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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

June 18, Operational Update

June 18 Update (View on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, June 18th, and this is our weekly operation status report. I'm going to hand over the conversation to our Chief of Staff, Dan Maxey, who's going to moderate conversations from other presenters. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:17):
Thank you, President Feinstein. We've had another busy week, as the reentry task force, the logistics working group, and cabinet continue to work toward our safe return in the fall. As our panel gives reports this morning, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. We're going to start today's call with a report on the current status of public health orders and conditions in Colorado, as well as a report from logistics working group, from Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (00:42):
Morning, Dan. Thank you, Andy. Related to the work in the logistics team, yesterday the president's cabinet approved two significant proposals relating to mask-wearing expectations and return to work planning.

Blaine Nickeson (00:56):
The first one, consistent with guidance from the CDC and the state, UNC will require cloth face coverings be worn by all students, faculty, and staff. This is in line with the decisions that have already been announced by our peers at CU Boulder and CSU. Our various teams are working on fall reentry and will be working to communicate this requirement early and often, so that, come August, our community is clear about the need for masks and the requirement for them.

Blaine Nickeson (01:22):
The second decision was related to a return-to-work timeline. UNC employees have adjusted well to remote work under the new normal environment, but we will need to have a presence on campus in the fall to support our students. Starting July 13th, card swipe access will be restored to all buildings. So if you had prior card swipe access before, you'll be able to get into whatever your building was. Faculty and staff may access their offices with two important caveats.

Blaine Nickeson (01:49):
First, the density of office suites and work areas cannot exceed 50%. That's per state requirements. Also, as part of our important cost saving measures this summer, air conditioning is not running in most buildings during the months of June and July, saving UNC about $200,000 per month. So in July, AC will continue to be off. If folks need to access their offices and spend some time there, we'd recommend they do that earlier in the day, as at night we're sucking in a lot of cool outside air.

Blaine Nickeson (02:21):
For the month of August, starting on Monday the 3rd, it'll look a little bit normal. AC will be on, buildings will be open to the public, offices will resume direct delivery of service to students. It's likely the 50% occupancy cap will remain, so in order to reduce density, many employees that have been successfully working remotely and aren't involved in the direct delivery of service to students will continue to work remotely.

Blaine Nickeson (02:45):
Fall semester starts on August 24th. What the workplace looks like will largely depend on public health guidance at that time, but we anticipate that flexible schedules and remote working will continue to be part of the equation for the fall semester.

Blaine Nickeson (02:58):
Logistics team is working hard on a variety of additional issues, including mandatory COVID-19 awareness training for our students, employees and supervisors. We're also establishing a robust contact tracing process and team, so that we can respond rapidly if and when cases are identified in the fall.

Blaine Nickeson (03:16):
Lastly, we're working closely, internally and with state regulators, on space capacity for the fall. Those classrooms seat limits will impact our decisions about the modality of course delivery for the fall.

Blaine Nickeson (03:28):
Briefly, from the public health standpoint, hospital data is still looking good in Colorado. We have 164 folks hospitalized for COVID. It's up six from the prior day when we hit the lowest level since March. Testing's looking good as well. We're doing about six to 7,000 tests per day over the last two weeks, and we do have the capacity to do more. We can do about 8,500 a day. Also, we're doing about 1,500 antibody tests daily. The positive percentage rate is hovering about five to 6%. A month ago, that was about 9%, so the folks that were the most suspect about whether or not they had COVID got tested a little bit earlier on. So, again, positivity rate is five to 6%.

Blaine Nickeson (04:12):
It's also now been almost three weeks, or I think it has been three weeks, since the first large protests in Denver related to the murder of George Floyd. We've not seen a spike in cases. Even looking specifically at Denver's data, they're doing well. This supports some of the emerging thinking that maybe the virus is less transmissible in the outdoor environment, and that could bode really well for some of the things that we all love, like fall football games, skiing, and anything done in the outdoors.

Blaine Nickeson (04:44):
That's all I have for this morning, Dan. I'll go ahead and turn it back over to you. Dan, you're muted.

Dan Maxey (04:53):
I haven't done that on one of these calls before. It's usually [crosstalk 00:00:04:57].

Blaine Nickeson (04:56):
First time for everything.

Dan Maxey (04:56):
Thank you for those updates. It's always good to hear some good news. Next, we'll turn it over to our re-entry taskforce co-chairs, Provost Mark Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez.

