Coronavirus Updates – March 24, 2020

The University of Pikeville is actively monitoring the updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state health authorities concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. The health and safety of our university community are of high importance. Please continue to check this page for additional updates.


Communications from the President

March 24, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Letter to Students

Students, 

Thank you for your flexibility and patience. We are now in the second week of online classes, and it looks like we will be here for a while. Dr. Werth has been working with the college deans to continually improve the instruction you receive. We know this is a challenging time. Be strong, but please reach out for help if you need it. We have several resources that can assist you, but we need to know what you need. Several of you have had questions about commencement, refunds, move out and how long we will be online. In the paragraphs that follow, you will find answers to a few of those questions. 

First, it saddens me deeply to tell you that we will need to make significant changes to our May 2, 2020, Commencement activities. As you have probably guessed by now, we will not be able to hold our traditional ceremonies in the Appalachian Wireless Arena (formerly East Kentucky Expo Center). The deans, along with the executive staff, the provost and I are working on the development of a virtual commencement ceremony for all of our graduates. We will send more information as those plans develop, but if you have ideas, please pass them along. We had already planned to hold a December commencement exercise for the growing number of students who finish mid-year, and we are planning to invite anyone from the class of 2020 who would like to walk across the stage and celebrate with family, to join us in either December 2020 or May 2021.

Second, since Governor Beshear has extended the request for schools to remain closed until at least April 20, and since our last day of class is April 24, we will not be resuming face-to-face classes in the spring 2020 semester. For residential students, this will raise questions about when you might return to campus to gather your things. Dean of Student Affairs Justin Owens and his staff have been working on a schedule that will spread out students over time and keep the numbers low inside the halls as you retrieve your things. His message, which will follow this one, will give specific instructions on how to sign up for a time to move out of your room. Students who are currently living on campus are welcome to remain on campus for the remainder of the term.

Third, it is likely that the university will refund some portion of what has been paid for room and board. As you can imagine, this is more difficult than it might appear. We are still working through all of the variables and will make a decision soon. As soon as we can finalize the details, we will send that information along to you.  

Finally, please take care of yourself. This is a stressful time. Stress wears on the body, weakens the immune system, and leaves us more susceptible to infection. Eat healthy food, get outside and exercise, call a friend and talk while you drink coffee. Plan your days rather than letting them simply pass by. Physical distancing with social connection is so incredibly critical as the pandemic evolves. We will get through this – together. 

Striving to serve, 
Burton Webb, PhD
President

The University of Pikeville continues to take measures to support educational opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and the community in the wake of COVID-19.

We are committed to following the recommendations of the state and county health officials and preparing our campus accordingly. Today, we received a recommendation from the Pike County Health Taskforce to transition all UPIKE classes into an online format. Starting Monday, March 16, all classes will be fully online. This includes undergraduate, graduate, KYCOM and KYCO students. All course lectures, assignments and materials will be in Canvas. Students and instructors will be in close communication as the UPIKE family works to make this a successful transition.

UPIKE will remain open for those students who do not have access to housing, food or technology. Students who remain on campus will have access to all critical services but will also move to online learning.

Along with our partners in the public health office, we will continue to assess the need to remain online. Should we decide to transition instruction back to on-campus delivery, we will notify the UPIKE family as soon as possible.

UPIKE has a variety of tools that will enable us to operate electronically. Students should access Canvas or contact their professor for further information.

Communication continues to be vitally important in navigating the evolving COVID-19 situation. As a team, we will make decisions that keep our campus community moving forward and learning. Please continue to check this page for future updates.

By now, I am certain that everyone in the UPIKE Family has heard of COVID-19 and that many of you are wondering what UPIKE will do in response. While we believe this is a serious infectious disease that we must take prudent measures to address, we will plan and act with care; we will not panic. With that in mind, please allow me to highlight what we know, how we are planning and how we will act in the face of this threat.

What we know: 

  • As of this moment, there are 116,694 confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus infection around the world. 791 of those cases are in the United States, and six are in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We expect those numbers will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
  • The virus itself is likely more infectious than the influenza virus, and the fatality rate is likely to be higher than influenza.
  • To date, fatalities have been limited to the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
  • Most infected people have fairly mild respiratory symptoms and do not progress to serious disease.
  • The CDC has made recommendations for Institutions of Higher Education to respond appropriately to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Conclusions:

  • Based on what we know, we believe this virus represents a significant threat to the people of our region, our faculty, staff and students. We need to take it seriously.
  • The effect on individuals within the UPIKE family will be highly variable.
  • We will endeavor to follow the recommendations of the CDC with regard to COVID-19.

