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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

January 14, Operational Update

January 14 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):

Good morning, everybody. Thursday, January 14th. And this is our weekly operational status update. Thank you all so much for joining us. I want to welcome back [inaudible 00:00:12]. We are so very glad that you're back on campus. And as you know, we're still navigating our way through the pandemic as the semester begins. And although we haven't required students to be tested as they return, I want to urge all of you to utilize the free testing kiosk that is available right on our campus. So go to curative.com, search for Curative's Greeley locations, and select the UNC faculty and students link. We're going to start utilizing the kiosk for our weekly resident hall surveillance testing, which means you're going to receive a much more comfortable oral swab rather than the nasal swab that I take every single week. Students on campus were going to be receiving additional information very soon. So again, take some time, it takes a couple of minutes, go over to the Curative site and get tested. I get tested every week.

President Feinstein (01:11):

Now I'm going to turn things over to the associate vice president for administration, Blaine Nickeson for an update. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (01:21):

Thank you, President Feinstein. Good morning, everyone. We're making our way towards the end of this first week of the spring semester and the coronavirus task force and our working groups were active in a number of areas. Repetition is key to getting things done. So I'm going to talk a little bit about testing. The saliva based PCR testing kiosk, it's going to remain there at Nottingham Field throughout the spring, which is awesome. That's provided to us by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at no cost to UNC. The testing for you is completely free. It's very easy, as Andy said. And results are generally coming through in two to three days. While we encourage all members of the community get tested regularly, it's really important for those students that live in congregate living situations, like our residence halls and our fraternities and sororities. At the age group of our average residential student, there's a high probability that you can be contagious with COVID but not showing any symptoms. So that regular screening testing is just critically important.

Blaine Nickeson (02:25):

I do want to note there's been some news coverage about the vendor that operates the testing kiosk named Curative. Like many tests out there, the test that they're using isn't perfect. If not administered properly, there's a chance that the test could produce false negative results. Again, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working with Curative to make sure their quality control procedures are adequate so as to reduce the possibility of any false negatives. For example, you can't have eaten or drank anything for 20 or 30 minutes before doing the oral swab, but yet there's been reports of seeing people standing in line drinking a cup of coffee while they're waiting. So just really needed to step up that quality control to take care of that. With that said, we strongly encourage members of the campus community that are symptomatic for COVID to contact the Student Health Center. Not only can you be tested there, but you can also receive treatment and medical advice. The kiosk really can't take the place of that.

Blaine Nickeson (03:27):

Jumping to vaccines, I want to reiterate that UNC has not received any shipments of vaccine yet. We're in the process of being accepted as a provider by the state so that we can administer vaccines on our own to our high priority groups on campus, including nursing students and faculty and clinicals, custodians, dining services, workers, and more. Andy and I have a meeting later this morning with the state to continue to advocate for including faculty teaching in person in this high priority group as well. That said, the state's primary focus right now is vaccinating those over the age of 70, given the high mortality rate of that demographic. 78% of the deaths in Colorado from COVID have come from folks over the age of 70. So the state is working incredibly hard to get shots in the arms of those folks.

Blaine Nickeson (04:12):

We're eager to see what any policy changes at the federal level related to the hold back of doses might do for getting vaccine in arms. There was also promising news yesterday out of the Johnson and Johnson clinical trial. We may soon, as in weeks to a month, have another vaccine available. And the J&J vaccine is awesome because it's administered in a single shot. So logistically it's much easier to do.

Blaine Nickeson (04:37):

On campus, we're starting to see COVID activity pick back up, as you would expect. We currently have 47 active cases in our COVID tracking protocol. A reminder from the fall semester that these are either positive cases or folks that are in quarantine due to close contact with a positive case. Of those 47 contacts, eight are positive cases, and we're currently using five of our approximately 80 isolation and quarantine rooms in the residence halls. That's all I have for this morning. And I'm happy to turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (05:07):

Thanks, Blaine. Now let's hear from Katrina Rodriguez, vice president of student affairs, and Mark Anderson, the provost.

Mark Anderson (05:16):

Thank you very much, President Feinstein. Good morning. And I hope that the spring semester is off to a good start. Good start for everyone. And I would also like to remind everyone, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, to remain diligent, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands. And as more and more students return to in-person instruction on campus, we want to encourage them to take advantage of the Curative kiosk and get tested. Very much like President Feinstein, I get tested at the Curative kiosk every week.

Mark Anderson (05:55):

Beginning of the semester is always a very busy and this spring is particularly busy as we're engaging as a campus in three searches for academic deans. These searches are in different stages of completion. Last week and this week we had candidates for the college of education behavioral science dean position to campus in a virtual environment. We are collecting feedback from the campus community and we hope to conclude that search shortly. I'd like to thank the search committee personally, chaired by Professor Angela Vaughn, for all the hard work they did in sorting through and vetting the applicants and running the search. The College of Performing and Visual Arts we'll have four finalists for their dean position to campus, again virtually, beginning next week and continuing through the week of January 25th. The schedule and biographies for the finalists will be posted to the provost website here shortly. And again, I would like to thank the search committee, chaired by Professor Eric Applegate, for the work they did in vetting the applicants and narrowing the search down to the four really excellent finalists.

