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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

May 28, Operational Update

May 28, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everybody. Today is Thursday, May 28th, and this is our weekly operation status update. Let's start with an update on our work to address budget challenges stemming from the pandemic. The financial task force committee chaired by Michelle Quinn, our CFO, and I, continues to meet every Tuesday morning, and there are 29 faculty, students and staff on the committee. And this week we divided into two groups, a prioritization subcommittee and a university-wide savings subcommittee. The prioritization subcommittee will begin reviewing university operations to identify areas where we might find some savings. Next week, we'll begin by focusing on information management and technology. And following weeks will include athletics, academic affairs, student affairs, finance and administration, advancement, and other areas. And the university-wide savings subcommittee will start discussing issues such as external contracts, travel, furloughs, early retirement and other campus-wide strategies. And I will provide you with more details as the work progresses over the summer. And with that, I now want to turn over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our Chief of Staff, who will facilitate other presentations. Dan?

Dan Maxey (01:25):
Thank you, President Feinstein, and good morning, everyone. The cabinet, as well as the academic and student affairs branches of our reentry task force all met yesterday as we continue our preparations for return in the fall. We'll have some reports on that activity this morning. As our daily panel gives reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. We will start off today's reports with a report on the current status of public health orders and conditions in Colorado from Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (01:56):
Good morning, Dan. Good morning, everyone. Colorado is continuing to show some good outcomes as we look at the number of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, daily hospital admissions and ventilator use. Despite the end of the stay at home order on April 26 statewide and then continuing to May 8th in the Denver Metro area, we haven't seen the data reflect a big spike in cases, which is what we would have seen by now at a month or three weeks later. With these positive signs, some further loosening of restrictions is taking place in the state. Restaurants started to reopen to limited in-person dining yesterday. Private campgrounds have reopened. Libraries can start offering curbside services, and summer day camps that are very limited in scope and size can return. I also saw some photos yesterday, some very excited skiers getting in a few last turns at A-Basin, some skiing in shorts or a bikini tops given the summer-like weather.

Blaine Nickeson (02:55):
All this positive news is only possible due to the efforts of us and our neighbors. Coloradans have continued to restrict their mobility, practice social distancing at a high level. And we're among the leading states in the nation for people who say they wear a mask or cloth mask when they leave their homes. Yesterday, the director of the influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a group that I've mentioned before that is producing a lot of advanced modeling of the pandemic impact, that director stated we now have a really clear evidence that wearing masks works. It's probably a 50% protection against transmission. If you're looking for a comfortable mask, check out the UNC bookstore online. They've got some cool Bear-themed masks that should be ready to ship soon. The state remains under the safer at home guidance, which has been extended until at least June 1st. I'll be watching to see what steps the governor takes next week.

Blaine Nickeson (03:47):
UNC's logistics working group is meeting frequently in support of the reentry task forces. We're working hard on a wide variety of issues, including determining new classroom capacities, social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, signage and equipment needs for safe cuing and delivery of services, and planning to reopen things like the rec center and library once the time is right. UNC's community drive through testing site is in partnership with King Soopers is wrapping up its third and final week with testing tomorrow and Saturday.

Blaine Nickeson (04:18):
Again, it doesn't require a doctor's note. You do just have to go through a quick preregistration at Krogerhealth.com. The website screens based on symptoms, but even if you don't have systems, if you're a frontline worker, if you work at a grocery store or a restaurant or a childcare provider, you're eligible to be tested, and there's no charge to you for that.

Blaine Nickeson (04:40):
I'm not going to delve into the statewide or Weld County data as I usually do. But I'll summarize by saying that the rate of new cases growth is down, averaging about 200 new cases per day. Testing rates are up. If you have symptoms, you can and should get a test. Hopefully, we'll move into a testing phase soon where we can sort of randomly start testing asymptomatic folks and try to identify cases before they even begin to spread. So that's my update for this week, Dan, and I'll go ahead and turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (05:09):
Thank you, Blaine. Glad to hear continued good news here in Colorado this week. Next up, we'll go to reports from our reentry taskforce co-chairs. Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez and Provost Mark Anderson. I see Katrina here. Katrina, are you going to get us started?

Katrina Rodriguez (05:29):
Yes. Good morning, everybody. The reentry task forces are working very hard and very quickly to make the pathways for our fall reentry. So for the student affairs reentry task force, which is a subcommittee of the whole task force, along with academic affairs, we have a housing and dining operations committee and a student life and student engagement committee. So for housing and dining work that we spent quite a bit of time on yesterday, we're looking at our move-in timeline and when students can move in. Also, looking at, based on trying to make sure that we have various entries available for folks to move in, elevator use timed out, we'll be looking at the number of folks a student might bring with them. Again, just looking at social distancing and making that a safe environment, as well as looking at how we will be assigning singles.

