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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 21, Operational Updates

March 21, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein: Good morning everybody. Saturday, March 21st looking out my window at home, there's a little bit of fog and still plenty of snow on the ground. I know we've got a few things to go over today, but I want to start by thanking Blaine for all of his hard work and that the Coronavirus Task Force that's been in effect now for several weeks. I know that many of you have been working around the clock to address this and I greatly appreciate that and I know there's still more work to do, but I'm confident that together we're getting through this. I also want to let you know that we're working with a number of community agencies to support Greeley and the surrounding communities and there'll be more details to follow on that in some of the updates. So I'm going to go ahead and turn over the conversation now to Dan Maxi, our Chief of Staff.

Dan Maxey: Thank you. President Feinstein, the Coronavirus Task Force and subcommittees and various offices across the university that they are coordinating their activity with continue to work through a number of issues that emerge related to our COVID-19 response. The Task Force and President's Cabinet meet remotely Monday through Fridays. Recommendations for policy decisions and communications route up for final decisions. Yesterday we took recommendations on action to serve those in our community who need access to support and had discussed policy recommendations from the Financial Impact Subcommittee. We also continue to have close coordination with the Colorado Department Of Higher Education Commission on Higher Education, our local partners in the City of Greeley and Weld County as well as Aims Community College and District Six just to name a few.

Dan Maxey: Yesterday we also shared a comprehensive communication from President Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez to our student population. That included many details about how students services are being continued as our students re-engage with their courses next week following spring break. A similar communication for faculty and staff is coming together for distribution soon, so we'll have that out as soon as we've prepared all of those details. Naturally, all of this work doesn't come to a full stop on the weekend, so I want to thank everyone who continues to put time in beyond our regular business hours to manage the implementation of the various changes and strategies that we are executing to keep our communities safe, healthy, and engaged in this unprecedented time.

Dan Maxey: That said, I also want to remind everyone to take time in their day and be mindful of exercise self-care. Please make sure that you're taking time to take good care of yourselves and to be present with your families and loved ones. As individuals give reports today, I want to ask that you please make sure that you have un-muted your microphone and turn on your video so that we can see you. I'm going to turn the floor over first to Blaine Nicholson, Associate Vice President for Administration and the Chair of our Coronavirus Task Force for a report on developing issues. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson: Thanks Dan. Good morning, everybody. Happy Saturday. I'll jump right in here. As of last night, the State was reporting 363 positive cases. That's up 86 cases, or 31% with a volume of about 3,680 people tested. 44 individuals had been hospitalized and unfortunately there's been four deaths. That number hasn't changed in a few days. The State reports 15 positive cases in Weld County, up nine from the day before, but the latest info from Weld County Health reports 17 positive cases. The reason for the difference in that information is that the State's count is a point in time count each day. Unfortunately, our friends over at Aims Community College yesterday announced their first positive case on campus with a staff member and so we're sending our thoughts to them. Further with the State they announced they have a backlog of about 2,600 cases between the State and private labs that need to be tested.

Blaine Nickeson: We at UNC continue to have conversations with leaders in the hospital community about how UNC can assist them in their efforts. Our Logistics and Infrastructure Subcommittee is doing important planning around that area. I want to remind folks that the Student Health Center remains open to serve students. They're running a modified schedule due to the decreased patient demand on campus and they're adjusting their hours as needed and as based upon that need. But the latest hours for the Student Health Center are posted on their website at www.unc.edu/student-help-center. That's all I have for this morning. I'll turn it back to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey: Thank you, Blaine. Next, I'll ask Provost Mark Anderson to give his reports on impacts of the act to the academic mission. Mark?

Mark Anderson: Thank you and good morning. We've spent a good bit of this last week looking at building access, particularly for faculty as we transition from a face-to-face instruction to an online instruction. Working with Kirk Licklider and the Deans. We've established that next week, the week of March 23rd we will have normal key card access to buildings. We want to encourage faculty to work from home in keeping with CDC recommendations for social distancing, but the key card access, we'll give faculty an opportunity to come to their offices to collect materials they need to teach their courses from home, but also to continue to the extent possible their scholarship activities. That will continue through the week. Five o'clock on Friday March 27th, the buildings will go into a lockdown and only essential personnel will have key card access to buildings at that point. We're working with the Deans to establish a list of essential faculty and the roles that they will have that gives them access to buildings.

