Campus and Community Advisory Committee Update
Prepared by Co-Chairs: Mimi Chapman, Shayna Hill, and Reeves Moseley
For Meeting Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2020
This week, on September 28th, we held our second meeting of the Community Campus Advisory Committee (CCAC). The first focus of the meeting was to ascertain what differences exist now as compared to August that might allow for some return to residential living and learning. Second, we considered five options for the spring start date.
Key Process take-aways from the meeting include:
- The coordination process between the co-chairs and the Roadmap Implementation Team (RIT) was described including the information that the RIT would meet with the CCAC in coming weeks.
- The six working groups of the RIT were described: Academics, Public Health and Infectious Disease, Housing, Off Campus and Greek Life, Testing and Tracing, Finance and Personnel. Multiple people from these sub-groups also sit on the CCAC.
Key Points Arising from Presentations and Discussion
- Although viral load is lower in our community than it was in August, Dr. Audrey Pettifor reminded the committee that the positivity rate can be misleading if the denominator for the number of tests was not considered. For instance, if one test is done and that test is positive, that equals a 100% positivity rate. The usefulness of the positivity rate as a measure of virus in the community depends on widespread testing availability and use. There also continue to be issues that complicate coordination between Orange County Health Department and the University. Although there are frequent, regular meetings, data sharing remains complicated.
- At this point, free testing is available to students, faculty, and staff but there is no surveillance protocol in place for the campus. The conclusion is that our testing capacity is better than it was in August, but substantively, the approach to testing has not changed although this is under discussion by the RIT working group on testing and tracing.
- Aaron Nelson and Aaron Bachenheimer, now affectionately known in our committee as “the two Aarons” provided information that indicates that, although some students left the dorms and moved into the Chapel Hill Community, the working assumption based on IP addresses is that most students living in dorms returned to their home addresses. Apartments in Chapel Hill are at approximately 97% occupancy.
- Students also remain living in Greek houses. Chief Perry reports that coordination with the town police is substantially improved since August leading to better enforcement of limits on large gatherings.
- Information provided by Lauren DeGrazia about options Information provided by Lauren DeGrazia about options for the spring start date were presented. There are currently five options under consideration.
- The options have implications for how spring break is handled, the fall 2021 calendar, graduation timing, scholarships, student aid, and academic eligibility.
- The committee is corresponding about these options following the discussion between last week’s meeting and the upcoming meeting on October 6th.
Key Issues Emerging from the Discussion
- Each decision is closely related to every other decision, making it difficult to commit to one option without decisions in other spheres.
- Four areas emerged as critically important to this group: housing density, tracing/testing/metrics protocols, community standards enforcement, and transparency/communication.
Planning for our Next Meeting
- The co-chairs asked the Provost to provide a schedule of decisions and deadlines for recommendations which we have received.
- The co-chairs requested that the committee, via the listserv, consider the five options for the spring start date in light of two different possibilities:
- Testing is the same as it is now – improved, but not a comprehensive strategy that includes both re-entry and surveillance testing.
- A robust system of re-entry and surveillance testing is in place. Committee members views are being compiled and will be further discussed at the next meeting.
- We are asking that the next large topic of discussion be housing density on campus. We are asking Allan Blattner, Executive Director of Housing, to join next week’s meeting, along with other key individuals related to housing.
- Abagail Panter, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Housing and team will provide information on modes of instruction, although it is unclear how to make decisions about this in advance without knowing what viral load in the community will look like at the start of the spring semester.