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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

May 14, Operational Update

May 14, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, May 14th, and this is our new weekly operational status update report. This new format marks the transition from our spring response to COVID to our planning for return in the fall semester. These calls will provide updates and share critical decisions that are made affecting fall instruction, operations and our budget.

President Feinstein (00:25):
And our activity over the summer will be led by three main groups. The first group is a reentry task force led by Provost Mark Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez. And they'll be focused on scenario planning for fall instruction and to talk about student life. There'll also be a logistics working group headed by Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson to assist the reentry task force in navigating details associated with information technology, space and also university operations. And there's also a financial impacts task force, which is cochaired by myself and Senior Vice President and CFO Michelle Quinn. Membership is composed primarily of the President's Leadership Council with additional representation from the faculty and student body. And we're going to assess the financial impacts of COVID in fiscal '21, and also discuss and develop strategies to address them.

President Feinstein (01:25):
So, as cochair of the financial impacts task force, I can give a brief report on the financial outlook that we have right now. So on Tuesday, the state released a special revenue forecast for fiscal '21 projecting about a $3 billion shortfall, actually a little bit more than that. And this is about 10% of the total state budget and almost 25% of the $13 billion general fund. Prior to the forecast, the joint budget committee had already began meeting to review budget balancing measures, and they spent time on a higher education budget balancing discussion, and the JBC voted to reverse the 7% increase to higher education. If I recall, I spoke earlier in the year about Governor Polis' 2.5% proposal, the work that we did to increase that to 7%, and we're on track for a 7% increase in the budget through February.

President Feinstein (02:21):
So in light of the recent revenue forecast, it is very likely that the JBC will take further action that will result in cuts to higher education funding. The $18.5 million revenue loss scenario that we discussed with the Board of Trustees in April, it did include an assumption of a 10% state funding reduction. And hopefully that will hold.

President Feinstein (02:43):
I'm continue to work with other Colorado CEOs and the Joint Budget Committee to lobby for higher education funding, whether it be from state resources or the federal coronavirus relief fund money associated and allocated to Colorado. I've actually called for the CEOs, CFOs and lobbyists to meet this weekend, to talk about the impact of possible additional reductions by the JBC. So I'm now going to turn over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, to moderate our other reports. Dan?

Dan Maxey (03:16):
Thank you, President Feinstein, and I want to join Andy in thanking everyone who's joining us for these updates as we transition our response from a response to the pandemic in the spring to our planning for the fall semester. Although we are rolling these updates back to a weekly report, there's still a significant amount of work being done. And this weekly update will summarize all of the activity that's happening among the task forces and the cabinet, along with reports on specific decisions that we're making regarding our fall operations.

Dan Maxey (03:47):
The cabinet has transitioned, beginning this week, to Monday and Wednesday meetings, and we'll plan to have reports on decisions that are made as I noted from those Monday and Wednesday meetings on this Thursday call. The Student Affairs portion of the task force meets today, and the Academic Affairs portion convenes tomorrow. As Andy mentioned, our financial impacts task force also met this past Tuesday. Much as we did in the spring, these calls are being recorded and will be uploaded around midday each Thursday, and will be available on the UNC coronavirus website, which is www.unco.edu/coronavirus.

Dan Maxey (04:28):
We have a little bit of a change in our lineup with the change in the format for these calls. We will still begin our weekly calls with Associate Vice President Blaine Nickeson to give us a brief report on the current state of affairs here in Colorado, and the latest guidance that we're receiving from federal, state, local, and public health officials. But we will then transition to Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez and Provost Mark Anderson for reports from the task force. So with that, I will start off with Blaine Nickeson.

Blaine Nickeson (05:02):
Thanks Dan. Good morning, everybody. Good to see you. Earlier this week, the governor shared a decision-making timeline where he put some parameters around some of the more pressing decisions that we're all waiting for. A couple of the key milestones will come on May 25th, where a decision will be made about limited restaurant reopenings and summer camps. A decision of any kind of modifications of the safer at home guidance will come "after June 1st," so we'll be waiting for that.

Blaine Nickeson (05:32):
The date of the 25th allows for a little over two weeks to pass since the lifting of the stay at home order in all of the individual counties or cities around the area. And we should have a good idea about how people's behavior has changed and be able to see it via case counts and hospitalization numbers.

Blaine Nickeson (05:51):
On top of their regular reporting for positive COVID tests, the states also started reporting on serology or more commonly known as antibody testing data. This is the testing that it doesn't look to see if you currently have COVID-19. It looks to see if you have antibodies, which means that you had COVID-19 at some time in the past, and you may have some immunity to it as we move forward in the future. They've been doing about 1200 tests per day, but it's showing a lower positive rate than we thought we might see. Right now it's only about 7% positive. That indicates a pretty low percentage of the population that has had COVID. Especially since those seeking out this serology testing are most likely those that had some kind of unexplained illness earlier this year. And so they really want to know, "Did I have COVID back in February or January?"

Blaine Nickeson (06:44):
Also, it changed the data reporting that CDPHE, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is doing. They added a new hospital data point that shows the number of new daily admissions for COVID-19. That's going to be really helpful as we move forward to see if hospitalizations are spiking. Over the last week, it's been about 50 people a day that have been admitted to inpatient care for COVID.

