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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 8, Operational Update

April 8, 2021 (Watch on YouTube)

Transcript:

President Andy Feinstein:
Well, good morning everybody. It's Thursday, April 8th. And this is our weekly operational status update call. I want to thank all of you for joining us. We're making great progress, vaccinating our community, and I encourage our faculty, staff and students to get the vaccine as soon as they are able to. We are currently in the first full week of phase two in Colorado's Vaccine Distribution Plan, meaning that anyone 16 years or older is now eligible to receive the vaccine. And the state's vaccination page has a comprehensive list of providers. And I encourage anyone who has not yet been able to receive the vaccine to visit that site, to find a local provider. And also we're still doing testing on campus through Mako Medical at Bishop Lehr. It's a drive-through testing facility, it's free, it's fast. I strongly suggest you also get tested at least once a week.

President Andy Feinstein:
With just three weeks left in the semester before finals week, let's continue to do our part to keep our community safe and healthy. And let's finish the semester on a strong note.

President Andy Feinstein:
Now I'm going to turn things over to Blaine Nickeson for an update. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson:
Right now the situation with COVID is very similar to that light at the end of the tunnel, but hard work to get there in the short term, summer and fall are looking to be much more normal than anything we've experienced in the last 13 months. The pace of vaccines has really ramped up and we're now at a point, as you said, where we're starting to vaccinate our younger and healthier population, but just like with the semester, there's still hard work that has to be put in before we get to that destination. COVID cases are rising in the country, the state and in Weld County. Compared to a month ago our new case rate here in Weld County is actually up about 30%. It's due to a number of factors, including the fact that the more transmissible B.1.1.7, first found in the UK is actually now the primary COVID stream in the US. But a lot of it's also our behavior, as we wrap up the semester, continue to vaccinate many more people each day, we need to keep up with the things we know that work, smaller gatherings, wearing a mask, getting tested routinely like you said, if you haven't been fully vaccinated.

Blaine Nickeson:
When it comes to vaccines, availability really is expanding. As you said, anyone over age 16 is eligible to get a vaccine now. That doesn't mean that a vaccine is available for every person today. It's going to take a little bit of time. But I'd encourage you to search out a shot from the wide variety of pharmacies, clinics, mass vax sites that are in and around Greeley. Well, I've already been vaccinated, I was looking around yesterday for a shot for a friend in the Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, which, it's a site run by FEMA, had availability for the next day, for today. And I was able to help them snag a shot or a spot to get vaccinated today.

Blaine Nickeson:
We're planning on hosting a large vaccination clinic on campus in about two weeks. All of the planning is in place, and we're just waiting to get confirmation from the state that we are indeed being allocated the necessary doses. Our current case numbers on campus remain manageable for our COVID response team, we have 61 cases we're tracking for either isolation or quarantine. We have 23 active positive cases associated with campus, been pretty consistent for the last month or so. Only one of those 23 is an employee, while the rest are students. We are using 15 of our isolation or quarantine rooms in the residence halls. It's well within our capabilities, we have 84 rooms set aside. But it is the highest number we've used in the few months. So we're keeping an eye on that.

Blaine Nickeson:
Returning to my theme about the optimism for the summer and beyond. There are two things that I'm really excited about. The first is commencement, which will be an in-person experience with limited guests in attendance. Our teams are working really hard to pull this off. We've heard feedback from our community, that people are frustrated about the limited guests numbers. And I totally understand that frustration on what is such an important day, but we're doing the best we can to deliver on an in-person experience while complying with public health requirements and best practices. We hope that if the community helps stop the spread of COVID and continues to get vaccinated that we can increase the allotment of guests tickets. I would also note that two of our neighbors to the west, both CSU and CU Boulder are doing virtual commencement ceremonies, they're not trying to pull off what we're trying to do. But Andy and his leadership team are very focused on making sure that our graduating Bears could have some kind of an in-person experience. Honestly, I'm pretty sure Andy would have stood on the steps of the UC and handed out diploma covers to a line of students if that is what it took.

Blaine Nickeson:
We're also optimistic about summer activity on campus. Yesterday, I presented a recommendation to the president's cabinet from the coronavirus task force on how to welcome our usual summer camps and conferences to campus this year. While we'll follow all public health guidelines, to keep everyone safe. I'm happy to report that the cabinet endorsed the plan, and we look forward to seeing lots of activity on campus this summer, including camp attendance by young adults that honestly, and hopefully become future Bears. So that's all I have for this morning Andy, and happy to turn it back over to you.

President Andy Feinstein:
Thanks Blaine for that update. And now let's hear from Mark Anderson, our Provost and Katrina Rodriguez, our Vice President for Student Affairs. Mark.

Mark Anderson:
Thank you very much, Andy and good morning everybody. Last week today, one week ago, on Thursday, April 1st, we held our final free application day and we received a total of 183 new applications. That doesn't sound like a lot, but contrast that with April 1st of 2020 and where we received five new applications. So kudos to our admissions team for really reaching out and driving admissions. Our admit numbers are up. Our confirmed numbers are down a little bit, but that number is narrowing. And over the next several months, we'll be really focused on recruiting events to turn those applicants into UNC Bears. And so on Saturday, April the 10th elementary ed and early childhood education will have information sessions down at the Lowry Center in Denver.

