General Faculty Meeting

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Notes from the 8-20-2020 General Faculty Meeting
General Faculty Meeting
August 20, 2020
10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Colleen Penhall, Chief Communications Officer, facilitated the meeting.  She explained that questions were collected ahead of the meeting and they will also be addressing questions submitted via chat during this meeting.  

Q: Based on what other campuses have experienced in their first weeks, why is UNC Charlotte not shifting all online?

A: Chancellor Sharon Gaber said the UNC System wants schools to start face-to-face.  We are in conversations with Mecklenburg County's department of health and the UNC System.  We are working with the appropriate authorities.  If we need to have a change, we will work through those processes towards that.

Q: How will the university respond to a possible increase in COVID on campus?

A: Chancellor Gaber said we are prepared to shift online as needed.  We will continue our plan to the best of our ability.

Q: Are there plans for testing students and faculty ahead of classes? 

A: John Bogdan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security, answered "no".  We are deploying a daily health screening survey called "Niner Health Check."

Q: Will the dashboard be changing and where will it be located?

A: John Bogdan said the university is working on a more robust tracking dashboard with the goal of having it go live August 31.  This dashboard will be located in the same place, the Emergency Management website.

Q: What should faculty do if a student does not wear a mask?

A: Provost Joan Lorden stated that faculty should start with asking them to put on a mask.  If they do not have a mask, the faculty member should offer them one.  We will also have masks available in vending machines.  If the student refuses to wear a mask, then ask them to leave and tell them they may return if they put on a mask.  You should dismiss class if the student refuses to wear a mask and refuses to leave. Then submit an incident report.

Q: Travel and other funding is on hold.  Research may be restricted.  How do we manage per our RPT expectations?

A: Provost Lorden indicated that we will give everyone an additional year...essentially stopping the clock.  It is an option; they can also choose to continue as planned.  After discussions with Faculty President Joel Avrin, we have decided to have the Faculty Employment Status Committee (FESC) take this matter up for further discussion.

Q: Faculty who volunteered to teach hybrid classes face more costs, such as parking, and more time effort.  Will this imbalance be addressed?

A: Provost Lorden expressed that she understands there is all kinds of burden on faculty at this time.  We have been as liberal as we could be on how to accommodate faculty needs and choose their own teaching method.  Teaching at home also has costs, home internet for example.  Faculty who have challenges are encouraged to come forward and we will try to help.

Q: Are masks required for everyone (students, faculty, staff, and visitors)?

A: John Bogdan said "yes".  Everyone must wear a mask unless alone in a private space.

Q: What is the protocol when someone gets COVID-19?

A: John Bogdan said the first step is to inform your supervisor, and if a student, then to inform the Dean of Students, and fill out the online reporting form.

Q: How does contact tracing at the university work?

A: Rick Tankersley, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, said we utilize a daily symptom survey.  This information is handed over to the contact tracing team.  Based on this information, the team conducts an interview and works with close contacts of the individual.  The university works closely with the county. More information about COVID testing and contact tracing is available at the bottom of this page.

Q: Will an entire class be affected if a student from that class tests positive?

A: Rick Tankersley indicated that we follow county procedures.  If a student tested positive and was in class within the past few days, we will be following the contact tracing procedures.  It is possible that not everyone in the class will be affected, but just those in close contact.

Q: What happens if an instructor becomes ill?

A: Provost Lorden said illness among faculty is a concern.  Within the departments we will do what we always do whenever a professor becomes ill.  Others within the department will step up.

Q: Why have parking rates not been reduced or a variable parking rate implemented?

A: Rich Steele, Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services, said we have done as much as we can.  A variable system is not available.  We have reduced rates.  We abandoned the planned 3% increase and we reduced the price 12%.  A $480 pass was dropped to $424.  The annual permit is the best value.

Q: Does the university have any liability if graduate teaching assistants get COVID-19?

A: Jesh Humphrey, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and General Counsel, answered "no".  During the state of emergency enacted by the Governor of North Carolina we are considered an essential entity barring any liability with regards to negligence suits for COVID-19.

Q: What are we doing different from other institutions?

A: Chancellor Gaber said we are starting later and therefore have more time to refine our plan.  We have a number of preventive measures in place and are working with the county.  One additional measure we have taken is waste water detection in our dormitories.

Q: Is there a set number of infections that would move the university completely online?

A: Chancellor Gaber answered "no".  There is not a specific number, instead we are looking at incident rates and growth of incident rates.

Q: Does one need to wear a mask when lecturing, even if they are socially distanced from the rest of the class?

A: Provost Lorden answered "yes".  You need to wear a mask.  We have purchased new microphones for the classrooms to help.  Rich Preville added that the USB microphones added to the classrooms have been tested while wearing different types of masks.

Q: Should faculty ask students to sit in the same place each class to help with contact tracing?

A: Provost Lorden answered that faculty could, but it is not mandated.

Q: Do positive or quarantining students need to provide a negative test result to return to class?

A: John Bogdan said "no".  The standard is 10 days in quarantine and 24 hours symptom free.  Robert Jones, Student Health Center Medical Director, added those that are asymptomatic must quarantine for 10 days before returning to classrooms.

Q: If someone is teleworking do they need to complete the daily health check survey?

A: John Bogdan answered "yes".  Everyone needs to do the daily health survey.

Q: Are there positive cases already?  How will we know this information?

A: John Bogdan said our dashboard has all this information.  We have positive cases.  We have been reporting this information on the dashboard on the emergency management website.

Q: What authority do faculty have to adjust their class instruction method if their class has become negatively impacted by positive cases or the quarantining of students?

A: Provost Lorden said faculty should consult with the department chairs.  Faculty can move the class online if necessary, after approval from the department chair.

Q: If an instructor tests positive but feels fine enough to continue to teach online, are they permitted to do so?

A: Provost Lorden answered "yes," they can continue to teach online.

Q: Please explain how everyone receives the daily survey.  Is the data protected?

A: Rick Tankersley said the data is protected.  Surveys will appear in your inbox daily at 6:00 A.M.  Four simple questions are asked.  Based on your answers you will be given instructions.

Q: Will faculty and staff be able to get tested on campus?

A: Rick Tankersley answered affirmatively.  Yes, the testing clinic is next to the student health center.

Q: There are different types of COVID tests, which are we using?

A: Rick Tankersley said we are using the gold standard of tests, a rapid test with results in 24-to-36 hours.

Q: Will waste water testing be expanded to all buildings?

A: Rick Tankersley said we are focusing on those with communal living.  These have the greatest impact.

Q: Will contact tracing be limited to only on campus contacts?

A: Rick Tankersley said we will focus on those in our campus community, but we will identify those outside our campus community and direct to the county.

Q: Will the regular flu vaccine still be administered on campus this fall?

A: Robert Jones, Student Health Center Medical Director, said "yes" and that we plan to expand it.

Q: Large parties may occur on or off campus by our students.  What consequences will students face for partaking in such activities? 

A: Kevin Bailey, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said various communications are being sent out to students to make them aware that they could incur violations for not following directives.