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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 24, Operational Update

March 24, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everybody. Tuesday, March 24th, and this is our daily operations status report. We have a busy couple of days. As we all know, tomorrow starts online instruction for the campus and I ask that we exercise patience, understanding, that we stay committed to each other's wellbeing and remember that we do not tolerate discrimination, and your continued compassion is essential as we face these challenges together in the days to come. So appreciate all of your work. I'm now going to ask Dan Maxey, our Chief of Staff, to moderate the conversation. Dan...

Dan Maxey (00:41):
Thank you, President Feinstein. The Cabinet Coronavirus Task Force and all of our subcommittees continue to work hard at our efforts, and I want to take a special moment to thank all of the individuals who give us daily updates on this call. I know that compiling information to share in this additional communications forum takes a little bit of work and time from each of you, but appreciate the effort that you're all putting in, and we're hearing good feedback from the UNC community about this call and the updates that you're providing. So thank you for all of the work that you do. I'm going to turn it over to Blaine Nickeson first. As always, make sure that you unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras when it's your turn. Blaine, you want to get started?

Blaine Nickeson (01:34):
Good morning, everybody. I'm sure you saw the news yesterday that the Denver mayor announced a stay at home order effective at 5:00 PM today. Shortly after that the City of Boulder followed suit, and there's certainly a lot of interest in when other municipalities or counties might make that kind of a decision that we'll be following closely. On the case counts, we have 720 positive cases which is up 129 or up 22%. Of note is the state is now including positives, confirmed lab positives as well as symptomatic people who have been in close contact with a positive. So if you're tested positive and then my wife develops the exact same symptoms, they're likely going to count her as a positive as well. There's been nine deaths so far. 72 people are hospitalized, which is up 14 and we have two new counties in Colorado reporting cases, which brings the total up to 31 counties reporting cases. 6,224 people have been tested. That's up 788 or about 14.5%.

Blaine Nickeson (02:37):
Here in Weld County, our latest reporting is 71 cases, which is up from 48 the day before or an increase of nearly 50%, so definitely getting a lot of testing done here in Weld County. We are talking daily with the County and Greeley Emergency Operation Centers. The county is working on contingency plans for additional hospital capacity as well as transition between hospital care being at home. Particularly, if someone has been treated and is on the road to recovery from COVID-19, they may not be able to go to their home because they could have somebody, a vulnerable population that's living in their home, and so they're starting to think about where they might be able to house those folks on an interim basis, and we continue those conversations with them. Of note also, yesterday afternoon, the Big Sky Conference announced that they were canceling all athletic activities including practices and workouts. Those are now suspended through May 15th. So those are the bulk of the updates I have this morning. I'll turn it back over to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (03:38):
Thanks, Blaine. Next I'm going to call on Mark Anderson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs to share an update on impacts to our academic mission. Mark.

Mark Anderson (03:50):
Thank you, Dan, and good morning. We continue to spend today converting our classes to alternate delivery format. The feedback I'm getting is that people are really stepping up, and we've not had any real issues in converting our courses to an alternate delivery. Anecdotally, I've spoken to a few faculty people. One faculty person in the College of Performing and Visual Arts who teaches piano, who's been talking with colleagues across the country on alternate ways of teaching, and so people are really stepping up. We've not heard of any courses yet, although we're continuing to monitor, that are having a difficult time. We want to remind everybody that we'd like every course, every faculty person of every course, to reach out to their students before the end of today to help them with that transition.

Mark Anderson (04:42):
This week is a critically important week, and we really need to be very empathetic with the students in reaching out to them and helping to try to rebuild that community of individual courses to the extent possible in this alternate delivery timeframe. We also are having normal key card access to offices and buildings this week, and we're asking folks to go to their office, collect the materials they'll need to continue their instruction and to continue their scholarship activities to the extent possible. This week, at 5:00 on Friday, the campus will go into lockdown, and only folks who have been identified as essential personnel will have key card access to buildings. In Academic Affairs, we're collecting a list of people who are essential personnel, and we're getting those to Kirk Leichliter by Wednesday of this week. And I think that's all that I have for this morning. I have to go off to Academic Council, CDHE, so I'll stay for a couple of minutes if there's any questions, but then I'll have to exit the call and go to another meeting.

