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COVID-19: News and campus updates | University policies and resources

March 25, Operational Update

March 25, 2020 Update (View on YouTube) 

Transcript: 

President Feinstein (00:01):
Well good morning, everybody. It's Wednesday, March 25th, and I think we'll start off with a little bit of my new walk on song for our daily operation status report. [Plays a clip of "The Space Between" by Dave Matthews Band] So I thought this Dave Matthew's song was quite appropriate and hope that we're all practicing social distancing. It's a busy day today. First day of online courses for all of our students and faculty and for some more updates and information, I ask Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, to talk us through what's happening on campus today. Dan.

Dan Maxey (00:49):
Great. Thank you, President Feinstein. As we just heard today is the first day of alternate delivery for all of our in-person courses. Our online courses continued on their usual schedule, so students who are in those courses have been working over the last couple of days. But as we get started with this new form of delivery for many of our students, we are working on creating a sort of a form, an online form, that we'll use to collect student insights and feedback about what that experience is like, both issues and challenges that you're facing, as well as things that are working well. We expect to roll that out fairly soon. We're just working out some of the issues on that. The cabinet coronavirus task force and all of the subcommittees continue to meet remotely on a daily basis with the task force meeting today at 11 o'clock and the extended cabinet meeting at one. Several of the other task forces are continuing to have meetings throughout the day as well.

Dan Maxey (01:55):
Much of the cabinet's attention this week has been around resolving some of these significant logistical challenges and issues related to issuing housing and dining rebates. We expect to have those decisions finalized this week with the communication going out to our students. As individuals give their reports today, please unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. We did have an issue yesterday with the recording on the back end where on the recording for those of you who are watching later in the day, it didn't show our videos. We apologize for that. I think it was a Microsoft teams glitch. Hopefully we will have a video back today, so I'm going to start out this morning with our updates from Blaine Nickeson, our associate vice president for Administration and chair of our coronavirus task force for a report on our developing issues. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (02:48):
Thanks, Dan. Obviously leading off here this morning with the news yesterday that we shared that UNC had its first case associated with the campus diagnosed. I don't expect this to be the last case that we have, and unfortunately I think we're going to see quite a bit more of that, but I do want to reassure folks that while the employee involved has asked for their privacy and deserves that privacy, we've taken all the appropriate steps to identify where that employee had been. Their footprint on campus was very limited, and we've also identified any folks that may have had contact with that person. So I want to reassure folks that there is no reason to be concerned that the university is not sharing that information. We have, but it's been on a need-to-know basis, and we're doing everything we can to make sure that everybody associated with UNC is safe to the best extent that we can.

Blaine Nickeson (03:44):
The word that we're hearing from some media reports is that likely Tri-County Health Department, which is Adams County, Douglas County and Arapahoe Counties are likely to issue a stay at home order today. That would take effect tomorrow through April 17th. It would mirror what the city and county of Denver has done and what Boulder has done, but again just some situational awareness for our neighbors down to the south of us. I happen to live in Adams County. Currently we have 912 positive cases. That's up 192 or 27%. 12 deaths with three here in Weld County. 84 individuals are hospitalized. That's up 12 and four new counties have had cases identified. That's up to 35. 7,700 folks have been tested. That's up about 1,477 or 24%. Weld County's reporting 84 cases, up from 71, which is only an increase of 13 day-over-day after having been up nearly 50% the day before.

Blaine Nickeson (04:46):
Additionally, upon their request, we shared a list of our habitable and large facilities with office of the state architect, as did all institutions of higher education. That list has been shared with Colorado's emergency operations center, the US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in case in the future those facilities might be needed. So again, UNC is prepared to do our part to help out with the public health effort. Those are all the updates that I have this morning, Dan.

Dan Maxey (05:12):
Blaine, the question that I'm hearing periodically, particularly in light of the positive case that we had confirmed yesterday is what obligation do students, faculty and staff have to share information with us if they happen to test positive for coronavirus?

Blaine Nickeson (05:30):
So I would direct folks to check out our frequently asked questions on the UNC coronavirus page. We have some questions down towards the bottom of the page related to health that specifically address those kinds of questions. What should I do if I think I might be a positive case? What should I do if I am a positive case? What should I do if my roommate is a positive case? And we've got those specifically laid out with answers for folks to take a look at. In general, UNC would like to know if you are a positive case, so not just tested but actually confirmed positive, and you've been on campus within the last 14 days. Those are the two things. Those are the criteria where we would like to know, and we've got some guidance and contact info about how folks can reach out if they fall into that category.

