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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

October 22, Operational Update

October 22 Update (Watch on Youtube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, October 22nd, and this is our weekly operational status update report. I appreciate all of you being here with us today.

President Feinstein (00:10):
As I mentioned last week, we have started surveillance testing in our residential populations on campus. And a week earlier, we also started surveillance testing for our student athletes. And we received the results for those tests earlier this week. And I'm happy to say that all of the results for over 500 tests have come back negative. Even while cases are increasing in Colorado, our campus remains a safe place to be because of our students, our faculty and staff, and that they are taking appropriate precautions to keep one another healthy. While we've had some positive test results outside of surveillance testing, the numbers remain very limited. And I've been informed as of this morning, I believe we have roughly 15 cases.

President Feinstein (00:58):
I want to thank all of you for wearing your masks, social distancing, engaging in safe behaviors, and washing your hands, things we need to do to continue to prevent the spread of the virus. And with just a few weeks remaining in the semester, I know that we are all experiencing a little COVID fatigue, but it's important that we keep all of these efforts up. And as I've said before, we got this, Bears, and we can't stop now. Thank you all so much for doing your part. And with that, I'm going to turn the floor over to Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson for his report. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (01:37):
Thank you, President Feinstein. Good morning, everyone. I'd first like to take a moment to extend my condolences to those that have been affected by the multiple wildfires that are burning in the foothills in the high country. A good friend of mine actually lost their home last night when the East Troublesome Fire literally exploded towards Grand Lake. As if 2020 couldn't pile much more on to all of us, the hits just keep coming. For those parents that may be watching this video from a distance, know that these fires, they don't pose a danger to UNC or Greeley other than some heavy smoke that we've seen. The closest pine tree stands to Greeley about 30 miles to the west of us. So no need to be worried there. We have heard some concerns from parents. But please keep the responders in your thoughts as they tackle these immense fires.

Blaine Nickeson (02:29):
We've put out a couple messages to the campus, but also if we have any members of our community that have been impacted by these fires, we have a number of ways that we can help including housing assistance on campus if that's a basic need that we can help fulfill.

Blaine Nickeson (02:43):
As you mentioned, we'll continue the screening tests among residential students and athletics in the weeks ahead. This week, we've done about 500 tests. We don't expect every week to be free of positive cases, especially as case counts increase in our broader community. But it's an important tool for us to be able to identify and isolate positive cases that are asymptomatic. Currently, you were correct, as you said, we're monitoring 15 COVID positive individuals associated with the campus. That's manageable and it's lower than our high point of 21 a few weeks ago. And those positive cases are all amongst students, one of which lives on campus.

Blaine Nickeson (03:20):
Of our approximately 80 isolation quarantine rooms on campus, we're currently using 23. That higher use campus is related to the number of people in our tracking protocol right now. Every week I talk about these are sort of from least common to most common. There are positive cases that are in isolation. They're close contacts of positives that are in a mandatory quarantine. And then the largest group are folks that are symptomatic, awaiting test results and they're in preventative quarantine. But we have 127 people in that tracking protocol right now. We've had the number of contacts that's jumped. It's not because of positive cases. As we said, we've only got 15 positive cases. That's not the driver. What we're seeing is that each positive case is having way more close contacts than we've been seeing in the past.

Blaine Nickeson (04:13):
As you mentioned, people are having COVID fatigue and have been expanding their groups of people that they're interacting with in close manner. For example, we had a positive case this week in one of the residence halls where the student had been in close contact with 11 others. So all of those folks need to be put into quarantine. That exact same phenomena is happening with the broader population in Greeley and Weld County in Colorado and nationally. The number one driver of the state's case growth right now is through those small private gatherings.

Blaine Nickeson (04:44):
Statewide and locally, new cases and hospitalizations, they continue to rise. Public health officials are very concerned with the trend that we're seeing. Hospitalizations are back at the level that we haven't seen since May. If we can't tamp down on case growth, the state will be forced to implement stricter restrictions on counties, including Weld County. Logan County, our neighbor to the east was just the first county in Colorado backwards on the state style system. I believe in the next week, we'll see another half dozen nearby counties, including Adams in Denver, move to the tighter restrictions under the orange Safer at Home level 3 high risk category. Larimer County is also likely to move at least one level higher. Their data right now support that perhaps they would have to move two levels.

