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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

July 9, Operational Update

July 9 Update (Watch on Youtube)

President Feinstein (00:01):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, July 9th, and this is our weekly operational status update call. Thank you all so much for joining us.

President Feinstein (00:10):
Last week, we shared information about our fall schedule via email, and we appreciate our students' patience while our faculty and staff have worked to come up with plans for how every course will be taught in the fall. I also want to thank you for understanding that even though the fall semester will look a little different than normal, we are doing everything we can to ensure you have a high quality educational experience in the months to come.

President Feinstein (00:37):
We are going to need to remain flexible if conditions change, but UNC has committed to your education, as well as protecting your health and safety. These are our top priorities. I know that Provost Anderson will provide additional details later in the call.

President Feinstein (00:54):
The course schedule is a significant part of our preparations for the fall. I anticipate that in the next few days, by the end of this week or early next week, we will also issue more extensive return to campus guidelines to prepare our students, faculty, and staff to come back to campus. Please look for this information in your university email accounts in the coming days.

President Feinstein (01:18):
I've also heard from many of you about the very concerning guidance issue this week by immigration and customs enforcement for international students studying at UNC and other US institutions. UNC values or international students earlier this week, [inaudible 00:01:37] Director of UNCs International Student and Scholar Services issued a letter to these students explaining their options under the current ICE guidelines. If you have not seen the message it's available in the university message section of our coronavirus website at unco.edu/coronavirus.

President Feinstein (01:57):
We will continue to support you through this and are joining with other Colorado institutions and advocating to our congressional delegation for changes to these rules on your behalf. If you need help or have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you and look forward to seeing you in the fall.

President Feinstein (02:18):
Finally, over the last few weeks, we have taken a moment to thank all of the faculty and staff that have been working above and beyond to help us prepare for the fall. This morning, I want to thank another very special group of employees. In the spring we recognized a number of core business services offered across the university into administrative service centers. The individuals who were providing support to our colleges and divisions through these AFCs interviewed for their positions virtually after our campus closed in the spring. They have had to learn and begin working at their jobs in a period when most of us have continued to work remotely. I greatly the hard work that you have all put into these past few months. You help keep this university running and are a vital part of our future. I am grateful for the hours that you put into ensuring that UNC can continue to serve our students and colleagues well this summer and when we returned in the fall. So thank you very much all of you for your work in this area.

President Feinstein (03:21):
With that, I will turn to the 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 (03:35):
Thank you, President Feinstein. We're closely monitoring public health situation in Colorado and Weld County, as we've done throughout this whole situation. Compared to many states that are considered hotspots right now, such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, we're doing pretty well. But some of the resources in Colorado, such as testing capacity, as well as a number of army medical units from Fort Carson have actually been redirected to those states.

Blaine Nickeson (04:04):
While the overall number of cases and hospitalizations in Colorado are still very manageable, they are rising. We've had three weeks of sustained positive test growth. As I've mentioned in past weeks, a significant amount of that positive growth has been among the young people. Those under the age of 30. While this age group generally has milder symptoms or sickness, the big concern is the people around them that they can spread the virus to, especially the older and more vulnerable populations.

Blaine Nickeson (04:35):
It's critical for our student population to continue to take this virus seriously and practice common sense prevention, such as social distancing, wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene.

Blaine Nickeson (04:46):
As I mentioned a moment ago, we're seeing some significant impacts to COVID-19 testing. Most tests are run through the large national labs, such as Quest or Lab Corp. These labs sort of have regional facilities where at night fly in those tests to be conducted. Right now they're being overwhelmed by the testing needs out of these hotspot areas. We're seeing a significant delay in test results for COVID tests that we've run through the UNC Health Center. We're hoping to see testing rebound to where it was a few weeks ago, it was only taking about 48 hours to get results.

Blaine Nickeson (05:22):
Our UNC logistics team continues to work on a wide variety of issues related to our return to the fall. For example, our facilities management teams working on removing excess furniture from classrooms and installing signage throughout all of our buildings. We're also working closely with various departments on campus to understand what a 50% workplace occupancy cap means for their specific areas because there's a lot of questions around that.

Blaine Nickeson (05:46):
As a reminder, next Monday, July 13th card access will be restored for all UNC buildings. So if you're a faculty or staff member that had after hours card access prior to the campus shutdown, you again will have access. You can feel free to visit your office for materials or to complete something that you've been working on. But as a reminder, all workplaces are still limited to a maximum 50% occupancy. Also for the rest of his July building air conditioning is turned off as a cost saving measure. So you'll probably want to limit your time there. Visiting early in the morning is probably the best idea.

