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COVID-19: News and campus updates | University policies and resources

April 8, Operational Update

April 8, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)

Transcript: 

President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everybody. It's Wednesday, April 8th, and this is our daily operation status report. We've got some updates, I know, about our satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading change for this semester, as well as updates from our other coronavirus task forces.

President Feinstein (00:16):
So to get things started I'm going to ask Dan Maxey to moderate the conversation. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:22):
Thank you, President Feinstein. I hope everyone's Wednesday is off to a good start. It's certainly looking like it's going to be another beautiful day here in Greeley. The cabinet and coronavirus task force and most of our subcommittees will meet today. And the classified staff council met this morning. Andy Marshall and I just got off of that call and had a good discussion with the CSC. Late last week I mentioned that I was running low on UNC gear. I want to point out that I've got some new Northern Colorado gear here for everyone this morning. The bookstore is fulfilling orders, and so if you're a running short on Bear pride, certainly place your own orders. They got here in a day, so got here really quickly.

Dan Maxey (01:09):
So just a reminder to all of our panel reporters today, as our daily panel gifts reports, please remember to unmute your microphones. Turn on your cameras. We're going to turn things over to the chair of our coronavirus task force, Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson for our developing issues report. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:31):
Thanks, Dan. Good morning, everybody. Coronavirus task force will meet today at 11:00 AM as part of our new Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. But I did have meetings and conversations with many of the subcommittee chairs yesterday. We're continuing to work on various issues in between the formal task force meetings.

Blaine Nickeson (01:47):
Colorado has 5,429 cases, up 5% since yesterday. To reinforce the important message that I've been trying to share that this virus can affect anyone, Colorado has over 900 positive cases in people in their twenties and younger, and 40 of those are hospitalized. Hospitalizations have now surpassed 1,000. We're at 1,079, up from 994 the day before. 5% increase in testing, so a little over 28,000 have been tested in Colorado. Sadly 179 deaths, which is up from 150 yesterday. That's a 19% increase in one day. Weld County has 545 cases, which is only up 11, and 29 deaths, which is up three.

Blaine Nickeson (02:34):
Those numbers have surprisingly slow growth, so I'll be watching in the days ahead to see if perhaps Weld County is somehow flattening their curve. I'd originally reported that Weld and Larimer Counties along with the US Army Corps of Engineers were developing a 500 bed alternate care facility at The Ranch in Loveland. That's actually going to be a thousand beds, and it'll serve COVID-positive patients that need hospital care but don't require a ventilator.

Blaine Nickeson (03:01):
As of our most current conversations, UNC is not being actively considered for an alternate care facility at this point, but we are having ongoing conversations with local officials to house visiting nurses and first responders and healthcare workers that are isolating themselves from their families. So trying to do our part to help those heroes on the front line.

Blaine Nickeson (03:23):
That's all I have for this morning, Dan. I'll go ahead and turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (03:27):
Thank you, Blaine. Next up, Dean of Students Gardiner Tucker will give his report on impacts to student life. Tuck, it's all yours.

Gardiner Tucker (03:34):
Good morning, Bear country. Let's see here. The first student impact I wanted to focus on is that a lot of our months have issues identified with them. So Black History Month, Herstory Month, and now we are in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. So we aren't able to do those campaigns in person, so we've moved them to a virtual format. And our ASAP program, Assault Survivors Advocacy Program, sponsors multiple events during April around sexual assault. So Susannah Fulling-Smith, who has her master's in Public Health, is the assistant director of ASAP. And she and her team have put these on. So first up is the Clothesline Project. It's an art installation to educate students and community that violence is a problem in our community and highlights campus and community resources to help violence survivors, and it demonstrates that there is a path to hope and healing after experiencing violence.

Gardiner Tucker (04:31):
The second one is called Carry That Weight program. This brings awareness to sexual assaults that happen on college campuses. And the way it came about was Emma Sulkowicz's activism during a case on a campus where she was sexually assaulted. She took her mattress and took it around campus to the different locations she went to to bring attention to the fact that the perpetrator was still in school even though after the event had taken place. So bringing attention to making sure we hold people accountable on campus.

