UNC-Chapel Hill faculty leaders discuss fall semester safety
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Faculty Executive Committee discusses coronavirus safety for the fall semester.
again for joining on one short notice. Um, maybe a little less short notice than last time, but short notice nonetheless. Um, I wanted to talk about what it means to call a special meeting as Jill referenced. Um, we can call emergency meetings and we can call special meetings. This is a special meeting. So we had Um, hours notice and that gets noticed out to the, through media relations. The, with a special meeting, we can only discuss what's on our agenda. It cannot be a wide ranging conversation. And so, um, what is on our agenda is coronavirus safety related to the fall semester. So other issues that people want to discuss or talk about um, will not be, we can't talk about them today. We can talk about them at other points. Um, as we go on as a faculty executive committee and faculty council, but we cannot talk about them today. So if people bring up other things, I'm going to steer us back. Um, and I see that we have jennifer and we have a couple of guests that are joining us. Thank you. Welcome to kneel and welcome to Diane jeffries and kurt Russell. And um, do we have any other guests? I don't think so right now and we're still waiting for the provost. So I'm hopeful he'll join us in a moment. Okay? But while we're waiting, I'll go ahead and tell you the reason that I called the meeting. You all received my um, my message, the members of the faculty executive committee received my message and what it outlines. I mean, Jill and I have talked a lot over the last several weeks and what we have been sort of repeatedly told, not just the two of us, but as a campus. What we've been told is that in order for a vaccine to be mandated that the north Carolina Commission for Public Health would have to make a choice to act to add a new vaccine to the schedule um, of vaccines. Um, and in fact, that looks to be a path, but not the only path. Um, and at this point it's a, it's a completely impractical path for us to get to a vaccine mandate. I think for many of us for a while it appeared that, you know, at the beginning of the summer, maybe into May, we had vaccines cases. We're going down. Everything looks good. But certainly for me within the last week and a half, the news of the impact of the delta variant has certainly put more urgency for me around what is going to happen on our campus as students return in the next couple of weeks as our staff and all of us return in the next couple of weeks. And uh, that coupled with a phone call from uh professor reversal the other day, in which he brought up concerns that he was having as a public health expert, led me to call this meeting to talk about other pathways that we might find to have a vaccine requirement for faculty staff and students on our campus, as you may know. The University of Michigan has done this for all three of their state campuses within the last week, another big public that has done this. Um and certainly one of our peer institutions, that's a change. Um We haven't had as many big public institutions do this as we had privates. Um but uh, so I think that's a bit of a game changer, all of the legal decision making around the University of indiana. Um um the lawsuit that came against them that changes the landscape and then we have multiple business is huge businesses that are moving to require to mandate. So I think the whole tableau has shifted so I think it makes sense to have this conversation and new and perhaps to ask more directly for the delegated authority that this campus needs in order to make decisions at this point our campus, meaning our chancellor and our provost do not have the authority to make a decision about mandating vaccines for our campus In the past, such as during the 1989 measles outbreak, our campus did have that authority delegated by the system. And so then there were other negotiations that took place between the Health Department and whatever. But the campus had the ability to make the decision at this moment, we do not have that authority and we need it so that we can um operate out of um using all of the knowledge that comes out of this campus about this pandemic that some people say is moving to an endemic frame. So I'll stop there. That's why we're calling. I've called this meeting to talk about this. Um I hope the provost would be here at this point to give us sort of an update but given that he's not here yet, kurt, would you mind just making a few comments? Yeah, thank you for hosting the meeting. I think As we're seeing, I just put in the chat, you know, 15 colleges and universities in North Carolina are doing the mandate. We're seeing it nationally. As you just mentioned many. Um uh it does look like along with what we're doing, which is you know, promoting masking in the in the classroom um to be something worth doing that would reduce the spread of infections. Um and I think we also reassure the nervous faculty staff and students that we have. Um And so we need to have uh I did a um interview with Bloomberg News yesterday um ah um I'm sorry if someone could put the note I just put maybe just went to hosting, panelists could go to everyone. Someone just commented on that. Um The but I just think uh there's gonna be a story tomorrow on Bloomberg news about vaccine mandates and colleges and universities. Um I think we need every tool at our disposal um as we're addressing this the delta variant. So things have just dramatically changed. People all saw the the notes. Um you know maybe the story last week in the Washington post where there is a C. D. C. Meeting where they've been summarizing some of the work on the adult variants. So it's far more infectious than the the ancestral strain or even the more infectious alpha variant, the UK variant. Um This one now is probably five. Um The the um the potential to affect people has an R. Value are not value 5 to 9 which is way higher than the 2 to 3 that was assumed for the prior variants. So it's going to spread way faster. Um It's also more virulent apparently. Um So it looks like it. Um The treatments are um I'm sorry that your likelihood of getting either sicker hospitalized or possibly dying are going to be greater. Um So there's some debate about that. I don't want to overstate that everyone agrees it's more transmission transmissible or contagious but the violence of the CDC data showed a couple of studies that showed about a doubling Of some of the risks. So we have to really really take this extremely um extremely seriously. Um I don't want to overstate for people who are vaccinated. The there are these breakthrough infections. Um the CDC data suggested it looks like the vaccines are in the 60-70% effective for preventing vaccination. Um sorry, infections, But they're very highly effective uh well into the 90s for preventing serious disease and uh an illness which is what we care the most about. So I um we will it's almost certain that we will say um people who will have infections um starting starting relatively soon because students have been already moving back. I live in a neighborhood with lots of students. Um I think we're we're going to see more infections. But what we want to see is this this we've been seeing this disconnection between higher infections and then it used to just be a linear relationship between how many people were hospitalized and how many people die. But that's, you know, that's it has been attenuated or broken um recently because with much better treatments. And so I think, um, regardless, we just want the ability to have this power, I think to have a vaccine mandate. Um, and I think, you know, advocating for it makes a lot of sense. So I think I'll pause there. That's what you wanted to hear. Thank you. Thanks. Um, bob. Do you want to kind of give us an update? Welcome. First of all, I'm sorry. You couldn't