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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

November 19, Operational Update

November 19 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:01):
Good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, November 19th. And this is our weekly operational status update call. Want to thank you all for joining us. Although we are still awaiting an official change in Weld County's COVID-19 dial designation. This week, we transitioned university operations to the state's safer home orange level.

President Feinstein (00:23):
We take the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, seriously. In these very final weeks of the fall semester, and in the season of Thanksgiving, I want to share my gratitude to everyone who has worked tirelessly and taken extraordinary care to ensure we can continue to carry out our mission safely. As we wind down to the end of this term and face an intensifying threat from COVID-19, it remains important that each of us does our part to prevent the spread of the virus.

President Feinstein (00:57):
Whether you remain on campus or will be headed home in the coming days and weeks, I urge you to do what you can to keep your friends, family, and others safe as well. There will be no operational status update call next week on Thanksgiving Day. And I hope that my colleagues who work to put on this call each week enjoy a restful day with their families. And with that, I'm going to hand over the microphone to AVP for administration Blaine Nickeson, Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (01:32):
Good morning. Thanks president Feinstein. I'm sure you're aware from the news and seen the impact of this virus in your communities, COVID's spreading widely at this point in the fall. Our hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID patients and the healthcare staff just isn't getting the appreciation that they're due right now, but all of our healthcare professionals are really working their tails off.

Blaine Nickeson (01:58):
It was also interesting yesterday, surprisingly, I saw an article that indicated that interest in college nursing programs is up significantly amidst this pandemic. I think reflecting, hopefully that people really value and cherish the work that our healthcare heroes are doing. This week, the state adjusted its dial system for the county by county restrictions due to the virus. Red used to be the most severe level, triggering a stay at home order. Red's now been moved into a lockdown light status, requiring indoor dining to shut down, offices and gyms to be reduced to 10% capacity and any, and all indoor events to be canceled.

Blaine Nickeson (02:40):
The new top level is purple, which is unfortunate, because that's my favorite color. It would be assigned if a County had overwhelmed their hospital capacity. The state department of public health and environment is working through assignments to the new levels as we speak, and obviously we're monitoring this very closely as Andy mentioned. The state provided testing kiosk at Nottingham Field continues to be an important service to the greater Greeley community and to the campus. It's open from nine to six, six days a week. It's closed on Sundays. It's conducted over 3000 tests in the last week. There's a big need for testing in Weld County, our positivity rate reflects that. We're seeing nearly a 17% positivity rate of the testing kiosk and that's right in line with what the total county reporting is. The state's also working to bring a sister site online at Aims Community College in the coming days, which will help serve West Greeley.

Blaine Nickeson (03:38):
We expect these testing kiosks to remain in place at least through December. Unfortunately they're being funded by federal CARES Act dollars to support the response to COVID. If Congress can't agree to some kind of extension of that support, these testing resources will likely disappear after the new year, which is very concerning. While I don't have exact numbers, the provost might report on this after me, our faculty have answered the call to consider modifying their course delivery modality after Thanksgiving. I heard yesterday that most of our courses were pivoting to remote delivery to close out this semester. The majority of classes are meeting in person are those that you would expect, labs, performing arts, et cetera, classes that have significant challenges being done remotely. Since I mentioned Thanksgiving, I'd like to just spend a moment talking about the holiday. The number one cause of the virus spreading right now is small, private indoor gatherings. Exactly what a traditional Thanksgiving looks like.

Blaine Nickeson (04:37):
The virus doesn't care. If you gather with family members you know and trust. For the purposes of COVID, you're all strangers. If I were to design an activity to help the virus spread, Thanksgiving might be the perfect plan. For the sake of our community and each of your health, if you're planning to gather in groups for Thanksgiving, I urge you to reconsider. We'll be limiting our Thanksgiving to just our family that lives in our home. And we'll be connecting via Zoom with family, both locally and around the country, but trying to do our part to keep our loved ones safe.

Blaine Nickeson (05:16):
Back to the campus, we continue to do screening tests among our residential students and athletes. We've been averaging about 400 tests a week. Last week, we had four positive cases, so we were able to jump on those really quickly. For the campus overall, we continue to see a steady increase in positive cases reported to us amongst the campus community, which is mirroring obviously what we're seeing in Weld County in the state. We're currently monitoring 111 active positive cases, which is up from 82 last week. 14 of those cases are employees and the rest are students.

Blaine Nickeson (05:52):
On campus, we're using about 50 of our approximately 80 isolation and quarantine rooms. And we continue to manage a robust caseload as it relates to the number of people within our tracking protocol for isolation and quarantine. As of this morning, we're at about 376, that's up about 50 from last week. I know the team managing this is overwhelmed and they can also get frustrated when they're working on contact tracing a case and seeing how many close contacts a single positive has. Now more than ever, we really need to limit our close contact with others.

Blaine Nickeson (06:28):
Lastly, I've talked a few times about the state's new exposure notification app for phones. It's something you have to manually activate. It's secure, it's simple. The state reported yesterday, we've now seen over a million Coloradans activate it, and usage is at about 17% of the population and rising. And getting widespread use of this can really make a dent in the virus. So please join me in setting it up on your phone. Again, no personal information or location information is tracked or shared. That's all I have for this morning, Andy and happy to turn it back over to you.

