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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

October 1, Operational Update

October 1, Update (Watch on YouTube


President Feinstein (00:00):
Good morning, everybody. It's Thursday [inaudible 00:00:04] and this is our weekly operational status update call. I want to thank all of you for joining us. We continue to have a reasonable amount of success in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Thanks to months of preparation, hard work by our students, faculty, and staff to keep one another safe, and our good working relationship with Weld County Public Health and Environment and state authorities. I want to personally thank everyone for doing their part, and please keep it up.

President Feinstein (00:37):
The university is concluding planning for the spring semester. Provost Anderson will provide information this morning about a faculty forum we will be holding tomorrow to share updates with faculty and answer questions about our protocols for spring as we bring more courses into in-person and hybrid modalities. We are also already beginning planning for fall 2021. At the end of next week, we will kick off our homecoming from home activities, and I encourage all of you to visit uncco.edu/homecoming to explore our events and hope that you will join us for these activities that we have planned. With that, I'm going to turn the floor over to Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson, for a weekly report. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:28):
Thank you President Feinstein. Good morning, everyone. As we wrap up the sixth week of the semester, our teams continue to be busy. Our health services and dean of students office staff are working day and night to respond to and monitor the various cases we have associated with the campus. Unfortunately, these things don't just happen in business hours. The most common cases that we're working with are folks that are symptomatic and they're getting tested for COVID-19. But, the good news is that the bulk of those tests have ended up being negative. I reported last week that we've received some rapid test kits at the student health center. We've been using these tests when clinically appropriate. Generally, they're a quick diagnostic test, and then we follow that up with a much more accurate PCR test that needs to be sent away to a lab.

Blaine Nickeson (02:18):
The same machine that does rapid COVID tests can also do rapid flu and strep tests, and we're actually seeing quite a few cases of strep throat. As a reminder for folks, if you've been told to quarantine because you were a close contact with a positive, you can't test your way out of quarantine, so trying to run in and get a rapid test or any kind of a COVID test isn't going to release you from quarantine, because you have to allow that course of time to run in case you develop symptoms. It doesn't happen right away.

Blaine Nickeson (02:50):
But, we're currently monitoring 81 individuals through our tracking protocol. That's the same number as last week's report. As a reminder, this includes positive cases in an isolation period, close contacts with those that were positive who are serving that two week quarantine, as well as symptomatic individuals who are awaiting their test results. We have a number of people that are going to come off of that tracking list today that were associated with the cases I mentioned last week within the sorority house, but our staff needs to be able to speak with them and check on their condition before removing them. A plea for folks, if you get a voicemail or a text message from somebody in Public Health or UNC Health Services, please respond to them. Getting in touch with you is important for your health and for the health of our community.

Blaine Nickeson (03:36):
A data point that I shared last week is the number of resolved contacts. That's at 284 right now, up from 211 last week. There's a variety of reasons why we might've been monitoring these contacts. The largest group is, as I said, individuals who were tested because they were symptomatic, but then they had a negative test. The group also includes folks who have completed an isolation or quarantine period, perhaps because they were a positive case. Currently, we're monitoring 21 COVID positive individuals associated with the campus, and of those 21, they're all students. Only four of these are living in an isolation room on the campus, the rest are off campus. Of our approximately 80 isolation and quarantine rooms on campus, we're currently as of this moment using 20. You can see that the bulk of those rooms are being used for preventative quarantine.

Blaine Nickeson (04:26):
Tracking, 21 positive cases as a high watermark for us. I need to reinforce that the reason we've been able to make it through the first six weeks of the semester is that our community has been taking this virus seriously and doing things that reduce risk. We can't afford to let our guard down now, especially as we head towards the winter months. For those of you that are paying attention, the outbreak at CU Boulder continues. They're up over 1,600 positive student cases, which, I would mention, is larger than our freshmen class. But, yet, they still only have 12 positive cases amongst faculty and staff. That hasn't changed in the last week.

Blaine Nickeson (05:04):
Today, in partnership with a group called COVID Check Colorado, we're beginning NCAA required screening testing of our student athletes, and later this month, we plan to start weekly testing of approximately one-quarter of our on campus resident students. A reminder that any symptomatic students, staff, or faculty can be tested at the Student Health Center. Same goes for if you believe you've been exposed to a positive case. Please just make sure to call ahead to schedule your test, but they should be able to get you in the same day. As Andy mentioned tomorrow, I'll be participating in a town hall for faculty led by the provost. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to answer any questions faculty may have about our COVID protocols, our response to how we handle cases, and what steps we're doing to help keep people and the campus safe. That's all I have for this morning, and I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (05:55):
Thanks Blaine. Now, let's hear from Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. I'll turn the floor over to Provost Mark Anderson. Mark.

Mark Anderson (06:02):
Thank you, President Feinstein. As President Feinstein and Blaine just said, we are going to have a faculty forum on Friday, beginning at one o'clock, and really going on is, we have it scheduled for an hour and a half, but as has been the normal case, we'll try to keep it going as long as there are questions. In addition to Blaine and myself, we'll have Stephanie Torres, Angela Vaughn, and some folks from Student Affairs to answer questions about how we're preparing for a more robust on campus experience for our students in the spring semester. I'd like to thank the deans and the faculty for really working hard on the spring calendar, or the spring semester schedule, really working hard to get a more robust in person experience for students.