get into the meeting as quickly um, as you would have liked. But um, if you are muted right now, but if you wanted to give us an update on where we are. Yeah. Thank you. Uh, I was able to watch you. You just couldn't. You just didn't know that. That was that was an odd position for me to get. Um, so, uh, so first of all, I did have a chance to listen. Uh, made me to your opening remarks, remarks and kurt to your comments as well. And I have been meeting at least once a day, sometimes twice a day with our infectious disease people and with our Orange County Health Department folks. And so I certainly would agree with everything that kurt said. You know about, you know, the current situation with the delta variant. Uh, and all the trends, you know, national, nationally statewide are pretty consistent. You know, cases are up. Hospitalizations are up, deaths are up. Um, but also the vaccine has been incredibly effective in keeping people out of the hospital and out of the intensive care unit and certainly protecting uh, individuals from catastrophic events including death. And so, Uh, you know, Orange County is doing a lot better than other regions of the state, I think most of you know that by now. But we're right around 64 Fully vaccinated in the county and 67% partially vaccinated, that's adults. And so I that's the entire population, I should say. Uh and so those numbers would actually look a whole lot better, you know, if you just look at the adult population. Uh so there's uh. There are a few things to be hopeful around the attestation from our students. We now are approaching 25,000 students who have attested. Uh Nine approximately 94% of them have attested. Yes. Of those who have been tested. Yes. About 88% of them have provided some documentation. Uh And that includes the date that they were vaccinated and the specific vaccine that they were administered. So all all of that I think is very encouraging. We also have been, I think came really out of the F. E. C. You know, maybe you're you're strong Urging that we launched a more aggressive campaign to get faculty and staff to a test as well. And I think we've made some progress with regards to that. Since we last spoke as of this morning, we now have staff access stations of close to 55%. Not quite where we would like faculty access stations up around 82%. I think that's um those are all very good numbers at least to me, we still have more work to do to encourage people to a test so short of, you know, of a vaccine mandate. Um you know, getting people to accurately attest and getting that access station number for our community Up approaching 90% is really our goal. And when you consider that at least 2.5 to 5% of the population of our campus is likely to seek either a religious or medical exception. Um, if we can get a number of right around 90% with or without a vaccine mandate, that would go a long way. I think to making the campus feel a whole lot better. I think as current suggested the death of variant has changed the landscape. However, uh, and the way we think about success, I think is different and I don't know what your feelings are on this, but because we haven't had the chance to talk, but you know, we are we are moving, I think away from a pandemic to an endemic infection. Um, and and that really changes both the strategy uh, and and the way we define success. You know, And so I think right now our health care experts are saying, you know, the successes really staying out of the hospital. It's not necessarily just simply having a negative covid test because we're going to have a lot of cause of covid tests. Uh moving forward, it's just going to be the nature of living with this. Uh, Covid moving forward. And no matter how hard we would like to do it, we're not putting this virus back into the back. Uh, it's out, it's going to be with us in perpetuity, uh and we're going to have to learn how to live and work with it. Um, and so, so certainly the more people we can get vaccinated, the better, the more that protects us, you know, particularly in endemic climate. Uh, and it keeps, you know, our people out of the hospital and and able to continue to do the things that they love to do. So The big difference I think in the spring from the spring to the fall is the mask mandate, all of our health experts say if you're vaccinated and if you're wearing a mask, you're pretty protected. I mean there's probably, I don't think a health expert in the country that would, that would disagree with that with that statement. And so if you want to take a very conservative position wearing a mask and being vaccinated, provide you with a lot of protection. And so that was one of the reasons why we wanted to have a mask mandate endures even before the CDC or most of our university colleagues did was because of some of our concerns about the delta variant and and some of the ramifications that would have on our staff or on the families of our employees who are going home. We wanted to give all of them as much of an opportunity to work safely uh and to be able to go home and and and not worry so much about sharing with sharing their experiences here at U. N. C. So I think we're in a pretty good position from that standpoint. Um We have a lot of people who have done a lot of work in getting us ready. Um You know we we the one thing that the R. I. T. Is working on is a slight modification perhaps of our community standards. The again assuming that uh that uh mandating vaccinations is not an option for us to put that aside now uh then what we would be prepared thinking about is is mandating and to stations not only of students but also a faculty and staff. That decision has final decision has not been made, But I would be interested in your thoughts on that. The big question, whenever we mandate anything, as you know, we don't, you know, we're not very good at as faculty, you know, uh, accepting mandates. Uh, but you know, whenever you do have a mandate, you know, there is an implied suggestion there that there will be some consequence if you don't follow that mandate. So in this, in the case of the students, you know, the ultimate uh, um, element for them to consider if they failed to abide by a mandate. You know, is enrollment most of the institutions that are mandating vaccines or mandating access stations within their organizations, Whether it be private, public, um, academic or, or business is uh, you know, that that that they would have that as a condition of employment. That's a harder thing for us to do. You know, with tenured faculty and with state employees. So I would again welcome some of your thoughts. If we were to move towards either mandating at two stations, uh, or mandating vaccines, how would we do that? How would we enforce that? And would you support us? You know, if we were the if that burden of responsibility came upon me as provost to manage that, how would I do that? I don't know. You you may have some other areas that you may want me to go down. I'm happy to. Yeah, well, I, I guess with regard to what you just said, I'm thinking, I'm noticing. So we ask Diane jeffries to join us from the school of Government who is an expert in employment in these sorts of areas. So maybe it might be a moment to ask Diane if she has a perspective on some of this, Do you mind, Diane? No, thanks, me. Um Yeah, there's nothing generally that prohibits an employer, including in a university employer of public university employer from making vaccination a condition of employment. Yeah, we do have many different types of employees under the state Human Resources Act. I think that uh, a requirement that employees to be vaccinated, allowing, of course, for those who have medical contra indications uh, that their physicians will attest to, and those who have bona fide religious objections that they be exempted from the requirement. But other than that for state human Resources Act employees, a condition of employment that they become