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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

July 16, Operational Update

July 16 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's July 16th, and this is our weekly operational status update. This week we launched a Spring Operations website at unco.edu/returntocampus to prepare our students, faculty and staff to come back to campus, and there's lots of good information on there. I suggest you take a look. Probably the easiest way to access that is just go to our unco.edu website and click on coronavirus. Also, beginning next week, Provost Mark Anderson and each of the colleges will host a virtual open forum for new and continuing students. These forums have been organized to discuss the specific impacts that COVID-19 related guidance and public health orders will have on instruction in each college, and we invite all students to participate and ask questions. And the dates are as follows: on July 20th, it will be Performing and Visual Arts. July 21st, Humanities and Social Sciences. July 22nd, Education and Behavioral Sciences. July 27th, Natural and Health Sciences. And July 29th, the Monfort College of Business.

President Feinstein (01:14):
Each forum is going to begin at 4:00 PM Mountain Daylight Time, and additional information about the forums is available on the Spring Operations website. Also yesterday, I received a copy of a letter from the chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, recognizing our very own Dr. Thom Dunn. Dr. Dunn is a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. He played an important leadership role in helping our state to manage the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the development of crisis standards of care for hospitals and EMTs. Tom convened behavioral health experts to assess the impact of the pandemic on mental health services and prepare for those effects. And he ended up leading the development of care standards for outpatient, inpatient, substance abuse disorders, correctional institutions, and involuntary treatment of mental illness in the event of our healthcare systems are overwhelmed by COVID-19.

President Feinstein (02:18):
Throughout this pandemic, so many in our community have shown their spirit, not just as Bears, helping fellow Bears, but looking out for our neighbors across the region and our state, and I want to thank you. Thom, and I want to thank you too, and all of you who are setting a positive example, stepping up, and lending your expertise, time and wisdom to supporting the health and safety of our fellow Coloradans. With that, I will turn to Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Kirk Leichliter. He's standing in today for Blaine Nickeson for report on the current status of public health guidelines and conditions in Colorado, as well as an update from the logistics working group. Kirk?

Kirk Leichliter (03:02):
Good morning, everyone. This last week, Colorado saw a continuing upward trend in new cases and hospitalizations. It is the fourth week in a row with an increase in new cases for the state. There's also a slight increase in outbreaks, but this is significantly less of an increase than they're seeing elsewhere in the country. So that is concerning, but we're definitely in better position than other areas are.

Kirk Leichliter (03:32):
Denver, I believe yesterday, issued a pause on any exemptions to the rules. So for now larger gatherings and such will be on hold, at least in Denver's jurisdiction. We are continuing to see increased testing statewide. And the positivity rate is still down around 4%, so that's very encouraging. But it is important that we continue to focus on wearing masks, maintain our social distance and make good decisions on where we go and what we do so we can keep things reasonably under control for this fall.

Kirk Leichliter (04:10):
The logistics working group's been working to clarify procedures related to protecting our staff for when we have cases on campus. We want those staff members delivering meals, maintenance and custodial staff, police officers, and others to be prepared and to feel safe while performing their duties. We're also making good progress with the installation of signage, hand sanitizer dispensers, plexiglass barriers, and such as well as resetting classroom furniture in preparation for reopening of the campus in the coming weeks. With that, I'll turn it back. Thanks.

President Feinstein (04:47):
Thanks Kirk. Appreciate the update. And next I'll turn the floor over to Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies Nancy Matchett and Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez for updates on our fall reentry task force. Nancy and Katrina?

Nancy Matchett (05:05):
Hi everyone. And thanks to Andy for giving me a little time today. I'm very pleased to confirm that the schedule has now been fully updated. It was posted and available to students online yesterday. We've also sent out some messaging to all students and faculty. At this point, any student who logs into Ursa can be confident that it is showing not only the days and times of any course meetings, but also the very specific delivery method that will be used in each course we're offering on the fall schedule.

Nancy Matchett (05:38):
Because many of our courses will look a little bit different, I'd like to take just a few minutes here to describe the basic types of delivery methods. They pretty much divide into three main groups. We have one set of courses that are traditional face-to-face offerings, these will look like the majority of our courses have always looked. Although students will be seated six feet apart and wearing masks in the classroom, as will the instructors.

Nancy Matchett (06:03):
So those courses are coded as traditional. Students will be able to identify them with the face-to-face listing next to the course option, and also they'll have dates and times and a classroom assigned to them. One exciting thing about the fall schedule is that students will get to explore classrooms they haven't typically been in, because as everyone knows, we are using many different spaces in order to accommodate as many students as possible. So the second group of courses are what we call mixed face-to-face. And these are the ones that are going to be the most different probably for students, or the ones that have been the fewest on our campus in the past, although quite honestly these always been an option available and have been used by some faculty.

Nancy Matchett (06:47):
So if the course is indicated as mixed face-to-face, you will see days and times indicated on the course schedule, and you will see a room number. However, it won't be the case that the instructor and all of the students in the class meet in that room every single day, because they simply won't all fit safely. So instructors will be reaching out to enrolled students well before the start of classes to let them know the specific days that each individual student has a classroom time, and the rest of the course will be delivered online. There are many, many different formats that I've heard faculty talk about for how they're using this mixed face-to-face option. And another thing our faculty are working on right now is getting as much information about their courses as they can available on their Canvas course websites.

