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December 2, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Zoom Remote Meeting:  Please write matt_banks@unc.edu for a Zoom password

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.

NEW TIME: Please note that this meeting will start at 9:00 a.m.

I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks: Vice Chair Katie Musgrove (9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m.)

  • Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

II. Special Presentations (9:05 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor of University Communications Joel Curran, Chief of Police David Perry, & Director of Emergency Management & Planning Darrell Jeter on October 30 Alert Carolina Campus Communications
  • Amir Barzin and Dr. Ian Buchanan on Decision Regarding Covid-19 Testing Options for Employees

III. Roundtable with Provost Bob Blouin (10:00 – 10:30 a.m.)

IV. Human Resources Update (10:30 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

V. Consent Agenda (10:55 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)

 

VI. Old Business (11:10 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.)

  • Community Conversation Wrap-Up

VII. New Business (11:20 a.m.-11:25 a.m.)

  • Joint Employee Forum/Faculty Council Meeting — Friday, December 4, 2020 at 3:30 PM
  • Vice Chancellor Representatives Meeting — Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 10 AM

VIII. Announcements/Questions (11:25-11:30 p.m.)

IX. Adjournment

 

MINUTES

December 2, 2020 Employee Forum minutes

Attending D. Abrecht, L.E. Alexander, D. Blackwell, J. Blake, J. Bongiovanni, R. Borror, R. Bradenburg, A. Brennick, S. Brogan, V. Cartagena, T. Carver, A. Constance, A. Cromwell, J. DeNeal, M. Douglas, E. Dubose, P. Edwards, N. Eggleston, S. Evans-Hollingsworth, S. Forman, A. Gilbilisco, C. Greenberg, N. Hanks, L. Hefner, J. Hill, K. Hines, J. Holman, Q. Jernigan, M. King, H. Marchese, A. Medder, M. Melton, K. Murray, K. Musgrove, A. Ocasio, J. Ormond, L. Pratt, K. Robinson, K. Scurlock-Cross, T. Silsby, G. Smith, R. Smith, III, S. Smith, J. Stallard, J. Stamey, M. Teal, R. Thorp, S. Wackerhagan, T. Wetherby Williams, M. Williams,

Presiding Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. She noted that Forum Chair Shayna Hill is absent on medical leave. She welcomed Vice Chancellor for University Communications Joel Curran, Chief of Police David Perry, and Director of Emergency Management & Planning Darrell Jeter to speak on the October 30th Alert Carolina campus communications.

Jeter noted that the federal Clery Act mandates that institutes have an emergency notification system and the capability to notify campus once an emergency occurs or may occur. This system allows community members to receive necessary information and take necessary precautions in the wake of such an event. Carolina notifies the community through text, email, the Alert Carolina website, and social media.

Jeter outlined a typical timeline for response to an emergency notification. Chief Perry noted the levels of emergency situation that rise to that of an Alert Carolina notification. He said that the October 30 event at the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) involved a patient observing a person carrying what they believed to be a rifle. Their 911 call was routed to the Orange County dispatch center, which notified all local county law enforcement and emergency personnel about the situation. He reported the timeline of coordinated law enforcement mobilization into the area. Shortly after deploying, they launched an investigation, where officers determined that the person in question was carrying a leg brace.

Chief Perry said that this response was what should have happened given the possibility of an active shooter situation. He was pleased that officers could quickly deploy and identify the gravity of the situation without ancillary damage to bystanders, officers, or property. Perry said that sixty law enforcement officers responded within five minutes. He noted the post-event learning cycle that follows such an event.

Jeter noted that the first set of communications must go to first responders to manage coordinating activity. He outlined the authorization process for Alert Carolina communications on October 30th. He noted the sequence of messages to campus, as well as a more detailed follow-up message from Vice Chancellor Battle with more details about the event. He said that typically the first and last notices are pre-templated messages to be activated without delay. All messages in between are manually crafted and pushed out.

The initial message did not include the event location, but this was followed up with texts noting the situation at the “ACC” (Ambulatory Care Center) that people should avoid. Campus emergency response officials composed of University leaders and other leaders from support areas were convened given the apparent seriousness of the situation. This group received a general overview of the situation and recent events. Coordination with county and municipal partners also occurred.             Public information officers from the University and the Hospital coordinated their responses as well. All involved finally participated in a post-incident review.