How we are planning:

  • Over a year ago, Barry Bentley and Michael Pacheco formed the UPIKE Risk Management Task Force. This group was originally charged with identifying all of the potential risks to UPIKE operations, then providing the administrative leadership team with the top 20 or so realistic threats. Even then, pandemic infection was near the top of the list, though at the time, they thought it would be influenza.
  • Before the end of the fall semester, Barry created a subcommittee of the Risk Management Task Force to study and begin crafting the institution’s response to infectious disease – the Communicable Disease Outbreak Subcommittee (CDOS). This group is chaired by Danny Driskill in KYCOM, and has membership from across campus.
  • The CDOS and administrative team are monitoring the situation closely. CDOS and the Cabinet will be responsible for reviewing the situation and making decisions regarding the UPIKE response to COVID-19.  At this point, we are taking our lead from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The link below is updated frequently, and it contains the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education. You may find the current version of the CDC Guidance document here.

Conclusion:

  • UPIKE leadership is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and following the CDC guidance for institutions of higher education.

How we will face this threat:

  • Together – this is the first and most important answer to any threat. Our campus community will face whatever may come together as a community.
  • Executive Staff includes Department Leadership, Deans, and the members of Cabinet. Therefore, Executive Staff will serve as the implementation body for decisions that are made regarding our response to COVID-19.
  • At this point, CDC guidance indicates that we should remain open and begin making contingency plans for operating with limited personal contact. Fortunately, we have a variety of tools that will enable us to operate electronically. Dr. Werth has sent a message to faculty discussing many of the technologies that are already available.
  • As the situation evolves, we will likely need to consider closing the UPIKE campus. This decision will be made in cooperation with our State and Local Health Departments. Currently, their best advice is to begin preparing now.
    • If you are a faculty member – start planning to deliver content via Canvas, Panopto, BigBlueButton or any of the other technologies available. If you teach things that require hands-on contact, get creative and try to find acceptable solutions.
    • If you are a staff member – talk to your supervisor about what might happen and start discussing whether you could work remotely or as part of a reduced workforce.
    • If you are a student – plan ahead. Will you stay on campus? Can you finish your classes from home? Does your home have adequate bandwidth to access technology? Does your home have adequate food? If you need to stay on campus, what services will you need to use?
  • If we do decide to finish the semester virtually, there will likely be some students who cannot go home. Begin to plan for how your office will remain open with a reduced workforce.

Conclusion:

  • Communication will be the most important thing we do as we navigate the coming months.
    • Please, resist the impulse to traffic in rumors – the Cabinet will issue official communication regularly on Canvas – be sure your notifications are set to reach you in the manner you desire. (Canvas can send email, text messages, etc.)
    • Please, ask questions often. Email is always a good way to ask questions, but there will be a place on Canvas to ask questions as well. A member of Cabinet or the Executive Staff will endeavor to answer as quickly as possible.
  • Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Please, begin to plan what your workday would look like if we were to cease face-to-face operations.

One final note: The University of Pikeville has faced challenges of this magnitude before. We managed to function during the War to end all Wars, the influenza pandemic and World War II. We made it through the Korean conflict, Vietnam and the turbulent 70s. Now we may be facing the pandemic challenge of our generation. We can choose to panic, or we can choose to keep moving forward with care, understanding that we will come through this crisis as we always have. Together. One UPIKE Family.

Striving to serve,

Burton J. Webb, PhD

President – UPIKE


Communication to Faculty and Staff from the Provost

Dear UPIKE Faculty and Staff,

As you likely have heard, the first eight cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Kentucky this past week. We are closely monitoring the situation and preparing for potential impacts to our campus and the surrounding community.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the UPIKE campus. At the same time, the safety and wellbeing of our faculty, staff, students, patients and the community is of paramount importance. Please review President Webb’s announcement regarding details of COVID-19 as it relates to the planning and implementation of action related to our campus community.

The University will resume its normal schedule as students return from Spring Break on Monday. We do know the pattern of COVID-19, and we can assume cases in the Commonwealth will increase during the next 4-8 weeks. Our goal as a community is to ensure continuity in our academic operations should events unfold in a way that it becomes necessary to partially, or fully, close the UPIKE campus. As President Webb discussed in his message, the university has formed a Communicable Disease Outbreak Sub-Committee chaired by Danny Driskill, director of simulation in KYCOM and assistant professor of family medicine. In addition, each College Dean is working closely to evaluate the situation and provide input.

