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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

June 11, Operational Update

June 11 Update (View on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, June 11th, and this is our weekly operation status report. First, tomorrow, beginning at 8:30 in the morning, we'll be having our regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting, and I hope that all of you can tune in at unc.link/trustees. Also, I continue to have discussions with students, staff, faculty, and our leadership team about what we can do as a university to put actions behind last week's message about confronting systemic racism individually, and as a community of Bears, and I will share more information about this early next week. Now I'm going to turn the conversation over to our chief of staff, Dan Maxey, who will moderate the other conversations. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:55):
Thank you, President Feinstein. The cabinet met yesterday, and the academic and student affairs branches of our reentry task force, as well as the logistics working group, have several meetings this week. These groups are all working through a wide variety of items to ensure that we can return safely in the fall and that we can offer instruction and student engagement in rich and meaningful ways. We'll have reports from each of these units this morning, but before we get started, we will turn the call over to Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson, for a report on the current status of public health orders and conditions in Colorado. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:32):
Good morning. Thanks Dan. Thanks Andy. We've now passed two weeks since restaurants were able to reopen, albeit in a limited capacity, and we've not seen a spike in cases due to that, which is really promising.

Blaine Nickeson (01:46):
We'll be watching the data closely to see what the impact of large protests nationwide might have on transmission of the virus. Anyone who's participated in marches or protests is strongly encouraged to get tested four to seven days after they participated. And it's important to note that Colorado has testing capacity. We're able to do about 8,500 tests a day right now, but we're only completing about 5,000, so there's definitely capacity for folks to get tested. Don't worry that you're going to burden the system. Unfortunately, while Colorado's in good shape for now, we're seeing a number of states that are having case counts and hospitalizations surge, including Texas and Arizona. Both have record-breaking hospitalization numbers and steady daily increases of new cases. Texas was one of the first states to reopen. They lifted their stay at home order on April 30th. These spikes are really concerning.

Blaine Nickeson (02:45):
We're seeing them in almost a dozen states, and Colorado officials will be watching them closely as will I. Recent studies coming out over the last few days have shown that widespread use of cloth face coverings can have a significant impact on transmission of the virus. I actually got a delivery yesterday via UPS from the bookstore here. My official logoed mask. It's one of the simplest yet most important steps we can take to keep the virus under control. Colorado is actually one of the leading states in the adoption of mask wearing when folks leave their homes, which may explain why our case and hospitalization numbers don't look like some of the hotspots that I mentioned. I'll be back later in the call to talk about the important work that our logistics group is doing. But for now, I'll turn it back over to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (03:35):
Thank you, Blaine. Next up we'll have reports from the reentry task force, starting with academic affairs and Mark Anderson, or Katrina, you going first?

Katrina Rodriguez (03:44):
Sure. If I can go first, whatever you like.

Dan Maxey (03:48):
All right. So the Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez,

Katrina Rodriguez (03:51):
Good morning everybody. We've been working really closely with a number of proposals coming forward to make sure that we are doing all that we can to both create safety for students and also have a robust and exciting student experience. We are moving forward with an extended orientation, which will be at least the first four days prior to the start of the semester and looking at other types of activities that first part of the week before the semester starts, so we're looking at a number of opportunities for student engagement and looking at study skills and academic success, as well as just some fun that we can have with students as they get to know each other and build community. The other things that we are looking at today at our meeting is our housing density, which means how many students we'll have to a room, and what we're seeing from the guidance of the health department and the CDC is that a residence hall room is going to be seen as a family unit.

Katrina Rodriguez (05:09):
So within that unit, we are able to have roommates and there are many students who would like to have roommates, so that's going to be a possibility. Then there will also be a number of opportunities for students who would prefer a single and be in a single room. So we are looking at accommodating a range of folks and, as I've said before, we have between 30 and 40 rooms that we'll use for quarantine and have a process for that for students who may be symptomatic or test positive for the virus, so that we are able to bring meals and have them quarantined and have their own bathroom and that kind of thing. So those are moving forward nicely.

Katrina Rodriguez (05:47):
The other things we're talking about today are our Dining Services proposal in terms of how we reenter our dining facilities in terms of some possible capacity for sit-down meals, certainly for carry out, and looking at delivery food as well. Then finally, how we're going to execute our catering services on campus and how we'll work through those. So I think we've got some powerful pieces that we're putting together. I know folks are very interested in some of our processes. We will be coming forward in days with our move in process, reservation process for move ins, and those kinds of things. So more to come, and I'll turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Anderson.

Mark Anderson (06:39):
Thanks Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (06:40):
You're welcome.

