Jump to main content

COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 26, Operational Update

March 26, 2020 Update (View on Youtube) 


President Feinstein (00:00):
Good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, March the 26th.

[song clip playing]

President Feinstein (00:04):
I thought we could start the day with a little bit of music, and this is our daily operation status report. As all of you know, Governor Polis issued an executive order requiring all Coloradans stay at home with very limited exceptions, effective at 6:00 AM this morning. Today, the Department of Higher Education will be issuing guidance for executing those orders, and I'm in constant communication with the executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. I should have some updates regarding that for tomorrow's call. If you haven't seen the Greeley Tribune this morning, Mayor John Gates did a great job last evening being interviewed by the Greeley Tribune, discussing how important it is for us all to follow the executive order. I hope that you do that.

President Feinstein (01:08):
Some other news, the bipartisan stimulus bill, which is the largest, most sweeping economic emergency aid package in the history of the United States, is expected to pass both chambers of Congress this week. In fact, the Senate should pass this today, and the House will, at some point in the next day or two, do the same. This bill will temporarily suspend student loan payments over six months through the end of September. It will also allocate more than $6.2 billion each to higher education institutions and emergency student aid, with nearly $1 billion going to minority-serving institutions such as historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges. It would also give the education department the authority to distribute an extra $300 million to colleges hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis.

President Feinstein (02:03):
This is good news. I don't know how this will impact Colorado public higher education yet and UNC, but certainly it will and, and I'm very excited about hearing more from the Commission of Higher Education of Colorado soon. Many of you also know that we sent out an email yesterday regarding the discussion of the progress of implementing our Administrative Service Centers, and that implementation is still on schedule. If you'd like more information of what we're doing or timelines, it's available on our university website, and I ask that you go online and take a look at that. We're also working on a message to students that will be sent tomorrow morning describing a voucher and credit program for spring housing and dining. I know that'll be welcome relief for many of our students that were staying in student housing this spring semester. We're also finalizing a refund plan for parking for students but also for faculty and staff as well. That's all I have for now. I'm now going to turn over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, who's going to moderate our Coronavirus Task Force discussions. Dan?

Dan Maxey (03:16):
Great. Thank you, President Feinstein. I'm going to get right into our daily report since things are evolving a little bit today, given Governor Polis' executive order and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's public health order. As always, I'm going to ask our presenters to please unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras when it's time for your report. First up is Blaine Nicholson, associate vice president for administration and chair of our Coronavirus Task Force, to give a report on developing issues. Blaine?

Blaine Nicholson (03:47):
Thanks, Dan, and thanks, Andy. Just to reiterate what Andy started with, that following a rash of counties issuing stay-at-home orders yesterday, which I reported on, Governor Polis did issue a statewide order that took effect this morning. It is lacking some guidance or language that we would have liked around education institutions, so our team is working closely with the entities that Andy mentioned, the Department of Higher Ed and the Attorney General's Office to get some clarity around that. The only mention of education in there does give us a little bit of clarity on intent. Necessary travel is allowed for the purposes of including receiving materials for distant learning, for receiving meals and any other related services from educational institutions. We feel like the intent here is still that our critical operations could continue, such as taking care of our students that are living on campus and keeping them fed and things like that, but certainly it's important that we, to the best of our ability, do everything we can to reduce our physical footprint on campus and make sure that people are able to stay at home when they can.

Blaine Nicholson (05:02):
For the case updates, over 1,000 cases now in Colorado. We're actually up to 1,086, which is up 174 or 19% from the day before. 19 deaths, up seven from the day before. Probably the most troubling numbers we're at 147 hospitalized, which is up 63 or 75% increase day over day. Certainly our leadership in the state is looking at that, and that's where the biggest concern is, is the need to flatten the curve to make sure that we're able to have critical hospital capabilities and capacity for those folks that need it. A little over 8,000 folks have been tested. That was only up about 300 tests from the day before, but I expect that to continue to ramp up.

Blaine Nicholson (05:48):
Here in Weld County, we're reporting 106 positive cases, up from 84 the day before. Four deaths here in Weld County. Note Weld County case rate per capita is running higher than the statewide average. It's along with Denver and a couple of the high country counties. We're running higher than some other parts of Colorado, so it's important for everybody in our community to heed the governor's order and take the steps that are necessary. That's all I have for this morning, Dan. The Coronavirus Task Force will meet at 11:00 today like we do every day, and we'll hopefully have some more guidance on the governor's order.

Dan Maxey (06:26):
Thanks, Blaine. I'm going to ask Provost Mark Anderson to give his report on impacts to our academic mission next. Mark?

Mark Anderson (06:33):
Well, good morning, and thank you. We're one day into alternate delivery, so not a lot of data points, but no major systemic problems have been reported, a few one-off sorts of things, but nothing systemic, so we're feeling pretty good about that. Of course, we really want to see how the entire week goes before making any proclamations about success or not with respect to alternate delivery or making any changes as needed. We are putting together a final list of essential personnel. We've gotten those from each college, and we're going to be working with Kirk here later this afternoon, getting that list to him, so for when we are officially locked down, beginning at 5:00 on Friday.

