Transcript of the Webinar on UGA reopening called by senior administration, 8/4/20
Participants: President Jere Morehead, Provost Jack Hu, Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson, University Health Center Executive Director Garth Russo, AU/UGA Medical Partnership Campus Dean Shelley Nuss, and College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Lisa Nolan. Libby Morris, Director of the Institute of Higher Education, moderator.
Libby Morris: Good afternoon. And thank you for joining us. I’m Libby Morris and I serve as the Director of Higher Education here at the University of Georgia. I will serve as the moderator for this discussion. Our forum today examines the University of Georgia’s response to one of the most complex and difficult challenges facing colleges and universities across the country, how to resume classes this fall in the midst of an international pandemic. This conversation was announced four days ago and the university invited faculty and staff, students and parents to submit questions in advance of our session via a Qualtrics form. This method offered those asking questions the option to remain anonymous. As you might imagine we have received an abundance of questions. Several common themes emerged during this one hour discussion. We will move through as many frequently asked questions as possible. Our panelists today include president Jerry Moorhead, Dr. Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Instruction, Dr. Jack Hu, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, VP Victor Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Lisa Nolan, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Shelly Nuss, Campus Dean of the Augusta University UGA Medical Partnership, and Dr. Garth Russo, Executive Director of the University Health Center.
President Morehead, to open our discussion, the first question goes to you. What scares you about this fall? What keeps you up at night?
2. Jere Morehead: Well as I enter my eighth year as President of the University of Georgia, there are a lot of things that keep me up at night, but with respect to this pandemic, you're always asking yourself have you thought of this issue or that issue, and fortunately for me, I've been able to rely on the collective expertise of over 140 individuals who comprise nine task forces on this campus that developed extensive reopening plans and those plans formed the basis of the three-phased reopening that we have been proceeding under since the middle of June that compiled work of that group was published to the campus community in early June. It's over 200 pages in length. And I think that that group of very talented individuals did a great job of trying to think of every issue to manage risk and to assess higher pathway forward. At the same time I was appointed by the system chancellor to be part of a small working group of presidents in the system to plan for the system as a whole to reopen. That provided me with a lot of additional insight and perspectives, and over the course of this summer, I think I’ve never spent so much time on either Zoom or telephone calls with the presidents of Georgia Tech and Georgia State and Augusta and Kennesaw and Georgia Southern, just running by ideas and considering issues, but even with all that said you know, you worry about what you haven't thought about, and you worry about what could happen, and you certainly hope, based on the great work you have done, will not happen. But I think what we have attempted to do is manage risk responsibly, but it is clear that COVID is going to be with us for a very long time. At least through the next two semesters, perhaps even longer. In my view, we can’t afford to fail as we enter this final stage now of reopening. But yeah, it keeps me up at night.
3. Libby Morris: Thank you. Provost Hu, from the submitted questions the following: The plan to test 300 volunteers daily seems entirely inadequate for any sort of reasonable surveillance. As does 24,000 tests by Thanksgiving. Why are you not testing the full student, faculty, and staff body for COVID-19 prior to starting in-person classes and then every 48 hours afterward as recommended by public health professionals in a research study?
4. Jack Hu: Dr. Morris, thank you for the question. Like many of our peer institutions, UGA has developed a multi-pronged approach to risk management for campus that includes surveillance programs, education, awareness, increased environmental hygiene, social distancing, and the policy requires face covering while inside buildings, when social distancing is unavailable. The surveillance program held by the medical oversight task force, together with other experts, is contingent to help us understand and manage risk for Covid 19 in our communities at the population level. The surveillance program includes symptom checking with a symptom checker that’s called Dawg check, as well as the ongoing use of surveillance testing. And we have a testing clinic set up on Legion field, that’s near central campus. Our plan is to unite participation by students, staff, and faculty who are asymptomatic. So we're testing those through the surveillance program, those who might not yet have symptoms. So after the initial participation, we will continue with small groups who are willing to continue throughout the semester. While we continue at the same time, some random samples. The Vet Med diagnostic lab will be equipped initially with testing for 300 individuals a day, but as our testing capacity improves, in particular, if we are approved for both tests, which requires FDA approval, I think our capacity for testing will improve. Of course with our own testing facilities and abilities, the advantage of our own testing facilities is faster turnaround time. Meaning we should be able to get a result reported between 48-72 hours, which is much faster than anybody testing currently. Please note that the University Health Center will have standing capacity to test students who may have shown symptoms. Employees may also seek out other tests that are recommended by their healthcare providers. As the pandemic continues, we expect that the actual number of tests that are performed at UGA will be performed on a daily basis will vary. We put all these plans together, symptom reporting, service testing and other safety practice. Those together will allow UGA to have a more complete picture at the conclusion, enabling us to identify patterns and trends that require additional testing, while addressing resources, in particular supply chains, associated with testing.
