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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 25, Operational Update

March 25 Update (Watch on YouTube)

Transcript:

Dan Maxey (00:00):
Good morning, everyone. It's March 25th and this is our weekly operational status update call. I'm Dan Maxey, UNC's Chief of Staff. Thank you for joining us today.

Dan Maxey (00:09):
Within the last few days, the State of Colorado launched the 1B4 vaccination grouping. Included in that group are student-facing higher education employees. If you haven't already done so, I encourage all of you to register to receive a vaccine through a local provider. The university does not receive enough supply to provide vaccinations directly for all of our employees, so we recommend that you visit the state's COVID-19 resource page at covid19.colorado.gov for more information and to locate vaccine providers in the area.

Dan Maxey (00:38):
With the new community vaccination site opening at The Ranch in Loveland, we anticipate vaccine availability and access to continue to improve in the coming days and weeks. We know that not everyone will be able to receive their first doses in these early days of 1B4, so I ask that you continue to be patient as vaccine supply increases.

Dan Maxey (00:58):
With that, I'm going to turn things over to Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson to provide some additional information about current conditions in Colorado and here in Weld County. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:08):
Thank you, Dr. Maxey. Good morning, everyone. And yeah, I will have some more information on vaccinations as well. I hope you had a nice spring break to recharge, to catch up, to prepare to finish the semester strong. Much like the status of Colorado and here in Weld County, our COVID impacts have remained consistent, but manageable. Our team's monitoring 38 people in isolation or quarantine, six of those 38 are employees. We have 21 positive cases associated with the campus, two of those are employees.

Blaine Nickeson (01:39):
We're seeing a bit of an uptick with activity, and we're hoping we don't see any big impacts next week as we'll be a few weeks out from spring break. But the COVID response team is ready to handle it, though, if that situation develops. Right now, we're only using one of our on-campus isolation and quarantine rooms, which is great. Vaccine progress continues day after day with now nearly 25% of Colorado's population having gotten at least one dose.

Blaine Nickeson (02:06):
As of yesterday, FEMA partnered for their first location in the state, that's actually the location that you mentioned, the large vaccination center at The Ranch in Loveland, which some folks may not know that's by the Budweiser Event Center right there off of I-25. The plan is for it to run this Thursday and Friday, and then starting next Monday, it'll run six days a week, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM with a goal of ramping up to about 6,000 shots a day.

Blaine Nickeson (02:34):
UNC is also continuing to receive small amounts of vaccine with the hopes that supply will expand in mid-April. We'll be able to do some larger vaccination events on campus. Keep your eyes on the weekly COVID digest for more details on that, and obviously here in this venue as well.

Blaine Nickeson (02:51):
There are lots of people that are now eligible for vaccines, those over 50, higher ed student-facing employees, people with a single high-risk condition that are over the age of 16, as well as our frontline workers out in the community, those at restaurants and grocery stores and everywhere else that we go out to get our essential needs met.

Blaine Nickeson (03:11):
We expect that the vaccine will be available to anyone who wants it by mid-April. As Dan said, while UNC is providing some limited vaccinations on campus, really want to urge people to explore the variety of options for receiving a shot. There's The Ranch, there's lots of pharmacies, community health centers, pop-up clinics. Take that first shot appointment that you can get and don't wait on UNC to contact you with our limited doses. It's just one tool in the toolbox.

Blaine Nickeson (03:41):
The state implemented some revisions to the color-coded COVID dial yesterday. While it didn't have much of an impact on UNC or Weld County, given that we're in the yellow category, it did loosen some of the restrictions on capacity, especially outdoors when counties enter the last restrictive blue and green, blue is where we would go next if things get better, or when things get better. Hopefully as more folks get vaccinated, we'll be able to move in that direction to one of those colors.

Blaine Nickeson (04:08):
Right now, we are seeing a relatively high number of cases in Weld County and in the state. It's been sort of a plateau over the last month. But the good news is that the vaccinations appear to be working. We're not seeing as many of our vulnerable population being hospitalized. We're seeing death rate increases. Nationwide, I looked at the data for a one month snapshot back and while cases have only fallen about 20% in the US, deaths have fallen by 55%. So, that major vaccine rollout is really having an impact.

