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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

August 6, Operational Update

August 6 Update (Watch on YouTube


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, August 6th, and this is our weekly operational status update. Thank you all for joining us. We are a little more than two weeks away from the first day of classes, and we will begin moving students back into our residence halls on Friday of next week. A lot of careful planning and preparation has gone into our return to campus this month. And I greatly appreciate the effort of every member of our community who has helped us arrive at this point in time. We're still living through the pandemic. How things progress over the next several weeks will depend on every member of our UNC community doing their part to protect the health and safety of our fellow Bears. As we return, I ask each of you to take personal responsibility for your actions. We have implemented a wide range of policies to help limit the risk of transmission when we are in public spaces around campus.

President Feinstein (01:01):
Everyone on campus will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. There are limits on the number of people who can occupy indoor spaces at once. We have cleaning protocols in place, and we have changed how various services are delivered to ensure you can still count on UNC to support your needs while protecting your health and safety. I need your help to keep our community safe. What you do when you're not in the classroom, in the library, or in other public spaces on campus has the real potential to affect other members of our community.

President Feinstein (01:38):
It could impact the health and wellness of your friends and classmates, faculty and staff, our families, and our neighbors in Greeley. Everyone needs to take the appropriate precautions this fall. Continue to wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your living and workspaces daily, especially in high-touch spaces. Wear a mask that covers your mouth and your nose, not just when you're on campus, but when you are moving throughout public spaces off campus. Cover coughs and sneezes, avoid contact with people who are sick, practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings.

President Feinstein (02:26):
This is not the time to throw or attend parties. And monitor your own health. If you are sick or have symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with others. Report your symptoms through the disclosure form located on our return to campus website. Contact the health center to get tested if you have any reason to believe that you may have contracted COVID-19. And if you receive a positive test result from anywhere other than our health center, we ask that you to report this through the disclosure form as well. We're looking forward to seeing you all back on campus in a few weeks, but now more than ever, we need your help to keep our fellow Bears safe and healthy. We can do this together, but each of us is going to have to do our part. With that, I'm going to turn the conversation over to Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson for a report on the current status of public health guidelines and conditions in Colorado, as well as an update from the logistics working group. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (03:32):
Thanks, Andy. As of this past Monday, the campus has reopened for in-person business. It's an important milestone as we head towards welcoming students back to campus, like you mentioned, with residence hall move in starting in a little over a week, faculty returning to campus on the 17th, and classes kicking off on Monday the 24. While things continue to evolve for the fall, and we're going to need to be flexible as things change, people across the university have spent the entire summer working towards this culmination, and we're excited to have activity back on campus. A reminder for faculty and staff that while the UNC campus has reopened, state guidelines prohibit any workplace from having more than 50% of its pre-COVID occupancy. At UNC we're interpreting this rule to apply to sort of distinct office suites, not to buildings as a whole. The entire intent here is to reduce density within buildings, less people in stairwells, hallways, bathrooms, meal rooms, et cetera.

Blaine Nickeson (04:30):
If anyone has questions about their specific work area, please feel free to reach out to either Environmental Health and Safety, or you can send an email that'll be routed by sending it to the coronavirus@unco.edu email account. We're in the process of creating an online directory that'll detail each office and service area of the university and how they're currently operating. We want the campus community to be able to quickly know if an office is operating with normal in-person hours, is conducting operations remotely, or is in some kind of hybrid such as with reduced hours or appointment-only type of situation. And this'll be a living resource that it's going to be updated as conditions change for offices. Statewide, after six weeks of increasing case counts, we're starting to see a downward trend. It's likely that that trend is attributable to the statewide mask order that went in place in mid-July. I believe it was July 16th.

Blaine Nickeson (05:25):
As the trend started turning downward about two weeks after the order, which is exactly what we would expect to see. So hoping that that can hold. The state's definitely increased its testing capacity. Yesterday there were over 16,000 tests conducted between private labs and the state labs. While increased testing can partially account for higher case counts, one of the areas that we keep an eye on is the test positivity rate. When it's higher, close to or above 5%, it indicates a sustained community spread. Yesterday the three-day moving average had that positivity rate in Colorado at about four and a half percent, which is under that threshold. Andy, you touched on this, but I really want to reinforce it. UNC has a new health alerts webpage that can easily be accessed from our main coronavirus webpage, unco.edu/coronavirus. There are two important features to the new website.

Blaine Nickeson (06:21):
The first one is that we're reporting any positive cases among students or employees that may have had an impact to the campus. The information of that reporting's pretty generic, but we want to be transparent with our community about what the level of activity is on the campus. The second part of that webpage is what you touched on. It's a case reporting feature. We really need to know if a student or employee has tested positive so that our contact tracing team can take swift action to identify close contacts and get them into quarantine.

Blaine Nickeson (06:50):
This public health process is critical to containing the spread of the virus on campus and within the community. So there's a simple link on the page to report a positive case, either for yourself or if you're reporting that somebody else is positive, and they've shared that information with you. That's all I have this morning and I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (07:10):
Thanks, Blaine. And I'm now going to turn it over to Provost Mark Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez for updates from our fall re-entry taskforce.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:21):
Good morning, everybody. Just a few items for me today for the Student Affairs Task Force. RAs are back on campus and in training to have a tremendous opening for our students in residence halls. So we're excited to get to see them and interact. Andy, thank you for all of the information on the mandatory mask wearing. I do want to reiterate that the Disability Resource Center is unable to provide accommodations for mask wearing, given our state and university orders to wear masks.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:56):
And so this is a place where the safety of the community is critical, and so we are not able to have accommodations from the DRC. And then lastly, we're excited about all of the materials that have been put together and various video content, particularly for our extended orientation. We will be doing some of those activities virtually and some of them face to face so that we can be sure to accommodate everybody's preferred style. And that way too for folks who may be doing more online-related courses that they can tune in virtually and be a part of that, even if they're not directly on campus. So we're excited for the content that's come in and yeah, looking forward to the next couple of weeks. I'll turn it over to Mark Anderson. Mark.