5. Morris: Okay, thank you. Dr. Russo, you are leading the medical oversight task force, which reviewed support options and recommended the purchase of the notification and tracking app. The question is, please explain the Dawg Check app. How will it work? Specifically in the case of the classroom, what is the protocol if a student tests positive? How will UGA account for all the students and staff who have been exposed to the virus in a classroom? Are all of them supposed to self isolate? Is there a university wide rule for these procedures? Or will it be department by department?
6. Russo: Well, I guess I would start by saying we've been using a Qualtrics platform since March to help account for cases that have occurred on campus. That's been primarily reliant on self reporting basis. And we feel like it is as efficient as on a stable platform. And for the most part very intuitive to use. So as we began to look for a more functional rather than accounting based strategy, the Qualtrics platform does have an application that will allow for both surveillance and reporting notification functions. So it was kind of a natural segue for us to go from what we are familiar with to something that is most undoubtedly very much more robust on the back end. But that on the front end still looks like something that's familiar to us all. So that in looking at all the various options for us became kind of the product of choice. Now, one of the most important aspects of trying to provide a platform is two things, one, we want to be able to be able to inform as many people locally on campus as we can about actions as they're occurring as they're being reported. And we want individuals to receive as much guidance as we can, as they're providing us that information. And then the third is, we want to be able to collect information that can make it particularly efficient for cases that invocation and contact tracing. And as we all know, contact tracing is something that we've partnered with the DPH to do. So the how does it work is, in essence, two applications. One of them is a daily symptom checker. This is something that's universally applicable to everybody, and will help them to decide, should they come to work today. I mean, if for any reason through exposure or some sort of symptom complex, it looks like perhaps they shouldn't come to work today and to provide them with some guidance as to what to do if, and in the case of students, perhaps to alert students or an outreach. Let's say that a student is tested through the survey that they have symptoms or have had a significant exposure, not so much the Student Care and Outreach would intervene necessarily in that level, but that they'd be aware. The same would apply to to employees and faculty where supervisory structure might be nice to be able to notify that they've had one of their reports to let to fail the screen. And knowing that they would be a little bit more able to be proactive in either responding to covering that person's work or to reaching out to them. So, this also helps us see on a symptom based level, what kind of activity is happening in various strata across our staff and student population. I mean, it's one pillar for our overall surveillance data set. Then once one progresses from daily symptom checking, then we have other various ways for students to be and faculty and staff to be tested. And in the case where they test positive, we would also want a similar set of actions to occur, both for us to locally be able to mitigate locations where that individual may have been to be able to notify either students here and outreach to help the students support or in the case of faculty and staff, the supervisory structure would need to be informed, as would FMD. And through FMD, perhaps even building managers who may be able to make our swifter action where it's not necessarily cleaning but shutting a door. Let's say to grow the use of in a room or classroom, that aspect is designed to collect information. Ultimately, that relates to contacts and also to locations that they've been the source of the testing. Ultimately that information will be distilled and delivered to the DPH so that they can open up a case for their contact tracer case loads and get started on that important work or like, we will also be able to surveil that, and as we can, we'll help prepare some of the folks who are reporting to be ready for for DPH in further contact tracing, so that that kind of automated information collection, distillation, reconfiguration and representation of that information to invest in parties to either support or help mitigate, or ultimately do the work in public health. That's the way it works. Now, how it might apply in a classroom setting would be if a student would, or a faculty member who's teaching, would submit a survey, where they have been in the last 48 hours is a significant part of the information shared there. Classes by number that they've been in, over that timeframe get listed. And so student locations of the classroom, the physical locations of classes, and even through classroom rosters, we can then have a data set that gives us the macro information about what areas may have been impacted. Now we have a kind of a universal cleaning strategy for most of the facilities on campus so that a very routine cleaning is done at a very deep level on a regular basis daily. So that coupled with some of the delays and some of these tests being reported, we feel like most of the exposures that happened, or most of the events that occurred today will be mitigated by cleaning tonight. So tomorrow through the day, there won't be significant disruption of the classroom by finding out that someone tested positive. When it comes to not the facility, but the individuals involved people in a classroom, the instructor, our definition of a significant or close contact does apply in the classroom just like it does everywhere else. So as long as the distancing of practices are maintained in the classroom, theoretically, there could be no one in the classroom who actually is identified as a close contact and we would hope to try to enforce that preventive measure more than anything. So the protocol really would be to adhere to the preventive measures to minimize the number of ad hoc interventions that after they occur, they could be quite conservative and very disruptive. So our goal is to drive those down as low as possible. When they do occur, we will have enough bandwidth to react to them without taking our mind or attention off other areas.