Dan Maxey (06:17):
Great. Thank you, Blaine, for that additional guidance.

Blaine Nickeson (06:19):
Absolutely.

Dan Maxey (06:20):
And I'll take this as an opportunity to remind everybody that we are maintaining active updates on our UNC coronavirus information and resources page. That's located at www.unco.edu/coronavirus. Next I'm going to ask Provost Mark Anderson to give his reports on impacts to our academic mission. Mark.

Mark Anderson (06:44):
Good morning. Can everybody hear me?

Dan Maxey (06:48):
Yes.

Mark Anderson (06:48):
OK, good. I had to zip over to Carter Hall because the internet at my home is down, so new setup for me today. I'd just like to reiterate what President Feinstein said earlier. Today's the first day we're offering courses in an alternate delivery. Although we've done everything possible to get ready for this, we recognize that there might be some challenges and so I ask everybody, and I put out an email to the deans this morning, to just let us know what's gone well, what's not gone well, what are some of the challenges, because we're here to support our instructional mission, and we'd like to know what the challenges are, particularly if they're technical. Those are things that we can try to address. We also want to remind everybody to continuously reach out to your students so that we can rebuild the community that a classroom environment has. We also want to encourage people to find ways for students within the class to interact with each other, to build up again the community amongst the students. 

Mark Anderson (08:00):
Finally, we are beginning the process of interviewing finalists for the assistant vice president for strategic enrollment. This is a very important position. We've identified four very strong candidates. Because of the coronavirus, we are doing on-campus interviews virtually via Teams. And we have people on campus today, and there's going to be a public forum. I don't have the schedule in front of me, I'll send that around to the campus community here, but we hope everybody will participate to the extent possible.

Mark Anderson (08:40):
Those interviews are today, tomorrow, and Friday. And then again next week for finalists for that position. So, we appreciate all the effort everybody's put in to transitioning our courses. Today and tomorrow, we hope to get a sense of how well that's going to go. Just as a point of reference, I had to leave this meeting early yesterday for an academic council meeting, which was being held by Zoom, and Zoom was overwhelmed, and the system crashed on us. And so, we hope that doesn't happen, but we recognize that it might. So, any challenges people have, we hope that you'll communicate that to us, so we can help facilitate solutions just as quickly as possible. And that's all I have, Dan.

Dan Maxey (09:29):
Great Mark, thank you. So far, not too many issues with Microsoft Teams, knock on wood. Hopefully, we continue to see smooth operations for not only the delivery of these updates and our daily meetings, but also for courses that are happening on Teams. I'm going to turn next to assistant vice president for Facilities Management, Kirk Leichliter, for a report on impacts to our facilities operations. Kirk?

Kirk Leichliter (09:54):
Good morning everyone. Glenn and I met yesterday with Greeley and Weld Emergency Management, Larimer Emergency Management, UC Health, Banner Health, to discuss alternative care sites and surge capacity. Larimer set up a 60 bed facility at The Ranch at Loveland already, and they're working on licensing related to that. Greeley and Weld are interested in the Bank of Colorado Arena. We know that the state is also taking inventory of those facilities, as Blaine mentioned. Weld Emergency Management will be coordinating with the state to make sure we're not doubling up on anything. If needed, the intent would be to use it for patients who are ready for discharge from a hospital, but still need some isolation, or can't return home for some reason.

Kirk Leichliter (10:46):
For the Facilities folks in trades, we're continuing our building checks and rounds. We're currently having some issues with fire alarm systems in Gunter and TK that building automation is working on. We're getting some false alarms out of those buildings. And the service center staff is preparing the card access groups in advance of the lockdown that is to begin after business Friday. Warehouse and Mail is operating as planned. Departments should contact them to arrange for a package and mail pickup. That information is in the FAQs and on the Facilities homepage.

Kirk Leichliter (11:22):
Custodial, still working partial days depending on the location, and that staff did perform some additional cleaning after yesterday's report of a positive staff member on campus. EHS, as mentioned previously at the request of the governor, EHS has been inventorying and gathering available PPE from campus. The campus departments have been just incredible with this. They're telling us to go to such and such a room, get in the third cabinet on the left and take anything you need. So, a great response from campus. We should have an inventory tomorrow of what we are able to provide.