President Feinstein (07:03):
Thanks Blaine. Thanks for the update. Now let's hear from our provost Mark Anderson and our vice president for student affairs, Katrina Rodriguez.

Mark Anderson (07:12):
Thank you, President Feinstein. As Blaine indicated, we have asked our faculty to work with our students and to communicate continuously with their students about the plans for instruction and course delivery after Thanksgiving. For the most part, as Blaine indicated, we have a lot of our courses which are moving to an all virtual environment for the two weeks after Thanksgiving.

Mark Anderson (07:38):
But not all of our courses. As Blaine indicated a lot of laboratory courses, studio courses, et cetera, will remain having some face-to-face component. But not all of the courses with a face-to-face component fall under a laboratory or studio environment. So we just need to make sure that we're continuously communicating with our students as to how the courses will be delivered post-Thanksgiving, and really how that meets the learning objectives of the course. We want to thank everybody for doing all they can to support our students during this time and to do so to meet the learning objectives of the course, but also to be respectful of the health and safety of our community as Blaine and President Feinstein indicated.

Mark Anderson (08:28):
Last week, the president's leadership council presented a draft strategic plan to the board of trustees. The plan is available for review by the campus community. And we're going to hold a campus forum on Tuesday, December 8th at 1:30. That's in finals week, but it turns out that there are no finals scheduled for that time, according to the registrar. So it's a good time to get some feedback from the campus community.

Mark Anderson (08:54):
We're also going to initiate a web forum for feedback, and more details on the link for that forum will be forthcoming. We really want the campus perspective and feedback on the strategic plan, particularly as we move into the implementation phase of the rowing, not drifting 2030 strategic plan. And finally, I'd like to highlight some of the good work by our faculty. Professor Avan Brownley in the department of English, a second year professor, published her first work as a UNC faculty member recently. And that is an article titled, "Relational practices and pedagogies in an age of climate change: engaging students in understanding indigenous ways of knowing."

Mark Anderson (09:51):
And this was published in the Journal of Inculturation. professor Louis Jackson in the school of special education was recently recognized with the 2020 Tash Distinguished Reviewer Award. This is an award given by the Journal of Research and Practice for Persons of Severe Disabilities and really recognizing outstanding service to the community, particularly in providing reviews for articles for the journal. And then finally, two psychology doctoral students, Miranda Mayer, who is mentored by Dr. Maria layman and Chris Otero, mentored by Dr. Aaron Yosei, received recognition from the Colorado Society for School Psychologist Conference, for the work that they presented during a poster competition at a recent professional conference. So I want to recognize all of our faculty for their work and just highlight a few. And with that, I would like to turn the podium over to Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:56):
Hi everybody. Thank you so much, Mark. Good to see you all this morning. A few updates on our housing and dining over our breaks. Over many years, we've had students who have chosen to continue living with us during Thanksgiving and winter break, and we will continue to offer this option again this year. Students who are staying through Thanksgiving break, nothing additional to do. You're you're there, that's great, love to have you. For those who want to stay in housing over winter break, we would like for you to complete the winter housing form. Just so we're sure where everybody is and that kind of thing. And so if you can go to our housing website, you can find the form there to stay over winter break. And we certainly welcome you to do that. Typically, UNC does not serve meals over Thanksgiving and winter break.

Katrina Rodriguez (11:51):
However, this year we will modifying our days and hours of operation to be open. We certainly want to offer our meals and we'll continue to deliver meals to students who are in quarantine and isolation. And we'll also have meals available for students who are living in university housing. If you want to go to our dining website, it'll have a page that has all of the different dining options that will be open as well as hours and those kinds of things. So please be sure to check that out. And just to also note that regardless of what dial we're on for the state and the county, housing and dining will remain open. So, if you can help us to share with students that that is the case and certainly families and support folks, because we want students to know that they do have a place to be and a place to eat. So that would be great if you could help us with that.

Katrina Rodriguez (12:56):
Certainly we continue to have all of our resources available from our student outreach and support who can help with situations that a student might need a little bit of additional support or thinking about if they need to withdraw from a class. If they want to talk with somebody about what some of those aspects are based on what's maybe going on in their personal lives or their families. We certainly will connect them with their advisors as well and faculty, but wanting to kind of help to bridge some of that. Counseling center, disability resource center, tutoring services, advising. So all of those remain operational, and we certainly want students to take advantage of those services for ways to support folks. As everybody knows, folks are tired and we're all navigate now navigating a lot of things that are not our typical.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:55):
And so we certainly understand that and want to assist students in any way that we can. Finally, I'd like to share that today. We are recognizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience. And the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is hosting a program this evening at 5:30, that folks can still register for. And the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience is an annual observance to commemorate those lost due to anti-transgender violence and to highlight the resilience of the trans community. Although it is vital to remember those we have lost, it is just as important to support each other and give each other strength to keep fighting, keep supporting and being in solidarity. So I wanted to recognize this this morning as our staff and students at the GSRC have worked really hard to make this a special events. So please tune in, download that Zoom link by going to the GSRC website, and you'll be able to register for the zoom link. So thank you very much. And Andy, I'll turn it back over to you.

President Feinstein (15:05):
Thank you Katrina. Thank you, Mark for your presentations. Thanks everyone for tuning in. A reminder, there'll be no update next Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Be healthy. Take care, everybody.