7. Morris: Okay.
8. Russo: And then the last, I would just say there is a lot of information that's moving around. We did appreciate this particular product, because it is safe, it does have you know, the stricter compliances for information sharing. So, we do feel like we've done a fairly robust product.
9. Morris: Okay, thank you. Dean Nuss, you also serve as a member of the Medical Oversight Task Force. So the question, how will the university reconcile HIPAA with workers’ and students’ right to know that there is a positive case in their class, residence hall or workplace?
10. Nuss: Thank you for that question. We had to have someone not unmute properly. And that was me. So as Garth said, this Dawg Check app is HIPAA compliant. And so that's kind of the term we use in healthcare to be sure that we protect patient information very securely. And so, back to Dr. Morris's question. I mean, yes, we're collecting very sensitive health information through Dawg Check from faculty, staff and students regarding COVID-19 testing and results in close contact. All of those are protected under HIPAA, ADA and FERPA. But those laws also allow for health and safety reasons, to the university to give notice notifications to certain individuals that need that information to keep our campus safe in this time of the pandemic. So that includes notification for faculty and others that are in supervisory capacity to understand if a student in that class org, a worker in their area does receive the positive chances. So, the good news is the app is compliant with Dawg Check. But those notifications are allowed just for health and safety reasons in health control and continue to keep our network and our places of work in our classes safe.
11. Morris: Thank you. Vice President Wilson, Housing reports to you. So the question, if a student tests positive, will they be isolated in a special residence hall? Will there be housing facilities for students who live off campus? What if that student lives with a roommate? Is that student supposed to self isolate? If so, where is that?
12. Victor Wilson: Well, generally what we want students to do, and all students, is once they receive a positive test, obviously is to leave campus as soon as possible. And the students who are living on campus and are not able to return to their permanent residence, which is a request that we will make. If that is not possible then housing will be working with them in terms of providing an isolation space for those students in the residence halls. For students who are living off campus and are unable to return to their permanent residence. As we mentioned with Dawg Check, once they have put their information, their Student Care and Outreach will know who these students are off campus and will work with them. And so in terms of academic needs or housing, whatever the case may be, we'll be there to work with them. And so at that time, we will have to look at what's available. And we can work with students off campus in terms of finding a place if there are no housing options for them. I think it is important to remind students, you know, and everyone else actually, to really use Dawg Check and to use that process to record. But regardless of whether a student is on campus or off campus, the Student Care and Outreach will work with those students who have submitted information that have received a positive test, and all students should begin really honestly to be having conversations now with their roommate, with their apartment mate, as to what will happen. What are we going to do and plan for this before it happens so that we can be proactive. In terms of students who have a roommate, if you've been exposed, we would say to do the same thing that a family would do. Many folks have been positive and are in a family and have really had to work out how they want to do isolation in those places. And so, but the bottom line is the contact to the Care and Outreach or any housing concerns or the isolation apart quarantine questions.
13. Morris: Thank you. Dr. Nuss back to you. In your capacity as a medical professional, what are the exact isolation protocols once a member of our community has tested positive for COVID-19. How will she/he know when it is safe to return?