Mark Anderson (06:43):
Thank you for that update. We on the academic affairs side are working really hard at identifying the modality and the location of the instruction of all of the sections of all of our courses for the fall. We took an inventory of our courses and the preferred as well as the required ways of instruction, and so there are many courses which require access to specialized facility or specialized equipment, and those need to be conducted on campus. We're in the process of aligning those campus required instruction with our facility to make sure that we can teach those in an appropriate way, maintaining public health standards on campus in a face-to-face environment. Other courses which are taught, are scheduled to be taught fully online, will continue to be taught fully online. Those two extremes, which are probably the easier courses to identify, will be identified for the modality location for the instruction by the 15th, Monday of this next week. Those courses which are in the middle, which we prefer to teach face to face, but could be taught in a virtual environment, are the next courses that we'll look at.

Mark Anderson (08:03):
Those are going to be based largely upon availability of rooms to accommodate the enrollment in individual courses, and then looking at different ways, potentially a hybrid method of instruction where a portion of the course meets face-to-face half the time, the other half meets the other half. Those will be individual instructions that have been asked of the units and the academic colleges to make those final determinations of how those courses will be taught. That will take about 10 days to two weeks, which brings us to the end of June. We anticipate and are on target to have the instructional modality, the time, and the location for all courses assigned by the end of June. Then the beginning of July, we'll be reaching out to students who have enrolled in their courses and telling them what the modality is.

Mark Anderson (09:01):
In some instances, courses which are scheduled for a particular room, which doesn't have the capacity to teach that enrollment, will have been moved to another room. Other courses may have been moved to a hybrid environment. So early July, we will be reaching out to our students to let them know specifically how their courses will be taught. We're also working with Blaine and the logistics group on public health standards for all the rooms. One of the challenges we've had was the room capacity changed as we're looking at six feet of separation. Some other things that we're considering are the cleanliness of rooms, and what's the responsibility for cleaning different portions of the room, the teaching station, student stations, et cetera, in between classes.

Mark Anderson (09:50):
We're going to be putting together, again with logistics, some public health standards, and then really providing some education so that we have responsibility to each other to maintain a healthy environment. Part of that might be wearing masks, part of that will be just cleaning your station when you're done. The key to all of this and the successful reentry to the fall will be the support and education of our community, but also the recognition of the responsibility that we have to each other to maintain a healthy environment. And so with that, I will turn it back to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (10:31):
Great. Thank you, Katrina and Mark, for those updates, I'll turn it over to Blaine for updates from our logistics working group.

Blaine Nickeson (10:37):
All right. Glad to be back. The logistics team is working on a wide variety of needs as we prepare for the fall. Once we completed the classroom inventory with new COVID capacity numbers that Mark mentioned, we've started working on what technology upgrades are necessary to allow the most classrooms to be functional as sort of hybrid learning spaces that can support both in-person learning and a remote component. Our IM&T team is working diligently to upgrade the rooms that are the best candidates for that.

Blaine Nickeson (11:09):
We're also considering the eventual return of faculty and staff to their offices on campus. We're trying to balance the recommendations for higher education from the CDC and the state that encourage continued tele work for those that are able to, with the need to provide service delivery for our students, once we get to August and prepare for classes to resume. Shifting gears, we know that being able to do our own contact tracing for any positive cases in the fall is going to be an important element of UNC's response to COVID. Our contact tracing team has been built up, and it's being coordinated out of our student health center. Volunteers are currently undergoing training, and we're working closely with the county to make sure we're aligned with them, but we're working hard to make sure that's ready for the fall.

Blaine Nickeson (11:52):
Along with that, UNC also producing required COVID-19 awareness training for all faculty, staff and students. This is one of the things that the draft guidance out of the Colorado Department of Higher Ed requires, and it honestly will help our community of Bears understand what's expected of them as we come back in person together. So those are the main things the logistics teams is working on right now, and I'll turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (12:19):
Thank you, Blaine, and I appreciate all of the work that each of these groups is doing. Again, I sit in on these meetings and participate and I know there's a lot of discussion and good work happening to make sure that we can return safely in the fall. Next, we have our Assistant Vice President for Information Management and Technology, Bret Naber, on the line to share with us a little bit of information. We've seen some recent phishing attacks and email scams and asked Bret to join us to share a little bit of information so that members of our community can be vigilant, identify these, and help us to resolve these issues. Bret.

Bret Naber (12:57):
Yeah. Thank you, Dan. So I wanted to cover a couple of things real quick this morning. We're not necessarily seeing an increase in the number of phishing attempts, but what we are seeing is sort of a shift in focus. People are trying to take advantage of the COVID situation and really the worldwide financial stress that's taking place, so we're seeing a lot of scams where people are being contacted, asked to provide things like gift cards, and those emails are coming from external accounts. One of the things that you can do is just look through your email. If there's an external tag, you know that that email came from off campus. It's very easy for scammers to create Gmail accounts, put Andy Feinstein as their name, send it to somebody and say, hey, can you contact me? And then they try to conduct the rest of the conversation, perhaps over texting or some other type of communication.

