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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

June 4, Operational Update

June 4 Update (View on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Good morning, it's Thursday, June 4th, and this is our weekly operations status update. At the beginning of this week, I sent a message to our community about the unrest we are witnessing in communities around the nation stemming from the murder of George Floyd and the deaths and unjust treatment of so many others before him and since, because of the color of their skin. I continue to be angered and saddened by these events. We must always try to do better by one another, to live up to the values we hold as a community, including commitments to equity and inclusion. I am using this moment to recommit myself to this work, and have had extensive conversations this week with numerous people, including my cabinet about what we can do to better confront and prevent hate and bias at our university. I'm open to suggestions.

President Feinstein (00:56):
And I also know from discussions with my colleagues and peers of color, that the persistent struggle compounded by the weight of these recent events has taxed many of them emotionally and physically. So many in our community are exhausted and hurt. I want you to know that I am here for you. We are here for you. It is also why the rest of us have an obligation to step up for our fellow Bears. I will share more information as we continue with this work and appreciate members of our community, not just for joining us in this tremendous challenge, but holding us accountable to it. With that, I'll hand the conversation over to Dan Maxey, our Chief of Staff, who will moderate the rest of the conversations. Dan?

Dan Maxey (01:44):
Thank you, President Feinstein. The cabinet met yesterday and the Academic and Student Affairs branches of our Reentry Task Force have several meetings this week, as we continue to make preparations for our return in the fall. As our panel gets reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. I'm going to start today as we usually do with a report on the current status of public health orders and conditions here in Colorado from Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (02:13):
Thank you Dan. Good morning. And thank you, Andy, for your introduction there. Colorado's trends for currently hospitalized patients, new hospitalizations, and ventilators in use continue their downward trend. Testing numbers have been good, although not up to a level that the governor had been hoping for at this point. The positivity rate of COVID tests has hovered at or below 5%, which is a good sign. It indicates that we're not just testing those that are the sickest and symptomatic, but also those who might be asymptomatic that had contact with a positive case, or maybe they're a frontline worker. That kind of testing and identification really helps and stops the spread of the virus before it can go further.

Blaine Nickeson (02:57):
These trends are all positive, especially given the really hard spring that we just went through. But there are reasons for pause. Restaurants opened up last week, albeit in a limited capacity, the implications of the very important marches and protests happening across our country over the last week are unknown, given that large crowds gathering in these dense settings. We'll be watching the data really closely to see what impacts these changes to social distancing will have on case counts. For anyone who's exercised their right to protest, you're encouraged to get tested after a few days have passed. There are numerous public testing sites across the front range, as well as our health center here on campus.

Blaine Nickeson (03:40):
The governor extended the State Safer Home Guidance through July 1st. This restricts gatherings to less than 10 people, directs all vulnerable populations to stay home as much as possible and restricts the density of workplaces. There's also draft guidance emerging about the limited reopening of rec centers and gyms and houses of worship, outdoor recreation providers like river rafting and other parts of our lives.

Blaine Nickeson (04:04):
We're monitoring the guidance closely, especially as it relates to UNC's Campus Recreation Center. UNC staff met this week with reps from the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment to talk about a variety of issues. As our local public health agency, they have a lot of authority to guide operations in these situations. So we're working collaboratively with them on a variety of issues from housing and dining to athletic activities. So for the public health environment, Dan, that's the update that I have for you this morning. I'll turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (04:38):
Great. Thank you Blaine. Next up we'll have reports from the Reentry Task Force beginning with Provost Mark Anderson. Mark?

Mark Anderson (04:49):
Thank you, Dan. The Academic Affairs Subcommittee for the Reentry Task Force has been meeting weekly. We've divided into subgroups for faculty, student and logistics. They've been meeting outside of the weekly task force meeting. Some of the important things that we've been discussing and decided upon, we've talked about the pass time between classes. Some universities are increasing the time between classes to avoid congestion. We ultimately decided not to recommend a change for the daily class schedule by increasing the pass time. And this was related to the capacity of rooms that I'll talk about in just a moment. We thought that the decreased capacity in rooms would limit the congestion and wouldn't require a change in the pass time between classes. We've also completed a survey of preferred and required instructional modality, looking at how classes can be taught and potentially should be taught to the... Some courses, particularly laboratory courses or courses that require specific equipment or facilities must be taught on campus.

Mark Anderson (06:10):
And so we've been looking at that for every class so that we could begin to understand how we're going to be teaching in the fall. Finally, university facilities led by Kirk Lechleiter as well as Blaine, has done an inventory of all of our teaching facilities, and they also included some spaces in the Campus Comments as well as the University Center that we can use for teaching. I've done an inventory to understand the capacity classroom spaces. We've taken that data as well as the teaching modality data, and we're beginning to put that out to the colleges and the departments, to align the teaching with our capacity for face to face courses.