14. Nuss: Thank you for that question. So this has been evolving over the past four months with a lot of research on the backs of many researchers across the whole country. Originally isolation was for 14 days. So from the time you were positive and exhibited symptoms, you would have to stay in isolation for 14 days. That's recently been adjusted as of the third week of July. Now, any individual with a positive test for COVID-19 needs to stay isolated from others for approximately 10 days, also have to be fever free for 24 hours without taking medication to lower it, right. And you have to have improvement of symptoms. So there's three parts to that, you know, the time of the days, no fever 24 hours, and then you have to work with your healthcare provider. So if you're a student, you're working with Dr. Russo and their team of physicians to find when it's safe. For faculty and staff, they're going to be using your own primary care physicians to help guide that time and they can leave isolation.
15. Morris: Okay, thank you. Dean Nolan, you serve not only as a member of the Medical Oversight Task Force, but you are also chairing our Preventative Measures Advisory Board, which is a team of health experts who advise our units on their questions about reducing risk in their specific settings. So we received several questions about air quality and the condition of HVAC systems across campus. And I think this question sums it up. There are some studies looking at the role of aerosols smaller than droplets in COVID-19 transmission. If these smaller particles play a significant role, then ventilation and enclosed spaces is as important as masks. Has any consideration been given to the use of filtration devices in less well ventilated space?
16. Nolan: Well, thank you, Dr. Morris, for the question and it's so pleasure to be with everybody here today. I can tell you FMD is aware of the studies, the recent studies, and is working diligently to make sure that our HVAC systems are retrofitted and evaluated and doing their maximum to find good air. As part of this they have to consider the limitations of existing systems with newer systems. What it can do is use the HVAC to flush high volumes of outside air in; with older systems they have to go in and determine whether they can--how far they can push them within the limits of the system. Now I'm also pleased to tell you since 2012, the university's design standards have required UV systems, that our HVAC systems be equipped with UV. And I can also tell you that in their routine maintenance, these are checked by FMD. Now with all this said, remember that our aim here is to keep contamination down within our buildings. We can do this with HVAC systems, but also by keeping the symptomatic people out of the building. Wearing our masks, social distancing, de-densifying our spaces. Have you ever heard that word before now? De-densifying our spaces or working and teaching in rotations, and if you kept social distance, you might be able to augment your mask with a film shield. Now I'll close with this. The Preventive Measures Advisory Board is here to help you do risk assessments of specific concerns. We've looked at speech therapy, and small spaces in which musical instruments are used, and singing, and we're here and glad to help you do the same. Thank you.
17. Morris: Thank you, Dean Nolan. President Morehead, this question was a very common one among our faculty, staff, and students: Does the University have specific numbers--positive cases, deaths--that will trigger a shutdown or pivot to remote instruction? Is UGA coordinating with the local Athens hospitals to determine if and when the decision might be made to provide remote instruction? Who makes this decision--the Board of Regents or the upper administration at UGA?
18. Morehead: Hypotheticals are always difficult to answer, but I can definitively tell you that the University System Board of Regents will ultimately make the decision about whether we remain open or close. We are part of a University System. We share a governing board with Georgia Tech and Georgia State and many other USG institutions in the state of Georgia, and that governing board will have the authority should such a scenario arise to make that kind of decision. I can assure you that the University will be working very closely with USG, with the Department of Public Health, with our local hospitals and public health experts, to assess community conditions, and all of those things will be a part of a discussion. I see this as a qualitative decision that would be made in assessing in total what the situation looks like, but ultimately that's not going to be a decision that I make, or the University makes in isolation. It would be a decision made in consultation with the University System of Georgia
19. Morris: OK, thank you. Dr. Shrivastav, another question: It seems we have invested a considerable amount of resources in preventative measures. Has any money been invested in updating or strengthening our online learning system if classes do have to pivot on line in the middle of the semester as they did last semester? What plans are in place to help students make a smoother transition?