Kirk Leichliter (12:03):
The emergency ID cards for essential personnel are essentially complete and have been either sent to folks, picked up by folks, or are available for pickup at the police ...

Dan Maxey (12:20):
Kirk, we've lost your audio.

Kirk Leichliter (12:24):
And we've done some signage to place on residence hall, or apartment rooms, if we know that we have a resident in isolation or quarantine, so that staff is safe in working with those folks. And we also informed Greeley Fire and Banner paramedics of what we're doing there. I believe that's everything I have today.

President Feinstein (12:44):
Kirk, I know that earlier in the week, discussing the possibility of a cold weather shelter here on campus, but I saw today in the newspaper that that opened at Exhibition Hall at Island Grove for 100 beds. And I think that now what we're looking at for our arena is the possibility overflow for both the county, the city, and possibly our healthcare system.

Kirk Leichliter (13:09):
That's my understanding, more from the medical side. Like you say, hospital folks that are ready to be released, but not quite, is their tentative idea.

Dan Maxey (13:25):
Great. Thank you Kirk and thank you for the work that you're doing to help UNC to serve the community both through providing tentative potential access to our facilities, but also to equipment that we have available on our campus to help with medical need. We appreciate that.

Kirk Leichliter (13:44): 
You bet.

Dan Maxey (13:46):
Marshall Parks had to join a call with the state this morning, so we have Megan Bauer, Human Resources business process specialist, with us this morning to give it an update on Human Resources-related impacts. Megan?

Megan Bauer (14:00):
Good morning. So yesterday Payroll — Kathy, Sue and Jeanette — finished processing the March 31st payroll. Any employees who don't have direct deposit set up would, typically, have to pick up their checks from the Payroll office. However, while offices are closed, Payroll will be mailing checks directly to employees, so employees don't have to come to campus to pick them up. If employees have direct deposit set up, their payroll will be deposited per normal procedures on the 31st. Pay stubs can be reviewed currently in Ursa, if employees are looking for them.

Speaker 1 (14:36):
Mommy?

Megan Bauer (14:36):
Hold on, bubs.

Speaker 1 (14:36):
OK.

Megan Bauer (14:40):
Classified open enrollment. Marshall mentioned ... Sorry guys, got the little one at home. Go see Daddy. So classified open enrollment, Marshall mentioned on Sunday that our classified employees are just beginning an important open enrollment period for benefits coverage. All of the open enrollment materials are now available for staff to review on HR's website. That address is unco.edu/human-resources. We're finishing up putting together the individualized benefit packets for employees and they will be mailed to employee home addresses on Friday.

Megan Bauer (15:34):
Now, that everybody's starting to get settled into our new normal, per my child interruption, HR's going to be reaching out to VPs to get a comprehensive list of employees remaining on campus, those who are working remotely, and anybody on paid admin leave. I think that's all the updates for HR today.

Dan Maxey (15:56):
I think we're going to ask your little one to give the update tomorrow live from the tent.

Megan Bauer (16:00):
Deal.

Dan Maxey (16:03):
Thank you Megan. We appreciate you joining us this morning to give those updates. Our final report today comes from dean of students, Gardiner Tucker. Tuck, I'll turn it over to you.

Gardiner Tucker (16:14):
Well, that's a hard one to follow because it just reminds me, yesterday I was talking to one of my staff who has two kids at home, and the amount of juggling and scheduling and management is just very intense. So my heart goes out to all those parents who are working from home. So let's see. I have four student impacts today, hot off the press. The first one, Zoom, which Mark has referred to as having crashed recently, which many faculty are using to teach their classes had, previously had no built-in captioning, which is clearly crucial for some of our disabled students to maximize their learning online.

Gardiner Tucker (16:57):
So the strategy for managing that is to find ways to provide captioning for our Zoom interfaces. And Becky Smith, the director of our Disability Resource Center, informed me yesterday that this past Friday, March 20th, Zoom has partnered with a company called Verbit, V-E-R-B-I-T for captioning and embedded text in Zoom, and it's free through April 9th, so I wanted to get that out to everyone quickly. So if you're using Zoom, please try the captioning to see how it works. And Becky is going to research the agreement to see what happens after April 9th when the free period ends. So it's kind of behind-the-scenes, but it's great news for our students. Now, the second student impact is that students no longer have in-person advising, as we know. So I've asked Stephanie Torrez, assistant vice president for Student Academic Success, to report to us on some of the features that are happening with advising. So Stephanie, can you report on that?

