University of Colorado Boulder officials held a virtual town hall Friday morning updating the campus community about ongoing measures being taken to mitigate the risk of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus. Dan Jones, associate vice chancellor of Integrity, Safety and Compliance joined Garry DeJong, director of the Events and Emergency Management Division, to discuss initiatives and answer virtually submitted audience questions.
The two began with new information on the CU Boulder employee who tested presumptive positive for the virus, an announcement that came Thursday. The employee does not work in dining services and did not eat in the Center for Community (C4C) building where they were believed to have been working on March 9 between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon. The university is working with Boulder County Public Health to identify individuals who may have come in contact with the employee, who is currently in quarantine.
With the decision to move all in-person classes online beginning Monday, Jones said the university is working with its technology departments and believes it has the infrastructure to sustain the roughly 36,000 students who will be using the university’s IT systems.
“If needs of greater capacity arrive, we will work to address that,” Jones said. “The technological issues that may come up may be outside of our control. They may be remotely, for example, in someone’s individual computer.
In response to a question submitted asking if the university intends to reimburse students for their tuition, neither Jones or DeJong gave a definitive answer.
“The campus is continuing to determine what types of plans we need to have as the situation evolves,” Jones said. “This is something we will have additional information in the future.”
On the topic of testing, all people visiting Wardenburg Health Center are being screened for possible COVID-19 exposure, according to the center’s website. Jones said the university is currently focusing its testing on students, and more specifically to just those who display symptoms such as coughing, chest pain and fevers. The university is advising faculty and staff to pursue testing through their health care provider.
Students returning from spring break are asked to use discretion when coming back. Jones and DeJong encourage students to self-quarantine if they feel it is necessary.
Other questions were related to a possible campus closure. The campus has so far resisted a full closure of campus buildings and facilities. Currently, work facilities such as dining halls and the CU Book Store remain staffed and open.
In response to one virtually submitted audience question, Jones said there is no system currently in place for unused meal points that may result in a closure of the dining halls.
“We will continue to adapt our response as the situation changes,” Jones said.
When asked about on-campus work, the two said any employee who can work remotely should do so beginning Monday. The university is adjusting schedules for community safety officials to limit their exposure. Jones said individual faculty will be working with their departments to find the best options for them.
When asked about the possibility of large meeting spaces such as the University Memorial Center or Recreation Center closing, DeJong said it will be a “case-by-case” basis.
“We are trying to maintain that the facilities that are open are safe,” DeJong said.
As of now, university commencement for graduating students will still happen in May. The university will post a full update with final decisions by next week.
DeJong also said research programs will continue
“Research programs are very important for CU Boulder,” he said. “There have different scheduling dynamics and needs and we continue to work with our research programs in identifying ways to make sure they have the access and the support they need to maintain their research programs.”
The panelists said they will be updating the community again, possibly in another virtual town hall.
“We recognize that mitigating the spread of coronavirus will take work,” Jones said.
Contact CU Independent Senior News Editor Tory Lysik at firstname.lastname@example.org.