Blaine Nickeson (05:31):
Our two week case incidents here in Weld County is just on the edge of hitting the orange level. And each day is just moving a tiny bit in the wrong direction. As a reminder, if we hit that orange level, we have to reduce our office staffing from 50% to 25%. Our restaurants and our retail establishments get cut to 25%, and our gyms have to close among many other impacts. All of these are policy levers that are designed to slow the spread of the virus, but they have a significant impact upon our economy and just our quality of life.

Blaine Nickeson (06:03):
As I wrap up, a little housekeeping, I'd like to send an additional reminder to UNC employees. All PPE and disinfecting and cleaning supplies need to be ordered centrally through UNC facilities. We maintain a large inventory of items that the campus uses. And because of the volume that we buy in, our unit pricing is much better than our department going out and just buying a few boxes of gloves on their own. We're also able to ensure that the product quality and the effectiveness meets our standards. So just a reminder, we've seen a little bit of a drop off in the ordering coming in from campus. And we're not sure if that's because people are using less or maybe they're venturing out on their own, but a reminder for the community. With that, I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (06:44):
Thanks, Blaine. It certainly is alarming the number of increasing cases we've had that we're monitoring. So I hope that all of you continue to practice social distancing, wear your masks, and wash your hands. It's vitally important that you continue to do that. I now want to hear from our Provost Mark Anderson, our Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez. Mark.

Mark Anderson (07:06):
Thank you very much, President Feinstein. I would also like to just reiterate the importance of staying diligent in maintaining social distance, wearing masks, washing your hands. We've been doing a great job up till now, and we need to continue to do that. I would also like to take some time to thank the Student Senate. Last night, they hosted a town hall that I was able to participate in. I had a great conversations with many of our students. And those interactions really reinforced two important things for me. One, our students are working really hard both academically, but also to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our campus. And they also very much appreciate the effort that our faculty are putting in to give them a great learning experience this semester. They also expressed a real desire to get back to campus, to have those interactions, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom, and really to build a connection and a sense of belonging to each other as well as the campus community. Those things are really two important reminders to myself.

Mark Anderson (08:17):
As Blaine has indicated on multiple occasions, there have been no reported transmissions of COVID in a classroom setting. And I'd like to take the opportunity to thank our faculty for continuing to deliver on that promise to our students. And I would really encourage our faculty to really thank our students for their diligence in maintaining a health and safety environment. It's because of the diligence of the community that we've been able to maintain a low case count at our institution and within our community. And that's really very impressive when you look at other institutions and other universities across the country. This diligence really gives us confidence that we'll be able to complete the academic semester on the calendar that we set at the very beginning of the year. So I want to really thank you for that.

Mark Anderson (09:11):
As we prepare for the spring semester, we've asked the deans to facilitate conversations within the colleges among the faculty about best practices what's working for you, what's not working so we can really mentor and learn from each other, and really important, how are we making those connections to students? How are we helping students to build a sense of community? And I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the work that I've been made aware of in supporting our students in this interesting and unusual learning environment.

Mark Anderson (09:43):
UNC has been a leader in the State of Colorado in open educational resources. And the Department of Mathematics has been among the leaders on the campus. Professor Oscar Levin recently presented a workshop on open educational resources, in particular how to use it open source type setting to generate open educational resources that look and feel very much like a commercial book. Dr. Levin as well as Dr. Virgil Pierce have authored OER textbooks in calculus, and these resources really help to help students by lowering the overall cost of attendance at a university. Dr. Pierce and Nathaniel Miller also in the School of Mathematical Sciences recently presented a webinar or workshop to the Mathematical Association of America, talking about teaching advanced mathematics in an online environment.

Mark Anderson (10:45):
In the College of Education Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Tamara Yakaboski makes connections to our students by sending care packages to the students. These care packages include academic items, tips for success in the class, but also tips for stress relief. And that's really very important in this environment that we currently sit in. She also directs the HESAL program and she's hosted virtual tours of UNC for new students who perhaps aren't on campus. And she does this by live streaming from her cell phone as she walks around and describes what's going on.