vaccinated, um, if they were not to follow that and were to simply refuse, I think that is an act of misconduct as it is construed under the state Human Resources Act for which employees can be terminated. Uh, tenured faculty uh hadn't really thought about that that deeply. Um That is another ball of um and yet um I would have to go back, you know, I should know this better because I've been on the faculty hearings committee, but I'd really have to go back and look very carefully at at the A. P. T. Policy. Um and the code and think about that. But I guess the other the other point I was going to make is that I do think and I talked to local governments a lot about whether they can and should want to undertake advanced vaccine mandate. Um. Mhm. Whatever decision that the university makes, I think everybody has to be clear um from the provost on down to the individual supervisors, especially with respect to the state Human Resources Act. You know, if if the penalty as it were for refusal to be vaccinated is suspension without pay or termination or termination after suspension without pay, whatever it is, that it be consistent and that people be prepared to carry it out across the board and you know, that's an implementation difficulty. But when I think that is important to any decision to undertake a vaccine mandate for employees. Mhm. Do people have questions, I'm going to try and keep us sort of topic focused and then before we move to other topics around this. So do people have questions about this in particular for either bob or for diane right now? Maybe if I could just add one more thing, you know, to to, you know, and 11 point that we were trying to emphasis as we reconsider our community standards and that is if we were to impose a mandate of testing, um and assuming that we have that authority, which I think we do and that we would do that for all faculty staff and students. That if individuals chose not to get vaccinated not to attest to get vaccinated, um then then they would be placed into the testing program. And so that would be the other step in our encouragement, I guess, of faculty staff as well as students right now. We do that only with students. So this would be something new for the faculty and staff community. And that is if you attested either no or that you don't want to divulge, then you would be automatically expected to participate in the testing program. And right now that testing program is once a week, but that could change depending upon the the situation that we see ourselves in. So I just want to make sure that that is being discussed as a policy change, potential policy change within our community standards. Okay. So I see several hands at this point, I want to make sure that all the hands that are up are related to these particular questions right now. Um So they are related to the Okay, so Sue you were first. Yeah. Um I'm transmitting a question from ERIC who is in outside and didn't wanna um mess up this town. Ah Would someone please ask the provost to delineate the difference between what the campus doesn't have authority to do and what it does. So that's eric's question then. I have a quick one of my own around what, around what getting vaccines versus mandating an attestation. Yes. So that's that's exactly right. So I, my understanding, uh and I believe it's the chance was understanding is that we do not have the delegated authority to mandate vaccinations but that we would be allowed to require individuals to attest to their vaccination status as long as they had the option not to divulge whether they're vaccinated or not. So for example, with our students, we give them three choices when they go into registration to the, into their registration on uh, peoplesoft. And, and so they have the option of declaring yes, I am vaccinated and then they have the option of uploading that documentation or no, I am not vaccinated or I don't want to tell you. Um, and so we treat the, I don't want to tell you and the nose as nose and then they get put into the portal for routine testing and that becomes a condition of their enrollment. And so that's the way we handle students. We have not handled faculty in that way or staff in that way. And so we believe we have that authority to to extend that to faculty and staff. We do not have a delegate authority to mandate vaccinations, and I'm going to piggyback on that. What if do we have the authority at this point? Let's imagine that we said we want to see how it goes with the delta variant for a few weeks before we bring students into the classroom. So we want to start remote for three weeks. Would we have the authority to do that? Well, I I think that we have we have laid out a plan that was asked of us from the system office, all of the school, all the universities have done that because the plan involves um, you know, student housing and movement into into dorms and moving into the, into the community and and everything else, it would be at least at this time difficult. You know, technically difficult, from an authority standpoint. I don't I don't believe that we do. I think that that plan was endorsed was to be endorsed by the system, but I would double check on that and we wanted to check on that, but I don't think that we do, but even if we did, it would be very difficult for us to change courses at this point. Okay, thank you. So you had a second question, then we'll go, yeah. Um, and it goes directly to, um, I think the feasibility of what we're doing. Um I taught my first in person class this week and it was delightful to see my students, but we were in a room that did not permit social distancing. So that leads me to ask in general, um about what appears to me to be a monumental shortage of social distancing capable teaching space. And have you done a careful inventory and assessment of teaching space that can accommodate the proposed classes? Um, with social distancing understanding, especially in the context of no mandates. And I say this because the exposure and risk is all about for faculty and staff and students is all about those spaces. Yeah. So the from the very beginning of the classes were set up with no physical distancing constraints. So there are no physical distancing um, guidances. And so we are going to back to pre um, covid classroom configuration. So you, so, so that was not an illusion that that was by design. Classes are not set up any longer For a physical distancing, whether it be three ft or six ft. Physical distancing. The expectation is that the majority of people in that room that are vaccinated and everybody will be wearing a mask, our campus help and and infectious disease experts tell us that that is more than enough protection for everyone in order to have a safe experience. And so masks are powerful. We figure that out, you know, throughout the last year and a half. Uh and the fact that we're projecting at least at 90% of our students or more will be vaccinated and 95 plus percent of our faculty will be vaccinated that the combination of mask wearing and vaccination provides them with exceptional protection. Okay, um, Neil of course. Thank you dr chapman and thank you provost Blue and for taking the time to be here. My question actually um stems from the concern that Rachel plus put in the chat right now about the attestation process. And so my understanding of the process is that um UNC Chapel Hill is able to validate student attestation about vaccines received within north Carolina against the state vaccination registry. So, for example, when I tested in the system and put forth that I received my vaccine at UNC Health UNC administrators would then be able to verify that I indeed did receive my vaccine somewhere in north Carolina. However, am I correct in my understanding that we are unable to validate vaccinations that students claim to have received out of state? And so for example, if I had claim to have received the vaccine in my home state of Connecticut, is there