Stephanie Torrez (18:05):
Absolutely. Good morning everyone. I have about five points to share and a few examples. The advising centers are proactively reaching out to students with encouragement and offers to support students as they prepare for classes to resume this week, which is today. Advisors are also providing students with detailed information on how to access their services remotely. Registration for fall term opens on April 6th, so this is kind of a peak advising time, if you will. Examples, for example, MCB faculty and professional advisors are actively reaching out to students with instructions for registration advising. In the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, advisors started reaching out to their advisees last week and have continued to respond to inquiries over the weekend. They've made every effort to be responsive to students who may reach out to them, even if it's outside of the regular hours of operation. There are about 400 student athletes that we have, and our Student Athlete Academic Success Center advising team has worked diligently over the last few days to make sure they've connected with every one of our student athletes.

Stephanie Torrez (19:17):
They've also set up a plan to maintain that communication with the student athletes, to increase it in terms of just touch points, arranging two to three one-on-one meetings with each student per week. And then our SOAR advisors have been, and PVA advising staff have been reaching out to students. SOAR's using teams. Stephanie Nielson in PVA is using Zoom. Feedback they shared that it's gone quite well. Students are far savvier than we are with technology, and so they're more comfortable, and so that's good news to hear that. Another point is that advisors are exploring strategies to stay connected. To Mark's point, how can we create connection and maintain that connection and sense of community for our students? HSS Success Resource team has been leveraging Instagram and YouTube to connect with students in new ways. On Instagram, a student expressed concern about internships for the summer via direct messaging and one of the success coaches in HSS connected that student with the Center for Career Readiness, and some additional resources that surfaced as a result of that interaction.

Stephanie Torrez (20:29):
They've also hosted an Instagram live session about how ... and in that live session they've received the comments from students about how much they appreciate Hayley and Becca's efforts to provide them that additional information. One last example there is that in NHS advising they've posted upbeat messages to students on their social media platforms and are sending student reminder emails about available academic and student services that are available. Websites have also been updated, all of the websites, with information about virtual advising. CETL and IDD have developed a wealth of resources for advisors on advising remotely, and those have been shared widely with our faculty and professional advisors and then students' Canvas shells include links to similar resources for students with videos for how to use DegreeWorks and other tools. And so different advisers have created some material. Lupita Arellano in SOAR took the liberty to create a one-page tip sheet for ways to maximize success when taking online classes, and that focus has been on habits of mind and self-care.

Stephanie Torrez (21:41):
That resource, along with the resources that Hayley and Becca have created in the YouTube videos, have been added to the resource toolkit that CETL and IDD has put together. Lastly, Tuck, I'd like to share a Tutorial Services story. Our parents and students have called and emailed the director for Tutorial Services, Melissa Hoffner, with a lot of different questions. Most are interested in tutoring as a supplemental support for students as they adjust to learning and the new alternative new delivery models. The director has responded to each inquiry personally and follows up to make sure that the students are set up with an appointment, and they're using Zoom for those appointments. Melissa suspects that there will be quite a few students who try their services for the first time.

Stephanie Torrez (22:32):
So while this is a difficult situation, I'm grateful and she's grateful for the peer tutors' leadership and willingness to continue to provide services while possibly connecting with students that they haven't worked with before. So we're going to increase exposure to our services through this. There are approximately 45 undergraduate peer tutors on staff and they work about six to 20 hours a week, and some of them are out of state now, but they've adjusted to make sure that they can still work with our Mountain Standard Time. That's all I have to share. Thank you so much.

Gardiner Tucker (23:04):
Stephanie, that's excellent. It's a very thorough explanation of all the ways that we're supporting our students. Very well done. And then you see all the infrastructure and the wraparound that's supporting our students and the creativity of your staff to put these things on is really outstanding. So thank you very much.

Stephanie Torrez (23:21):
Thank you. There's a fantastic network of advisers across this, and they've been very collaborative and are interfacing daily to share ideas and resources.