Nancy Matchett (07:36):
And they will be making those course websites available in a read-only format for enrolled students, as soon as they feel there is sufficient information that students can really get an understanding of what the course will look like. Because we know everyone's interested to see that. Finally, the third group of courses are fully online courses, but here too, I want to emphasize that there are a variety of ways in which these courses might be offered, and none of them will look like just students sitting in a Zoom room, watching a professor stream lectures all day long. Our professors have been working very hard all summer to identify ways, in an online environment, to help students interact with each other, interact with the course content and interact with the instructor on a regular basis. Now, some of these online courses will be labeled as synchronous online, and that's clearly indicated on the schedule.

Nancy Matchett (08:30):
There will be days and times listed for those, and students should expect to be in a Zoom room or a Teams site or some kind of online interface at those times regularly if the course is synchronous online. At the other end of the spectrum, some of our courses will be listed as asynchronous online. A fully asynchronous course we want to emphasize is not self-paced, it's not teach yourself. Again, the instructor will be interacting regularly through announcements and the discussion board. The thing that an asynchronous course really signifies is just that there is no precise time when everyone is required to be online at the same time. But there are deadlines along the way. There are lots of activities to help you stay on track with your learning. And then all of those build to more major assessments with concrete deadlines. And then finally, in the online course offerings, there are some courses that will be identified as blended or a hybrid of both synchronous and asynchronous elements.

Nancy Matchett (09:34):
So I know that's a lot of information. For students who are thinking through their schedules, either schedules they already developed, and now they're learning exactly what they'll look like, or students who are about to log in and register, we want to emphasize to really look at the days and times. That's your indication about how your courses might fit together. We also want to emphasize to please reach out to your advisors who have been with us every step of the way as we've rethought the course schedule and are prepared to give you the best advice about both how you can learn best, and the impact of some of these changes, perhaps on your course or your major program of study. We've also posted both a PDF with clear instructions, showing students how to look at the things they need to see on the schedule to understand how their schedule will work.

Nancy Matchett (10:23):
And a video created by Hayley Blackburn, who is one of our student success coaches in HSS. If you prefer a video tutorial, she's got a great video to walk you right through the process. And all of those materials are posted now on the fall re-entry website under an easy link that says "Fall Schedule." So that's, I think all the news on the schedule, which I know is what everyone was most excited to hear. Just a couple other quick things. We continue to work on reviewing our academic policies to make sure all of our faculty and students understand how they will apply to teaching during the fall semester when we still have significant changes due to the pandemic.

Nancy Matchett (11:06):
At this time, we're not recommending any changes to the academic calendar. And we have gotten crystal clear about our attendance policies, which I know Provost Anderson mentioned last week. We're not making any changes and have not made any changes to the basic attendance policies, which are printed in the course catalog. Last spring, the Faculty Senate with the full support of Academic Affairs leadership, passed a resolution explicitly preventing faculty from requiring doctor's notes as documentation of excused absences. And when we looked back at that policy, we saw that it was nicely written to just say it applies throughout the pandemic. So we aren't actually extending it, it just does extend and continue until the time when we are free of COVID-19.

Nancy Matchett (11:57):
So I think those are the major updates. The only other thing we've really been working on in the past week is our lines of communication. We know everyone is desperate for more information and everyone wishes things were crystal clear. We can't make things that much clearer, but we're doing the best we can to identify better structures for communicating with our faculty, through the deans and through the department chairs, and with our students through better support, better information on the website. And I really appreciate the help we've had in particular from the communications team in the past few days, as we worked hard to get clear information out about the schedule. So I think that's it for me. And I'll turn it over to Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (12:40):
Thank you, Nancy. Appreciate all those updates. Kind of to add on to what you shared, I think another tremendous aspect of thinking about not needing doctor's notes also, faculty no longer have to go through the Dean of Students Office for excused absences. We're going to cut that out completely. So it's one less step a student has to go through in order to just share with their faculty what's going on for them. And we know faculty are very willing to work with students and really support them in whatever's going on. So I think that's another great piece of that. The other thing I want to share there's just an update, a revision that students also there would not be accommodations for masks through the Disability Resource Center, that all students, staff and faculty are required to have masks.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:38):
So we will not be issuing accommodations for mask wearing, that everybody is required to wear a mask. And the more everybody does it, the more we can change the curve and really have this thing end as everybody wants. The other thing I want to share with you, I know there's a lot of concern, and we've heard around the country about fraternities and sororities have really been in the news, but it's really any off-campus housing that students are occupying together to keep rents low. We know we have a lot of students who want to have a number of folks living in an apartment or a house. And so we started working with the guidelines and considerations with our fraternity and sorority international and national organizations, and campus experts are reviewing those guidelines for consistency, as well as any kind of other implications in terms of quarantine or isolation.

Katrina Rodriguez (14:42):
We know that a house may not have a tremendous amount of additional space to have students quarantined. We're working on all of those pieces, so we know that's on the top of mind. We're also working with the Weld County Health Department to be able to share with us some of the COVID-19 awareness items that will go into our training videos. And that we're also going to put that together for extended orientation that'll happen, my dates are not in my head right now, the Thursday to Sunday prior to classes opening. And they will curate particular materials for our off-campus students as well. Because we know it's mostly first-year students who attend the extended orientation. But we want to be sure that we're getting all of that information out to our students so that everybody can be safe and know what to do when the students become infected with the virus and ways to safely quarantine and support students. So that is the end of my report, Andy.

President Feinstein (15:50):
Well, thank you, Katrina, Nancy and Kirk for your presentations. Thank you all for tuning in and listening, and as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.