Mark Anderson (07:00):
Over the next several weeks with a target of middle of June, just say June 17th, to have a clear definition of how individual sections of courses will be taught the modality and where that will be taught, either online or what specific rooms on campus. And so we are doing a lot of work. We've been gathering a lot of data and over the next several weeks, we will be making some "final," because it all depends upon what the public health standards ask of us. And with that, I will turn it over to Katrina Rodriguez for the remainder of the Entry Task Force work. Thank you.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:45):
Thank you Mark. For the Student Affairs Task Force, similarly folks are working hard and collecting a lot of data to make decisions. We and again in line with our health professionals to ensure that to work as hard as we can for safety and also engagement for students. So we are looking at processes for utilizing common areas, creating a sense of belonging at the same time, as well as understanding the capacity of our kitchens in our residence halls and cultural centers. They're used widely by students to make lunch in between classes, for events and those kinds of things. So how many can be in a kitchen at the same time? What is our training of students and staff in disinfecting those spaces and how frequently after use? Same thing with our laundry rooms and other common spaces that students utilize. We might have more flexibility with outside areas, but we want to look at those as well.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:49):
One of the other items that we're looking closely at is Cassidy Hall, which is where the counseling center and the student health center are located. The student health center occupies the downstairs and counseling center upstairs. So we want to be thoughtful for those utilizing the counseling center that they're not passing through the health center to get upstairs. And so we're looking at both egress and ingress in terms of that building. And so that's something that will be upcoming and figuring out how to do that. There are options, we're just trying to figure out the best one. Also, we will have by June 15th, the decisions on where we will have single rooms, where we can honor roommate requests, looking at spaces in individual rooms, in terms of those that can maybe honor the distancing a little bit better than others, some are much smaller, so we'll have to take a look at that as well as community bathrooms. So we'll know that soon.

Katrina Rodriguez (09:51):
Also, a timeline for moving students in. Students who can move their things into their room and what that's going to look like and how to register for a time. We also are looking at an extended array of options for activities and engagements for students prior to classes starting. So from the time folks move in, to the first day of classes, we always have a number of activities. We are wanting to perhaps conduct some face to face interactions that we typically do during orientation that we aren't able to do this year. So a high emphasis on some ways that we can do some interactive work when students get here.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:33):
The other thing that I really appreciated creativity on is thinking about for our I don't know, 150 or so student organizations for those who'd like to create a canvas shell to be able to utilize the virtual space there, as well as Zoom, to connect with members of their organizations and to plan their activities and initiatives, so I thought that was quite creative. And then also this afternoon, we are going to meet with a number of our UNC faculty experts who have expertise in the epidemiology area. So to discuss further safety measures in student living and dining and gathering spaces. So I appreciate Dr. Tobias Guzman for arranging the opportunity to meet with so many of our faculty experts. So a lot of work, we will continue to have proposals come forward to be reviewed and considered, and then we will be able to share more information as we go along. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (11:37):
Thank you, Mark and Katrina for those updates. Next, I'm going to ask Blaine to jump back here and give us a little bit of a report on the Logistics Working Group side of the Task Force operations and several operational updates for the fall. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (11:54):
Thanks, glad to be back. So yeah, shifting gears to the Logistics Working Group at UNC. We're meeting at least twice weekly to tackle all the operational challenge of what the new normal is going to look like in the fall, including signage and floor decals, to encourage distancing. We're looking at clear barriers at points of service, these plexiglass kind of things to keep our students and staff safe. As you just heard, we recently provided the Provost and the Academic Affairs Reentry Task Force with a full accounting of all learning spaces on campus. And when we say learning spaces, we're also thinking about using some of those non traditional, but large venues, such as the ballrooms in the university center. And what we're also talking about, what those spaces look like in a socially distant capacity and what learning technology exists to help support hybrid learning opportunities that we know are going to be really important.

Blaine Nickeson (12:47):
While we're no longer hosting the King Soopers drive-in testing site on campus, I do want to let folks know that the student health center is able to provide both COVID and antibody testing for our campus community. Please reach out to them if you're interested in either kind of testing. We hope to be able to continue to expand this.

Blaine Nickeson (13:03):
The logistics team is also evaluating the various considerations related to gradual return to campus for staff and faculty. During these warm summer months, we're taking advantage of folks effectively working at home to bank some energy savings. Our custodial staff is working on deep cleaning across the campus to help UNC shine when we're able to come back together in person.

Blaine Nickeson (13:24):
Our teams also working on plans for things like contact tracing through our student health center to keep our community of Bears safe in the event that cases do pop up. We want to make sure we can handle that work in the event that our County health partners are unable to keep up with the tracing. And we feel like that's an important responsibility that we want to have internally. So those are the updates on the logistics group, lots of plates on sticks, but we're working hard to try to ramp up, 81 days until the first day of fall semester. Back to you, Dave.

Dan Maxey (13:57):
Thank you, Blaine. I appreciate the work that you and the operations team are doing as well as the work that's happening in academic and student affairs. I think we're making really good progress and appreciate everyone's work. With that, I'll turn it back over to Andy.

President Feinstein (14:12):
Appreciate all you for tuning in today and as always stay safe. Stay healthy and I'll see you here again next Thursday at 9 AM. Take care everybody.