Good morning everyone. A few points have more exposition today.
There will be a virtual memorial service for Fr. Peter Ely today at 12:30 pm. Fr. Steve sent out an announcement Wednesday at 5:09pm. There is a link to join the service, and a link to a remembrance web page along with more information.
Teaching, learning and holding meetings in front of screens and cameras can be exhausting. Everyone is learning this lesson as teachers, students and family members. Think about building in more rest/break time for you and your students as you can. Some students are thriving in this approach but it has its struggles for others. Listen to how they’re doing (and how you’re doing) with the workload and adjust to support them and you.
The University is looking ahead from where we are, not where we were, through the work of the University Strategic Planning Council. The USPC is the main group charged with leading operational plan development based on the University Strategic Directions noted here. The group met for the first time in the COVID-19 era yesterday and committed to incorporating the impact of COVID-19 as part of the “baseline” for looking forward from this point. I think this is important as it is a five-year plan and it is hard to imagine anything the pandemic won’t affect over the next five years, especially the next two. The Council discussed focusing more directly on “student experience, student support and quality academic programs” and on emphasizing key outcomes that are most important now. A&S community members on the Council are Kirsten Thompson as Academic Assembly Vice President and me.
Flexibility in planning ahead is more important than ever. Enrollment information for the Spring quarter is not yet final, but anecdotal evidence to this point seems positive regarding class enrollment and attendance so far this quarter. Students seem to be sticking, the 10th day census will be the final word. Graduate course enrollment in A&S for the fall is trending more positively than predicted so far as well. However, undergraduate Fall enrollment will not be clear until later in the year, early May and into June. It will depend heavily on the nationwide and regional COVID-19 picture and how we and other universities respond to it. Because the coming 12-18 months are so unclear in terms of outbreak trends, how we will operate and how students and their families will respond, the university has to build more flexibility into the plans ahead. One example of this is the hiring freeze for staff and faculty already in place, where exceptions may be requested based on impact on student service and enrollment. We have several positions already impacted and are working with the Provost’s office on we might meet those needs. Another example: the university supported college-level renewal of faculty who held three-year contracts that ended this year, but offered one-year rather than three-year renewals across the board, with the plan to return to three-year renewals as the enrollment picture of the coming years becomes clearer. We committed to those faculty, I supported renewals of all of them in that situation this year and they were all approved. I expect a similar level of flexibility in how the budget is managed. We turned in a prioritized set of cuts and a very few new budget requests. We will have to be more flexible and patient than in the past around when we hear about cuts and the level of certainty in those cuts, with the Board of Trustees as the ultimate voice in that process.
Thank you again for everything you are doing to help our students and each other as an academic community. Everything we are and everything we can be as a university right now comes directly from you. I know the situation is asking a lot from all of you. Your support for our students and our academic mission in this moment is simply heroic.
COMMUNITY UPDATE –
There are opportunities to participate in COVID-19 Screening studies. Here is a link to a new Covid-19 study collecting data on both healthy and symptomatic folks in the Greater Seattle Area.
The Governor noted in his press conference yesterday that comprehensive testing is the next important step in any move from our current social distancing measures, but we’re not in a position to change yet. His Facebook page has clearer copies of the graphs he used.
Mike Myint Update – The route through the uncertainty of the virus is increasingly clear from a public health perspective and some countries are models of how to respond (spoiler alert, not us).
International best practices starts with testing
Preparation, coordination, execution, and relentless focus. These are what distinguishes this list. I agree with the lessons learned from these countries outlined in this article. The base of all national strategies is testing. This also applies to China, which is not often in these comparisons but has also had a robust and decisive testing and response strategy.
At this point, despite what is being touted, testing is still severely limited in the US due to lack of testing supplies such as swabs and viral media (what you need to transport the sample).
Unless we get this testing capacity back up, any other strategy is fantasy as we continue to "fly blind" from an epidemiologic basis and we are unable to execute to strategies including identify/isolate strategies that will allow quasi-normalization of our workforce as outlined by our WA state Governor Jay Inslee.
In conclusion, testing, is a simple first step and now several months into the pandemic, clearly not easy for most countries.