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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 19, Operational Update

March 19, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. It's Thursday, March 19th and this is our daily operations report. It's a little bit rainy outside. I've been told it's going to turn to snow in a little while. I know we're going to get an update about weather here in a moment, but I want to start by thanking all of our essential personnel who are here today keeping the university open, and I greatly appreciate your work and efforts going through this today. I'm now going to ask Dan Maxey, our chief of staff to give us an update. Dan?

Dan Maxey (00:36):

Thank you President Feinstein. We reported yesterday on the extensive coordination that's occurring between the president's cabinet, the coronavirus task force and its subcommittees as we continue to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic. We also gave an overview of the many external authorities and partners that we continue to work with. The president's extended cabinet, the coronavirus task force, and each of the subcommittees continues to meet daily and remotely by Microsoft teams. The subcommittees are sharing information from the frontline, so to speak, up to the cabinet through the task force leadership, and we are currently receiving daily recommendations on decisions to be made at the cabinet level. The cabinet met for about an hour and a half yesterday afternoon as we continue to work through decisions related to our response. Yesterday I thanked everyone across the university who is involved in our university wide response, but today I'd like to say a special thank you to our information management and technology team.

Dan Maxey (01:32):

They're not only ensuring that the university's leadership can continue to meet remotely to practice social distancing, but is also working diligently to prepare faculty and students for the delivery of our academic mission via alternative modes of delivery, which begins on Wednesday next week. We're incredibly grateful for your work, so thank you to IMT for everything that they're doing to keep us running here. These daily calls are going to follow a common agenda. Following opening remarks by President Feinstein, I'll briefly report on the functions of our leadership teams.

Dan Maxey (02:03):

Associate vice president for administration, Blaine Nickeson, who also chairs our coronavirus task force, will report on key developing issues, including the local status of coronavirus cases, new guidance that we're receiving from authorities that affect our fundamental daily operations and on days like today, it'll also include reports on how weather and other factors are impacting our daily efforts to sustain the health and safety of UNCs community. We'll also have reports on impacts to the academic mission from provost Mark Anderson, impacts to facilities from assistant vice president for facilities management, Kirk Leichliter, a report from human resources director Marshall Parks and a report on emerging impacts to our students from Dean of students, Gardner Tucker. Blaine, I'm going to turn it over to you. Why don't you get us started with a report on our daily developing issues?

Blaine Nickeson (02:56):

Thanks Dan. And good morning everybody. Heavy rain and winds here in Brighton. I assume it's sort of the same up in your neck of the woods. As of last night, Colorado has 216 positive cases, which is up about 33 or 15 percent. 2,300 people have been tested. But that number, there's an important caveat there and that's that the private labs which are starting to pick up doing a lot of the bulk of the testing are not required to report negative tests. They're only reporting positive tests, so there's been some attempts to get better data out of those private testing firms, but quite honestly, they're more interested in actually physically doing the testing that reporting about negative cases. They're trying to work through that. 26 individuals are hospitalized, and as I reported yesterday, there's two deaths including one in Weld County. Weld County is still at six cases now. Yesterday afternoon the governor ordered all schools closed until at least April 17th, and also indicated that it's increasingly unlikely that schools will reopen before the end of the academic year.

Blaine Nickeson (04:08):

He also ordered no events larger than 10 people with the caveats that courts, the legislature, airports, bus and train stations, hospitals, retail and grocery stores and pharmacies are exempt from that public gatherings. Although certainly I would encourage all of you that if you are leaving your homes to be practicing safe distancing and great hygiene, as best as you can. Frustratingly, this isn't on our campus, but you may have seen the reports that CU Boulder has a positive student case. This is a student who actually was at the widely publicized massive St. Patrick's Day parties up on the hill this weekend, which for me is pretty darn frustrating and I think there's been some other examples of that across the country, such as the spring breakers in Florida.

Blaine Nickeson (04:56):

Pivoting quickly to weather. Greeley and Northeastern Colorado is under a blizzard warning starting at noon today until 6:00 AM tomorrow. I'd like to highlight that the blizzard warning is because of the forecasted winds, not necessarily because of the amount of snowfall. We're ... The national weather services anticipating three to four inches for Greeley throughout the storm, but 45 mile an hour winds. So certainly we'll have some impacts there, and Kirk will be able to update on what we'll be doing to make sure that the essential functions on campus are still able to happen safely. So Dan, I'll go ahead and turn it back to you.