Gardiner Tucker (05:03):
And then third up is Denim Day, which has international recognition because it relates to an Italian court case where a conviction was overturned by a Supreme Court in Italy because of the misguided belief that the way a woman dresses invites sexual assault, which it does not. And so on Wednesday, April 29th, we invite the campus community to wear denim to symbolize the shattering of myths about sexual assault.

Gardiner Tucker (05:29):
And then the next up is Paint Instagram Teal. So for those of you who have Instagram accounts, for the month of April, all faculty, staff and students, we'd like you to change your Instagram profile to a teal circle or something with teal color in it for the month of April to show our support for survivors.

Gardiner Tucker (05:47):
And then finally, UNConditional Support. The community can share anonymous stories about sexual assault that'll be shared with the campus community. And our campus community shows unconditional support in response. The unconditional nature of things is key for survivors of sexual assault to recover from their experiences. So congratulations to ASAP and their team for putting those on.

Gardiner Tucker (06:20):
The second student impact is as the spring semester progresses, students may start to feel symptoms around feeling sick. It could be from allergies, colds, or it could be from the virus. And what's important is, we've mentioned this before about what to do, but sometimes you don't pay attention to information unless you need it, unless you're feeling symptoms. And that concept is called relevancy. So we want to keep this message in front of our community for students. So the strategy is to repeat certain kinds of health information for our campus. So I've invited Cindy Vetter, who is director of the UNC Card Office, oversees our Student Business Services and oversees the Student Health Center on campus. Cindy, the floor is yours.

Cindy Vetter (07:08):
Great. Thank you, Tuck. And good morning to everyone. Can you hear me OK?

Dan Maxey (07:13):
Yes.

Cindy Vetter (07:14):
Great. First of all, I want to let you know that our staff at the Student Health Center has been working very, very hard through all of this. They are still operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9:00 to 3:00. And during those days we are seeing about 15 to 20 patients each day. So we still have a steady stream of students coming in for whatever their needs are. We've been doing School of Nursing clearances. We have students with cut fingers or sprained ankles. But in addition to that, of course we are seeing students that are symptomatic. We're very fortunate that we have been able to provide some testing through the Student Health Center. And we're even more fortunate that only two of those tests have come back positive. So that's been a very good thing on our campus.

Cindy Vetter (08:05):
We work really hard to continue to try to obtain personal protective equipment so that we can continue seeing our patients. And we have changed our model just a little bit during this time. The health center has been operating as a walk-in clinic for the last 12 years, which students seem to love. But during this time we are asking students to call ahead, do appointments, just to ensure that we're keeping that social distancing going, and that if we do have someone that is in the clinic that is symptomatic, we are trying to keep the other students out of that building during that time. And then that gives us a little time to clean things up and do all the other things that we need to do before the next patient comes in. So it's been a change in operations, but the staff's hanging in there. They're doing fantastic. And they're trying to remind all of our students, get your rest, drink plenty of fluids, do all the things that you need to do to stay well all the time. So any questions for me?

Gardiner Tucker (09:08):
There was a question in the side. Shawanna asked if a student had shared symptoms and cannot be tested, what should that person do? Or what should Shawanna do with that information? He lives in Greeley.

Cindy Vetter (09:20):
OK. The students should self-quarantine. So if their symptoms get worse, then of course they need to call the ER. And if they get very worse, of course they need to call 911. However, most of the time it's just self-quarantine, stay away from everyone, drink plenty of fluids, get a lot of rest, keep breathing, open up your lungs, sit up as much as you can. Just try to keep breathing. We actually are telling a lot of our students that are symptomatic to try to prop up when they sleep, just to try to keep lungs as open as possible. Run humidifiers, take hot, steamy showers, hot baths, whatever it may be, just to try to keep lungs open. And that's for a lot of illnesses, flu, all the different things. We're still seeing a lot of cases of influenza, surprisingly.

Gardiner Tucker (10:10):
And the COVID tests in health center are free to students. Is that correct?

