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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

January 21, Operational Update

January 21 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, January 21st. And this is our weekly operational status update call. I want to thank all of you for joining us this morning. And I also want to thank everyone who gave feedback on the draft strategic plan right before the break. The president's leadership council met over the last two weeks to incorporate your input, and we're going to finalize the plan to present to the board of trustees at the February 12th meeting, and I hope all of you can attend that meeting virtually. Also this afternoon, I'm going to address the Joint Budget Committee of the state legislature on our coordinated higher education budget request. The governor has proposed to restore cuts made last summer and return us to fiscal year 2019/20 funding levels. The other CEO's and I are advocating for an additional $74.4 million statewide to cover increases in core minimum costs, a proposed 2% across the board salary increase for employees, and additional funding to support first-generation students. And I anticipate that we will have more information to share as the legislative session progresses. And with that, I'm going to turn it over to our provost, Mark Anderson and our Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez. Mark?

Mark Anderson (01:22):
Thank you very much, Andy. Good morning, everyone know this is the end of the second week of this semester. And as we are completing the second week, many classes that began instruction in a virtual environment are beginning to transition to have a more of an on-campus experience, an on campus face-to-face experience. As this transition continues, I'd like to recognize some of the creative strategies that faculty have been using to meet the learning objectives of their courses. A particular challenge that many courses have faced during COVID-19 is how to teach hands on courses that would normally be conducted in a field study environment. UNC offers, many of these types of classes and our faculty across the board have done a really excellent job at adjusting their instruction to the COVID-19 realities. Just one example is from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, where Dr. Sharon Bywater-Reyes, working with the National Association of Geoscience Educators, adapted a field study course to an online, fully remote implementation. In this course, students collected data remotely, using ground-based LIDAR and drone images, and they were able to collect, and analyze, and interpret high resolution topographic data very much like if they had been in the field. So I want to congratulate all of our faculty who've adjusted their field study courses to our environment, and just recognize the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences for some really good work.

In the Department of Physics, they have been using learning assistance. Learning assistants are typically undergraduate or graduate students who are embedded in a class, who are there to help facilitate learning. And they've been embedding learning assistance in some of their introductory physics courses to provide a better connection to the students in a different perspective. And these learning assistants have been really excellent in helping the students with mastery exercises, which happened weekly in physics courses. So thank you for all that you're doing to really meet the needs of our students in this unique and interesting time that we're living.

Also a number of our students have been selected to present their research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and NCUR. These students are Dawson Budke, Jacob [inaudible 00:00:03:56], Chloe Parsons, Andrea White, Gabriela [Mazdalas 00:00:04:03], Barbara Wilson, Caitlin [inaudible 00:04:09], and Tara Hobbs. They've been mentored by Dr. Yuyan Han in the Department of Biology, Dr. Darren [inaudible 00:04:18] from the Department of Communications, Dr. Christina [inaudible 00:04:22] in Business, Dr. Cassandra Bergstrom in Psychology, and Dr. Marilyn Welch in Psychology. NCUR is a premiere destination conference for undergraduates to present, and it's really quite an honor to be selected to present your work. So congratulations to our students, as well as their faculty mentors.

It was just one year ago today that we began to reorganize and transform [Siedel 00:04:51] to have a clear focus on faculty, professional development, around instruction and pedagogy. That was not a moment too soon because Siedel, along with instructional design and development have been integral in helping faculty transition their instruction from pre-COVID to the environment that we find ourselves in. I want to thank [Lyda McCartan and 00:05:15] everybody at Siedel for all the work that they have done, and I would encourage all of our faculty to continue to use the resources that Siedel provide to help us understand and better meet the needs of students through our instruction. Over the course of the spring, they have workshops on online instruction, how to better engage students with your courses, and different ways of assessing teaching effectiveness. So thank you to Lyda and everybody at Siedel.

Finally Professor Nan [inaudible 00:05:53] from the faculty in the School of Music, but also teaches courses in Anthropology and World Languages Cultures was recently highlighted in on the mygreeley.com website for all the work she's been doing in the community. As a result of the Greeley Multicultural Festival, she took it upon herself to start to develop a database of performing artists in the community, and performing artists from a variety of different cultures that are in our community. The database helps to provide connections amongst these performing artists, but it also provides an educational resource so we can learn about their art, but also about the cultures that they come from. This is a really great opportunity for us to learn about each other, to give back to the community, but also to learn about each other's culture. So thank you very much, Nan, and congratulations on being highlighted on the mygreeley.com website. With that, I will turn it back to President Feinstein

President Feinstein (07:01):
Katrina, why don't you proceed? I think we'll go next to you, and then we'll go to Blaine after you speak, as well.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:07):
Perfect. Good morning, everybody. Great to see you this morning. And just a few updates. I want to let you know that the Bear Pantry is going to create a continuous opportunity for students to get, grab and go meals; as our COVID levels change, they want to make sure we have a consistent process for students, so that's not sort of variable as to when students could pick up their food. And so they will be having a limited pickup hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, again, for that consistency, and for anybody who needs food outside of what those days are, they can email the Bear Pantry, and coordinate an option for them for access. And so they're super flexible, and they want to kind of offer. So please definitely share that with our student communities, because we want students to be able to utilize the Bear Pantry as much as they need to.