Blaine Nickeson (04:40):
One last note, as we're seeing the expanded presence of more transmissible COVID variants across the country, the best way to help public health officials detect their prevalence in our community is through testing. As we enter the spring, we'll be again struggling with, is it allergies or is it COVID? Why am I feeling all gunked up? With that question, if you have any symptoms at all, or think that you may have been exposed, please get tested. It's fast, it's free, it's easy, it's on campus. There's barely ever a wait time.

Blaine Nickeson (05:14):
I'd also recommend for those that haven't been fully vaccinated, and fully vaccinated means two weeks after your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two weeks after your single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, weekly screening testing is a great idea. I see lots of repeat names on our weekly testing reports, which is encouraging. We're not done with this virus yet, but we can sure see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Blaine Nickeson (05:38):
That's all I have for this morning, Dan, and I'm happy to turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (05:41):
Blaine, I wonder if you can say a little bit about mask requirements? We're still getting a lot of questions about the mask requirements on campus in light of the lifting of some of the state's requirements and guidelines. What can you tell us about that just to help us to clarify what the rules are?

Blaine Nickeson (06:00):
The state hasn't made anything official on changes to mask guidance. What they have proposed are some loosening of mask restrictions on counties that are in, for example, the green level, which is the least restrictive level of COVID requirements. But even in that, as long as we still have a dial in place, it is proposed that masks would still be required anytime you're indoors around more than 10 people, so classrooms, grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants when you're not eating or drinking. We don't have anything definitive. I don't see a huge impact on UNCs operations here in spring semester, but there will be some loosening of mask requirements for those counties that are at the best level.

Dan Maxey (06:47):
Great. Thank you. Just to reiterate then, we still have a mask requirement on campus and so have a mask requirement on campus for the foreseeable future for the next several weeks through the spring semester.

Blaine Nickeson (06:58):
Yes.

Dan Maxey (06:59):
Great. Thank you, Blaine. Next we'll have reports from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs from Provost Mark Anderson and Vice-President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez. Mark and Katrina.

Mark Anderson (07:10):
Thank you very much, Acting President Maxey. I hope everyone had a peaceful and productive spring break. I certainly did. Got caught up in a lot of work as we prepare for the last several weeks of the spring semester.

Mark Anderson (07:29):
Just as a reminder, we begin registering for the summer sessions and the fall semester beginning on April the fifth, so just about 10 days from now. We are planning for a full, robust in-person on campus fall semester and I would like to especially thank the Registrar's Office, especially Charlie Couch, Michelle Heiny, Shonna Ulibarri, Carri Bloomer, and Laura Beyers for all the work they've put in over the last two and a half, three weeks as we were tweaking the fall course schedule in preparation for that full and robust on-campus learning environment for our students.

Mark Anderson (08:11):
As Blaine indicated, all the trends with respect to vaccines, with respect to case transmission are moving in the right direction and we have a high-level of confidence that we will have a full on-campus learning environment without restriction for our classrooms. There might be restrictions with respect to mask wearing and things like that, but it will be in-person. As I talk to my colleagues across the country, that is the expectation for most universities.

Mark Anderson (08:46):
One of the things that's happening next week is we have our fourth Free Application Day. Our application numbers, our admission numbers are up from last year. This particular application day is focused on transfer students. As most of the campus will remember, transfer students from the SESS plan are an important portion of our student population, and so we're having a Free Application Day for students who are transferring from community colleges and other four-year institutions. Those programs that have articulation agreements, we would encourage you to reach out to our transfer partners to let them know and let their students know that they can apply to the university for free beginning on April 1st.

Mark Anderson (09:38):
One of the things that happens now is we're transitioning from encouraging applications to yielding students who have applied to the institution. Next week, we will restart many of our yield events. I had the opportunity on Monday to sit in on a virtual yield event for students, out-of-state students, from Georgia, Ohio, and Michigan. It was a great event where we had the opportunity to interact with students who have applied to the university, answer questions about their academic experience here, about the campus experience and just about Colorado in general. It was a good way for the students to get to learn about the university, but to get to develop a personal interaction with people at the institution.

Mark Anderson (10:27):
On Monday the 29th, we're having virtual sessions for students from the Southeast again and Midwest. We're also having a session for students from California and Nevada, part of our [Woowie 00:10:41] states, the free app day on the first. Also on the first, we'll have a virtual session about financial aid for our admitted students, a very important session so that they can learn about opportunities that they have with respect to UNC financial aid, but also federal financial aid. We'll also have an event for students from the Northeast, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Then finally on April 1st, a virtual session for students who have applied from Hawaii. I volunteered to go to Hawaii and meet with those students, but that was politely declined by the admissions office.