Bret Naber (13:50):
So they're getting very very specific. They know who the people are at the institution who can authorize certain types of spending. They are working through academic departments. They understand how those organizations work, and so we're just seeing very specific, targeted types of scams. Again, making sure that you look for that external email tag is probably the best thing to do, but if you have any concerns, if you are questioning whether or not something's legitimate, on our IM&T website, you can go to alerts and announcements, and there's a section in there that's our phishing bowl, and it has all the scams that we've been seeing, and we outline exactly what the message is and kind of what the perpetrator is trying to do. Anytime we get something from campus, we make sure to put it out there. If we can, we'll go out and delete the emails from people's accounts in case they might fall for it.

Bret Naber (14:46):
One of the other things that we've implemented is a multifactor authentication. What this is helping with is for some of those scams where you click on a link and maybe it looks like you're logging into a system at UNC or maybe a personal account, they will no longer be able to steal your credentials because it'll require a code to be sent to your phone or to one of your other devices. We've implemented that for staff and faculty, and we now have it ready for students, and we'll be making a communication this fall to get all the students prepared for that, and so I wanted to bring that up for faculty and staff and students. So they're aware that's going to take place. That helps tremendously when it comes to compromised accounts. In fact, since we've implemented this with faculty and staff, we haven't had any compromises.

Bret Naber (15:32):
That's been working really well. The problem with compromised accounts is if I get Darren Dunn's email address, and I'm able to send out emails from Darren Dunn's account, then people in Athletics might think that's legitimate, and it helps those scams carry on a little bit further. We're continuing to work on those things. We do post communications around campus and UNC Today, and, by all means, if you ever have any questions, contact the technical support center, look at the phishing bowl, and if you have a question about somebody specifically, if you have their phone number, give them a call, just verify that some of these things are legitimate. So I think with that, that's all I had. Thanks Dan.

Dan Maxey (16:14):
Great. Thank you, Bret. We appreciate the work that you and your team are doing to secure our systems and make sure that we are safe on the IT side. Next up we have our athletics director, Darren Dunn. Two weeks ago, Darren came and shared some information with us about the return of student athletes to workouts, and that will begin, I think, next week. Darren's going to share a little bit of information with us this morning about what we're doing to ensure the health and safety of our student athletes as they begin to return to campus. Darren.

Darren Dunn (16:45):
Thanks, Dan. We've been obviously working really hard the past couple of weeks of preparing for this. We actually, yesterday, was our first day for our student athletes to return for detailed screening education. Obviously, we have a lot more new policies and procedures for them to follow, and so we've been doing that. We started that yesterday. We'll do that again today and tomorrow. But as Dan said, our first volunteer workout with our student athletes begin on Monday morning at 6:00 AM. So anyone that's interested, feel free to get up early and you can watch from afar our workouts. So that's exciting for us. It's a good step. It's something that I think our student athletes and sports performance coaches have been really wanting. I think we have worked closely with the state guidelines, the county guidelines, the NCAA guidelines, the Big Sky guidelines, the university guidelines to make sure we're following all the procedures to be safe.

Darren Dunn (17:47):
Our number one priority is to make sure our staff and coaches and student athletes are in a safe environment. I feel good about our plan. It started off really well yesterday. The things that we're going to be doing is keep making sure our student athletes, when they work out inside, there'll be in groups of 10 or less. They will be wearing masks. When they go outside to work with their conditioning coaches, they can be in groups of 25 or less. I really appreciate Blaine's support in this and help and guidance. We've asked him a lot of questions on our committee. Also, the rec center has been super supportive. We're going to be utilizing some of their facilities to help give us more space so that we can spread out. I think we're ready. The first day of screenings went really well, and I think so far, our student athletes are following the procedures, not getting together in groups and keeping that social distancing in place. So it's a good step forward for us, and hopefully this is a good step for getting back to normal for everyone. Thank you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (18:52):
Thank you, Darren. Quarantine living, I could use a little bit of a workout, but we'll see if I get out there at 6:00 AM on Monday. I appreciate those updates on what we're doing to bring our student athletes back and get them ready for fall sports. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (19:09):
Thank you everyone else who gave reports this morning also. That concludes our week's reports. I'm going to turn the floor back over to President Feinstein to close us out.

President Feinstein (19:18):
Thanks, Dan, and thank you all for tuning in today and remember to stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday. Take care, everybody.