20. Shrivastav: Thank you, Dr. Morris. Yes, the answer is we’ve invested a lot, but also we've learned a lot with our experience over the spring and summer. The good news is that a lot of our enterprise level technology held up quite well. The Internet didn’t fail, ELC worked pretty good, Zoom--as we all are very familiar with now--held up quite well. So there were lots of bright spots in the last several months, but there were also a lot of problem areas we discovered, and we tried over the summer to the extent possible to attend to those. A big one that comes to mind is related to assessment and exams, especially as our fall semester will end with online exams. We realized we needed to have a proctoring solution in place. Earlier this summer we were able to integrate one with the ELC. It's available to all faculty for use in any class. So that was a big piece. In anticipation of fall, we know there will be a lot of hybrids and hyflex learning. A big step was integrating our video recording media server with ELC, so Zoom recordings could now go directly into Kaltura, which is our media server, and put the uploaded to ELC very quickly. This was a two, maybe three, step process in the spring. It was taking hours and hours for several faculty, and now it's a much easier, smoother process. We have invested quite heavily in various training and support programs. The Preparing to Pivot course, offered to the Center for Teaching and Learning, has a little over 800 people going through it right now. That is a really good place to help you think about how to organize your classes and be ready to teach in these unusual circumstances that we find ourselves in. About a similar number of faculty participated in the online learning seminars, so that was a big big part. We've created a teaching continuity fund which allows faculty to request funding for special needs associated with the fall semester in particular. We are reviewing those requests right now. So yes, there has been a lot of thought and investments into creating a better and more robust infrastructure for the kind of need we anticipate. Student support has also been increased. The Division of Academic Enhancement was at the forefront of helping students. We learned very quickly that a number of our students would struggle--were struggling--with access to technology access to bandwidth. Broadband access was a big concern. Having students back on campus alleviates that a little bit. So it's been a really well rounded effort. Even public service and outreach, they just finished a survey that we shared with the campus about broadband access across the state of Georgia. So those are resources that we have built over the last several months, and I think if we get to that situation again we will be much better prepared than we were. One last thing I wanted to share in terms of numbers: we had over 500 faculty teach undergraduate classes online this summer. These were people who had not taught an online class prior to this summer. This summer experience, now I'm confident, will help them do a great job of teaching into the fall.
21. Morris: Thank you. Another question for you. What is the rationale for not allowing faculty to determine when a course is better supported or served by going online? At some peer institutions, the determination of whether to teach online or in person is left to the faculty and Department heads to work out. At UGA, the decision is made by three layers of personnel: associate Dean, Dean, Provost. This seems to be a curricular issue and therefore within faculty purview. And I will add that this question came from a faculty member.
22. Shrivastav: Thank you for that question as well. We have the same overall models for instruction as virtually every major University that we’ve been following, which is a mix of hybrid, hyflex, online and face to face. The process is certainly different. When we first set about developing our fall reopening plas, we identified five or six key principles. Amongst those principles were a focus on student success, an emphasis on incoming student support--all freshman and transfer students and graduate students coming in--as well as ensuring that students at critical junctures of their academic programs were given all the support that they needed to make sure they were able to successfully complete and graduate on time. In keeping with those principles the idea behind our process was really to allow Department Heads or Associate Deans or Deans--whoever is handling it, it's different in each college--opportunity to think more broadly about student success. It wasn't just about moving a class online but sometimes a department or a dean may consider thinking of a different pedagogical model or adding a discussion group to a classroom or finding a new space for a class, that they wanted to emphasize having a certain kind of pedagogy over the other. So this sort of phased in approach is consistent with how we think about student success overall. It's not just a classroom in isolation. It's about a student walking into UGA, learning throughout their academic program in the classroom and outside the classroom, and graduating successfully, and going out to do whatever they want to do successfully. We work closely with student affairs, we work closely with the Health Center, we work closely with virtually every unit on campus in this high level perspective of student success as a whole was critical, and that was part of the logic behind it phased approach for a lot of decisions, not just the online learning, but even other decisions, engaging with leaders throughout campus to think of students success holistically.
23. Morris: OK, thank you. Vice President Wilson: A faculty member asked, what should I do if a student refuses to wear a mask in my classroom? Also, how can you expect student compliance on mask wearing and social distancing when college students notoriously engage in risky behaviors?