Katrina Rodriguez (06:34):
That's really the move that we're looking at. I know families and students are interested in if a student really wants a roommate and has a roommate in mind, determining how we can make that happen. And so we're working hard for that aspect as well. So there's a lot of moving parts, but we are making some progress. We intend to have those decisions made by mid-June, and we'll be getting those out to students at that time. So more to come on that as we work forward.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:02):
The other great discussion we had yesterday was working on aspects of, a lot of students meet confidentially with staff. And you could think about the Disability Resource Center, the Counseling Center, when we're working with students who may have had a death in the family or some other kind of situation where they need to speak with somebody confidentially. And so trying to really think about how we can do that, both in person and virtually, and how to keep that safe space but also have that interaction. And so we're working an array of methods so that folks can kind of choose. Some offices might allow for a six-foot distancing. Others may not based on the size. And so just trying to really think about how we can put that together.

Katrina Rodriguez (07:53):
So that's up and coming. And then the last thing that we have some great movement on is we're really calling it kind of an extended orientation, since orientation is online this summer, thinking about those days before the semester starts. So students move in, get ready for the first day of classes. We'd like to find, we are finding ways for students to interact, again, depending on what the guidelines are. If we can have 50 students in a group, we'll be doing that. If it's 25, whatever the guidelines are, but working with our orientation leaders and perhaps resident assistants, other staff and faculty on campus. And really finding ways to engage students as a sense of belonging as a UNC Bear, developing that community, which is so critical for students and the campus as a whole interacting with each other.

Katrina Rodriguez (08:48):
The other thing I thought was really fascinating that the group came up with was this notion of community responsibility to each other. Now we have that in lots of ways in terms of safety, like if you see something, say something, those kinds of things, supporting each other, but in this case really thinking about with the COVID-19, how can students take care of each other? How do we support each other? That nudging, hey, got to put your mask on before going to class. Some of those things so that we're really helping each other and not in this... that there's a lot of fear out there. And so how do we support each other and think about that?

Katrina Rodriguez (09:25):
The other thing that's really critical as we know is addressing wellness. Our physical, emotional, mental wellness. We know that that's been an increasing item for college students, as we have various survey information. Students are saying that that their mental wellness is really strained. And so we're working hard on those aspects of some ways to give some tips and some interaction with those items.

Katrina Rodriguez (09:55):
Looking at some identity based activities. We know in our face-to-face orientation, we have a number of opportunities for students to engage in all aspects of their identities. And what's important to them, what has been their experience. So we'll be including those. So I'm excited to see where this comes to be that this is something that folks have been working on for the last month or so. And so as we start to narrow in on how we're going to do this, I think it's very powerful. So yeah, that's what I've got for today. We'll have more information for you next Thursday. And let me turn it over to Provost Mark Anderson.

Mark Anderson (10:31):
Thank you, Katrina. And so the reentry task force has separated into two subgroups that have a lot of overlap. The division of student affairs subgroup and the academic affairs subgroup. Katrina talked about the subgroups within DSA's reentry plan. The academic affairs subgroup also has divided up into a student impact, a faculty impact, and a logistics subgroup. We've been talking about and establishing a schedule for deciding our instructional modality for the fall. By June 1st, this is coming up on Monday. What we want to do is we want to establish the preference for modality for all courses that we have scheduled for the fall. So by June 1st, we will establish whether a course is campus required. And one could imagine things like laboratory classes, art studios, etcetera, which really require access to special facility in order for the instruction to be accomplished.

Mark Anderson (11:38):
So those are campus required. Campers preferred courses are those that could be done in a virtual environment, but the preference is to be in a face-to-face environment. So those might include things like senior seminar courses that are discussion-based, which can be accomplished in a virtual environment, but are preferred to have that interaction in a face-to-face. And then finally courses which are online already and online ready to go. And that's not to say we're just making a decision on how they will be taught in the fall, but to give us some filtering that allows us to then make decisions by middle of June, June 15th, for how we will instruct those courses. And that's going to be based upon what Blaine talked about a little bit earlier, our capacity within our classroom. As we're looking at our classrooms, as the facilities group is looking at classrooms, classroom capacity is going to change in a socially distance environment.

Mark Anderson (12:41):
And so, as we're looking at modality and our classroom capacity, middle of June, we'll start aligning those two things and getting a better sense of our fall schedule. And then we will try to finalize our fall schedule by July 1st, where we're actually making room assignments based upon course capacity based upon modality of instruction. July 1 gives us an opportunity to finalize that schedule, but recognizing that over the course of July into August, the public health standards may change. And so the capacity of rooms might change either in a positive direction, increase in capacity as the social distancing changes, or decreasing if there's a resurgence. So we will continuously be looking at that. And then August 1st, we want to finalize the schedule, and the whole time we'll be communicating out to our students what is going on. So June 1st, we're going to establish a deadline for establishing the preference for instruction.

Mark Anderson (13:46):
June 15th, we're going to begin aligning that preference with our classroom capacity. July 1st, we're going to finalize the schedule. Finalize in quotation marks simply because we recognize that there will be some changes that may occur over the course of the summer. We also are talking about the daily schedule, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and even the Denver Post yesterday had an article about institutions, which are changing the time between classes. And so working with logistics group, we're looking at the flow of students in buildings, considering things like having stairwells be only up and other stairwells being only down. In buildings like Candelaria, asking students to flow in a clockwise direction, that type of thing. But we're also looking at the time in between periods to minimize the interaction of students in that in-between time. So we're looking at the daily schedule as well, and we'll be coming up with recommendations on that ultimately based upon our classroom capacity.