any way that we can validate that? And if not, does that raise concerns about um, us having an improper estimate of the true vaccination rate among the student population? Um, and how will that shape the way that we approach a vaccine mandate? If the system itself has, um, inaccuracies in the data and and room perhaps for students to falsify their reporting. Yeah. So you raised an excellent point and you're right. You know, that uh the databases don't talk to one another. Um and so we have access limited access, limited access to the north Carolina database, but not to every state's database as a university where this does come up is when there have been uh some contact tracing. And of course when that's an opportunity to check to see whether or not the student is a testing properly. Um, but whether it's inside or out of state because the Orange County Health Department does have access outside of the state of north Carolina so they can gain access to that information is my understanding. Um, the the documentation, there are several different levels of confidence you can have in a student access station. You know, one the first level of confidence is uh, students attest to being vaccinated subject to honor code violations. That's that's the first level. The second level is that they have right now. They can voluntarily um indicate the date and the and the the make of the vaccine that they were administered the Pfizer Moderna or J. And J. Or other. 3rd is that they can upload the vaccine, the vaccination card uh and and then once that is uploaded we can examine that and verify at least that it looks, appears to be accurate. And then fourth, we can do an audit of that card against the state database and verify that obviously to do the that level. That final level of verification is incredibly time consuming and would would be problematic. We have done some early auditing of random sampling of student groups and so far that has looked pretty good. But I would just be cautious in terms of interpreting that that conclusion because we have more work to do there. Yeah. Does that, does that get to your question? It does. I just want to confirm. So there if there is a gray area for students who claimed to have received vaccines outside of the state of north Carolina. There is and uh you know that's right. So they are subject to the honor code. And if they were caught violating that when for example if if they were being evaluated the contact tracing then then that would be the place where we would hold them accountable joy. So that's sort of what I was going to about his and at a station is one thing documentations another. So I guess when I was reading about Caroline together and the information has been going out, I assumed anyone who had not documented that they had the vaccine would be in the testing protocol, not just that they had tested to it. And if it is going to be that we taken at a station, I think it needs to be made very clear what the sanctions would be In terms of honor court. This is about as great as any place any of us have ever been in this pandemic, but places where we can be black and white, we need to be black and white. And you know, I don't know if students are faking documentation, but a bigger thing to me is I think some of them have thought that even though it said it was not a court violation, they have attested. They've gotten the vaccine thinking no one's going to check and it got them out of the testing. So I guess I would be an advocate for that if they're not documented in the system that the testing once a week should apply to, anyone not documented, not that they attested to it. Yeah. So we are moving our discussions right now on the road map implementation team is uh moving towards that approach. Now. I guess the qualification is, what do you mean by documenting? I think what we are saying is that we would, we would be expecting the student to uh, and now if we would supply this to faculty and staff, everybody would have this expectation that you would upload your card um, and a test the document via that mechanism. Um, we, there are some questions as to whether or not we can use campus health as a vehicle to get into the state database for verification. There are some legal questions about whether or not that's an appropriate use of the patient student or the student clinician practitioner relationship. And so right now we are leaving the term documentation to an honest uploading of an authentic card on behalf of that individual. Now, if a student, I mean there's cheating that takes place in many different arenas, um, you know, and and will there be some who will gain the system perhaps, but, but I think we're right now, that's, we feel we can do that with random sampling of the population to try to verify that those that we have a good percentage of our students. And perhaps later on as we start thinking about this for faculty and staff. Good honest representation of the upwards. I mean, we have heard that there are some fake cards that are going around that could be uploaded and misrepresent the attestation of the student or of anyone, I guess at some point we we do have to um draw a line somewhere and, and right now that's where we're drawing it. But there will be an effort to do random audits, you know, to validate that that's a good assumption. I mean, I think there's gradations of what people worry about. We all know there's some people who think stealing a pencil is not a big deal, but stealing a coat is a big deal. So I think for students to have to slip load, some kind of documentation is stronger than just a testing that they've been vaccinated. I think it takes another step of stopping and thinking they're providing a document to the university and the testing it to be their document. I just think it raises that awareness to students a little bit that we could get a little bit closer to. What's the true percentage of students vaccinate him. Yeah, I couldn't agree. More joy. I would just say this, you know, that I just want to have a shout out to our students. Um, you know, we have, we're expecting somewhere around 29,500 students, you know, on this campus in this fall And we've had 25,000 already a test. I think that's a remarkable number. And 94% have attested That they have had the vaccine and 88 have provided some concrete evidence. Uh, some additional work was needed, you know, to verify that attestation and Um, and a total of 60% of them have actually uploaded their cards. So I, I just feel very good about that. And so as we go back to them, you know, and ask for them to now be more compliant. I think they're going to step up and and and meet the challenge. Uh, well, I, I have a lot of faith and confidence in your colleagues across the campus. I think they've done a good job to date. And I, uh, I know that they want to have a full and and rich residential experience this fall and their help in this regard will go a long way to not only making that possible, but reassuring all of our faculty that they are coming to a safe environment. Um, so bob, I'm just going to summarize. It does sound like there is strong support for making that documentation, something that is required as part of the attestation and otherwise putting students into the testing program and um, you know, to to whatever degree auditing is practicable. Um that that, you know, some sort of regular audit would be indicated as well. Yeah. And would you acknowledge maybe also to apply that same standard to faculty and staff if that is? Uh I would look to the group, but personally I would say yes, I don't. We are a community and I think that we need to, what we expect of students, we should expect of ourselves okay with, with accountabilities, Uh provost blowing. Uh we really wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. By last count, there were about 140 faculty members who are in this uh session now. So your questions, the answers to our questions are