Blaine Nickeson (07:06):
Today, UNCs community drive-through testing site in partnership with King Soopers kicks off in about an hour, a little over an hour here. It'll be in the parking lot west of Candelaria Hall. It doesn't require a doctor's note, but folks do have to preregister through KrogerHealth.com. We have the capacity to do about 330 tests per day, and we really want to utilize that full capacity. So we want to make sure that all of the community in Greeley and Weld County knows about this great resource that we're lucky to be able to host on campus. The governor stated a desire to be doing about 8,500 tests per day by the end of the month, but right now we're closer to 4,000 per day. So bringing these kind of capacities online is going to be really helpful.

Blaine Nickeson (07:53):
For just a brief look at the latest data, the state has identified over 20,000 positive cases. Our week over week growth was about 15%, but compared to the prior week over week from August 30th... Or I'm sorry, August. Wow. What year is it? From April 30th to May 7th, that growth was about 21%. So again, we're at 15 as opposed to 21% the week prior, which is good, especially considering that there's been an increase in testing capacity over that period of time. Locally, when you look at Weld County specifically, last week, we saw cases grow by about 12% compared to 17% the week before. So those are the updates that I have this morning, Dan, and I'm happy to turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (08:39):
Great, thank you, Blaine. If it's August, it's time for the fall to start, and I'm not ready for it quite yet. We just have to-

President Feinstein (08:45):
It will be here soon enough.

Blaine Nickeson (08:47):
I feel like I've been home for a long time, but not that long.

Dan Maxey (08:52):
Right. Next we'll turn things over to Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez and Provost Mark Anderson. And I understand that Katrina is going to lead our report this morning on some of the work that will begin this week in the Thursday and Friday meetings for the task force. Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (09:10):
Thank you so much, Dan. Hi everybody. Today, we launched the Division of Student Affairs reentry task force. This afternoon, we'll be meeting weekly. And so we're excited to get the group going. We've got about 20 folks on campus who will be joining our group. We are excited to have a number of students as well. So we certainly want to have student input as we look at our reentry. We understand this is a very complex process, looking at our residential students in terms of their housing and dining, campus engagement, student engagement and what the new normal is going to look like for the fall. And then, our goal too, is to really look at promising practices with our professional associations and across the country, what other institutions are also doing, and to really recommend some data-based proposals that will allow campus to feel inspired by that we're really utilizing strategy process protocols for a safe return to campus.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:24):
We certainly will be looking at an array of options for the fall. We know that we are still... We want to follow local state and federal guidelines. And so as those recommendations and or orders from the governor, we will be following those. So we'll have a look at multifaceted approaches so that we can shift when we know something more solidly as the weeks come together here.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:55):
So I think some of the things that we are looking at initially, certainly we want to provide some, a lot of time to, again, our residential campus, because we know that that's where we have a lot of things to consider. We also know that our students, family, and support people are very interested in how we will operationalize our housing and dining.

Katrina Rodriguez (11:23):
Being involved in a call last night of family... Losing my thought here. An open house with our families last night, as well as knowing that Housing open house that happened on Monday, there were a lot of questions about how we will go forward. So that will probably want to be one of our prime introductory discussions, so that we can get that one rolling. So I'm excited to see where this goes. It's, while complex, I think also somewhat stimulating to be in this planning mode to take a look at all of those pieces. And then Mark, I will turn it over to you.

Mark Anderson (12:11):
Thank you, Katrina. Academic Affairs is the reentry portion of the task force focused on academic affairs. We'll meet Friday. I think it's important to recognize that although we have two subgroups, we will be meeting collaboratively. We'll have a steering committee, and we're going to be bringing people from both groups into the others as needed.

Mark Anderson (12:33):
Katrina talked a little bit about housing and the on-campus student experience. We can't separate that from the academic experience. And so the Academic Affairs task force is really going to be looking at primarily the academic experience, how classes will be taught, how students will be able to interact in those classes. Some students at the open house last night were, or families were expressing concerns about safety and where safety and health of our community is of utmost concern for both students, staff, and or for all students, staff and faculty. We'll be looking at how the modalities of course delivery and recognizing that we need to have some level of variability to meet the needs of our community.

Mark Anderson (13:24):
We'll also be looking at infrastructure, how we'll be using classrooms in a way that respects and honors the social distancing and public health. And so we have a broad representation of primarily faculty on the Academic Affairs task force, but we'll be bringing in people from IT, Facilities. And we'll be asking students from the Student Affairs portion to also participate as well. I'll be attending the Student Affairs meetings. Katrina will be attending the Academic Affairs meetings. And we hope to have a lot of cross pollination if you will, by looking at the holistic student experience and how we can make sure that the student and academic experience is a robust one that meets the needs of our community. So with that, I'll turn it back to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (14:23):
Great, thank you, Katrina and Mark for those reports. And we'll look forward to updates on the task force activity in the coming weeks. I want to stress that in addition to these reports, if we have the need to bring in additional presenters and panelists to give reports on some of the specific areas of our planning and preparations for the fall, we'll be prepared to do that. But this is our daily structure. And with that, I'll turn it over to President Feinstein for some closing remarks.

President Feinstein (14:53):
Thanks, Dan, and thanks to everybody for being on the call today. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.