Mark Anderson (07:29):
Some of the requests, which are probably not going to be approved, fall more under the one-off situation, where deans asked for people to have access in the event of something happening. We're probably not going to approve those because we do have a mechanism by which one-off situations can be let into buildings by contacting police dispatch. The other thing, which popped up a little bit more yesterday, because students were back into alternate delivery courses, were a lot of questions about grading policy. The deans and I spoke a lot about grading policy over the spring break, and we ultimately created a new date for withdrawing from individual courses out to April 17th. But at Dean's Council tomorrow, we will revisit the grading policy and then have a communication the first part of next week out to students with respect to grading policy. That's all I had. Thank you very much.

Dan Maxey (08:36):
Thank you, Mark. Next, assistant vice president for Facilities Management, Kirk Leichliter, will give a report on impacts for our facilities. Kirk?

Kirk Leichliter (08:44):
Good morning. Our Service Center staff, along with assistance from Steven Abbath, will be working on the card access system modifications that we need to make in order to implement the lockdown tomorrow after 5:00. We're sure there will be the need for some adjustments. If so, please let the Service Center know. If we don't get someone's access right, we can sure get it fixed. Then as noted, the police department can help with more urgent access needs as long as they're available. For Trades, nothing unusual. We're experiencing a few equipment service calls, but nothing critical. Warehouse, still operating as planned. For the most part, it seems like departments are able to get in contact with them and get things figured out. Custodial, no updates.

Kirk Leichliter (09:41):
EHS, regarding the gathering of personal protective equipment, again, thanks to all the departments on campus that helped with this request, we have gathered up over 1,000 surgical masks, 873 N-95 respirators, 380 boxes of disposable gloves, 100 gloves apiece, 22 boxes of biohazard bags, 350 drapes, and 50 medical caps that we'll be putting back into the system for areas that need it. We're continuing to work with Weld County and the City of Greeley Emergency Management, Banner and UCHealth to identify alternative care facility locations. We'll provide a more specific update when we know more about what they need. We know there's some interest in res halls. This is pretty challenging, considering student possessions, students on campus, moving people. That's not a simple thing to figure out. I think that's it for today.

Dan Maxey (10:54):
Thank you, Kirk. We have Marshall Parks back with us this morning to give us a report on Human Resources impacts. Unfortunately, that means no tent this morning. But Marshall, I'll turn it over to you.

Male (11:09):
That's too bad.

Marshall Parks (11:12):
Yeah, much to everyone's dismay, I'm back today, replacing the Megan and Brennan Show from yesterday. A special thanks to all of you who reached out to support Megan. She's an amazing employee and a really proud UNC alum. It was a nice break yesterday for everyone. Again, thanks to all of you that reached out. I prefer her too, so I don't blame you. Two things this morning. After the governor's announcement yesterday, we received a template from the Department of Personnel and Administration for a letter that could be used if stopped by law enforcement to identify people as essential personnel if coming into work. The logistics team at UNC had already created an ID card for that same purpose, but we will share the letter template out with supervisors today in case it might be helpful. Several folks reached out to me yesterday and said that they had spouses and other folks working elsewhere who had received that kind of letter and that it sounds like it might be shaping up as something that is used more broadly across the state. I'll get that up this morning.

Marshall Parks (12:18):
Second thing this morning, we're very excited to announce we now have available, I popped a link into the chat, a link to our online toolkit for employees who are working remotely: https://unc.link/org-dev. It's a really nice, robust tool. It includes tips on staying connected, staying productive, health tips, work-parent balance tips. There's a section called Healthy UNC that has mental health resources, food resources, other local resources. In addition, it has a section on workshops and webinars that we have available at UNC to help support our faculty and staff. It also has a survey section for employees to tell us what other resources they might need. I'm really proud of it. It's a great resource put together by Koreen Myers, who is our new professional development coordinator as of the first of the month, and an IT employee previously, and has done some great work in the transition for our faculty to remote work too. I'd like to encourage you all to take a look. Again, the link is in the chat section of this meeting, and I'll be sending it out to all employees this morning. That's all I have today, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (13:33):
Great. Thank you, Marshall. Just remember that we record this, and so the chat feature is not available to anyone who is joining us via recording later, but glad to hear that you're sending that out by email to all employees later today. I'm going to ask Dean of Students Gardiner Tucker to facilitate our final report of the day on impacts to our students. Tuck?

Gardiner Tucker (14:00):
Good morning, everyone. Can you hear me okay? Can you hear me?

Dan Maxey (14:05):

Gardiner Tucker (14:05):
Okay. Good. Glad to see you on this bright Thursday. The one first thing I want to do from yesterday's report, I mentioned that Zoom and a new company, or a company called Verbit, had combined and made available some captioning for our campus, and I have a correction to make, just like other newscasters, where... Actually, IMT is continuing to monitor the software. It is a partnership that's developed, and right now they're in beta testing. We're waiting to see if we're going to be a beta site or not. Verbit is not currently available in Zoom. That's where we've moved now. Yes, I have a different headset on today because the ever-emerging challenge of audio is in my world right now. I just wanted to offer that correction. Zoom and Verbit are connected, but are not available on our campus yet as a captioning device. The second student impacts involves our Bear Pantry. To talk about Bear Pantry, I have invited our vice president for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez, to talk to us about that. Katrina?