Mark Anderson:
On Tuesday the 13th we'll have an experienced UNC session and that will be with PVA, college of education, behavioral sciences, and Monfort College of Business. On Wednesday, the 14th we'll have a general session for admitted students and non traditional students. And then on Thursday, April 15th, we'll have another experience UNC event for SOAR students, humanities and social science students, and students interested in the college of natural and health sciences. So as always, we want to convert those applicants into UNC Bears and please be willing to participate, particularly in those sessions that are pertinent to your academic unit. Later today, actually at 10 o'clock, [Siedel 00:07:26] will be hosting an information session on sabbatical. And this is in preparation for faculty who are interested in pursuing a sabbatical leave for next academic year. And the information session is about the process and the procedure, and myself and Nancy Match, available to answer questions about sabbaticals.

Mark Anderson:
This is UNC Research Day. We have a couple of really important events that I would draw your attention to. The McNair scholars are going to have a poster session, and they're having that poster session both virtually via Zoom, as well as in person in the campus commons. And that will be held between three and four o'clock today, again, virtually and in the campus commons. And I would encourage everybody, if you have the opportunity to go and celebrate the research success of our students and really give them an opportunity to showcase their contributions, to advancing the disciplinary knowledge. Also today, between four and five, we have our distinguished scholars ceremony, and here's where we celebrate the teacher scholar model for our faculty. And so once again, this will be held virtually, but I would encourage everybody to attend and see the good work of the faculty who are going to be recognized for their outstanding scholarship.

Mark Anderson:
But really this is a celebration of all of our faculty and all of the teacher scholars and how we integrate our scholarship, our research, our creative works into how we serve our students. And so today is a very important day for our students who are engaged in scholarship, as well as our faculty. And let's celebrate all the good work that is going on. It's appropriate that UNC's Research Day is happening this week because this week is national library week and we couldn't do the research, we couldn't advance our disciplines without our library, without our librarians helping us in the research process. So if you have occasion, please celebrate our librarians and the library resource that we have, and really give a thank you to all of the library staff at UNC. And with that, I will turn it over to Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Good morning, everybody. So great to be here with you today. I don't know about anybody else, but certainly enjoying this great weather we're having. Some items for student faculty staff engagement. We are hosting in our tutorial services a tutoring center, a study skills, offering students assistance with a variety of areas, including management strategies for time, study skills, test anxiety, goal setting, those kinds of things. And also wellness and self care as students are getting prepared for finals or perhaps some last exams and projects before finals week. So students can schedule through what is called TutorTrac in the tutoring center. And you can certainly search that tutoring services to be able to schedule a time. So I'd like to encourage students to partake in that.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Also, as we begin our commencement activities, we will be hosting on May 4th, our LatinXcellence Graduation ceremony. So students who would like to participate in the ceremony feel free to contact us as our Cesar Chavez Cultural Center and they can direct you to getting registered for that event. So this is a fabulous event and a way for folks to come together in the LatinX community to celebrate.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Also on April 28th, we would ask folks all over campus to wear denim, to support survivors of sexual assault. This is sexual assault advocacy and awareness month, actually. And so advocacy for denim day began in 1999 in Italy, in a sexual assault court case. The woman who was assaulted was accused of wearing tight jeans and therefore she was blamed for the assault she experienced. So as a result of that, people all over, whether it was work or other sectors, they wore denim to support the woman in this case. And it was intended to bring the awareness to victim blaming and sexual violence. So please show your support on the 28th. If you're putting stuff out on social media, certainly indicate why this is important to you and why denim brings this awareness. So more can be found at the ASAP office Assault Survivors Advocacy Program. So check that out for additional information.

Katrina Rodriguez:
And also in our commencement and celebration, we'll be having our lavender celebration supported by the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. They have an annual ceremony to honor students across the gender and sexuality spectrum and acknowledge their achievements and contributions to UNC. This is a beautiful event it'll be held virtually on Thursday the 29th at four o'clock. Again, for folks who would like to participate in the celebration, for students who are graduating, you may do that. I encourage folks to do that, but then also for anybody who wants to attend as a guest, it's a really beautiful ceremony. So that again is on April 29th at four o'clock.

Katrina Rodriguez:
And then last, but certainly not least, we'd like to invite the campus to join President Feinstein and Dr. Tobias Guzman to a special virtual presentation of our sitting US poet laureate, Joy Harjo. Joy is a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation and became the first native American appointed US poet laureate in 2019. She will present from her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma sharing her poetry and speaking about social justice, as well as answering questions from the audience. This will be next Tuesday on the sixth at three o'clock. You can go to the Equity Inclusion website for more information and to register. Joy was here with us about a year and a half ago on campus and she's an amazing speaker, presenter, storyteller. So I would encourage folks to attend she's just tremendous. So those are some of the things happening on campus in the coming weeks, and so glad to be able to engage with all of us together as a community. So thank you so much. And back to you, Andy.

President Andy Feinstein:
Thanks, Katrina. Just a small correction Joy Harjo was this past Tuesday and so it was a wonderful event and we shared conversations with the poet laureate as well as students from across the country. So it was a wonderful event and just got the dates mixed up there, don't worry.

Katrina Rodriguez:
So sorry. Thank you, Andy.

President Andy Feinstein:
That's okay. That's okay.

Katrina Rodriguez:
Appreciate it.

President Andy Feinstein:
No, not, not at all. Not a problem. But want to thank you Katrina for your update and Mark for your update. I want to thank everybody for joining us this morning. As always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday. Take care, everybody.