Mark Anderson: We will have a communication out. I'm working with Dan Maxi and Allie Staghasket to have a communication that will go out to all faculty and staff on Monday. That will also be part of the Coronavirus FAQ. Just a couple of quick shout outs to Brett Neighbor and IMT for really the excellent job they're doing in ensuring that technology infrastructure's in place so we can work from home. I read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft teams was having some outages and I, I've not experienced any of that. I think that is a Testament to our IMT folks.

Mark Anderson: Also shout out to Lyda McCartney, Siedel and Kathy Zellers from IDD. Really you've done a great job of putting together some great training that will help faculty get their courses to an online delivery starting on Wednesday. Lyda and Siedel also working on a communication for best practices, not unlike the communication we had at the beginning of the fall semester for teaching best practices for faculty to help engage students. Initially we want to have a similar communication to help faculty and students engage with the new content delivery that we're moving to on Wednesday. Again, another shout out to Kirk for really working with us on establishing a practice for building access that's mindful of the changes we're going through, but also as respectful of faculty as they transition their scholarship as well as our teaching to a new environment. And that's all I had.

Dan Maxey: Great. Thank you, Mark. Next Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Kirk Licklider will give a report on impacts to our facilities. Kirk, I want you to expand a little bit on some of the logistical considerations related to building access and why it's important that individuals are just coming in to pick up their things and not working in their offices during this these next few days.

Dan Maxey: Kirk. We can't hear you.

Kirk Leichliter: Their needs on Monday and Tuesday and getting prepared for the alternative class delivery. However, the buildings will remain accessible for the rest of the week to go ahead and move out the things they need to be successful in working from home. After the 27th if there are urgent needs, the police department will be able to help with access. They do ask that you plan ahead. They can't guarantee that they can come at a specific time. It's all dependent on their calls, so we need to minimize the impact on the police department. But they will help people get in. There's bound to be something that we need to get. So we will facilitate that. Our staff is continuing the daily building checks. That'll just be an ongoing thing.

Kirk Leichliter: I'm not sure whether, Blaine mentioned, it cut out on me a little bit, but we're working with the County and United Way to possibly stand up a cold weather shelter and the Bank of Colorado Arena. We have a meeting with the United Way staff this afternoon to pin down some of the details related to that. Our staff installed the floor cover last night after the press conference and working with Graham and his staff, we were able to consolidate some of the UNC equipment such in the space. So we got a little bit of a headstart there. I believe that's all I have. Thank you.

Dan Maxey: Thank you, Kirk. And again, one of the reasons why it's important that folks are only dropping into pickup belongings in their office, is that as we have scaled down essential personnel, we naturally have limited capacity to keep up with maintenance and cleaning and bathrooms and other facilities like that. So that's one of the reasons why we want to make sure that people aren't coming and spending a lot of time in their offices. So please be considered of the impacts to others when you're in the facilities picking up things over the next few days.

Kirk Leichliter: Thank you, Dan. I might mention one more thing. It is our intent to scale back the heating and cooling in the building to try and capture some utilities savings during this time as well.

Dan Maxey: Right. Thanks, Kirk. Marshall Parks, Director of Human Resources is going to give some reports on updates to HR policies and impacts. Marshall, I'll turn it over to you.

Marshall Parks: Thanks, John. Good morning. We received some questions about the announcement that went out Thursday specifically regarding student employment. If you're interested, you can view this announcement from the main Coronavirus webpage. It's under the university messages. To be very clear about this, UNC will continue to pay all of our student employees through the end of April. This includes both students receiving Federal and State Work Study as well as all of our other student employees. The implementation details will be going out Monday directly to all of those students and to their supervisors as well as posted on the HR website.

Marshall Parks: So again, I think a great decision for the financial health of our students made and I want to be real clear that's all of our student employees that will be receiving that pay through the end of April. One other update, on Friday we began to see a little bit of a return to some regular business being conducted as our employees who are now working remotely continued to settle into their new work environments. The human resources offices is preparing a work from home toolkit. We'll be sharing with our staff early next week to help with that transition and help people continue to serve our students in a meaningful way. And again, that's all I have. Thanks, Dan.