Cindy Vetter (10:14):
No, that is not correct. We bill insurance, and the insurance is supposed to cover that 100%. The office visit would be billed at whatever their normal insurance rate is.

Gardiner Tucker (10:27):
Excellent. So then the final question is the number to the health center. Can you post that in the chat?

Cindy Vetter (10:34):
Absolutely. I will be happy to do that. (970-351-2412)

Gardiner Tucker (10:36):
Cindy, thanks for appearing as our special guest today and for the information about the Student Health Center. Kudos to you and the health center for all the work you're doing during this incredibly important time. Thank you so much.

Cindy Vetter (10:46):
Well, thank you for having me today.

Gardiner Tucker (10:48):
You're welcome.

Gardiner Tucker (10:50):
So then just want to give a highlight that Thursday we have another special guest, and Friday. On Thursday we're having an internal expert talk to us about managing stress at home through nutrition and exercise. And then Friday we're having a special guest talk to us about aspects of mental and emotional health during the crisis.

Gardiner Tucker (11:09):
So now for my final word, I'd like to share something that our music students are up to. This is the University of Northern Colorado saxophone studio, and from my understanding, this is going viral on YouTube. Now I'm just going to show you a brief section of what's coming. So all of our musicians are in their home places, and they're playing together. So I encourage you to, I'll put this in the chat, and I encourage you to listen to them when you get a chance. And that concludes my report. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (11:48):
Great. Thank you to Tuck and Cindy. Cindy, I want to say that we so greatly appreciate everything that you're doing to continue to support our students during this time. Throughout the last few weeks have heard nothing but compliments about the work that you're doing to continue the operations of student health.

Dan Maxey (12:05):
I do want to share for those who are watching the video recording of this, the Student Health Center phone number is (970) 351-2412.

Dan Maxey (12:22):
Going to turn next to Provost Mark Anderson to give his report on impacts to the academic mission. But I do want to point out first that Mark got to give the first report yesterday, and he didn't even have to rap or rhyme to get there. So Mark, I'm going to turn the floor over to you, and I'm still going to hold out some hope that we'll get you to at least rhyme your report one of these mornings.

Mark Anderson (12:44):
One of these mornings perhaps. We'll see. It's tough to follow Tuck on these, and so I've got to come up with something. Andy mentioned earlier about the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade option. An email went out to the campus community, to faculty, staff and students, providing some detail about a new grade option that allows students to choose a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade option. The deadline for choosing that is May 29th, which comes approximately 10 days after grades are posted. This gives students a real opportunity to evaluate what's best for them and their future. It also gives us plenty of opportunity to work with students through advisement to help them understand what is the best choice for them. Along with the communication, there was a link to an FAQ. It's posted on the coronavirus page. The communication was sent out earlier this morning, and we've already been receiving a number of questions. Almost all of the questions are answered in the FAQ. So we encourage people to look at the FAQ. And there are some questions that aren't explicitly addressed in the FAQ. And we're happy to provide additional information if all of the questions aren't being answered. But that was approved.

Mark Anderson (14:16):
I'd like to thank, again the faculty, and especially Faculty Senate who really had a very robust conversation about providing this as an option to students. So thank you very much. Yesterday, Senator Michael Bennet held a phone call with all of the presidents for the different institutions. Andy wasn't feeling well, so I sat in for him. Every university head was given two minutes to really address the importance of what's going and the impact it's having upon our students.

Mark Anderson (14:56):
There was, as has been the case since Andy's been the president, a lot of commonality and really a common message to Senator Bennet. And one of the things that he talked about was the CARES Act and stimulus funding and the opportunity and really hopefully the reality that there will be additional stimulus money coming from the federal government. Senator Bennet, as I think everybody knows, is a big advocate for education. And he's really doing a great job, I would say, in advocating for additional stimulus money to come to higher education and to support students who are really being impacted through the changes in the delivery of course content, but also the changes in the economy that potentially impacts their ability to pursue a postsecondary education. So it was really great to be part of that conversation, to listen to what's going on in Washington to support higher education.