Vice Chancellor Curran praised Jeter and Perry on their work that day and following. He noted that Kate (Luck) Mulroney is the primary public information officer for UNC Police and the University’s risk management operation that deploys as part of Jeter’s team.

Curran walked the Forum through how these systems work together in these situations. He noted a need to be more active in updating the campus community on events. He said that a primary goal of communicators is to not interfere or distract law enforcement from doing their jobs. Communicators must take their cues from law enforcement. He said University Communications will work with general media who report on events or amplify items from social media. The department will also work to correct incorrect information but not at the cost of interfering with the investigation.

University Communications works to craft accurate and timely messages in concert with other departments. Curran noted a pressure to put information out to the public but added that this must be accurate information. He praised UNC Health’s communications staff and their coordination with the University in these matters.

Jeter noted that these events present his office an opportunity to improve its abilities, skills, and processes. Emergency management wants to provide accurate and timely information while also identifying reliable and official sources of information generally, namely the Alert Carolina system. He concluded that the Alert Carolina system had worked although improvements can still occur.

Social media establishes an expectation for frequent and immediate communication from officials. University Communications will work to provide more frequent updates to meet this expectation to the extent possible.

Perry added that his office had learned not to use acronyms like ACC for Ambulatory Care Center in Alert Carolina communications. He added that the University could have provided more information about the resolution of the situation, being that there was a misidentification of the device. Finally, Perry said that after-action reviews should be held with appropriate staff who have the necessary information to provide a complete and thorough comprehensive review of what happened. He cautioned that the University cannot rely on assertions based on telephone calls, rumors, chats, and unofficial social media posts.

Curran noted the ongoing communications with the Chancellor’s Office and South Building during the October 30th event. He recalled a real commitment to learn from this event and to provide better responses.

Jen DeNeal asked if the University needs a structural change in how a communicator will prepare an Alert Carolina message with readability in mind as well as accuracy and timeliness. Curran granted that this point, certainly regarding acronyms naming buildings, bore more consideration in the future. Jeter noted that a workflow question involves a lag between when updates are pushed out and when the “All Clear” is issued. He observed that when nothing new is posted, this lag becomes a source of anxiety for community members. He added that this lag can become why people were looking for news on Twitter and by constantly refreshing the Alert Carolina page. Curran wondered if a quicker tempo of notifications would fulfill this need in some way.

He added that in active assailant situations, typically campus police will provide shelter in place notices. Following these, the campus community should anticipate only terse updates because Communications will not solicit new information from campus police during the first 30 minutes of investigation. Campus police can provide new information as they are able to do so, which in turn goes to the campus community. Curran added that patience will be necessary in these situations, but communication will occur with the latest information available.

Musgrove then welcomed Dr. Amir Barzin and Dr. Ian Buchanan to speak on coronavirus testing options for staff available in the spring. Dr. Barzin said the goal is to limit large outbreaks of coronavirus and give people a chance to obtain an asymptomatic test, up to once per week. Students will be tested more frequently on a mandatory basis to limit large spread of cases in small environments. Dr. Barzin said that some cases will emerge, but the goal is to limit large outbreaks.

Dr. Buchanan added that faculty and staff will have access to the same physical testing facilities in use for students, one at the Rams Head Recreation Center, one at the Student Union and one just off Franklin Street at Artspace. Dr. Barzin was encouraged that UNC Health has implemented a symptom checker system to allow acknowledgment of close contact with people who are positive or if one is having symptoms. Employees with symptoms at work will go to Occupational Health to be tested.

Laura Pratt asked the turnaround time for testing. Dr. Barzin said that the test used will be the PCR-based test, the “gold standard” test with a goal of less than 24-hour turnaround time. The PCR test provides higher sensitivity and specificity than the faster antigen test. He said that sensitivity of the PCR test is nearly 100%, reducing the number of false positives and false negatives to perhaps 1% of results.

Musgrove noted a question from a recent Forum meeting. How do the University’s spring testing policies compare to Duke’s? Dr. Barzin said that the University studied institutions across the country to obtain best practices in an epidemiology approach.