Katrina Rodriguez (15:21):
Hi, everyone. How are you? This is Mia, Mia Merlot. I'm talking a little bit about Bear Pantry. We are going to be closing the pantry while the executive order to stay at home is in place, and we've got some alternatives. We'll be communicating with our Bear Pantry users with alternatives. The Weld County Food Bank, which they are always welcome to access, as well as the... There's a mobile food pantry. Greeley Evans Transit is operating a Call-N-Ride system so those who need transit can book an opportunity to get a ride to go over for those who don't have transportation. The third opportunity is something called the Bear Share Plan that's been in effect for years. Students who have meal plans are able to donate some of their meals to the Bear Pantry if they desire.

Katrina Rodriguez (16:21):
We have a bank of meals that we are working with Dining so that students could go in and get meals and take the pack-outs that Dining is offering. That's another way to provide assistance directly for those who have food insecurity with a dining program that's already up and running and wonderful. I want to thank Hal Brown and Colleen Sonnentag and and Jenna Finley for making this happen and getting things in place so quickly. As we learned about the stay-at-home order, we had to make some quick decisions about whether the Bear Pantry is something that... Certainly it has an amazing purpose, and just thinking about what the stay-at-home order means in relation to that. Quickly last night, all of this was put together so that we could ensure that we are still serving students. Thank you.

Gardiner Tucker (17:18):
Thank you, Katrina. Yes, there are other options for our students. It's a difficult time, and we are making some challenging decisions. Thank you for speaking to that. Next student impact is Housing, and I've invited Jenna to speak to us about the latest in Housing. Jenna, the floor is yours.

Jenna Finley (17:40):
Good morning, everyone. We have had 720 students check out of the residence so far. The outreach from RAs to students is helping boost our response rate to the survey, so we have... As you can see, students are changing their plans. I think just as we have to change ours on a daily basis, so are they. We are working on the messaging around clarification on what we are changing with the shelter-in-place order. Primarily for us, that means we are going to halt checkouts at this point and discourage people from traveling to check out.

Jenna Finley (18:20):
The caveat is we have some students already here who had appointments over the next few days to move out, and we are going to allow those to happen. We also have international students that have flights booked and want to have them be able to check out as well. So that's the primary change for us. The other is that we will not have any front desk service. We will only have availability of students who are able to call an RA for help and questions versus having the front desk open to serve students. We're working really hard to get an idea of where our greatest decrease in occupancy is if we do get called upon to provide overflow hospitals based on campus. I think that's all I have. Thank you.

Gardiner Tucker (19:14):
Thank you, Jenna. It's an ever-evolving situation, and I know that you and your team are staying on top of those changes as the state and the country changes as well. My third student impact and final one are the individual obstacles that face students, because a lot of the issues that I've been addressing in student impacts are ones that affect groups of student teams, yet we also have individual students that are struggling to learn or [inaudible 00:19:41]. Today, I have a story. In the story, there's a student that is living in a house in Greeley. Unfortunately, someone else in the house has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The student is in quarantine and wasn't able to get the appropriate materials for their learning. His professor, because he's an art student, his professor went to the library and checked out a Macintosh or a Mac laptop for him because he has a PC, but the art projects require a Mac.

Gardiner Tucker (20:20):
Then she arranged with him, calling him and texting back and forth. She drove to his house, dropped the laptop on his porch, he stayed inside, she left, got back into her car, he came out and got the laptop, and so he's able to do his artwork at home. Then the same professor has students that... Because they are now learning remotely their art design and their painting, they don't have the supplies that are provided by the university in the painting studio. She went and bought paint and other materials for them, and she's delivering them to those students as well, to where they're living, and shipping one to a student who's living out of state. That kind of going above and beyond to help individual students or to help students in class, I think that's what makes us unique as a university. The professor's name is Dr. Anne Toewe. She's professor and head of design and technology at the School of Theater, Arts and Dance. She also does costume design. I'd like to do a shout-out to Anne for that great effort to take care of our students. That concludes my report on student impacts. Thank you, everyone.

Dan Maxey (21:40):
Thank you, Tuck. I know we all continue to be impressed and inspired with the efforts that our faculty and staff are taking to ensure that our students are not only well supported, but that they can continue their education as best we can allow during these times. If everybody will keep your microphones muted, but just to show some support here, show a round of applause for our faculty and staff for all of the hard work that they're doing and for the creativity that we're seeing. I think that Anne is on the line here this morning too, so Anne, to you and to every other faculty member and staff member at UNC, thank you for everything that you're doing. Thank you to everyone who has tuned in live with us this morning or is viewing this recording online. I'm going to ask President Feinstein to say some final words.

President Feinstein (22:38):
Thank you, Dan. I'm just still just impressed by how hard we're all working, how we're working well together, how the university's responding. I appreciate all the updates today, and as I will continue to say, stay safe, be healthy. We'll see you here tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.