory or pass-fail option.

Mark Anderson (15:03):
We just heard from Darren, student athletes have to be very careful about eligibility for their athletic competition with NCAA guidelines if they choose to change the grade option. Students who are on academic probation, have to be very careful about it. We have to be mindful of course, as well as program, prerequisites. So when we're looking at a satisfactory, unsatisfactory, what is the cutoff for a satisfactory. Is a satisfactory grade a D, a D-, a C, C-, etc. And it turns out that if you look at prerequisites for programs for adequate progress towards degree, prerequisites for course in sequence, there are a number of different grading options that must be met in order to make satisfactory progress.

Mark Anderson (16:02):
So we can't have a single cutoff for satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and IMT has been working with the Registrar to develop a behind-the-scenes process by which we can maintain prerequisites regardless of what those prerequisites are, in going to a satisfactory, unsatisfactory grade option. So I know a lot of people are talking about that. We're very deliberately looking at that and setting up our systems. So in the event that we choose to go to a pass-fail or satisfactory, unsatisfactory, that we've covered all of our bases, and we're not disadvantaging any of the students. The most important aspect of this is we want to encourage every student who is going or considering a pass-fail option, satisfactory, unsatisfactory option to engage their advisor. To make sure that they're making the best decision for themselves.

Mark Anderson (17:01):
We're going to emphasize that continuously. So that's where we are on pass-fail. This Faculty Senate is sharing that out with the faculty. And I've been involved in a lot of very robust email conversation about this, and I'd like to thank the faculty for really being very deliberate and intentional and asking a lot of really great questions about changing the grading option. The intent is to have a determination by Friday that will then be communicated out to students by the middle of next week. That also gives us a period of time of about a week to be sure that we can have all the systems in place for our student information system.

Mark Anderson (17:47):
The other part is summer, based upon the shelter in place and the social distancing and how that is progressing. We are looking at going to effectively all online for the summer. Particularly at the very beginning of the summer session, which starts May 18. And the good news is the majority of our summer offerings always were online. So we're not changing a lot. Those courses, which were scheduled to be a face-to-face, we're looking at moving to online. We have a number of programs, particularly graduate programs that are a hybrid model where a majority of the instruction is online, but there's a period of time, generally a fairly intensive period of time where students come to campus for a face-to-face interaction. We want to at least preserve the possibility that, that will happen by moving the face-to-face interaction towards the end of the summer. The very earliest, the beginning of the second six-week session. So we're having conversations about that, but it looks like we're probably going to go to a majority online instructional modality for summer sessions.

Mark Anderson (19:07):
And then finally Stephanie Torrez and Matt Goetzel, have been identifying students who have not yet accessed their Canvas shell. It turns out that there's, between graduate students and undergraduate students, there's about just over 400 students who have not accessed Canvas, and we're reaching out to each of them individually. Oh, and Kim Black is part of that as well. We're reaching out individually to those students to find out if it's a technology problem, if it's they've abandoned, etc. And trying to get them back into the instruction.

Mark Anderson (19:46):
So that's all I have. And I'd like to thank everybody, Faculty Senate for their efforts on pass-fail and all the faculty, for the deans, for working on the summer and getting that into a modality that we can offer a robust summer schedule for students. And then finally for Matt Goetzel, Stephanie Torrez and Kim Black for really being very proactive, identifying those students who haven't engaged with the campus yet in this new reality that we face and reaching out to them to identify what the issues are. That's all I have, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (20:24):
Thank you, Mark. And I want to remind any students who are watching this, if you have peers who you know are having challenges accessing our online courses because they lack technology to do so, we do have a number of ways that we can help. We've loaned laptops out to a fairly large number of students, and I know that several local ISPs are providing ways for students to access internet. So we do have ways that we can help, if you do need help or you know someone who does, please make sure that you reach out to us or refer them to us so that we can reach out to them and share resources back. Next, Kirk Leichliter, assistant vice president for Facilities Management, will give the report on impacts to our facilities. Kirk.