An employee asked when testing will begin and whether people must make appointments or can walk in. Dr. Barzin said that the University will encourage use of a web-based application called a “Hall Pass.” This app will provide information on symptoms to caregivers while carving out a time for a testing visit. Dr. Barzin noted a need to cap the number of visitors to each clinic to reduce potential spread. He added that the test will be done via a Q-tip swab that goes no further than the nose, not the deep swab used before. This test requires less preparation than the saliva test.

Musgrove noted a question as to whether on-campus testing will be available for second- and third-shift workers during the time that they are normally on campus. Dr. Barzin said that currently clinic hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., allowing a bit of time for second- and third-shift workers at the beginning and ends of shifts. On weekends, the clinics will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An employee asked if UNC-Chapel Hill will do wastewater testing from residence halls like UNC-Charlotte’s practices. Dr. Barzin noted that the University of Arizona has had to follow up their wastewater study with supplemental physical testing of each person.

Tracy Wetherby Williams asked if Dr. Barzin could outline the process for contact tracing. Dr. Barzin said that contact tracing will depend on the employee’s residential address. UNC-Chapel Hill’s general area is the counties of Orange, Wake, Chatham, and Durham. The University’s lab is CLIA-certified with results reported to the State. Students living on campus will have contact tracing from Campus Health as is done currently.

An employee asked for discussion of the decision to make faculty and staff testing mandatory or not, especially for front-line workers that have a lot of interaction with students on campus. Dr. Barzin replied that the University sought flexibility and a voluntary component for faculty and staff, given difficulties in establishing mandatory health procedures as part of one’s job.

In the interest of time, Dr. Barzin and Dr. Buchanan took their leave. Musgrove then introduced Provost Bob Blouin for the first “Provost’s Roundtable,” providing updates like the Human Resources updates provided to the Forum each month. Blouin thanked Drs. Barzin and Buchanan for their work getting the campus ready to provide up to 30,000 tests a week. All tests will be provided to faculty, staff, and students free of charge.

Blouin recalled the decision to start the fall semester early and end it early to avoid bringing students back from Thanksgiving for the end of the semester. He noted a generally relatively safe semester for faculty, staff, and students. He said that students were encouraged to take a voluntary exit saliva-based test. The University conducted over 16,000 tests on campus, with the majority occurring in the last two weeks of the semester. He noted that 85% of those tested were from off-campus housing, with a positivity rate overall of around .5%.

Blouin gave UNC students a lot of credit for reducing occurrences to this level through behavior and mask wearing. He also praised Town and County officials as well as UNC Police for their work in this area. Blouin said that the University has taken names of students at large gatherings to hold all accountable for following campus, county, and State health standards.

The University has been doing careful evaluation of air handling and filtration systems in campus buildings. In some cases, Facilities Services has installed additional filtration systems.

Blouin said that this spring, the University will host more than the 1,500 students living on campus this past fall. Normally, the UNC campus hosts approximately 8,500 students. Students staying on this past fall had to demonstrate hardship status, perhaps in returning home or financial difficulties. Around 200 students will stay on campus through the winter holiday, with around 3,500 students to return in the spring. Around 600 beds will be available for quarantine and isolation.

Blouin said that the semester will begin on January 19th, 2021, with any recalibration due to the virus to occur by January 9th, the last possible day to inform students and parents not to come to campus to reside in the dorms. The University will not want to send students home after receiving them and will do all it can to minimize any spread or clusters. The University will also work to ensure the safety of its faculty and students. Blouin thanked the Roadmap Implementation team and the Campus and Community Advisory committee for their work.

Nonetheless, the mission of the University remains. Research programs are running, research fundraising continues to break records, and campus faculty engage in vaccine research and clinical trials. Blouin noted the impact that the Covid-19 crisis has had on the mental health of staff, faculty, and students. He thanked all for the work they have been doing on behalf of the University, particularly given concurrent home responsibilities.

An employee asked if there will be a change in occupancy in research labs in the spring. Blouin replied that there would be a minor adjustment from a square footage density from 200 sq. feet/person to 150 sq. feet/person.

Blouin confirmed that all lab and studio courses will not be on campus in the spring. He noted the need to accommodate students who may be going two full semesters without courses critical to progression in their major.