very important. So I just wanted to ask one quick question and then a second comment first, what are, you know, the first day of classes is august 18th. Right. And so there may be a situation where a lot of people are talking about whether we may go remote if the delta variant spreads or if there are conditions, Do you think there is a likelihood of that? And is there a touchtone date pipe? Let August 11 by which our campus would decide because you know, uh, if we are going to have a remote session all throughout, then parents of students who are moving in would not be inconvenienced. Yeah, So you want the over under on remote whatever where you see it. Okay, so I say very, very low. Okay. Uh, the second thing is several of our colleagues have put in questions, very thoughtful questions and concerns in the chat. Um, and I don't know how to handle this except to urge me, me and all of us to try to address some of the questions because provo's blowing. I think it's important for us to address some of our faculty questions, which I think highlight very important things. Yeah, people are bringing those into the conversation, so that's what this group is designed to do, jennifer, do you want to take over? Thank you. Thanks. I think somewhat related to that, I think it would be helpful um, to have um, some additional guidance on things like remote teaching. Um, so even though we're not talking about fully remote, but what are the sort of allowable context in which faculty can make adjustments? Right? So we've acknowledged right, that there was some flexibility before covid and then we had like totally remote and now we're sort of back in this limbo space where we want the in person experience, but yet we're still not out of covid, right? So they are, can we get some sort of guidance on what we as faculty or even we as a campus are empowered to do in terms of like, you know, I've got some cases in my class, could I meet with half my class remote one day and half the next like what are or can I have a couple of remote days that pedagogical fit my, you know, a sink days that or remote days, whatever the pedagogical fit when I'm trying to do, but that's sort of, you know, create an environment where everybody maybe feels a little bit better that we're not starving into a class every time. So I mean that's, I think we do have local authority over some of those decisions and it would be it would be cool to know what they were. And I mean, I think related to that to those questions about when might we go remote, I mean, having, you know, like we talked about last time something concrete in terms of an off ramp or when we can start implementing these flexibilities would be I think super helpful in setting a lot of minds at ease. Yeah, well as I mentioned, you know, again the delta variant and or the lambda variant or whatever the next greek letter is to reflect the latest and greatest variant, you know, there's, there's always the unknown, you know, and, and we're out trying to, you know, work in this uncertain world with this virus. Um, but I think based upon what we currently know and where we currently are and where we are with vaccinations and where we, where we are with mask wearing and the power of mask wearing, I don't see us, you know, moving to remote this fault now things could change. Uh, so I don't want to, you know, totally say that there's not something that could come up that wouldn't, but I don't, I don't see it right now, you know, in terms of that now, jennifer, you and I have had many conversations about the, about lessons learned, you know, through the covid period and that there's a lot that faculty have mastered in terms of asynchronous and synchronous technologies and, and I certainly think that every faculty member, you know, should do everything they possibly can to enrich the classroom experience, you know, and if it is something that would make sense, you know, pedagogical and would be an n richer of a classroom experience through a very unique synchronous or asynchronous uh, modification in a class. You know, I think that that's where faculty, you know, could, could make progress, but that's a, that's a big difference than going remote. And I think you and I know that, but I'm not sure that everyone even listening to what I have to say, you know, is going to necessarily see what we might be talking about. Um So I otherwise I think that, you know, we're really going to pre, you know, covid um strategies, you know, in terms of this is a, this is a residential campus, you know, for the most part, um and our students are paying tuition to come here mainly to fully experience the residential campus life, and that includes interacting with peers, interacting with faculty and being a part of this community. And so I think our worry is that as we start to loosen that and and and create a lot of independent judgment that will end up in a remote mode, unbeknownst to our intentions. So that's that's why I'm very reluctant to say too much beyond that. So it sounds like, I mean, again, I'm just going to take a moment to summarize, it sounds like no one on our campus should be counting on being able to teach remotely unless that is already a part of their work plan at this moment. Um, and there is not a scheduled off ramp at this moment unless things were to change. So, and it also sounds like the questions in the chat that are related to room density, that that is not something that can be addressed. So our tools are vaccines and masks. Um, and I think we've got to be kind of laser focused on, on what tools we have at our disposal um, that work within a structure that is unlikely to change unless something dramatic happens. Is that accurate bomb? Would you say that's an accurate, I think that's a very accurate and very well said, okay, Misha. Hi, Thanks. Um, so I think one thing that we learned last year was that um, several of the events that gave rise to outbreaks had to do with off campus events and off campus parties. And I was wondering if there was anything in place currently proactively to deal with, um, those kinds of situations, should they come up? And I think it would be naive to it expect them not to come up. So, um, what are you thinking about in terms of, uh, an adverse event? Well, I'm thinking of an off campus party that becomes the super spreader event. Yeah, so right now there are no indoor or outdoor gathering restrictions. That's, that's the current community standard. Um, and so there are no prohibitions. You know, either in terms of if you want to have a faculty event or if a student wants to have a student event on or off on, on campus, there are no prohibitions other than you'd have to wear a mask. There are no number. In other words, we're not, we're not. Now, if you're referring to greek wife uh and and that environment, that's um you know, we we have uh had numerous conversations, you know with the fraternities and the sorority organizations and Amy johnson is on top of that. I don't I don't know if Amy is on on this car or not and she could speak much more authoritatively about that. I have not had any conversations personally with them, but I know that Amy and her team have been working on uh developing I guess a common understanding of what can and cannot be done. Mhm. And so that means I'm looking at a comment in the chat in terms of um football games and basketball games and all of that, they all proceed as pre covid as of right now. That's my understanding. Okay. Um Alright. I see Joy and I see Sue. I think it was first. Okay. Okay. So um uh bob one has to admire your optimism. Um but I have to say um the idea that we aren't deeply, deeply engaged in identifying, working out, calculating when to stop and why to stop and how to stop or the other case, which is what justifies going on and does it work and what does it cost in terms of infections and all kinds of other things? So what I'm hearing you say is um damn the torpedoes full steam ahead. Um