The other thing I'm super excited about; a large committee of folks across campus and various divisions are doing some great work on putting together what will be a four day New Student Days. I think we're still working with a sexy title on that and making it kind of fun. And so we'll have an opportunity to much like we have done especially last year in our new COVID environment, but extending that so that we have an opportunity to work with all of the colleges, looking at student learning, student development, plus also the get to know you kinds of things that we know students care about, and is necessary at the beginning of a semester. So we look forward to more information on that coming, but I was really pleased to hear of all the progress the committee has made on this particular initiative.

Much like Mark, I wanted to highlight the Siedel work and I'm just so excited about all the professional development, and I think also the opportunity for folks across the campus to engage in student learning and in our faculty and staff development in terms of delivering content. So some of those things, as Mark said, looking at universal design, which certainly assists all students, right? In terms of their learning in the classroom and how we use those strategies, [Dr. LD Fortis 00:09:46], who is the Associate Director in the Office of Student Life, who also teaches on campus is doing something on culturally relevant pedagogy, and introducing that topic. And so, again, as we look to the diversity of our campus, particularly as we move into looking to get an HSI designation, some of those things are so valuable as we learn more about what they mean, and how we implement them.

And so I think the other thing I'm super excited about is students are going to have a panel, and it's called Build a Classroom For Me, Learning Experiences of UNC Students with Disabilities. And so hearing directly from students; their experience, what works really well for them, what things could be a little bit challenging, and so that people can really hear from students what those processes mean to them, and how they can best be served in their learning. So please go onto the Siedel website, they have tremendous opportunities as Mark also shared, and I think you'll see some just really impressive work that folks have done to ensure that our classrooms are inclusive, and really serve all students in the classroom. So, excited to see what also unfolds this semester, so have a great day, everybody.

President Feinstein (11:06):
Thanks Katrina. And now let's hear from our Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson.

Blaine Nickeson (11:14):
Thank you President Feinstein, good morning everyone. As we've come to be used to in this pandemic, change is constant. We just were informed overnight that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment over [CDPHE 00:11:27] is changing some of the testing through Curative, which is the provider of our testing kiosk. CDPHE has additional concerns about whether the oral test is reliable in certain use cases, so Curative's in the process of switching over to a self administered nasal swab test, just like a Q-tip inside the nose, but we don't know what impact this is going to have on our testing site here at Nottingham Field, or the drive-thru testing site of West Greeley at the sports complex. These two testing sites represent the bulk of free public testing capacity in Weld County, so we're obviously monitoring this very closely and our team's making contingency plans for our screening testing on campus. This morning, we've been in touch with both Curative and CDPHE and hope to have more information very soon. As always, we urge anyone that's symptomatic to get tested, either with their medical provider or the Student Health Center, faculty, students, and staff can all go to the Student Health Center. We'll keep the campus community informed of any changes, of course.

We continue to plan and make progress around vaccines. Just this week, we met onsite at the campus commons with leaders from UC Health here in Greeley about hosting community vaccination clinics at UNC. These clinics would be geared towards the highest risk individuals in our community. Right now, the focus statewide is on folks over the age of 70. A partnership with UC Health would serve us great though, as we move into phase two and phase three vaccinations, which will include much more of our campus community through the spring and summer.

We're also working hard to get accepted as a vaccine provider on campus, and we believe we're close to that happening. Our team's been in frequent contact with the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, who has been an awesome partner with us throughout this pandemic, as well as the CDPHE. We are ready, and we're able to start vaccinating our own high priority students, faculty and staff. If we receive a small amount of vaccine, we'll do shots through the Student Health Center, but if we receive a larger allocation, say doses in the hundreds, we have a plan to utilize a clinical site that we've built at the campus commons.

All of our vaccine distribution will follow the state's requirements for who falls into each currently allowed phase. Right now we're in the process of vaccinating our nursing students and faculty that are in clinical situations, as well as our athletic trainers that are doing COVID testing of our student athletes. Our next priority group is our providers in the Cancer Rehab Center and the Audiology Clinic on campus. The next phase of vaccinations after that will be for our frontline service personnel, so custodians and facilities workers, dining services staff, our live-in housing staff, RAs and neighborhood coordinators. We are continuing to work with the state to advocate for including our faculty that's teaching in person. Right now, the state is trying to understand how large of a group that is, so we're providing data to them about our total employee population and sort of what those subsets look like.

Weld County's looking a lot better lately. Our case incidents rate and test positivity rate are the best we've seen since election day, so early November. That said, they're still high. So I don't want anyone to think that we're in the clear, but hopefully the downward trend will continue, especially as we're able to vaccinate more of the population. As of yesterday, about 5% of Coloradans had received at least one shot of the vaccine. At UNC, we have 67 individuals in our tracking protocol right now, 10 of those are employees. There are 20 active positive cases, and we're using eight of our isolation and quarantine rooms. That's all I have for you this morning. And I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (15:13):
Thanks Blaine, and that's all I have as well. So, as always stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next week. Take care, everybody.