Dan Maxey (06:00):
Thank you, Mark, and I appreciate your sticking with us for a few minutes here while we have these reports so that we can share this information with the community. Next, I'm going to ask Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, Kirk Leichliter, to give a report on impacts to our facilities.

Kirk Leichliter (06:18):
Good morning, everyone. In the mechanical electrical trades, we're continuing our building checks and rounds. In general, we're finding things that are typical in normal operations. We did however, find an example yesterday of a problem with the heating system serving the central campus res halls. The thing hadn't failed such that the building automation system would pick it up but it wasn't working, so it just highlights the needs to continue those building checks. Warehouse and mail services, most departments on campus have been in touch with our staff to coordinate how access is going to work for those services. We did bring in an extra staff member for a couple of days to assist with sorting and handling a bunch of student packages that we received for the res hall, so we'll get those organized so that they can be picked up by the students. Custodial, we're working both shifts, although on shortened days, depending on their location, and we'll be reviewing where residence hall students are located and what buildings have essential staff so that we can make adjustments next week to minimize the custodial staff on campus.

Kirk Leichliter (07:31):
Environmental Health and Safety has been busy little bees. Yesterday spent a good deal of time working on the inventory of protective equipment as requested by the governor's office. They've been working with the Card Office to get special ID cards for the extremely essential staff members. These cards allow access to the campus if there was a broader stay at home order, so those are very limited. If we miss people and that type of thing, there's no problem, that we could transport those folks if necessary. So don't worry if you're not on that list and haven't been contacted.

Kirk Leichliter (08:18):
Glenn has started joining a Monday, Wednesday, Friday conference call that's put on by Weld Emergency Management that includes numerous agencies around the county, so we will have a yet another pipeline of information to and from the campus. He's also providing daily email updates to Weld County and City of Greeley Emergency Management Agencies regarding the status of campus and some of the issues we're dealing with. Greeley and Weld Emergency Management and the local hospitals are still interested in availability of campus facilities, should the need arrive, much as Blaine mentioned for recovery facilities and such. So the logistics and infrastructure group will continue planning on how we might assist with that effort. I believe that is it for today.

Dan Maxey (09:14):
Thank you, Kirk. Marshall, you're up next for reports on Human Resources-related impacts.

Marshall Parks (09:22):
Good morning, all. Payroll is actively working with departments currently to implement the continuation of pay for our student employees through the end of April. As promised, the detailed instructions went out yesterday to students and supervisors, and they're very busy making that magic happen. A special thanks to Kathy Crider and the Payroll team who today are concurrently running a payroll for 1,700 employees and managing all of the important necessary details to continue to support our 1,400 student employees financially. So much appreciated to the team in Payroll and particularly our partners in the Housing department who have so many student employees and are actively working to make that all work. So thanks to all of those folks. One other topic today, the communications team has developed some faculty and staff guidelines for email and phone etiquette. For emails, employees who are working from home should not send an out of office reply about working remotely.

Marshall Parks (10:23):
For those of us who've been communicating on campus, we're getting a lot of those bounce backs, so if people who are working from home, we shouldn't be sending an auto reply. Only employees who are on paid admin leave during the time should be sending an auto reply. We have specific language and instructions that we'll be sharing out today later on the main FAQ page, and we'll communicate that out probably through UNC Today also to get that to all employees to clean that part up. Also, for phones, employees continue to list their office phone on their email signature. Voicemails that come to that number will be sent by your email. It works smoothly.

Marshall Parks (10:56):
There's also some other specific guidance for phone communications as provided on the IM&T COVID 19 info page to make sure that we're managing those things professionally also. And lastly, to kind of reiterate what Andy said, let's be sure we're practicing some compassion and patience with one another. Everyone's working hard to make this work, and I'm very appreciative of all the hard work that's going on out there. And again, take care of each other. That's all for me today. Thanks.