Blaine Nickeson (06:19):
Please remember that face coverings are required for all students, faculty and staff, when on campus. Sort of lastly, yesterday, the Colorado Department of Higher Ed issued their finalized fall return guidance. We've had a draft version of this for about a month. So it's already been guiding our reopening planning, but our team's going to review this final version to see if there's any significant changes that we need to consider.

Blaine Nickeson (06:44):
That concludes my report for this morning and I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (06:48):
Thanks, Blaine and next I'll turn the floor over to our co-chairs of our fall reentry task force, Provost Mark Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez, who reports on our planning for the fall semester, Mark and Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:02):
Good morning, everybody. So great to be here with you. I have an update on our campus rec center and recommendations for the fall. So we will be opening the rec center on August 20th and allowing visitors to access all spaces in the rec center, obviously with all of the COVID parameters in place. We will be separating all fitness equipment to ensure six feet of social distancing. So that way folks can work out and feel some distance from the person next to them. Also, we will be modifying our capacities in each room or area. We'll use some of the rec center space for classroom space. So we'll be monitoring sort of our timing in terms of class passing periods and those kinds of things. We'll also be cleaning the equipment between use and restricting the sharing of equipment such as basketballs, mats, those kinds of things.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:57):
We'll also be using spaces with a controlled reservation system to manage the capacity for the space and the building in general. So we'll have an opportunity for folks to not have to wait in line outside, but simply to have a reservation and a time for using the rec center.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:15):
We think we're going to be able to have a capacity of about 300 and something patrons at one time in the center, given its size and the way that it's spread out. So, we feel like there's an opportunity to have a number of folks using the center at one time. Because of the space limitations though, we really are going to prioritize student use of the rec center because certainly that space, we want to have students be able to utilize that. So faculty and staff options are still there, but we're going to allow students to have those sort of first dibs on reservation.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:56):
So we're excited about the opportunity to have the rec center open. We know that it's a site that students utilize heavily and so we know that this will be helpful to students as we come back to campus. So that is my report. Mark I'll turn it over to you.

Mark Anderson (09:15):
Thank you. Thank you, Katrina. I just want to reiterate some of the things that Andy and Blaine said earlier today. Last Friday, we issued the preliminary draft of the fall schedule. We are still doing some behind the scenes work to implement the fall schedule into our student information systems, but we wanted to get the schedule as it currently existed out to students as quickly as possible. There's going to be some minor tweaks, so just be aware of that. We are committed to having the schedule completed within our information systems by July 15th. We would like people to reach out to their advisors if they have challenges with their schedule and they would like to seek alternatives, but we'd like you to do that after the 15th, because there will continue to be some minor changes.

Mark Anderson (10:10):
We would also like to acknowledge, I would like to acknowledge, the faculty and the deans who really worked tirelessly to give a schedule that has a very robust on campus experience for our students. Roughly 50% of our classes have some component of a face to face experience and given the restrictions with our classroom facilities I think that's actually very good. Other things that we're working on, we're extending the spring attendance policy, recognizing that some students, particularly those who might have been exposed, who will be self quarantining we want to be very mindful and empathetic and not put too many barriers in front of students who need to self quarantined and are concerned about their classes. So we're looking at extending the spring attendance policy throughout the fall.

Mark Anderson (11:16):
We're also carefully looking at the academic calendar. As Blaine indicated earlier, the Colorado Department of Higher Education issued final guidance for reopening in the fall semester. We're reviewing that very carefully. We have been in compliance with the CDHC guidance throughout the summer. We don't anticipate that the guidance has changed much from the draft that was issued back in June, but we are making all decisions, which really are based upon that guidance and best practices for ensuring the health and safety of our community. The situation with the coronavirus remains fluid and as you read the papers every day, you can see different reports about the progression and transmission of the disease across the country.

Mark Anderson (12:10):
So we are paying very close attention to that and making sure that our academic calendar, our courses, our community is abiding by the best practices and the best guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Mark Anderson (12:29):
So I would ask you to give us some patients as we complete the schedule, the back office work, I'd like to acknowledge all of those people in the registrar's office, as well as in the academic colleges who are working tirelessly to update the system so we can get it completed as quickly as possible so that people will have the best information about the fall semester, our intentions for the fall semester going forward.

Mark Anderson (12:58):
With that, I will conclude my report and turn it back to President Feinstein.

President Feinstein (13:03):
Thank you, Mark and thank you Katrina and Blaine for your presentations. Thank you all for tuning in and as always stay safe, be healthy and we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.