24. Wilson: Well, I think you know the President hit on this just a little bit. I think it's really hard to really answer all the hypotheticals, but one of the things I would say again is probably my mantra, today, tomorrow, and moving forward, is that we need to plan for these circumstances ahead of time. Faculty need to think about determining what am I going to do if this situation does occur. And they may want to discuss that with the Department head and with their dean as well. I think one of the things is we have an extremely small amount of students who have an accommodation not to wear a mask. But other than that I think if we have issues of concern that are COVID related, within the classroom or otherwise, then what the faculty should do is send an email to ask Student Affairs. It's really simple--AskStudentAffairs@uga.edu, and that concern will be directed to a group that we put together, which is the COVID student educational response team, which is COSERT. And the data is being shared by the Dean of Students, and the Dean of Students will follow up with the student, with the faculty member, will talk to the student. It’s really set up as a triage group. If it needs to go to Student Conduct for whatever reasons then it will be handled. That group will be handling those issues that pop up in the classroom with students. And I would say, because I know it's hard to remember this, the information about COSERT is on the UGA COVID page. But all you have to do is Google UGA COSERT, and you will be able to get that information in terms of compliance. Unfortunately I think there are many members in our community who underappreciate, I think, the values of good health and safety practices and participate in risky behaviors. So it's not just the students. It probably should not surprise you that I would be a little bit of an advocate for students. I do think risky behavior can be a little bit universal but the SGA recently did a survey with more than 7500 responses, which is nearly 1/4 of our students, and they indicated majority of those students--89%--said overwhelmingly that they claim to be compliant and desire for their fellow students to do the same thing. So that doesn't mean we won't have situations, but the reality is that I think our students will typically, as they always have, really for the majority, most will probably do the right thing. So we implore everybody in our community, and others, through continued education to really avoid risky behaviors. As well as our students.
25. Morris: Thank you. Dr. Shrivastav: continuing the discussion about students, several of our students are wondering what classes will look like this fall. This student writes: When will we hear from professors about our courses? How will we know which ones are in person and which ones are online?
26. Shrivastav: Thank you. Yes, this is a question that is, as we enter into August, is becoming more and more obvious. There is a lot happening behind the scenes. Of all the students listening in, there is just a tremendous amount of activity happening behind the scenes. Classes will largely be on campus with social distancing, which requires us to limit the number of people who can sit in a classroom at a given time. There will be a smaller number of classes that will be completely online. Classes that are being moved to online are being coded in Athena as we speak. And if you are enrolled for one of those, you are getting an email notification that that class will now be online. So watch your emails carefully. This is still an ongoing process. We have some classes that will be assigned to a different group--typically to a larger group--so more places, more students, can sit in the room at the same time. That is also happening as we speak. That information is being uploaded into Athena every day as things change. As things move, that is being updated frequently. I know hundreds and hundreds of faculty are in the final stages of preparing their courses and their syllabi. All of them are working with different offices here to find the right way to structure your classes. Again, the idea is to redesign courses that fit our pedagogy, that fits the room and the circumstances, and the learning objectives for the classroom. So the best thing to do is to watch your ELC page. We are still a few weeks away from classes. I think a lot of the syllabi will be ready in a couple more weeks before they show up in ELC. For all the faculty listening, this is a great way to share with you: students are wanting more information sooner. I know you're working hard on your classes. If your syllabi are ready if your ELC pages are ready, you can go and publish them tomorrow. Once you publish them you can notify the students through email to share with them new information about how you think the classes will turn out. But for the most part, students, have a little bit more patience. Keep an eye on your emails, watch Athena, and especially watch the weekly emails that go out I think every Tuesday, because they carry a lot of information about reopening, and bit by bit we're all getting there. Hopefully we'll all be in great positions in a few weeks.
27. Morris:Thank you. President Morehead, several concerned staff members expressed their worries about job loss. They write: faculty who keep asking for UGA to close have job protections that staff do not have. They also write: many staff want UGA to stay open. Would all employees be guaranteed pay in the case of campus closure? Could there be further budget cuts or furloughs or layoffs?