Mark Anderson (16:02):
One thing he did say, as a word of caution, is that in the next couple of weeks there'll be a lot of politics around this issue. And so we have to be mindful of the political situation. But also know that our representatives are really advocating very strongly for higher education to support our students but also to support the economy. So I think that's all I have this morning, Dan. Thank you very much.

Dan Maxey (16:31):
Thank you, Mark. I appreciate those updates. And just want to remind everybody that the FAQ section on the coronavirus website still remains a good central resource for information and for answers about some of the predominant, sort of more prevalent pressing questions that we're getting.

Dan Maxey (16:51):
As Mark pointed out the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading option issue is very complicated for students, and so again, if your issues aren't answered, we're encouraging students to check in with their academic advisors and with Financial Aid to understand the impacts that a S/U grading might have for them. So we can't stress that enough. Please make sure that you are checking in with your advisors and with Financial Aid.

Dan Maxey (17:19):
This morning we do have reports from Facilities Management and from Human Resources. So next I'm going to turn it over to Kirk Leichliter, assistant vice president for Facilities Management, for a report on facilities impacts. Kirk.

Kirk Leichliter (17:33):
Good morning, everyone. Blaine gave us information related to the alternate care facility planning, so we won't go there. With more people using homemade masks, the question has come up related to using them for a full day while at work and such. So Environmental Health and Safety has been doing some research and putting together some guidance on the use of homemade masks. There will be more information to follow. The most significant thing is just a reminder that those should be laundered daily when they're used for any significant period of time. But we hope to have more information on that later today. And I think I'll stop there because the other things have been covered. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (18:26):
Right. Thank you, Kirk. Next I'll call on Marshall Parks, director of Human Resources, to share some information on impacts for UNC employees. Marshall.

Marshall Parks (18:35):
Thanks, Dan. Appreciate it. Two updates today. First, for our faculty and exempt staff who are on our health insurance plan, we have four additional free resources that are being provided by our healthcare provider Anthem. First, they have partnered with a company called Psych Hub. It's a free digital hub to help our members with stress resulting from COVID-19, brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss, mental health issues, etc.

Marshall Parks (19:04):
Secondly, they are also partnering with a company called Aunt Bertha to connect individuals and families to social services in their community. They can assist employees with accessing food, housing, job training, transportation and other social support.

Marshall Parks (19:19):
Thirdly, to help our employees who need more mental health support, they are providing access to their EAP resources at no cost through June 30th that usually is at a copay or deductible cost, so it's no cost through June 30th. And this is in addition to our EAP resources we have available to all of our employees through the UNC counseling center. But it is another resource that is available, and it is free of charge.

Marshall Parks (19:42):
And lastly, employees can locate a COVID-19 testing facility near them by downloading their mobile app. Again, it doesn't change the process for getting that test, but if they're looking for a testing facility, it can identify facilities in their area. And again, all of the testing etc. is free of charge through Anthem and anyone on our insurance plan.

Marshall Parks (20:05):
All of this information will be shared with employees who are enrolled in our [inaudible 00:20:08] benefit plan. We'll roll it out today with all the detail, how to access all of those four additional free resources.

Marshall Parks (20:15):
My second update is for classified employees. The state has adopted emergency rules to allow temporary extension that allows classified employees to exceed their vacation maximum on June 30th. Usually on June 30th, we reset vacation back to below the max. This year they're allowing up to 80 extra hours that we can accrue over the max. I think we're going to have 120 days after June 1st in order, or after July 1st, in order to use those. But we're sending out the details again to the classified employees. And it is good news for employees who would have lost vacation time due to the unusual circumstances this spring, or they weren't able to take a vacation they were planning to take time off. If they have plans, they won't lose those vacation benefits that they've earned.

Marshall Parks (21:02):
And those are my two updates today, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (21:04):
Great. Thank you, Marshall. And I want to thank everyone who's given reports this morning. And thank everyone who's tuned in live for the recording today. I'm going to turn the floor back over to President Feinstein for some final words. Andy.

President Feinstein (21:15):
Appreciate all the updates today and our guest speakers. And as always, stay safe, be healthy. And we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.