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Latest on COVID-19 and campus operations

COO Larry Sampler shares updates on Gov. Polis’ new health guidelines, fall break and community feedback in weekly Early Bird series.

By Larry Sampler, chief operating officer

November 18, 2020

Larry SamplerDear Roadrunners,

Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday that Colorado is once again enacting stricter public-health measures in an attempt to halt the exponential increase of COVID-19 cases in the state. He said that this week, 10 to 15 counties would be moving to the red level on the state’s dial system, which was revised to represent “severe risk.” We fully expect Denver to be among the counties affected.

These new guidelines do not impact Metropolitan State University of Denver’s current on-campus classes at this time, as higher education continues to be advised to have most classes meet remotely with the exception of those that need hands-on instruction to achieve learning objectives. The new guidelines do, however, limit office capacity to 10%, so we ask that supervisors (director/chair level and above) work with any on-campus employees to ensure compliance with these new restrictions as well as current University health and safety protocols.

Please also note that the governor asked everyone who can work from home to do so. If these new public-health orders are not sufficient to reverse the trend lines of infection, it is entirely possible that the governor and/or mayor will issue yet stricter instructions that will further restrict our ability to operate on campus at all.

The governor emphasized that we have reached a critical moment in our fight against the virus and asked that Coloradans continue to follow three simple rules as we approach the holidays:  

  • Wear a mask when you are around others.
  • Avoid social interactions with people outside of your household.
  • Physically distance yourself when you have unavoidable interactions with others.

These are particularly important for us as we approach fall break next week. While we are all looking forward to some well-deserved time off, I ask that each of you exercise caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is tempting to fall into the typical holiday routine and let our guard slip. For the sake of our University and the Colorado community as a whole, let’s follow Gov. Polis’ recommendations.

Fall 2020 Feedback sessions

I want to express my gratitude for those who participated in last week’s feedback sessions. We gathered a lot of useful information from faculty, staff and students about communicating the “why” behind decisions, as well as specific recommendations around cleaning classrooms and testing for those who will be on campus regularly.

I want you to know that your comments and concerns have been heard. My team and I will take all of this information – plus what we’ve collected from previous surveys of faculty, staff and students – and share our findings at the Dec. 3 Board of Trustees meeting. Most important, the feedback will be used to help us improve our processes and protocols as we move into the spring and beyond.

Communication to Roadrunners in on-campus classes

Braelin Pantel, Ph.D., dean of students, and Steve Monaco, director of the Health Center at Auraria, have been working together to ensure that students, faculty and staff involved with face-to-face classes understand the protocols enacted in the event of a potential COVID-19 exposure. Updated information was recently sent to faculty members about how the Health Center addresses these situations in a class context. Student-support information is also being shared with students who are in classes where there’s a potential exposure to ensure that they know all the ways that MSU Denver can help guide them through challenging times.

I’ll close with just a few reminders. Roadrunners have many opportunities to participate in the decision-making process at MSU Denver. One good way to do that is to tune in to our monthly President’s Cabinet meetings, one of which is scheduled for this morning at 10. We also continue to try to provide as many resources as possible for those who might be struggling to find balance amid the challenges of this year. This month’s Rundown shares some helpful information from the Health Center at Auraria. Lastly, we heard some positive news this week when drugmaker Moderna announced that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective in ongoing trials. While the data is preliminary, my hope is that it’s a ray of hope for our country and state amid the increasing numbers of cases expected during the “dark winter.”    

As always, if you have questions about anything in this column or about our Safe Return to Campus in general, please reach out through this form or via email at  Thanks for reading.


Larry Sampler

Vice president for Administration and Finance and chief operating officer

Topics: Health, Safety

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