Mark Anderson (11:24):
The Department of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education is piloting virtual methods for delivering telehealth counseling services and virtual supervisions of in training students. This continues the education of our students in this environment that we live in, so they can continue to make progress towards their professional goals, but it also provides a really important service to the community by having those counseling opportunities out in the community. So thanks to the Department of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education.

Mark Anderson (11:59):
In the School of Theater Art and Dance, one of the questions we received early on over the course of the summer and beginning of the fall semester was, would students have performance opportunities? And Anneg Toewe, Monte Black, Ken Womble, Brian Hapcic have worked really hard over the course of this semester to provide performance opportunities for our Theater Arts and Dance students. And they are producing four productions on the main stage. And these are going to be live streamed and filmed for audiences to watch online. Also in the School of Theater Art and Dance, Professor Ryan Driscoll has been hosting Saturday night listening parties via Zoom with musical theater majors to keep them engaged with topics in theater arts that go beyond the courses that they have.

Mark Anderson (12:54):
These are all examples of efforts that faculty have been making to continue to reach out and engage our students in meaningful ways. And I'll highlight more in the coming years. This is just a small sample. But I again want to thank our faculty for really going above and beyond oftentimes in ensuring and working with students to keep them connected and engaged. And with that, I will turn the podium over to Katrina.

Katrina Rodriguez (13:24):
Good morning, everybody. Great to see you. Thank you, Mark. This morning, I wanted to talk a little bit about our UNC becoming an Hispanic Serving Institution or HSI. And as a part of our vision 2030, we are in the midst of also looking at specific strategies for UNC to become a Hispanic institution by 2025. In order to be recognized as an HSI, institutions require a 25% undergraduate enrollment of students identifying as Latinx. And currently UNC is just about 24%. And what I will share is that it's more than a percent of particular Latinx students. We desire to be student success focused. And so what are all of the services, pipelines to K-12, transfer services that are required for us to be a student serving institution, right?

Katrina Rodriguez (14:24):
And the other piece of this is that as we have been doing at UNC looking at our student success initiatives through our CES work and other initiatives across campus, we're really looking at how do we assist our students to persist and graduate, and what are the types of things that we can do that assist all students. And so it's really that balance.

Katrina Rodriguez (14:47):
So next week we are going to be holding a number of campus conversations. We will be sharing information about what it means for UNC to be an HSI, and we want to hear the campus' perspectives. And so we will be hosting conversations on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week [inaudible 00:15:08] for those campus conversations. And please also know that we will not be attributing any of the comments to individuals. Rather we will be pooling that information together and creating themes. And we'll just have the theme. So please know that folks can share quite candidly. And we will also have a number of facilitators. This will all be virtual. So we will have breakout rooms. And we have a number of facilitators who are excited to get to lead these conversations. So please join us for one of those sessions.

Katrina Rodriguez (15:44):
Taking Mark's lead on kudos to efforts for various campus members, I want to give a big shout out to the offices who are really bringing care and facilitation for students who are either exposed to COVID or contracted the virus who we need to have quarantine or isolate. And it's a scary proposition to realize you've been in contact with somebody who's tested positive or you yourself are. And so the teams in the Dean of Students office, the Student Health Services and our housing and residential education programs as well as our dining services have really hard together to create the best opportunities to interact with students and families, help answer questions, get them where they need to go, ensure that meals are delivered as the student is getting to those spaces so that we really are trying to assist the students in all ways.

Katrina Rodriguez (16:49):
And then certainly our faculty being very willing to work with students who may not be able to be say in an in-person class and that kind of thing. So I appreciate all of the leadership from those areas. And I appreciate that our Dean of Students, Colleen Sonnentag, who is helping us to lead this effort. So I'm very grateful. I know it's a huge lift and there have been a lot of... As we learn more about the virus and learn more about strategies, that constantly evolve. So it's not sort of something you put in place and go. It requires a constant effort to ensure that we are meeting students' needs and able to communicate with them as often as they would like and checking in on them as well.

