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February 4, Operational Update

February 4 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
This is our weekly operational status update call. Want to thank all of you for joining us this morning. We have recorded these update videos for nearly 11 months. First daily, then weekly. We've hosted, recorded and posted about 80 of these videos since last March. And I hear from many of you, parents, students, faculty, staff, and members of the community, that these videos have been a reliable way for you to stay informed about operational changes at UNC throughout the pandemic. And I anticipate the need to continue these videos for some time, but they will diminish as we approach the fall, and look forward to when things will return to normal, or the new normal. Our plan is to continue providing these updates each week through the spring semester, and I appreciate everyone who contributes to producing these calls and each of you who tunes in each week. Now I'm going to turn things over to Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson, for an update. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:03):
Good morning, everyone. Thank you President Feinstein. Positive progress continues to be made both in Weld County and the state as we recover from the big November and December spike. As of yesterday, our two week average test positivity was 5.7%. At the peak around Thanksgiving day, it was 16.7%. And so obviously in a better situation there. Our case incidents rate, while still high, is about a quarter of what it was in November. I'd love to say that we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this sustained rate reduction, but public health officials are very worried about one of the more transmissible variants grabbing hold in the US and sending us into a fourth wave, perhaps like or worse the one we just went through. So it's critical that we keep doing the common sense prevention measures that we know work and allow the vaccine campaign to win out over the spread of the variance.

Blaine Nickeson (02:01):
Along those lines, this weekend is the Superbowl, a reminder that just like Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years, it's important to limit gatherings, especially ones where people are going to be eating and drinking without masks. This isn't the time to throw or attend a Super Bowl party. And plus, nobody wants to see Tom Brady win another Super Bowl. On Saturday, we will open a new testing site on the East side of Bishop-Lehr Hall. This will replace the Nottingham testing kiosk. The new site is a partnership with the city of Greeley and with the state and will be open seven days a week from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The site is being run by Mako Medical, which is running most of the other large scale testing sites in the state. It features both drive-through and walk up testing, but do note that parking is limited. So if you have a car, drive up is the preferred method.

Blaine Nickeson (02:56):
The test is a nasal PCR swab, and it's done in the lower part of your nose. So not jabbing it up there. It's free to everyone and it doesn't require identification, insurance, a doctor's note, any of that. Please look for more information in this week's COVID Digest newsletter. Also I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to the Coronavirus Taskforce's logistics team, as well as to UNC facilities for all of their hard work behind the scenes getting this up and running.

Blaine Nickeson (03:26):
Vaccinations continue to be a moving target in the state. Starting next week, those over the age of 65 will be eligible for the shot as well as early childhood and K-12 teachers. We're hoping to receive our own allocation of vaccine, maybe as early as next week, and plan to start with our community that is over age 70, then the folks over 65, those that haven't already gotten a shot or been scheduled out in the community. We also have a number of groups on campus that fall within the 1B category and we'll be targeting them depending on how much vaccine we're able to receive. Our team is actively reaching out to those that qualify. So don't call us, we'll call you.

Blaine Nickeson (04:04):
For a quick overview of our COVID impacts on campus, we have 73 people that we're monitoring for isolation and quarantine. Nine of those 73 are employees. There are 25 active positive cases associated with the campus, with the bulk of them, 23 being among students. As of last night, we were using 14 of our 84 isolation and quarantine rooms on campus. So very manageable caseload right now for campus as we're in, boy, third or fourth week of the semester, sort of lost track at this point. But that's all I have for this morning and I'm happy to turn it back over to you Andy.

President Feinstein (04:40):
Thanks, Blaine, and thanks for a little bit of good news today as well. Appreciate that. Next, we're going to have reports from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs with Provost Mark Anderson and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Tuck Tucker. Mark.

Mark Anderson (04:56):
Thank you President Feinstein and Blaine. Just for the record, I like excellence, so I'm a Tom Brady fan. Sorry about that. Good morning, everybody. As President Feinstein has said, we have been engaged with these update calls for 11 months now, and I would really like to thank Blaine and the Coronavirus Taskforce for all the work they've been doing to keep us informed about the progression of the coronavirus and what we could be doing to maintain a health and safety environment here at UNC.

Mark Anderson (05:29):
It is the end of the fourth week of the spring semester and more and more of our courses are meeting in person and on campus. There are many people who are working diligently to provide a healthy and safe environment, and I'd like to thank and acknowledge all the frontline workers at UNC: public safety, custodial, student health, housing and dining in our faculty and staff. It's through these efforts, in your efforts, that the university is able to continue to serve our students to meet the learning objectives of courses and to do so in a way that allows students to engage meaningfully with each other and in ways that enforce their learning and helps to build community.