Dan Maxey (05:34):

Thanks Blaine. Next I'm going to ask provost Mark Anderson to give his reports on impacts to the academic mission. Mark?

Mark Anderson  (05:42):

Good morning. Reported yesterday that we were in pretty good shape with respect to moving classes to online. Some questions have come up about advising and tutoring. Stephanie Torrez, I'd like to give a shout out to and possibly ask her to add some things when I'm done, but Stephanie and others have been working hard to ensure that tutoring services would be available online, including the math lab and the writing center. We're also moving into a period of time where we're going to be having students registering for the fall semester. So advising is getting up to speed online as well.

Mark Anderson  (06:25):

We had a little conversation yesterday about changes to grading policy, and I would also like to acknowledge Stan Luger and faculty senate executive committee for providing some feedback on the proposed grading policy. That's a little bit of a moving target as many universities are really weighing in on how they're going to be looking at grades. So we'll continue that conversation tomorrow with the dean's cabinet so that we will have a final recommendation prior to Wednesday, beginning of classes next week. So I'd like Stephanie, if she could just add some comments about tutoring and advising.

Stephanie Torrez (07:15):

Good morning everyone. As Mark stated, we have plans in place for the writing center, the math lab or the study center that's in NHS and tutorial services to offer students support online or virtually. Each of those areas has a setup in place. In tutorial services, we're working with IMT today to test our online environment and our tutor database that we have. So we're fully prepared to offer that support starting next week as early as Tuesday. And we ... Our tutoring is peer-to-peers. So we have undergraduate students who are tutors who've agreed and are very much interested in continuing to work. So they'll be providing that support, which is fantastic.

Stephanie Torrez (08:11):

In terms of advising, all of the advising centers have set up a plan for continuing their work online using many of the tools that we are using right now for meetings like this. We also have placed on all of the websites, our college websites, information about registration, which begins on the sixth. We want to do whatever we can to promote and nudge students to continue their in regular activity. And that includes timely registration. So part of the work I think that we'll do over the next couple of weeks is monitoring student's activity in terms of registering on time and possibly set up some campaigns and nudges to make sure that those things occur.

Dan Maxey (09:01):

Great. Mark, do you have any remaining updates?

Mark Anderson  (09:04):

Nope. That's it from academic affairs.

Dan Maxey (09:07):

Great. Thank you Mark and Stephanie for those reports. Next I'll turn to assistant vice president for facilities management, Kirk Leichliter to give a report on our impacts to facilities. Kirk?

Kirk Leichliter (09:18):

Good morning. Volume okay?

Dan Maxey (09:20):


Kirk Leichliter (09:21):

Okay. My dog's wet, so apparently it's raining here too, Blaine. In terms of operations, we have two people doing building walks today. Tomorrow will be a rounds day for the mechanical systems. Custodial's essentially fully staffed today, getting some extra cleaning done and some wrap up done. They will next week start to ramp down a little bit, and most of that focus will be on the results once we have that information. After next week we'll start to lower temperatures in the buildings and do setbacks for some energy conservation during this time. And as far as snow, we'll bring the grounds in tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM unless we have some drifting issues or anything that would impact fire lanes in which we'll bring in at least the on call guys as needed.

Kirk Leichliter (10:25):

Blaine already reported it on the weather. I'd like to make sure that essential staff is paying attention and bugs out as necessary so they can get home safely if the winds do indeed pick up. In terms of onsite staff for the campus, today we have about 70 custodians, two people for mechanical trades, plus the on call people, two people in the warehouse, two people in the heating plant. Housing has three people on their utility crew, nine hall directors. Don't know for sure about dining at this point in time and I don't have information on PD, although I know officers and dispatch are onsite. I think that's it for me at this point.