Dan Maxey: Thank you, Marshall. And I appreciate the clarification on our student worker issue. There has been some confusion that we've seen about this change, this policy only applying to work study students. But as Marshall noted, the policy that we announced on Thursday not only covers our work study students but our hourly student workers as well. So if you receive questions about that, naturally we continue to push individuals to the Coronavirus Information and Resources page, which is at www.unc.edu/coronavirus. The communication is Marshall noted is also posted there, but all of our student workers are covered by that policy. Our final report today is going to come from the Dean of Students, Gardner Tucker. Tuck, I'll turn it over to you.

Gardiner Tucker: Hello everyone. Thank you for tuning in today. So each time we have this morning report, I'm going to focus on different kinds of impacts that students experience. I wanted to reinforce what Dan and Marshall had been saying about one of the impacts is the uncertainty regarding whose student employment is affected. So like they summarized, it's for federal, work study, State Work Study and hourly. So if you have a student job on campus, you are taken care of that way. Just want to reinforce that. Another student impact during this semester, especially our seniors are looking for careers and jobs and what's next for them from the Center for Career Readiness. The strategy is to make job searching and career support available online. So our center for career readiness has done that move. So here are some of the things that they're doing to support our seniors in this transition. They're still conducting individual appointments, but now they're online or via phone. The students will put their information into Handshake. So we already have a software system where they can make online reservations for meetings with staff.

Gardiner Tucker: Second, they're offering a virtual drop-in starting on March 25th from from 12 to 3:00 PM using the Teams chat feature. So students can drop in just unannounced and have a chat with a career counselor. Next, they're reviewing documents online. So resumes, cover letters, personal statements for job are all being done online. Students submit their materials to career readiness and then they will respond with feedback for you. The next one is they're conducting classroom and student group presentations in a synchronic format via teams. So typically a face to face classroom, career readiness counselors would come in and present to the class. So they're doing that same thing. But now for the online classes. In addition, they are working with employers to make sure students have access to what is now virtual hiring events versus face-to-face hiring events.

Gardiner Tucker: They are also collecting educator candidate resumes. So this is important because the K-12 educator employment days, one of the largest in Colorado had to be canceled this year because of this situation. So they're sending us student resumes to school and district representatives who were registered to attend the event. Then they're finding ways to coach students on how to best move forward with job searching in this phase where the country is on lockdown in some places there are a lot of unknowns, so one-to-one, they're coaching students on how to manage that differently from what was happening before. That's the Center for Career Readiness that is working to address the impact on our senior students. One other student impact that I wanted to point out was the loss of that in-person academic support and advising for Biology, Chemistry and Math.

Gardiner Tucker: So one of the strategies is to provide that advising online. So Dr Virgil Pierce has renamed the Math Lab into the Biochem Lab Study Center and they've moved to Zoom and also Explain Everything whiteboard where they can interface with students. For example, the way they're doing this is Virgil as the director is available for weekly direct conversations on Twitch TV. So students can sign up to meet directly with the director. A Math Student Lounge has been made available for students to study, discuss and socialize. So this student impact of that loss of in-person academic support, we've now moved that academic support online and the Biochem Math Study Center is an example of how we're doing that. Those are the impacts that I wanted to emphasize today. And that's the end of my report.

Dan Maxey: Thank you. Tuck. I think yesterday's email that went out to the students really made it clear how much work is being done across the Division of Student Affairs, Academic Affairs in the Colleges and Departments and elsewhere to make sure that our students have access to as many of the services that they depend on a regular basis as possible, as we continue to move our operations and instruction to alternate forms of delivery. So appreciate those updates and appreciate all of the work that's being done across the University to make that happen. I was really impressed as we pulled all of that information together for yesterday's email, how much is being done to make sure that we can continue as many of our operations for our students as possible in as many creative ways as we can find. So thank you for those updates. I'm going to ask President Feinstein to say a few words before we wrap up.

President Feinstein: Sure. Thank you, Dan, and thank all of you for your continued efforts in moving UNC forward. I hope that you stay healthy, that you're safe and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care.

Dan Maxey: Thank you again to everyone who's tuned in live or to the recording this weekend. As President Feinstein noted, we'll convene again tomorrow morning for another report and we'll continue to hold this call daily as we proceed. As always, as I noted earlier, please be sure to keep up with updates and details that are shared on the coronavirus website. That's www.unc.edu/coronavirus. Have a good weekend. Be safe and go Bears.