Face-to-Face Classes in March/April

If you are teaching a face-to-face course, we recommend that you begin thinking about how you would deliver course material via alternative formatsI want to make it clear that we are not canceling any on-campus courses at this time. However, considering the fluid nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, we need to be prepared to make adjustments so the learning of our students can continue in as uninterrupted a manner as possible. In many instances, faculty can deliver course content using our university-wide online learning tools—Canvas and Panopto—which are available to all faculty and students. If you have questions related to our learning and technology support services, please contact the professional development staff. Both have collaborated with folks on our campus and are prepared to support you during and after spring break.

Clinicals, Research, Seminar Classes and Independent Study

In some instances, faculty may be able to deliver course content via other strategies (e.g., directed readings and email discussions for smaller seminar classes; independent research assignments). We also recognize that wet labs, experiential learning, and other activities will be more difficult to address and we encourage you to be creative. Please consider which strategy or strategies will be most effective for your particular students, and plan accordingly. Clinical experiences in KYCOM, KYCO, Nursing, and Social Work will be evaluated in the context of our collaborative relationships with the agencies where our students are placed. Clinical work is highly dependent on the agency and their ability to serve patients and clients.

Athletics and Travel at UPIKE

As a community, we will follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel guidelines. The university will not approve travel to locations the CDC has designated as Level 3 or higher. This includes China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. Kelly Wells is monitoring travel for the MidSouth Conference and within the NAIA. Please know the university will adhere to safety precautions and will suspend travel as we hear and learn more. One of the conferences I was planning to attend in San Diego, California, was cancelled this week. Our KYCOM faculty and staff also received news that their national conference had been cancelled as well. If the conference you planned on attending is suddenly cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, please work closely with the Office of Business Services as we work to get reimbursed for conference fees. Please work with airlines as well to gain a refund or a credit. We will continue monitoring travel daily and communicate with the campus community via Canvas and email.

Resources at UPIKE

  • Canvas: UPIKE’s Learning Management System has a multitude of features, including video, audio recording, and 24/7 support. Please become familiar with these features.
  • BigBlueButton: Synchronous video technology with an ability to record. Please see the conference tab in Canvas for this resource.
  • Recorded Lectures: This can take place through Canvas, Panopto (lecture-capture software), YouTube, and through the Faculty Studio on the third floor of Allara.
  • Academic, Student Affairs, and Support Staff: Please remember our greatest resource at UPIKE are the individuals who work tirelessly to ensure the success of our students. Regardless of the situation, our tutoring staff, ADA, student success, student affairs, registrar, financial aid, business office, admissions, and all support services on campus are only a phone call, text or email away!
  • Please review the Rich Text Editor in Canvas which is equipped with an ADA Compliance Checker.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article this week entitled Going Online in A Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start. Please consider reviewing this article and the resources it discusses.

Summary and Next Steps

First step next week. Please review the CDC guidelines for handwashing and review these with your students. We are posting signs around campus and creating posters.

Strategies faculty should include are as follows:

  • If you assign points for class attendance, do not penalize students for missing class if they are sick.
  • Review your syllabus for policies that must change.
  • Consider making a Canvas course announcement that highlights attendance policy changes within your course. What will have to temporarily change in your syllabus (policies, due dates, assignments, etc.)?
  • Since students may also be thrown off by the changes, they will appreciate details whenever you can provide them.
  • Clearly articulate your new expectations for students. You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication and deadlines.
  • As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students’ ability to meet those expectations, including illness or needing to care for family members.

Please be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.

After spring break, we will have six weeks of classes remaining. If we do have to rapidly convert on-campus courses into an online format, we will do everything we can to support you. Please be aware our goal will be to continue the academic functions of the university. Yesterday we spoke to Gia Potter, University Registrar, about course formatting and scheduling options, so there are many individuals at UPIKE preparing for changes in the schedule if needed.

UPIKE is committed to ensuring the health and safety of everyone in our community. Thank you so much!

Lori Werth, PhD

Provost

University of Pikeville


Previous Updates


CDC Information

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends taking basic hygiene precautions like those used to prevent the spread of other diseases. They include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash

Travelers from Countries with Widespread Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission Arriving in the United States
To slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into the United States, CDC is working with state and local public health partners to implement after-travel health precautions.


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