28. Morehead: Well, Dr. Morris, as I said earlier, this pandemic is not going away. We are going to be dealing with it throughout the coming academic year, and perhaps longer, and as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community, we also at the same time have to reaffirm the reason that we exist, which is to further learning, research and public service, and as we navigate those issues, we have to keep in mind that you know we're not immune from the economic challenges that are facing the entire country and our state. We've been very, very fortunate so far. We did a lot of long range planning, so that we were fully prepared for a crisis of this nature, and because we were fully prepared for a crisis of this nature, when it happened in March we were able to take action that allowed us to preserve jobs and allowed us at that time to go online and make a number of refunds and housing and student fees that were mandated by the Board of Regents, and shut down a number of auxiliary enterprises that supported staff without people losing jobs. We were able to do that in large part because we had carefully built up reserves for something of this nature if it ever happened. Obviously we weren’t predicting a pandemic of this nature, but good managers prepare for a crisis that could occur in the future. We have now used those reserves to preserve those jobs in dining halls, in housing, and in many other auxiliaries across campus, including our Health Center. We got some assistance from Cares Act funding--about 20% of that total that helped us as well. But those options are now over--we have played that hand, and looking forward we have a number of positions on this campus--over 1100--that are directly tied to students being on campus and using services that are provided on campus. That situation is complicated by the fact that, beginning on July 1, the University was hit with a 10% of state budget reduction, and again we managed that 10% state budget reduction by focusing on preserving things that matter to student learning, as well as preserving jobs for our employees. But I don't have a crystal ball to predict whether there will be further budget cuts that will further undermine our budgetary situation in that regard, so all I can tell you is that my priorities as president have been very clear: we want to continue to serve our students as effectively as possible but at the same time we want to preserve the health and safety of our campus community, and we want to preserve as many jobs as possible, and we will continue to do our best to fulfill those objectives in the coming weeks and months ahead.
29. Morris: Okay, thank you. Provost Hu: several submitted questions focused on instructional models. Specifically, how will the hyflex rotational teaching model work? Will it vary by schools and colleges and departments?
30. Hu: Thank you. Hy flex, or hybrid flexible, is one of several hybrid methods of instruction for the fall. Given new information about reducing density in space, in classrooms. To achieve social distancing we have reduced seating capacity in the classrooms--some larger classrooms maybe at 25 to 30% of the original; in others that have more flexible seating we achieved a 30-35% seating capacity. The hybrid or hyflex instruction offers face to face and remote instruction simultaneously. The students can rotate live in person sessions and online sessions--for example he said classes offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. One group of students can begin in person, in classroom instruction on Monday, and then the rest of the students will attend the class online on Wednesdays and Fridays. And then the second group will attend in person sessions on Wednesday, while the rest attend online. This process continues, so three groups, and then they rotate. So our goal here is to provide meaningful in person instruction while maintaining social distancing. The hybrid or high flex were meant to achieve such an objective. Thank you.
31. Morris: Thank you. Dean Nolan, continuing our discussion about classrooms: in your role as head of the Preventative Measures Advisory Board, can you tell us how the Facilities Management Division plans to sanitize every classroom in between every class?
32. Nolan: Well, there's not time to disinfect classrooms thoroughly between classes. However, they will be disinfected thoroughly every day. What you can do in the meantime is use the disinfecting wipes that are in tubs placed in all our buildings. These wipes can be used to disinfect hard surfaces and objects, like desks, door knobs, desktops or chairs. Just get a wipe, and wipe down your area before use, just like you would like a piece of exercise equipment at the gym. Thank you.
33. Morris: Thank you. Dr. Shrivastav: if classes do go on line, will tuition prices be refunded or reduced? Will there be a difference in cost if we have hybrid classes or go completely online?
34. Shrivastav: As you know, our tuition is determined by the Board of Regents, and any decision on refunds or changing the structure will also be determined by the Board of Regents. So that's a question that we can’t answer: that will be done at the system level.
35. Morris: OK, thank you. Our time is drawing short here, so I'll move to one last question and I will ask it of several of you. This came in and is worded thusly: Are President Jere Morehead, Provost Jack Hu, and Vice President Rahul Shrivastav leading by example, coming to campus, teaching, conducting research in person this fall? President Morehead I'll ask you to respond first.
36. Morehead: Sure. Well, I've been coming into the office since this Spring. I've been careful to wear my mask and practice social distancing in the office when I am around others. Unlike most University presidents, I have had a history as president of teaching. I think it's important to stay connected with our students, and I have taught a seminar every year that I have served as either Provost or President. And I intend to voluntarily teach a first-year Odyssey seminar again this Fall. And as a 63 year old individual that's a type one diabetic, I'm going to be very careful to follow all of the practices that are necessary in order for me to be teaching that seminar in a careful and responsible manner. But I think presidents need to lead by example, and during my tenure, I hope I've developed a record that people have seen me do that in a variety of different contexts. This is certainly one of those.