Dan Maxey (11:25):
Thank you, Marshall. I appreciate those updates. Our final report today comes from Dean of Students, Gardiner Tucker. Tuck.

Gardiner Tucker (11:34):
Good morning, everybody. Let's see, I've got a few reports today. I have three student impacts that I wanted to emphasize. The first one is that students, because of this transition to alternative forms of education delivery, may be less confident in their academic abilities than they were when face-to-face in an in person classroom scenario. So one of our strategies to help manage that impact is to continue provide academic support to students requesting help.

Gardiner Tucker (12:09):
So for example, our Tutorial Services, which was mentioned in a letter from Andy last week, is providing one-on-one tutoring for students who have questions about going online or studying material online or working with the content of material. They're providing supplemental instruction via virtual methods. And tomorrow, March 25th, when classes resume, they are offered virtually through Sunday, May 3rd, so for the rest of the semester. So tutorial services will be offered from March 25th through Sunday, May 3rd, and contact Melissa Hoffner at Melissa.Hoffner@unco.edu, which is on the Tutorial Services website. So that's the first student impact.

Gardiner Tucker (12:59):
The second one is, starting tomorrow, students who have not needed nor asked for help in the past. So now that we're coming back to classes online, students that have not asked for help may now need help in ways that they didn't realize before. So it's important for us to keep track of other students that may not have shown signs of needing support, so it's good to report that. So to, our strategy for helping with those students is to offer non-counseling support and guidance through these issues as their lives change in ways that they're not expecting.

Gardiner Tucker (13:40):
So for example, our Student Outreach and Support office in the Dean of Students suite was mentioned last week in Andy and Katrina's letter as well. They're doing now phone and digital meetings. They're helping to address issues like food insecurity, which may increase during this time; housing insecurity, same thing, it may increase at this time; mental health concerns that arise during times of stress and personal crisis, whether it's with the student themselves, their family, or their situation that they're in, which is changing. So it's not a counseling service. In other words, it's not confidential, but it's guidance for students to help manage these issues on a day to day basis. So as the student gets to us, we assign them their own case manager who will be the student's point of contact in guidance through these issues. So you can find that at the Dean of Students website through the link, and reach them at sos@unco.edu

Gardiner Tucker (14:47):
Now, my final student impact is one that I have direct experience with. The graduate school is no longer having in-person meetings or the departments, grad departments are no longer having in-person dissertation defenses, comps, exams or proposals. So they have moved online, so they have virtual options for our doctoral students. Now, an example of that is HESAL, which is the Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership Doctoral Program, moved yesterday, what may be the first dissertation defense online, and we did it through Zoom. I'm on the dissertation committee, which is why I know about this. So we had some mechanics to work out and how we speak and how the student presents their slides, but it ended up working quite well. And I'd like to congratulate Erin Datteri-Saboski, now a Ph.D. in Education at UNC. So congratulations to her, and it's a true sign that our academic life continues. And that concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (15:56):
Thank you, Tuck, and congratulations, Erin. That's great news and glad to hear that these critical activities are proceeding and happening efficiently as we all transition to this new way of communicating with one another. The unfortunate thing of all of this is that we're all getting really good at communicating by Teams and Zoom and Skype and a lot of other different formats. So I'm glad that these activities can continue, and I appreciate, Tuck, that wide range of updates about some of the various things and want to echo Tuck and others in encouraging our students to reach out if you need help.

Dan Maxey (16:41):
I know that we have a lot of students watching this daily update video each day. We provided information about various services. If there are services that you are unsure about or that you're not sure how to access, please reach out to us and let us know, and we'll make sure that we share that information not only with you, but make sure that that information is made available to other students by our FAQs and other platforms. So thank you again, Tuck, and we'll make sure that we continue to share information directly with students, not just here, but in a variety of other forums. I'm going to turn it over to Andy for some final words.

President Feinstein (17:28):
Thanks, Dan, and I offer congratulations to Erin as well. I'm so impressed by how our campus has come together to address this challenge and the way in which we've leveraged technology is truly remarkable. More work ahead, but I am just so pleased and proud of how we're addressing these challenges. So as I've been saying every day, please stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.