Mark Anderson (11:27):
With that, I encourage everybody to participate in these virtual sessions for admitted students, to reach out to your colleagues at some of our transfer partners to let them know and let their students know about the opportunity for a free application to the university on April 1st, and really talk to our current students about registering for the fall semester, telling them what the fall semester is going to look like and how it's going to be back to closer to what we had in fall of '19 than what we've been experiencing in the last year or so.

Mark Anderson (12:02):
With that, I will turn the podium over to my colleague, Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (12:08):
Thank you so much, Mark. Good morning, everybody. I wanted to start out by taking a moment to share our condolences with our sister community in Boulder and particularly, certainly folks in the community, but also at the Boulder Campus, knowing that this has to be so incredibly difficult. We've had so many heartbreaking situations in the US, but particularly in Colorado. I know that these, truly, murders from active shooters and how that impacts us and so I wanted to offer to our students and everybody else in our UNC community, that if you're experiencing impacts from this in terms of, just whatever those might be, to please reach out to the Counseling Center or to our Dean of Students Office for supports and resources. We want folks to certainly be equipped with resources that will help them as we're moving through this. I mean, no one ever forgets and just trying to offer those supports.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:15):
The other thing I want to share is a student engagement opportunity. Next week on Wednesday the 31st, it's from 6:00 to 8:00 and it's the Student Senate Town Hall that Student Senate provides the opportunity every semester to invite students to meet with university administrators. We have all kinds of great conversations related to various campus issues the students want to learn more about and certainly initiatives and strategic planning that students want to also either be engaged in further or learn more about, so we have a really great opportunity. I want to invite students or for those of us here on the call to certainly encourage students to attend next Wednesday. You can look at the Student Senate website for the Zoom link to attend and it's open to all students undergraduate and graduate students.

Katrina Rodriguez (14:09):
Then to add to what Mark was sharing about our fall events, the excitement and thinking about being in person with our community here at UNC, it's just such an exciting thought and opportunity to plan for and so we've got some tremendous engagement opportunities that are already being planned and so shortly, we will have a portal for you to begin seeing what those things are in terms of the planning stages.

Katrina Rodriguez (14:42):
Some of the things I can tell you about, you've been hearing about, the New Student Days, which will be the first four days prior to school starting on the Monday, so it'll be Thursday through Sunday that week of August, I think it's the 19th through the 22nd. We will have an opportunity for students who want to be facilitators of some small groups, so we'll have a student staffs from HREs, a lot of our RAs, and community assistance as well, our orientation leaders, student leaders from our Office of Student Life who will be doing some training together to be in small groups when students arrive and students arriving who live in the residence halls, students who are in our local community, living at home but are first-year students. Then also, certainly our second years or any students who want to participate in some of our opportunities to engage.

Katrina Rodriguez (15:41):
One of the ones that we're excited about is called BEAR, Bystander, Engagement, Awareness, and Responsibility, and this really is a tremendous interactive program that looks at bystander engagement. How do we stop something if you're seeing something or stand in if you're seeing a situation that you might be able to help folks. It's not like breaking up a fight. I don't want to go that direction, but as soon as we can say or do things that help others understand, perhaps, that maybe some language they're using or something is less appropriate and also about making healthy choices, so that's a really powerful session.

Katrina Rodriguez (16:22):
Also, we will be looking at our Convocation, which we hold in the fall. We'll probably have the marching band there, which is tremendous. There's a lot of things that happen, and then the Taste of UNC after, which is sort of a carnival, a really fun event. Then the next morning on the 20th, we'll have a pancake breakfast that will be served by faculty, staff, and administrators to all of our students. Those are just a few of the things in those first couple of days. There are many more that I will share as time goes along, but we're excited about the opportunity to be in community with each other. More to come on that.

Katrina Rodriguez (17:02):
Dan, I'll send it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (17:04):
Great. We're certainly all excited about the events that are planned for our return in the fall. Thank you, Mark and Katrina, and thank you for the reminder of the resources that are available for UNC students and employees in the wake of the shooting in Boulder, Katrina. We are certainly thinking about our neighbors in Boulder and everyone impacted this week.

Dan Maxey (17:21):
Want to thank everyone for tuning in for this week's updates. Remember to get vaccinated when you are eligible, remember to wear your masks and stay safe and healthy, Bears. Thank you. Have a great week.