37. Morris: Thank you, President Morehead. Provost Hu?
38. Hu: So many of you know I'm in my second year as Provost and as a faculty member at UGA. So since I moved here I have continued my research, and continue to mentor a student that I left behind at the University of Michigan. So this year I graduated three PhD students. Hopefully they will all finish very soon and I can restart building a research group here. Starting in Phase 1 and Phase 2, I have been coming to the office two or three days a week, and then when the fall semester starts I plan to join the engineering faculty in the supervision of capstone design projects. So that's of course what all of our graduating seniors will take. So they have to do a two semester project. My intent is to join the team that would teach the students how to design--make things--in the single capstone design. Of course, my research project continues here as well.
39. Morris: Thank you Provost Hu. Vice President Shrivastav?
40. Shrivastav: Yes, I am in my office. I have been working in my office for several weeks now. We continue to do social distancing, wear my mask when I'm out and about. We practice good hygiene. I am not teaching in the Fall, I’m not scheduled to teach in the Fall at this time, but I do have a new research project. Luckily, we were funded by the NIH last month so that will take additional time to get up and running, so I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to students getting back. We work extensively with students, faculty, and staff, and I hope you know--despite the social distancing necessary and the stress that will go with the pandemic--I hope we can begin to get some sense of normalcy, and I look forward to being part of the solution.
41. Morris: Thank you. Vice President Wilson?
42. Wilson: I teach a Graduate course in the spring, but I think one of the things that I just want to say as we wrap up: you know this institution has a 96% retention rate of our first to second-year, and that means that something amazing is going on here. And now I want to take a guess and say that I think a large majority of our students are not going to come and spend 24/7 just worrying about COVID issues. I mean, I'm not saying that there won't be challenges, but also I'm excited about the fact that the students are coming back, enjoying this amazing experience called the University of Georgia. So I'm excited about that. I think we will still have leadership opportunities, we’ll still have service, I think our students are going to come in and have the same University of Georgia. So as we look to the Fall, I think we will see our students expecting the same thing that they've always looked for here and I'm excited about that.
43. Morris: Thank you. Well, I know that our hour is almost up and so it's time for our discussion to come to an end. So on behalf of our panelists I want to thank all of you who took time today, in the prior days, to submit questions, and who joined us for our webinar today. A recording of this program will be posted on the University of Georgia's COVID-19 website--that's coronavirus.uga.edu, and it will be posted later this afternoon. In addition, answers to other frequently asked questions that could not be covered during this webinar will be added to the website. I also want to remind faculty, staff, and students to please read the various Archnews messages that are sent each week. Those are filled with information. The updates are very important, and those are also archived on UGA's COVID-19 website.
And now I want to use the moderator’s prerogative to add a closing remark. *phone rings* That was my phone telling me that it was three o'clock. But I want to say that I've been at this University for three decades, and I have never experienced anything like or anything more difficult than the planning that we're doing this fall, either as a faculty member or as an administrator. In March we were faced with a virus and a trajectory that led colleges across this nation to close residential instruction to go online, just like UGA did. And then in preparing for FY21 we were met with a rather dramatic budget cut, and we had to scramble to make ends meet. Across the Spring and Summer I personally saw faculty and staff work harder than ever before to deliver quality instruction, research, and public service to our communities. And so now we're at this third difficult juncture, just how to continue education for the thousands of students who depend upon us from across Georgia and from across the nation. So academic planning has never been more difficult in my career. Challenging questions do not yield to simple answers, and this has been brought home to me. The issues are multiple and complex, and all pathways forward are imperfect, but as the birthplace of US public higher education, we have seen tough times before, and together I do believe we will struggle to get through this. And we will. So I want to thank the panelists for being here today to answer some tough questions, and I want to thank all of those who submitted questions, and especially all of those who are viewing this webinar, because I know that you took your time, and that you too are committed to the University of Georgia. So thank you for listening today. I wish you all my very best. Thank you.