A delegate asked if there are plans to improve life in quarantine spaces. Blouin said that Student Affairs and Housing have developed volunteer support groups who will support students in isolation. Blouin added that off-campus Greek life will undergo a requirement that all living there must participate in the mandatory testing program. The University has also partnered with the Chapel Hill Police to hold students accountable for limiting large gatherings. Responses to complaints now lead to names being taken and discipline for students involved. An employee suggested establishing mentorship programs with these groups regarding the virus. Blouin agreed, noting the student leadership ambassadors mentoring program.

Musgrove welcomed Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini and her team to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Menghini noted a message would soon go out regarding the possibility of voluntary work during the winter holiday closed days, with supervisor approval. Many standing services will not be available those days, however.

The range of State and federal benefits provided due to Covid-19 will have differing end dates. Human Resources would keep employees informed as to these end dates, given updates from federal and State authorities. Menghini added that employees effectively working from home will be allowed to continue to do so with supervisor agreement, to reduce campus density.

Menghini reported that the Board of Governors has met to pass legislative priorities including more tools for University administrators to deal with budget concerns. These include provision of an early retirement program, the ability to do temporary base adjustments or furloughs if needed, and broad authority to administer these proposals. The request also affirms the need to attend to employee salaries and seeks additional funding for deferred maintenance of buildings. Menghini repeated that the University does not now have the authority to do broad-based furloughs and will avoid this recourse as much as possible.

Menghini noted that the cluster days replacing spring break this year are not available to University employees as the University has no authority to provide days off. The University has requested of the System Office and the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) to find if allowance could be granted for extending additional leave days for use as mental health days on those times. She did not know if this request will be successful. She also encouraged employees to take care of themselves and to avail themselves of the winter break as much as possible.

In response to a question, Menghini explored the benefits of early retirement on budgets and the challenges of backfilling campus workload. She cautioned employees before possibly withdrawing from their 401(k) or 403(b) plans given tax impacts. She also spoke briefly regarding reallocation of campus space and the provision order of vaccines.

Director of Worklife and Wellness Jessica Pyjas noted that the Miles for Wellness Challenge featured 38 University teams and 339 team members. As a University, this fall’s participants lost 88,620 pounds and ran enough to circle the earth 3.5 times. The spring challenge will begin in April. Employees can also participate virtually in the Jingle Bell Jog via the Strava web application this weekend. December will see two wellness webinars, “Running on E” on December 7th and “Understanding Depression” on December 9th. Employees can register for these via the work-life calendar.

Pyjas added that employees could check out Mindful UNC which runs mediation instruction sessions the first Monday of each month. Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less will begin again with registration due January 8th. Employees can also save up to 33% on Fitbit devices through December 31st through Blue 365 Deals. Finally, check out unc.perksconnection.com for more deals, group code “Go Heels.”

Musgrove noted that the November minutes were not yet ready for approval. She asked for other reports to be pulled from the consent agenda. The Blood Drive and Personnel Issues committee were removed from the consent agenda. Arlene Medder moved to approve the consent agenda, seconded by Laura Pratt. The motion was approved without opposition or abstentions.

It was noted that the Blood Drive hosted 258 presenting donors, had 277 units collected and 62 first-time donors. Musgrove congratulated Jen DeNeal for her work chairing her first drive. She noted that UNC is the number one drive in the country during the COVID-19 outbreak as far as collected units. Together with the summer drive, UNC collected over one thousand units this year, which is the highest in the country.

Musgrove reminded the Forum about the Vice Chancellors’ representatives’ meeting December 10th and the joint meeting with the Faculty Council on December 5th.

She noted that the Community Conversation seemed to have gone well. The Forum will compile questions submitted and answers received to post on the Forum website.

L.E. Alexander reported that the Education & Career Development committee awarded sixteen Professional Development grants this past month.

Elizabeth Dubose provided an update on the informational email sent out this morning regarding Covid-19 vaccine trials at the Center for Infectious Disease and Global Health Research. She hoped that delegates would volunteer for this effort. She encouraged listeners to hang up the flier wherever possible. She asked Matt Banks for help mailing out the flier to campus.

Tiffany Carver of the Membership & Assignments committee encouraged delegates to serve on Forum committees.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 1130 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

 

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