Mark Anderson (14:59):
And then finally, the student group is working with student affairs, as well as university marketing and communications to reach out to our continuing students, to inform them about our instructional methods for the fall and to answer their questions, not unlike what the President, Katrina, and I have been doing in meeting and town hall meetings, webinars with entering students and their families to answer their very specific questions about the fall instruction. So we're preparing a survey to reach out to returning students. And that will be the first part of a multi-part interaction with returning students, including webinars, not unlike this Teams meeting. And that is all I have from academic affairs today, Dan.

Dan Maxey (15:48):
Great, thank you Katrina and Mark for your reports from the reentry task force. Appreciate that information. Next up, we're joined this morning by our athletics director, Darren Dunn, who's going to give us some updates on athletics for the fall and some summer activity for student athletes. Darren?

Darren Dunn (16:10):
Thanks, Dan. Good morning, everyone. Yes, recently the NCAA has announced that student athletes can return June 1st for voluntary workouts. So that's good news for us. We are working on our plan for return, making sure we have the appropriate safety measures in place. For example, inside the weight room, we'll be working out with 10 or less. And for outside workouts, we'll be having groups of 25 or less. So that way we meet the state and university safety measures. So our goal is to return June 15th, as long as all of our safety planning is in place. So that will be our first step of returning back to some type of normalcy.

Darren Dunn (17:02):
In addition to that, the NCAA and the Big Sky announced that earlier this month that individual schools can return to practice for our fall sports. And so we'll make that decision here soon, but we're hopeful to start in early August for our fall sports, just like we normally would. And along those lines, we've been meeting with all the athletic directors in the Big Sky in looking at how can we reduce our expenses. And so we've made some significant changes to our scheduling for conference games and or matches so that we're saving expenses for each department within the Big Sky. So we've made some dramatic changes over the past couple of months, and I think our savings will be in and around over, a little over $300,000. And that will affect all of our fall, winter and spring sports. So there'll be some changes, whether it might be reduced schedules, no conference tournaments and or just a different look at how we schedule normally for this coming year. So we're hopeful that that will be savings that we'll be able to have for this coming fiscal year. So that concludes my report, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (18:35):
Great. Thank you very much, Darren. Excited to see some return for our student athletes here in the short term. Next up, we have Human Resources Director Marshall Parks to give us a little bit of an overview on some return-to-work guidance for some of our staff who are returning to campus.

Marshall Parks (18:57):
Thanks, Dan. Good morning, everybody. And I would also say that Fuzzy's at CenterPlace based on my drive by last night doesn't have quite the same social distancing measures in place and safety thing that Darren just talked about for our student athletes, or I'm going to talk about for our employees. Based on driving by the outdoor patio last night, there was a lot going on there. So hopefully, our campus won't quite look like that right away.

Marshall Parks (19:22):
Update on returning to work. We're starting to slowly see staff kind of returning to campus, and we're preparing for the pace of this to increase as we move through the summer. We've had about 150 staff who've remained on campus since this all began, serving our on-campus students. In the past month, we've had about another 100 staff members return, mostly in facilities. Our HR team has worked with our environmental health and safety team to create a return-to-work guidelines, to help with the transition back to work and coming back to campus.

Marshall Parks (19:54):
Specifically, the document addresses three key points. First, we've got details on how leave works with the additional Family First COVID Act requirements. We have a good leave at a glance document that should answer most questions as to how leave works and how we return to work for specific individual circumstances, like high risk health status or childcare issues. So good details on how those things work when returning.

Marshall Parks (20:22):
Second, we have some specific requirements for workplaces, appropriate social distancing, mask types requirements, limits on group sizes, all incorporating the state, federal and local guidance. So I think a very robust discussion of all of the kinds of interactions we have on campus, lunch rooms, meeting sizes, restroom spaces, all kinds of things like that are addressed in here. Lastly, have a good package of support and wellness resources to, I think Katrina mentioned the wellness resources for our students. I think wellness resources to assist our faculty and staff, and yet another new normal transition for folks as we begin to return back to campus.

Marshall Parks (21:01):
So the full 18 pages will be available on the HR website by noon today. And love to have you take a look through that and familiarize yourself as we start to make plans. I think in the next two weeks, we'll have additional guidance on a phased approach of how and when we'll begin to bring more people back to campus and reopen buildings, as that evolves through the reentry task force and other groups working diligently to get all this hard work done. And again, if you have any questions on any of the information in there, particularly on the leave or anything else, feel free to call us with any questions in the HR office. That's all I've got today. Dan, thank you.

Dan Maxey (21:44):
Thank you, Marshall. And thanks to everyone else who gave reports this morning. That concludes this week's report. So I'll turn the floor back over to President Feinstein.

President Feinstein (21:53):
Thanks, Dan. And thank you all for tuning in today. And as always stay safe, be healthy. We'll see you here again next week for another update. Take care, everybody.