Mark Anderson (07:16):

The search for the dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences continues to collect applications for another week. So far, we have close to 50 applications. This committee will be reviewing the applicants and selecting 10 to 12 candidates for first round interviews. The first round interviews are scheduled hopefully to be the week of the 25th. And then we'll have candidates to campus the first several weeks of February. Again, we're probably going to be doing the candidate finalist visits virtually, but we're hoping that we might be able to have those candidates to campus for their interview. And again, I would like to thank the search committee, chaired by Professor Scott Franklin, for the work that they've done.

Mark Anderson (08:03):

Finally, during the fall semester, we hired a new executive director for the extended campus, Arty [Laguano 00:08:11]. I know that Arty's on the call. I hope I pronounced his name correctly. I'll get there eventually, Arty, I promise. And I hope that the campus community will join me in welcoming Arty to UNC. And I would like to close today by, again, recognizing some of the good work by our faculty colleagues. Daniel Brandon from the Monfort College of Business authored a manuscript titled Pursuing Premium, comparing pre-owned versus new durable markets. And that was published in the Journal of Product and Brand Management. So congratulations, Daniel. And also from the Monfort College of Business, Professor Yaz Alnsour sponsored two undergraduates for a paper which was recently accepted. And the undergraduates were awarded $1,500 to participate in a conference to present the paper. So congratulations, Yaz, for all that good work and for being a good mentor to many of our undergraduate students.

Mark Anderson (09:19):

And I would like to close by saying we're off to a good start for the spring semester and let's remain diligent and continue to be a community of Bears. And with that, I would like to turn it over to my colleague Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (09:34):

Good morning, everybody. Good to be here with you today. I want to share a few items from our student perspective. We do have grab and go bags available for student pickup, once again from the Bear pantry. And that is located in the university center and you can go to the student affairs hub desk and request those bags. Also, we know that we're seeing a lot of students reach out and we're outreaching to them. There's a lot of grief related to COVID, as you all know. And then as we've also seen, more folks passing away due to the virus. And so there's a lot of outreach needed. So if you are yourself or you're seeing students struggle, please refer them to us at the student outreach and support office, SOS, or certainly to the counseling center. We know this can be really difficult. So we want to certainly provide as much support as we can.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:36):

University libraries and Student Senate are hosting a virtual watch event next Wednesday morning for the presidential inauguration. You can check the library's website for Zoom link and those kinds of things. So we certainly invite the campus to be a part of a conversation and watch together.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:57):

There are a number of winter welcome events that we host every year this time as students are coming back to campus. And the purpose of this is to support student connection, various learning opportunities, experiences, and services. And today there is a wonderful event hosted by the student success resource center at the humanities and social services site. And they're looking at, it's called Power Up The Semester series, and there've been a number of events. This is called Power Up Your Mind. And it's a short session that teaches folks tools and strategies for finding motivation and focus. And there are a number of times available, this morning, at lunchtime, and then around 3:30 this afternoon. So if that sounds of interest to students, staff, or faculty, I would encourage you to join the group. I think that's going to be a really neat session and helpful to everybody. We all need good strategies and ideas on those kinds of things.

Katrina Rodriguez (12:03):

On Monday the 18th is the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Celebration. It will take place virtually. The Marcus Garvey Cultural Center has been at the center of planning this event, along with the Greeley community. Our co-sponsors are the center for women and gender equity here at UNC, Ames Community College, the City of Greeley, District Six and High Plains Library District. So there's a tremendous group who've come together to support this. So on Monday there, starts at 9:00. There'll be performances, again, virtually by PVA, operation cheesecake performance, and they've done some tremendous performances every year. We have Deandre Smith, a soul food chef, who will be sharing some quick recipes from his kitchen. Say this correctly, [Syeda Dahir 00:00:12:58] is a poet and activist from Salt Lake City. They're a student activist who use the spoken word to explore her place in America and in the world. And so she recorded a poem on the eve of her high school graduation. So we're looking forward to that. And then also we'll have some closing words from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:24):

After that, folks can put on their MLK gear if they purchased t-shirts or have hats or things from other times, or just get out there and march in your neighborhood and join the social media hashtag, #MLKGreeley2021. And again, you can go on the Marcus Garvey website or just search MLK 2021 and you'll see all of the events. There's some events this week at Ames Community College, a drive in a movie. And I apologize, I don't have exactly which movie on the top of my head, but you can go and see all of those events.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:59):

And then the last event in the series is called virtual speed friending. So I think this is tremendous as we help students connect with each other, especially as we've been in such a virtual environment. And so this is hosted on Tuesday at 6:00 in the evening, and we have the university program council and Center for Peer Education working with five minute rounds of speed friending. There'll be games and icebreakers and just some fun ways to interact. I appreciate so much all of these areas who worked really hard to find ways of interacting, connecting, learning with each other, because as we know, as we're all virtual so much of the time that we want to find things that are engaging for students so they can connect with each other in ways that make their experience more positive and enriching. So thank you to everybody for that, and I will turn it back over to Andy.

President Feinstein (15:03):

Thanks, Katrina. Thanks, Mark, for your presentations. Everybody, hope that you stay safe and be healthy, and we'll see you again here next week. Take care, everybody.