everything's gonna be fine. And we've been raising issues about space on campus, about lack of controls, about lack of data and it would be very helpful, at least for me. And again, I've been back in the classroom and I loved it to know that you all are planning not just for the best but for possible worst case scenarios so that we don't have another, Oh my God, we got it wrong. Let's go home kind of thing. And I am not persuaded that the mechanisms and the details and the forethought are there and I hope you can convince me otherwise. Well, as I mentioned in the beginning, I and many others meet with our infectious disease colleagues daily. Um, we're constantly understand trying to understand what is happening and what the changes you know, might be occurring with regards to the to the virus and to the relative risks and what measures we should be taking. Um, of course, you know, you know, we're evaluating things, you know, in real time and and perhaps there are some things that could, could change that would would demand that we take a different course. Um uh so of course we'll be monitoring everything that that that we can monitor will continue to share all the information that we're gathering, you know, with our community and uh and then uh go from there, but as far as a precise off ramp, you know, I think as we talked about that last year, um you know, we're really not anticipating that. And of course, if we have to have to do something dramatic like that, we will do that. But were as of right now, you know, the plan is moving forward. Why aren't you anticipating it in planning? If that's that's my main question. I mean, I understand all the context and all of the other pressures, but why aren't we planning with the same care about that that we are planning about coming back? I don't get it. Mhm. Well, we are doing a lot of uh of best case worst case scenario. So I don't want to give you the impression that we're not thinking about this. I mean there's a lot of people thinking about these things um it's just I don't feel that it would be appropriate, you know, to uh identify you know, all the different scenarios that are out there, you know? But I think as we as we get closer to the start of the of the semester and we we look at our first week or two uh and and analyze, you know the data particularly on the return data and and see how things are going. Um You know, then we'll continue to build out on these scenarios. But um you know as I said, you know, as of right now we're not anticipating an offering. So I think and I think this is all the more reason that we have to stay focused on the tools that we have. Um and that is why I've called this meeting is to talk about the to move to the potential of a resolution about receiving delegated authority to be able to mandate vaccines on our campus. That's our best tool um for everything. As bob said, that doesn't mean that we prevent infections, but it does mean that we prevent severe illness. Um and that is, you know, that's where we are. If we're not in a situation where we as a campus can make a decision to go remote to whatever they weren't. That's not the position we're in. So we need delegated authority to at least use the tools that we have. So I think Jill has drafted a resolution, our people free to stay on for longer than an hour. Okay. Me I have another meeting to go to. Is there anything else you want for me? I don't think so. Thank you bob for being with us. Okay thank you all. Um Jill, do you want to put up your draft? Yeah. We're not seeing it at the moment, jennifer, I see your hand up. So while we're waiting. Do you want to? Yeah, I just want to jump in. I mean it's sort of I guess it's just waiting. I'm a little bit I'm not going to say it is probably exactly as well as I said that I mean I understand that we have these these tools at our disposal right? We're now focusing on these two tools but I think it's important to acknowledge that these are the there are other tools that we're not choosing to access um like that we have authority to do like to give instructors some autonomy to provide. Mhm. Well, I mean the campus, I mean they could, the UNC system has A little a set amount of what constitutes a remote class. And yes, we can't change the, you know, it's like 50% of the course meeting remotely, but outside of that there isn't a set rule for what a remote courses. So the idea that instructors should not be allowed to have flexibility within that is a little bit mind boggling to me when that would provide and and we've shown that we can meet the pedagogical needs and perhaps succeed. What we have done in the past with these tools and prevent infection and meet some students needs. Some students wanted remote courses and couldn't get them like and I'm just saying that there are some there are some efforts that can be done that we're not accessing. So I think anything, yes, I'm all for a mandate and saying that we need to maximize these tools, but I think that there is still needs to be a push within what we can do to maximum and the idea that we don't have a plan for getting out of something, I mean, I'm like absolutely having deja vu right now from last year, right? Where that were just like just having a plan makes people feel better, having flexibility, makes people feel better and its safety. So, I mean, I get the vaccine and the masks are the big thing they're going to save us, but there's still some help to work to be done and help to be had in the tools that we do have access to. Well, I think so, I think that's great and I think we can keep that on the forefront going forward. Um so you know, we have another meeting in a week or two and we can talk more about that at that point. I think that's that's absolutely great with me, we can put that on the agenda to sort of try and get more specificity around that. How does that sound? Sure, thanks. Okay, great. Deb. And then we'll go to this um proposed resolution. So I just wanted to quickly urge everybody that if we could do two things, one is passed this resolution quickly and not wait for more than an hour. And I say this because a lot of us have commitments beyond uh five o'clock. And the second is I do want to mention repeat that there are several questions from our faculty colleagues on the chat that have not been answered. So is there any way our Office of faculty governance can take those questions and share it with the provost or anybody so that we could get answers. Thank you. Mhm. Okay. Joy, did you have something just on the, I'll be ready to move to the resolution. I was just trying to move us on. Okay, great. So I was I was going to just say could we asked not only for the authority to require proof of vaccination, but also masking guidelines? Well, we have masking guidelines I think already, don't we? I think we might want to make them tighter. Um and they've been, I think because our two tools for stopping hospitalizations rising is masking and vaccinations, I just put that out there. I think we should do that so that if they want to do something, I think right now they're having to ask about everything that they do um if they wanted to require masks that outdoor gatherings above a certain number, I don't want them to have to also and then ask permission to do that. That's the only reason I bring it up so we can keep moving. So when things happen we can do it quickly. Okay, good. 2nd. That change. Okay, so why don't we just take a minute to read this? Do you want to read silently or would you like someone to read it out loud assuming people are reading silently? Um, could we have a good idea to read aloud for accessibility purposes? Okay. Thanks jennifer. We had, yeah, guidelines. Uh, could we change that to requirements are okay? Yes. Okay, thank you. Okay, so um, reading aloud the, the resolution as it stands now, we strongly desire a return to safe in person operations on our campus this fall semester. We are also committed to