Mark Anderson (08:49):
Thank you very much, Katrina. I'd just like to echo what Andy, as well as Blaine have said. We are just a little over two weeks from the beginning of the fall semester, and we've done a lot of planning for the fall, and we're really excited to have our faculty, staff and students back on campus for what we believe will be a really wonderful, exciting and robust fall semester. We too, in Academic Affairs, are working with the faculty to develop a return to campus handbook. This is just an accumulation of all the policies and practices related to COVID-19 so the faculty will know how to react under different circumstances. Our target is to have a final draft completed by next Monday so Faculty Senate can review it. And then a final document published for faculty by Monday, August 17th. I would like to turn the floor over to Mr. Brad Sharp who's going to talk a little bit about some resources which will be available, Brad.

Brad Sharp (09:58):
Great. Thank you so much, Mark. IM&T is excited to announce some new technology that we've deployed over the summer. First of all, we'd like to talk about our Rave Emergency Alert System. We partnered with the UNC Police Department to implement this new emergency communication system. We'd like to encourage all of the campus community, if you're not already enrolled for emergency text alerts, please do so at ursa.unco.edu. If you were already enrolled in the old system, there is no need to re-enroll.

Brad Sharp (10:33):
Additionally, there is a new mobile application that has some great new features for our campus community. It is called the Rave Guardian Application, and it can be downloaded from the app store on your mobile devices. A couple items I'd like to highlight from the Rave Guardian mobile application, first is the timer virtual escort. This new feature will allow our campus community to set up guardians from their contacts on their own phone, and then they can set fixed times for departures and estimate a time at which they will reach their destination. If they reach their destination, they click the button and nothing happens. If not, it can alert their guardian to let them know that they did not reach their destination, and it can provide their specific GPS location as well.

Brad Sharp (11:22):
The other item we're really excited about is a new text reporting feature, specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing community. This allows our UNC community to chat directly with the UNC Police Department from the mobile application, simply by clicking on the deaf slash hard of hearing reporting. The next tool we are excited to introduce is the Apporto Virtual Lab. This new virtual lab will allow students, faculty and staff access to university software resources from any browser by simply going to unco.apporto.com. The software contained on these virtual labs are very similar to what you would find in our anchor labs, mainly the UC computer commons or the university libraries.

Brad Sharp (12:13):
We have a total of 80 concurrent general session uses available for all students and 30 high-end sessions available. If for some reason you are the 81st person to attempt to log in, you will receive a message and then you can attempt to log in later. We are actively monitoring the utilization and can scale accordingly based upon the demand.

Brad Sharp (12:36):
In addition, there is some limited storage available that will be persistent and stick with you every time you log into the virtual lab. You can also connect directly to your OneDrive to access your personal files from the remote lab. We have much more information, including the complete list of software available, on our help site, which is help.unco.edu. The Apporto Virtual Lab is not intended for Microsoft Office. We would like to remind all faculty, staff and students that you actually get Office for free on up to five personal devices by simply visiting office.com and downloading the application. There are also a few other software applications we could not include, including the Adobe software suite and some specific Apple software that is mainly used by our performing individual arts college.

Brad Sharp (13:29):
We've also been working to set the computer capacities in each one of our spaces in order to meet and adhere to social distancing guidelines. So here's a few pictures from some of the spaces that we've implemented the changes across campus. We recognized that we needed to reduce some capacity in our labs, so we actually had expanded student-accessible computers across other areas on campus, mainly in the Michener Library and the University Center. Here's some pictures of the University Center and Michener Library where students can have access to university resources from computers. All of the computers will be available according to each specific building hours.

Brad Sharp (14:15):
We also want to note it as important not to rearrange the furniture. We're taking special effort to ensure that social distancing is met, and we actually are expanding classroom capacities in some other spaces. Here's a picture of one of the new converted classrooms at our University Center. We also would like to encourage all faculty to visit their classrooms ahead of the first day of classes, and if they have any questions, please contact the TSC, and we would be happy to schedule onsite orientation.

Brad Sharp (14:45):
Finally, our Technical Support Center will continue to be operating remotely. Our updated hours are included. We actually take calls 24 hours a day, as we have an off-hours answering service. There's multiple ways to contact our Technical Support Center. You can call us by the phone number provided, visit us online or email help@unco.edu. We are implementing a remote-first support strategy to help better protect our staff and the campus community.

Brad Sharp (15:13):
So we are asking for the assistance of campus as we work through this. Our first effort will be to provide as much remote support as possible. If for some reason we do need to meet in person, we have designated spaces in Michener Hall, and we will be meeting there by appointment only. So we are asking to please have patience, as you might have slightly longer hold times with our Technical Support Center and increased response times, and we appreciate your willingness to help us support you remotely.

Brad Sharp (15:41):
We're looking forward to the start of the fall semester and we're here to help. If anyone has any additional questions, please contact the Technical Support Center. Thank you. With that, I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (15:54):
Thanks, Brad. Thanks Mark and Katrina for your presentations, and thanks to everybody who joined the call today. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.