Kirk Leichliter (21:10):
Good morning everyone. Let's see, we do not have any update yet from the Corps of Engineers regarding a possible alternative care facility. However, Weld County emergency management is working on alternative care plans in order to be ready if and when the state does make a local request. Blaine mentioned the facility that's been set up at The Ranch, but we anticipate desire for more space, and they are looking at a few locations in Greeley including some of our residence halls, so that conversation will continue. The City of Greeley is going to be starting a project on traffic signals at 9th Ave. and 16th Street. It's to be complete by August 1st, so they're very sensitive to our summer and fall schedules. And they're also doing a project at 10th Ave. and 20th Street that could be more disruptive. I don't have information on that yet, so I'll have an update at a later time.

Kirk Leichliter (22:15):
Buildings are locked down as we've been discussing; we're still resolving a few access issues for essential staff. We're continuing with our planned summer construction that uses outside contractors. Some notable projects include the dish machine replacement at Tobey-Kendel, synthetic field replacements, a new chiller for McKee, the simulation labs in Gunter and the fire sprinklers in Gunter, new air handler for Butler pool, Kepner's elevator modification. So there'll be lots of contractor activity continuing on campus. Our goal is to complete much of the normal summer work in order to be ready for fall semester and not disrupt things.

Kirk Leichliter (23:03):
We're also starting a conversation about restarting some selected internal projects such as possibly the work in Carter Hall. This would again help to reduce the impact to units in the fall. Operationally, we're continuing our building checks. Ground staff will be turning on sprinkler systems in mid-April. We want the campus to look great when we get back to normal, and our new grounds manager starts April 13th after Pat McDonald's retirement. EHS is heavily involved with the county discussions on the alternative care planning, and we'll be working with Housing and such to make sure that we're getting appropriate information back and forth. Jenna provided Housing and Dining update, so I believe that's everything at this point.

Dan Maxey (23:56):
Great. Thank you, Kirk. Finally, I'll call on Marshall Parks, director of Human Resources, for HR-related impacts affecting UNC employees. Marshall.

Marshall Parks (24:04):
Thanks Dan. As we're looking forward, one of the most significant impacts on our employees has been the impact on our retirement plans. Some of you may have deliberately not looked at your balance in the last couple of weeks. You might want to mute me for the next minute or so here, but most of us have lost between 25 and 35% of the value of our accounts in the last three weeks. We're working to find ways to help our employees move forward from where we are and plan for the future, no matter how far they may be from retirement. This week I've been meeting and working with our retirement plan vendors to identify ways to assist our employees in this volatile market.

Marshall Parks (24:46):
Yesterday I met with some senior leaders from TIAA, T-I-A-A, and they have agreed to offer some additional remote advisor meetings for our UNC staff and faculty. Those will be announced later this week. They're also making available an active management solution for those who are interested. There's a fee associated with the active management, but it may be of value to those closer to retirement ages in particular. We'll continue to work closely with our retirement plan vendors to offer support and financial education to our staff as we navigate this financial volatility. That's all I have, Dan.

Dan Maxey (25:26):
Great. Thank you, Marshall. And I want to thank everyone who's tuned in live which we're recording today. You'll notice I've been here a fairly short time. I'm starting to run out of UNC gear, but I want everybody to know that I've placed a bookstore order. So I've got more sweatshirts coming, and the bookstore is taking orders and providing free shipping during this time. So it's a good time to stock up on UNC gear, whether you've been here for a few months or for many years. I'm going to turn the floor back over to President Feinstein for some final words. Andy.

President Feinstein (26:02):
Thanks Dan. I want to start by thanking all of our presenters for their updates today, although I'm a little disappointed in Tuck and his headphone selection. I hope he goes back to his headphones, his previous headphones tomorrow. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Take care everybody.