Mark Anderson (06:11):
Just one of many examples, Professor J. David Blatt in the School of Theater, Arts and Dance is teaching a scene painting class this semester. This is a highly interactive class where students are continuously working together and critiquing each other's work, and it meets in the back of the Langworthy Theater stage. Class has an enrollment of 15 students, and the class has a designated workspace for each students by taping off 12 foot circles where the students have their supplies for their scene painting. The supplies that they use are located in a room that's some distance away from their workspace. And it's a small room, and so the students have worked together to establish a staggered usage plan to avoid congestions and lines at the supply room.

Mark Anderson (07:07):
J. David was talking to me the other day and he told me that the students are learning not just scene painting, but how to work as a team and how to work efficiently with each other's in a theater where space is limited and many different activities are happening simultaneously. And these are ancillary skills that translate into a professional setting that students will be able to leverage as they graduate and begin their professional careers.

Mark Anderson (07:33):
This is just one example of the many different creative ways that faculty and students are meeting the learning outcomes of courses and are also finding some silver lining and unexpected benefits of the environment that we find ourselves in. So I'd like to thank J. David for sharing that to students for really being creative and finding ways of working in this environment that we find ourselves in. We really acknowledge all of our faculty who are working within the confines of coronavirus to meet the learning objectives of the students and to find those silver linings.

Mark Anderson (08:08):
On Monday of this week, UNC Admissions held our second UNC Free Application Day. This went along with the Colorado Free Application Day held in October. This event was a success with a total of just over 450 new students applying to the university. One of the folks out of this Free Application Day was out of state applications and nearly 47% of the applicants were out of state students or students from international locations. So I'd like to thank our marketing team as well as our admissions team for really doing a great job at driving applications and building our fall of 2021 entering class. We are actually ahead in a number of applications and this is bucking a national trend where applicant pools are down. And so our admissions and marketing team have done an excellent job. And with that, I'll turn it over to Tuck for an update from student affairs. Tuck.

Gardiner Tucker (09:17):
Good morning UNC bears. It's great to see you all again. Let's see, I have several updates for student engagement this month. The first thing is that it's Black Heritage Month all month long, and we celebrate black heritage. And for our events, which we have a whole series of events planned for our campus, you can find them on the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center website. And also I'd like to add as an example, congratulations to the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center for their excellent Black Lives Matter sit in talk last night. Very well done.

Gardiner Tucker (09:53):
The second thing I have for you is that our student Senate elections are beginning and we really encourage folks to apply. Now, some of you may not know that student Senate is one of our key leadership and governance organizations for students to help us shape the future of UNC. So it's a very important role. If you're a student, I'd like you to please consider applying because you have a voice and you have perceptions and you're part of our community, and this is a great way to contribute. If you're faculty, staff or community member, please encourage students to apply. Sometimes our students don't see the strength in themselves that we see in them, and a little bit of encouragement could get them to apply for this great leadership. Our student Senate has a diverse membership and it's a very welcoming and inclusive group. In order to apply, go to the student center website and there's an application on the website.

Gardiner Tucker (10:50):
The third thing I have for you is the SPA process has begun, which is the Student Programming Allocation fund. You can apply for funds to put on new and innovative programs and events on campus. If you're a student, fee-funded as an organization, or a student, you can find ways to use that money to build campus life.

Gardiner Tucker (11:10):
Our last thing is the call for applications for the undergraduate commencement student speaker are out. We'd like to have a variety of people apply to speak at our spring 2021 graduation ceremony. Now, the criteria are a 2.8 GPA minimum and be graduating this spring in May of 2021. You can find the application on our undergraduate council webpage that has the application and the process there, and whoever gets selected will help you shape your speech so that you're ready to give a speech to your fellow graduates. So again, please encourage students to apply for this speaking position. The reason I say that, again, is because oftentimes we have great speakers in our student body and they don't realize how good they are until one of us says, "Hey, you might want to think about this." So please take that into account. Finally, I'd like to turn the mic back over to Andy. Thank you very much.

President Feinstein (12:07):
Thanks Tuck, thanks Mark. And Tuck, it was nice to see you back on the show again. Thanks everybody for tuning in. As always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday, everybody. Take care.