Gardiner Tucker (23:31):
Excellent. Thank you so much. Well, OK. So the third [inaudible 00:23:37] impact is helping our students stay engaged in their lives outside the classroom. So for example, our strategy is to assist student groups and organizations to reestablish their business, their activities, their connections. And the example I'd like to share is the Student Senate. So yesterday Andy, our university president, Mika, student senate president, and Evan, our assistant dean of students, set up a special meeting between Andy and Student Senate to discuss UNC's COVID-19 response.

Gardiner Tucker (24:00):
The insights our students had, the encouragement of Andy, and their leadership really shone through on that time on Teams. I'd like to encourage others to try and have meetings with student groups or encourage them to keep doing their business and to stay engaged online because the results are, people still feel like they matter, like the business of the university is moving forward and that we're going to be successful through this change. And so my next and final student impact is our update on housing. Jenna, can you give us an update on the latest on housing?

Jenna Finley (24:51):
Good morning everyone. I wanted to share that we've had close to 600 students move out of the residence halls. We've processed their paperwork. That paperwork does lag behind a little bit from the actual checkout again, so keep that in mind. The numbers might actually be a little bit higher. The response to the survey has slowed down. We've had 1,565 students participate. What I want to say about that is that we're finding that their responses are fluctuating. We have quite a few students changing as you can imagine, as shelter-in-place orders in their communities come up, so we are just being flexible and that we sent out an email to students yesterday letting them know not to stress if they can't get back to campus and move out, if that's their intention. I'm particularly concerned with our out-of-state students.

Jenna Finley (25:51):
I've worked with a couple of families in the last 24 hours. One story for example, as a family that purchase of their home fell through in this environment and now their entire family is living out of a hotel room in Las Vegas. They were debating with me whether it was best to come get their student and make that drive or to allow the student to stay here. They ultimately decided to come get their student, but just keep that in mind that the level of stress of our families and students is really high right now. I met with all the resident assistants yesterday that are working for us because we've had a slow down in the response to the survey, and we really need to know who is here. They are reaching out first to all people who have not responded or indicated they couldn't yet give us an answer to get a better idea of where people are at.

Jenna Finley (26:47):
So I'm hoping to get those numbers to start rolling in as well. The mood of the student staff, I would say that there are quite a few that once they're here and back in the job, I think they're feeling a sense of grief and loss because campus does not feel like campus right now and the job is different and their memory of what the work should be changing so dramatically from before spring break to now is pretty significant. They also have some concerns for their own health and safety. I do expect some of those student staff that, now that they're back and feel what it feels like, will decide to go back home, based on my conversation I had with them. That's just another layer for them. The staff that are essential personnel working more directly with students, I can't thank enough. They are doing outstanding work. Thank you.

President Feinstein (27:41):
Jenna, it's Andy, do you have a sense of approximately how many students are on campus right now in student housing?

Jenna Finley (27:50):
I think right now, we're getting a door access report. I think that's going to be our most accurate way. What gets a little bit confusing with that is that the counts can be thrown off by people who are moving out. The dining is serving around 105 students the last two days. They pick up three meals. Again, not all of our students actually have meal plans, our Lawrenson and AP students, for example. The staff feel like there's a significant amount but it's quiet. So I don't know that the 400 so far that have indicated are truly here yet.

Gardiner Tucker (28:34):
Any other questions for Jenna? Jenna, thank you and thanks for the dedication of your staff. As Blaine mentioned in the chat, Housing and Dining team has been amazing through this whole process. I can't reinforce how much work they are doing. So thank you to you and your team. And that concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (28:53):
Thank you, Tuck, and thank you to Stephanie and Jenna also. As we were compiling information last week about all of the various services that were moving online and how, I was impressed as many of us were at how much work we were doing and across those various support services to make sure that they would remain available to our students. I'm glad to hear that students are utilizing those. I know that Tuck reminded us yesterday and we got a little reminder from Stephanie today that as we make these transitions, students are likely to need more support and access these support services more than they usually do. So thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone out there who is helping to make sure that we can continue to provide those supports to our students.

Gardiner Tucker (29:39):
Thanks, Dan.

Dan Maxey (29:40):
You're welcome. Thank you. I'm going to turn to President Feinstein for some final words.

President Feinstein (29:46):
Thanks, Dan. A lot of work happening on campus. I appreciate all the updates today, and I ask you to stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.