Dan Maxey (11:15):

Thank you, Kirk. Marshall Parks Director of human resources will now give a report on current essential personnel who are reporting to campus as well as current impacts to our staff. Marshall, floor's yours,

Marshall Parks (11:27):

Good morning. Important update. Yesterday the president cabinet approved a recommendation to pay our work study and hourly students, student employees through the end of April. This is an important commitment I think to our students, many of whom rely on this income to meet their basic needs, food and shelter in a very unsettled time and it's much appreciated. A small number of student employees will continue to work on campus, I know we have some work in PD and other areas. Some will be able to work remotely also, and for those who are unable to perform their duties remotely, they will receive paid administrative leave for the hours that they would have been scheduled. We'll be communicating this decision this afternoon directly to the student employees and their supervisors, along with the necessary instructions as to how to implement the plan. So again, thank you for that good work.

Marshall Parks (12:19):

Additional information on essential personnel. As you kind of heard from Kirk, next Wednesday on the 25th we're going to gather information on a number of essential employees that we continue to have working on campus. As Kirk mentioned, we'll need to allow some time to continue to wind down for our on campus services and complete the transition to remote work where possible. Additionally, we need to wait until after spring break is over to determine the number of students that will be remaining on campus so that we can scale the number of employees who need to serve them. And so next Wednesday on the 25th we'll be able to give a kind of a full report on the number of folks that I think will be remaining as essential personnel on the ground to continue to report to campus for the duration of this event. And that's all I've got. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (13:09):

Thanks Marshall. And thank you for the work that you and your team did on preparing those recommendations for cabinet on student workers and our employees. We appreciate that. Our final report today comes from dean of students Gardner Tucker. Tucker, you have the floor.

Gardner Tucker (13:25):

Thank you Dan. Hello everyone. So we continue to find different impacts on students and then find ways to address them. So I just wanted to give some examples. One of the student impacts that Mark and Stephanie mentioned earlier, the students are impacted by the elimination of in-person learning on which they've come to rely as a modality for learning. So the strategy to address that is that faculty are preparing their students for effective online learning, and some students are more impacted by the move to online than others.

Gardner Tucker (14:01):

So for example, Canvas has tips for maximizing online learning that students can have access to. So that's being addressed that way. Another student impact is the elimination of in-person events, activities and meetings. So the social life on campus and these student learning on campus outside the classroom. The way we're addressing that is, for example, the Office of Student Life is planning a survey of faculty and students about their favorite movies. And then OSL will purchase those movies and stream them online for students and faculty to watch. And Netflix has a simultaneous watching kind of program where you can watch them together. So those are some opportunities to put student life online. And then another impact is housing uncertainty, because there's a lot going on in housing. So Jenna, can you update us on the latest on student housing?

Jenna (15:02):

Good morning. A letter went out to students last evening. One of the biggest pieces of this letter was a survey to figure out what students' plans are. We had over 1,000 students open that letter within the first 30 minutes of it going out. As of this morning, I have 414 students indicating that they are going to check out. We have 165 students in the residence halls who have indicated they will stay and 95 students in Allergan Park Apartments who have indicated they will stay. That's starting to give us an indication that we will have a significant number of students still living with us. The remaining of the 717 responses that we have received have said they need more time to decide, I will keep the campus updated in terms of numbers. Students through the letter process are also able to sign up for checkout times. In order to maintain social distancing, those checkouts will occur all the way into the month of April. Thank you.

Gardner Tucker (16:19):

Thank you Jenna. That's good data to have so that we know what the pattern is going to be and what kind of support we have to provide on campus, and that's all from student impacts.

Dan Maxey (16:29):

Thank you, Tuck and Jenna, I'm going to ask President Feinstein signs to say some final words.

President Feinstein (16:35):

Thanks Dan. This is our third day having these status updates, and I'd like you to, if you have any suggestions or ideas for improving them, please send me a quick email or a text. If there's information that we should be including that we're not, I'd like to know that so that we can modify these as we, as we continue these every day. Again, I also want to thank everyone that's on campus today, our essential personnel, and everyone that's online for helping us get through these challenging times. See you tomorrow morning at nine AM. Thank you all.

Dan Maxey (17:11):

Thank you everyone. That ends today's reports. We appreciate everyone who's tuned in. Go Bears.

Gardner Tucker (17:18):

Thank you Dan.