Katrina Rodriguez (17:35):
The third thing I'd like to share today is a few slides related to our Aims2UNC. I had this all ready to go. Relating to our Aims2UNC initiative, whereby we have students who you are connecting first at Aims to be in a transfer program, and we call it transition program between our two institutes so that they begin at Aims, take out a certain amount of credit and with a purposeful and intentional way of coming to UNC and having all of those credits transfer as well as looking at what student engagement looks like. And so our two institutions are working really strongly. Can somebody just let me know that they can see this?

President Feinstein (18:25):
Yes. Looks great.

Katrina Rodriguez (18:25):
Perfect. I know [inaudible 00:18:27] different options here. This is a new look for me here. So you can see this for this fall, these are the number of students who have entered the program at Aims specifically Aims2UNC. So they have 63 new folks for this year. And we launched last year with tremendous excitement. I think we had over a hundred students right away. So been looking at ways of engaging students. You can see that we have more female students than male students. And that's certainly true at UNC as well.

Katrina Rodriguez (19:07):
I find it fascinating when we look at age in terms of there's almost 30% of students who are in that age range of 22 to 34 or more. So I appreciate our opportunity to work with students who may be coming back to school or thinking about a degree for the first time. You can also see our racial and ethnic breakdown. And so as we talk about our HSI related initiatives, that you can see that we have almost 30% Latinx coming from Aims. Aims is also considered an HSI. And so we look forward to our work together in that. And then you can also see our first generation and Pell eligible students are very high, which again match the numbers for UNC.

Katrina Rodriguez (19:58):
Secondly, for those students who have transitioned to UNC, so they're taking their courses here now, we have 28 that transitioned for this year. And you can again see sort of the gender breakdown. And also again here, we have in this case the same amount of students who are in that 18 to 21 as we do our 22 to 34 and then up. So I love that we have so many students transitioning from all age ranges. And then here too you see our ethnic and racial breakdown as well as our Latinx group here. Again, 80% first gen. So we're experts at working with our first gen students and guiding them along the way for their own persistence and graduation.

Katrina Rodriguez (20:48):
Some of the top majors at Aims, you see a range of Psychology, Criminal Justice, Elementary Ed. And then as they've transitioned, the top five majors, Elementary Ed, as you would expect, Business is similar as well, Psychology. And then our Human Services and Sociology department students are very interested in these programs.

Katrina Rodriguez (21:13):
And then finally, in terms of our student engagement, we feel really excited about all the ways that we've been able to engage our Aims2UNC students in terms of Unite presentations, which are diversity, equity and inclusion related presentations and workshops. Our Career Series, and the Center for Career Readiness does a great job in helping students take a look at what's out there in your chosen major, what opportunities or combination of majors and minors in terms of what students might want to consider for career pathways. And then some fun things that the cultural centers as well as educational pieces and student success pieces. And of course, trivia nights, you have to have those.

Katrina Rodriguez (21:59):
We've also done a great job in really having Aims and UNC folks help give tours and picking up Bear IDs. It might seem like a small thing, but when you're coming to a new institution, finding your way around, who do I talk to, just kind of navigating as we all do when we were in a new space. And so I appreciate that very much that personal touch that our staff at both institutions are providing to our students.

Katrina Rodriguez (22:28):
And then certainly as we're looking at the students who've transitioned, we have a panel discussion created so that students can talk back and forth as well as other tours and opportunities to engage in other services and activities here on campus. So appreciate all of the hard work. We have so many individuals. I couldn't even tell you. I bet we have about 40 folks all together who are working very intensely on various committees, both in Aims and UNC. So thank you all for all the work that you do and congratulations to our Aims2UNC students. We are so excited to have you be a part of the program. So with that, I'll turn it back over to you, Andy.

President Feinstein (23:14):
Thanks, Katrina. And I'm glad you brought up Aims2UNC today. I had a chance this morning to be on the radio, mornings with Gail on KFKA with Leah Bornstein, the President and CEO of Aims Community College. And we had a chance to talk about this program as well. So thank you very much for your update. Mark, thank you for your update. Everyone, thanks for tuning in. And as always, stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again next Thursday. Take care, everybody.

Katrina Rodriguez (23:40):