Mark Anderson (06:54):
We've put out a survey to our students, a random sampling of students to ask about their experiences during the fall semester. We've over-sampled the first year students to get a better sense of their experience, what's going well, what's not going well, and that will allow us to integrate some of that information into the trainings that Siedel and IDD perform, but also to get feedback to faculty so that they can be mindful of the student experience as they're preparing for the spring semester.

Mark Anderson (07:31):
We also would like to acknowledge all of our faculty. We, again, had an early alert process this fall, getting assessments, low stakes assessments out early to students so that we could see and monitor those who were doing well, but more importantly, those who are struggling so we can provide some interventions. That information has gone back to the advisors. The advisors have been reaching out. We had a record number of reports, but also a record number of students who've responded to the outreach efforts, and we feel that that's really critically important, as we work very hard in support of the SESS plan's goal of increasing our retention numbers fall to spring, but also fall to fall.

Mark Anderson (08:17):
I'd also like to acknowledge, with respect to the spring semester, our enrollment management team. They're reaching out to our students who confirmed that they were coming, but either deferred or ultimately did not register, to try to convince them to find out what they did and to encourage them to return to UNC for the spring semester. The enrollment team also this past week sent out the first acceptances for fall of 2021, and that's really good, and we're starting to see an uptick in the participation of prospective students and their families in on campus tours of our facility. That's going to increase and become more and more prevalent as admissions for fall of 2021 increase. We need to be mindful of that activity on campus, and it's following all the health and safety protocols as well. We're doing that in an environment, the new environment of COVID-19.

Mark Anderson (09:27):
We also are planning for the fall semester, and it just seems like we're just about ready to publish the spring semester schedule, that will be published on Monday. It's roughly five weeks before the beginning of the spring semester. Enrollment Management is planning an email campaign out to students to help them with the registration process, but also to encourage them to speak to their advisor and get ready for the registration.

Mark Anderson (09:56):
We are preparing for the fall semester, and the fall semester preparation is one of great uncertainty. We don't know how things will change. One thing that Blaine has continued to emphasize with me and others is that our ability to test students is getting stronger and stronger and stronger, and the cost of the testing is going down. That's one thing that we're factoring in. There's broad discussion about a vaccine, but we don't know when a vaccine will be available. As we prepare for the fall semester, we really need to be mindful of our current situation, projecting what might happen in the future, but also preparing for any eventualities. That's one of the things that, really, is very challenging about getting ready for the fall semester.

Mark Anderson (10:50):
I think that's about all I have. Reminder for the town hall on Friday, we'll be sending around more information and links to the Zoom, but please plan on coming. Please have a lot of questions. We'll have people from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Facilities to really answer and address any questions and concerns you might have. With that, I will turn it over to Tobias Guzman.

Tobias Guzmán (11:19):
Thanks Mark. Good morning, everyone. There's a few things to share with you from Student Affairs. First, today marks the beginning of LGBTQ month. This history month would not exist without Rodney Wilson, a 29 year old Missouri history high school teacher who came out to his class in 1994. After teaching about the Holocaust, Wilson shared that he could have been killed for being gay if he had lived during that time. Wilson's vision for the informative and celebratory month was to dedicate the teaching of LGBT history. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on our campus is a tremendous resource, and I encourage all of us to learn more and support our LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff, by participating in any of the events or activities that I have shared in the chat box, which I will do right now.

(The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) has planned numerous events over the month including:

October 22: Movie Screening: Brother Outsider – Cosponsors: The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, Marcus Garvey Cultural Center & International Film Series)

Tobias Guzmán (12:16):
Secondly, the Cesar Chavez Cultural Center is celebrating 35 years at UNC. Throughout this time, hundreds of Latinx students have gone through the center's doors, graduated, and are now giving back to UNC. Speaking of giving back, we currently have the 35th crowdfunding event going on right now. All money raised will go directly to the Cesar Chavez Cultural Center Recruitment, Retention, and Educational fund, or the Latina Latino Youth Leadership Conference fund. The link for this and the 35th anniversary celebration also will be located in the chat right now.

(Celebrating 35 Years of the UNC César Chávez Cultural Center - https://cesear-chavez-center-35th-anniversary.everydayhero.do/. The César Chávez Cultural Center Celebrates 35 Years of History at UNC - https://www.unco.edu/cesar-chavez-cultural-center/anniversary/)

Tobias Guzmán (13:01):
Finally, UNC Homecoming 2020 is right around the corner, themed this year as Homecoming From Home. Beginning October 5th through the 9th, and homecoming weekend October 9th through the 11th. The lineup of events is a conglomerate of events that connects all students and alumni to celebrate bear pride. University Advancement and Student Affairs offer a great lineup of events for this special UNC tradition. The website, as Andy indicated at the opening, is also in the link, and the hashtag (#BearsStrong that we hope you all use as well.

Tobias Guzmán (13:47):
As you can see, engaging students and providing them social and educational experiences is still at the forefront of our work. Although we have been challenged with figuring out how to do our work differently, we have not lost sight of what we do best in Student Affairs. We respond to changing conditions by providing services and programs consistent with students' needs. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Now, back to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (14:16):
Thank you Tobias, and thank you Mark for your presentations. I want to thank everybody for tuning in today, and as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday. Take care, everybody.