doing our part to protect our community from the ongoing covid 19 pandemic. We were concerned that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases primarily among unvaccinated people, poses a threat to our health care system, our town and ultimately our campus and academic programs. Accordingly, we request that the UNC system delegate to the chancellor's of each campus, the authority to require proof of vaccination and adopt additional masking requirements from employees and from students attending in person classes. How do people feel about that Mimi. I this is room. May I have a quick question when we say masking requirements? I'm thinking about people in the chat who mentioned the n 95 masks um, over against the, as someone put it, the crappy mask we used, um, unquote. Um, is that part of this? Or is that, is that what's also intended in the masking peace? Or is it just about numbers? I think it's just the like right now we have the ability to require masks indoors. We don't have the, you know, there's no masking requirement outside for about. Um So I think it's really just about where you are. Well, my interpretation Tony, maybe this isn't what Meg and Joy meant, but is that it's you know, to be able to require masks and more places? Not necessarily what kind of masks? Yes, that's what I meant. I would actually caution us from being very specific about mask type because as evidence comes abreast, we don't want to have to change this resolution. and like someone was suggesting that KN. and that's no better than you're going out and buying something on the street. They're not They are not standardized. Like in 95 in this country, they're set by other standards in other countries. So I agree we don't want to put specific guidelines there. But I think the way it's worded, someone might not understand that it's one thing to say to require masking but masking requirements for some might mean also the type. I agree with everything you said. That is true. I'm just wondering how to make it crystal clear for those who aren't a part of this conversation but who would be reading the resolution? Okay. Thank you Anthony. Did you have something to add or a way to fix this problem? Yeah. Well slightly separate uh that the sentence that says we request the U. N. C. Health, the student uh health system, delegate to the chancellors of each campus. The authorities are not the hair, it's the health, it's the UNC system not the health. Alright. UnC system. Delegate to the transfer of each campus. We as the faculty executive committee at UNC Chapel Hill. Can we prescribe what happens in other campuses or? That sentence is specific for equanimity among. So that the U. N. C. System delegates whatever delegates to UNC Chapel Hill. It delegates to all. Yes. I mean we could that was something that came to mind as the question for me too. It should we ask only for ourselves or you know should we, I have not the chairs group that I'm a part of has not necessarily weighed in on what they are asking for or what they're not asking for. So I do not feel like I can speak as to what other campuses necessarily want. My guess is that Mhm. If this authority was given us to us others would want authority to but um but I don't know that. I mean we could simply speak for ourselves if people felt like that was better for May. So um, yeah. Wouldn't that be left? Wouldn't that be more of a topic with faculty assembly? Um, and since we say our community, we're talking about Chapel Hill, but then later on like in the second line, but then later on we say to uh yeah, because they seem to compete, you know, they're not talking about the same groups, so delegate to our chancellor and provost at you and such are people more comfortable with That. Was I right about the faculty faculty assembly piece? Wouldn't that be more appropriate if we're faculty is similar to talk about all the campuses? Yeah, I mean that's what I was referring to in the chairs group that I don't, that's the, that's the chairs of each campus. Thank you. Wouldn't you want to say the chancellor and provost of UNC Chapel Hill just to make it a little more formal? Okay, joints to the Senate says to require proof of vaccination from employees and from students attending in person classes. So that means only faculty in terms of employees. Yeah, I think actually that probably we need to say from employees. I mean right now I think students, even if they're not, you know, attending in person classes, they are asked to a test anyway. So I think we could get rid of the in person classes. You just say enroll were working at UNC Chapel Hill. Right, thank you. Yeah, because if they're on campus they can spread or not spread. They don't have to be in a classroom. I agree with that. Can we pick up meg's suggestion rather than masking requirements? Masking guidance. I was just trying to fix resumes. Thing about the type of mask. I don't actually still think that's the right word, I just have no idea what the word would be. We actually had guidance to start with and switched it to requirements earlier before I started showing to strike through changes, but I'm okay with either one. If there's a sense of the group, we could add a phrase, we could say additional. Masking, either guidance or requirements for gatherings. Yeah, that would work because that gets it out of what kind of mask. Mhm. But to me, you know, maybe we say guidance or requirements so we can have whatever we need, we may need, you know, maybe maybe we'll want it to be a requirement versus guidance or maybe it'll be fine just to be guidance. Misha, I'm not sure if this is um the right change to make, but I wonder if we want to say stricter instead of additional. Because I think what we mean is having having stricter rules about either what kind of mask you wear or or where you wear it when you wear it, that sort of thing. Okay. Yeah I guess I'm just trying to avoid triggering language with blog bot and others and anytime we say stricter and we're trying to do something others aren't. I think sometimes it has a negative thing that that was the only reason I said additional. I'm just throwing out there. I'm good with stricter to it's just I was trying to make this language be as um congenial as we can make it being collegial as we can make it be because I like the way it starts, we want a safe return. It's our community, the tone of it was very good. So yeah. Yes. Which strenuous be a better word, joy. Mhm. What about anything that implies that we would want, you know, anything that would imply that we're trying to do something above and beyond what the CDC or national guidelines would be, or state guidelines would be I think Okay soon. Yeah, I was thinking what we really want is um for people who come on campus to know what the rules are and to abide by them, we want them to know that masks are required indoors in every place on campus. So we want students staff and faculty and community members to understand what the requirements are for masking on campus and that these are not just suggestions that these are. That's why I think requirements is so important. So how about we just say so too. It adhere to adhere to Well, except so sue remember our audience this all this is going to the system office. So we want to be able to adopt additional masking guidance or requirements for gatherings to me stricter than is not needed because the requirement is by definition stricter. Does that make you Misha? Uh huh. Right. Yeah. And uh yeah. So I think we should say something about adhering to Yeah, these are expectations that people will adhere to. We're just asking for the we're just asking create Yeah, we're just asking for them to have the control. We're not writing what our policy would be that people have to adhere to them. Right. We're just asking for local control. And I don't know if we want to put something in here Somewhere at the end of the sentence and or somewhere that is based on local data. You