Mark Anderson (05:13):
Thank you, Dan. The academic affairs re-entry portion of the task force is working hard on modality of instruction and finding rooms for our classes. We're working very closely with the logistics group, because decisions that they're making will impact the ability to instruct classes. As an example, the final decision on mask-wearing is critically important because that provide some clarity to our faculty as we're making decisions about face-to-face, versus hybrid, versus online instruction for the fall.

Mark Anderson (05:54):
We've identified courses that need to be face-to-face because of access to specialized equipment or specialized facility. Those classes have been identified and are in the process of being roomed. Part of the process of finalizing the fall schedule is not just making decisions about modality and room, but also making the necessary back office changes to our information systems so that we can make sure that the student information is transmitted accurately, so that we have Canvas shells, et cetera.

Mark Anderson (06:32):
Working with registrar's office, once we have a final schedule with modality, location, time, et cetera fixed, it'll take between seven and 10 days to get the back office functions updated. So we're working very closely between the faculty and the units to identify modality of instruction, but also with registrar's office so that we can get accurate information to our students.

Mark Anderson (07:02):
We have those necessary face-to-face classes scheduled. We have the online classes, the classes which were originally scheduled to be online, and we're beginning work on those classes that can be taught either in a virtual environment, hybrid environment, or face-to-face, and aligning our room capacity with those courses, with a priority for those classes that serve large groups of students, but especially those students in lower divisions that will be on campus, living in our housing facilities. With that, I will turn it over to Katrina Rodriguez.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:43):
Good morning, everybody. Glad to be here with you today. Let's see. The student affairs portion of the task force is equally working strongly to bring together some of our decisions through the various vetting processes. So one of the things that was approved yesterday was that we will be able to have students in doubles and suites. Again, given that residence hall rooms are considered a family unit, so we are able to have folks have roommates. So, that's exciting. I know a lot of folks were interested in that.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:22):
We also have a number of rooms set aside for singles. So for those students who would like to have a little bit of additional privacy or protection based on how they see that, they may sign up for a single room.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:36):
So students will shortly be receiving their housing assignments. We do everything we can to provide students with their preferred residence hall options that they've noted. In addition, suite mates and roommates will also ... the information, and about who their roommates are going to be will also be provided shortly. So we're excited to get that all going.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:59):
Also, our dining operations on Monday and ... Monday, I think we'll be able to put these proposals forward to cabinet, allowing our students to both have a grab and go option, both hot and cold meals. We're also looking at frozen meals that a student could put in the microwave later. They can pick up several meals at a time and not ... and that way they're ... have some things in their room.

Katrina Rodriguez (09:29):
They can also ... We're excited that we will be able to do some dining room service and have students sit together in the dining room. With the guidance that came out from the state on Monday, increasing the square foot ... based on square footage, how many folks we can have in a space at a time, that allows us to have some additional options for our dine in service, and so we're very excited about that. We're looking at options for some extended outdoor seating in places, so that, especially when it's nice out, it's always nice to get to sit outside, al fresco, and meet with folks and have a meal.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:09):
The other thing we're looking at is our catering services. We've had a lot of requests in the local area to have catering services, which we've always done all summer, and so we will be looking at being able to pick that up again, so that we can serve some of the gatherings that are happening in the community.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:29):
This is less COVID-related, but important to our students who have DACA status. The Supreme Court upheld DACA. News went out this morning, or probably last night. So I just thought that was a ... I know this is of huge interest and concern for our DACA students, as well as our faculty and staff who really support our DREAMer efforts and all that we've been able to do at UNC to support our DREAMer and DACA students.

President Feinstein (11:00):
Great news.

Katrina Rodriguez (11:01):
Yes, isn't it great? It was just exciting to see that this morning. I will turn it back over to Dan.

Dan Maxey (11:09):
Great. Thank you, Katrina. We've all been following the news about the DACA ruling this morning, and I know this isn't over, and we need to continue to work toward a more permanent solution. So good news for now, and we're very glad to know that the Supreme Court took the action they did today. That ends our reports. I'll turn it back over to President Feinstein for some final words.

President Feinstein (11:34):
Thanks, Dan. It's a short, brief presentation today, but as always, we'll see you here again next week. So stay safe, be healthy, everybody. Take care.