The Campus and Community Advisory Committee met on February 25 to receive the latest update on the university’s management of COVID-19 and plans for vaccinations. The following notes are courtesy of President Ryan Collins. The full recording can be found here. Please take note of the important information regarding vaccines for graduate TAs and RAs (other than those involved in health affairs).
Remarks from Chancellor Guskiewicz
- Believes we are meeting the definition of a “successful spring semester” as outlined by CCAC during fall planning.
- Carolina Together Testing Program has been successful in catching cases early and mitigating spread. Positive testing rate remains below 0.6% with more than 75,000 tests conducted since the program began.
- Conversing with Orange County Health Department to discuss the possibility of multiple smaller, limited attendance graduation ceremonies in Kenan Stadium the weekend of May 15-16. OCHD believes this is possible following many of the same protocols that were used for football games in the fall. Working to finalize speakers.
- Fortunately, we did not see an uptick in cases following gatherings on Franklin Street related to the Carolina-Duke game but are nevertheless concerned this could be a problem if it happens again on March 6.
- We must continue to be vigilant in off-campus gatherings to mitigate viral spread.
- Turning our attention to getting our campus population vaccinated as North Carolina moves into Phase 3.
- We must start thinking about the fall semester. With that in mind, what do members of CCAC believe success will look like in the Fall 2021 semester?
- Hoping to look more like Fall 2019 than Fall 2020, but with some restrictions (masking, etc.) still in place. Hoping to have more students on campus, more in-person classes.
- Will continue to follow the science on what is safe.
UNC-Duke Basketball Game (Chief Perry)
- UNC Police is preparing for the upcoming UNC-Duke game on March 6.
- In preparation for the last game, UNC Police dispatched a small contingent force in cooperation with Chapel Hill Police, anticipating that people would comply with public communications and guidance as they had during Halloween.
- Prior incident was brief, and crowd was dispersed in 30 minutes, 1 arrest was made.
- Chapel Hill Police is taking the lead in preparation for the March 6 game, but UNC Police is working closely with them.
- Increasing staffing for March 6 game but also trying to avoid the appearance of endorsing a gathering. Also working to remove any potential flammable or incendiary devices in the area. However, no police officer will be using physical force to remove those who may attempt to rush Franklin Street.
- Given Governor’s recent executive order, UNC Police is prepared to provide assistance should Athletics decide to allow fans at upcoming games at the Smith Center.
- Chancellor shared that they are working with Student Affairs to look at ways to communicate alternative ways to celebrate, including the possibility of safe watch parties.
Vaccine Update (Cathy Brennan, Office of Environment, Health and Safety)
- University is encouraging (but not currently requiring) students, faculty, and staff to receive vaccine when it is available to them.
- Johnson & Johnson vaccine expected to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA within the next week.
- On February 24, North Carolina opened a subgroup of Group 3:
- Subgroup includes childcare, Pre-K, and K-12 teachers and support staff.
- Must be in-person at your place of work, including staff who anticipate an imminent return to in-person work setting.
- University students who are student teachers and placed in childcare or K-12 students are included. Individuals must self-identify when scheduling an appointment for a vaccine.
- On March 10, North Carolina is expected to open more of Group 3 (not clear if it will be all of Group 3 or another subgroup).
- This includes higher education instructors and support staff.
- What does “in person” mean for the purpose of Phase 3?
- State definition does not specify a percentage of hours or other indicators of what constitutes “in-person.”
- EHS advises people who believe they qualify to self-identify as “in-person.”
- Graduate TAs do fall under the instructor section of Group 3.
- RAs in non-healthcare fields who believe they meet the State definition of “frontline worker” may self-identify when vaccine appointments become available to frontline workers.
- How will vaccines be distributed?
- UNC is not currently receiving or distributing the vaccine itself. Campus Health probably will take this on when we get to Phase 5.
- UNC Health has a mass vaccination clinic at the Friday Center.
- Orange County Health Department also has a drive-through clinic at the RR parking lot.
- A vaccine subgroup of the public health working group is working on compiling communications regarding vaccine distribution information. University Communications will be sending out an email soon with additional information and will be publishing regular updates in The Well.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Info Webpage: https://ehs.unc.edu/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/vaccinations/
Commencement (Stacey Warner, University Events & Joel Curran, University Communications)
- Have continued to communicate with Class of 2020 – at this point they are less interested in a formal commencement ceremony than a “reunion” when it is safe to organize such an event.
- Over 80% of students in a recent survey expressed a desire for an in-person event. The survey included undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
- Using Kenan Stadium’s social distancing plan from football season to inform development of a COVD-safe commencement plan.
- Students only allowed on the field, no 50-year class reunion, no processional, smaller platform party, some pre-recorded content, limited guest attendance and would require tickets with assigned seats.
- Cannot do any in-person departmental ceremonies due to lack of adequate space.
- UNC reserves the right to pivot to virtual only if conditions change.
- Want to be flexible as possible and give people choice when it comes to who will be staffing the event.