know, that's what the CDC is saying, everyone's saying is this needs to be handled in a local area. If you have a vaccinated population of 80%, that's different than vaccinated populations of 30% hospitalizations that are this. So I don't know if we want to put in a statement then Anthony, maybe better. The wording that's used for local control um based on the data from that community of when there might be something that pops up because there's some other UNC system schools that are much more shit than we are in terms of vaccinated areas. But I don't know if there's something we can put in there just so they know we're not going to really nearly do this. It will be based on the data in our community. That's why the word additional maybe they're triggering. I think I think if you use the world optimal masking guidance and that gives you reflect a good idea. I like that. Yeah, I do too. That gets it. Both suits comment. And what we're trying to do here. I hate to be a uh it kind of isn't a grammarian but um adverbs are supposed to come after verbs so we need the desire strongly which I wish we would find another way. Um We are committed to a safe in person. Okay. Yes. Okay. I like that much better. Much better. We are also committed in our second sentence though. Let's star trek. I am about opposed to boldly splitting infinitives or other reforms. Okay. But I will change uh this to other words. We are um anticipate, anticipate joyfully journal. We anticipate. I mean I was trying to get the idea that we wanted and we really expect. How about we want a return? We want. Yes. Okay. Okay. Let's take a moment to read and see if we're at a point where we might be ready to go. I have one question I know we're a public campus, Right? So we have visitors who come all the time and I know we can't ask them for their proof of vaccination status, but we do have guidelines for visitors on this campus about masks and what do we do with visitors? Does that matter in this? It feels like it should, but I don't see visitors here. Yeah. I don't think we can get into visitors because you know, we're trying to target what we can do about our faculty staff and students. Um I would think that would be a different conversation. Okay, So I think this covers it meg if you think it says optimum masking guidance and requirements for getting is based on the needs of our community. So I think that's then the if the campus gets permission to do this, that's whenever they start writing the policy will stay for visitors. This for students in class. It would be that, you know what I'm saying? I think that would be at the campus level to come up with what it means for visitors and students and everybody, I don't know and I agree Joy. And that is something that Maggie, I I did have that in mind when I thought about this here at the School of government. We have a lot of continuing education gatherings, people who are coming as and their visitors and um and I think this works for what we can do with those groups. I am happy with that then. But Joy your comment about based on a viral load and all I could go at the end of this. You know, I was suggesting that instead of based on the needs of our community, it's based on community viral and healthcare system load. So again, they know we're gonna be data driven, this is not just UNC Chapel Hill trying to say this is what the rest of the world should be doing. We're we know better than everybody else but that we actually will based on I think that I think that is a good addition. I would say capacity, healthcare system, capacity, community viral load and healthcare and healthcare system capacity. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Okay. There we go. Let's quit while we're ahead. Do you want a motion? I will move that we adopt this uh, that we approve this resolution as written. Thank you made. Well then I want a second it since I was going to make the motion any further discussion, I did get a question about a title for this. We can vote on the enacting language without a title. If you'll trust me, me and me to come up with an appropriate title, we can move on. You've proven to be very good at that. So yes, we can trust you. Thank you. We all have ptsd from our last, this is true. Okay, let's take a vote. Um, and Jill how should we vote? Given our circumstance voice? Uh, so since we're, since we're on same under the the open meetings law, we are required to do a roll call vote. And I did not ask Elena to prepare a pole ahead of time, Helena. I'm ready. You're ready with the actually, I'm not ready with the pool. I'm ready to avoid voice vote. Okay, I'm excuse me. I just wanted to say one thing. I see something from Greg Copenhaver in the chat that I do think we may want to add. So before we move to a vote, and while we're still in discussion, he brings up religious, health and religious exemptions, and maybe we should put something in there, um authority to require proof of vaccination from employees, uh, and students. So I will um I'll give you my take on that. I thought about that when I wrote this draft, but the longer and the layperson take maybe different on this, but my my take on it was that's implied. Of course, we're going to allow appropriate exemptions. We have to. And so I felt like it was implied, but if folks feel like it needs to be stated, we can state in uh, maybe what if it's a parenthetical, you know, if we put it parenthetically and said, you know, so I think that I think the one risk to bringing them up is that they might appear to mean more to people than they actually do under the applicable laws. Yeah, I think we leave it as is okay. I can write a cover letter that yes. Uh There you go. Um that were of course complying with all relevant laws recording regarding it. I like amY. Yes. Okay. And I have a pool if you want me to launch a poll Jill. Okay, So any further discussion hearing? None. I think we're ready to move to the pole Jill if that's okay with you. Um Okay, so uh without objection, I'm let me explain the open meetings requirement. We do have to associate your name with your vote. Under the open meetings law. The pole does that it captures your name? Uh if there's not an objection, we can do this by pole. Otherwise we'll do roll call. Is there an objection? Okay, Helena, we can do a poll. Uh I also just want to quickly say um the attendees will see the poll, but I ask that you that attendees do not take the poll. That is only limited to faculty, executive committee members. Oh it can can we not prevent people from taking the pole? No, that's you can't prevent attendees from taking we just do the voice. Let's do a roll. Seems like we should rainfall. Okay. And I'm only going to call the names of the people who are present unless you want me to call everyone's name. That's fine. Just as president. Okay. Remi alexander. I Misha Becker Yes, many chapman Yes, Anthony Charles. Yes. Suess trough. Yes, jennifer Larson. Yes. Uh Joy Renner. Yes. Meg's I'm ready. Yes, Alina, I'm also here. I'm sorry, I didn't see you on there. True. Deb do you want to vote? You're were muted? Deb. Mhm. Yes, thank you then. It is unanimous. Okay. Terrific. Well, um, so that's good news. The resolution passes Jill and I will get it all finalized. I'll write a cover letter and have this conveyed over to the system President and and the board of governors for their consideration. Okay. Yeah. We need a headline for the resolution. Don't you think I did the earlier people left that to Jill and I to be able to come up with something. Right. That's great. Thank you. Okay. All right. We really appreciate everybody coming together this afternoon. I'll try not to do this again before our next scheduled meeting unless we need to but we will do it if we need to. So um and we're going to put jennifer's issue on front and center for the next meeting and shall we adjourn by unanimous consent? Absolutely. Mhm. Thank you. Everyone. Thanks to you. Bye. Alright, mm.