Jennifer McDuffie: "Hi, everyone, we'll get started in just one moment while we allow others to join. Thank you."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Jennifer McDuffie, and I'm the associate vice chancellor of student affairs here at CU Boulder. I'll be moderating today's call.

"Some quick housekeeping items before we get started: all attendee lines will be muted throughout the call. When we get to question and answer, please place your question in the Q&A function at the bottom of your screen.

"We will do our best to get to all questions. If we do not get to any of your questions, you can reach us directly at (our) website. As a reminder, today's call will be recorded and this recording will be added to the COVID-19 website.

"On today's call, we are joined by Chancellor Philip DiStefano, Provost Russ Moore, and Interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O'Rourke. We also have with us Dr. Akira Bradley, our vice chancellor of student affairs; Dr. Katherine Eggert, our senior vice provost and associate vice chancellor for academic planning and assessment; as well as Dan Jones, our associate vice chancellor for integrity, safety and compliance. At this time, I'll turn it over to Chancellor DiStefano for some opening comments."

Philip DiStefano: "Thank you, Jennifer, and welcome everyone. We announced last week that due to the current COVID-19 projections nationally and also within our state, our spring 2021 term will start remotely for at least the first month. We hope to resume in-person instruction with on-campus student activities and experiences on Feb. 15, if the COVID conditions in our community allow.

"We need to move from Level Red to Level Orange on the COVID dial. We will follow up on this on January the 14th, to confirm our plans based upon the latest information available at that time. Additionally, we made the difficult decision to hold a virtual spring 2021 commencement ceremony. Based upon the best information we have, the public health orders would not permit us to hold commencement at Folsom Field.

"These decisions are based upon the best COVID-19 case projections by the state and in consultation with state and local health officials. There haven't been any easy decisions along the way. But we are working to provide the safest and most positive on campus living and learning experience.

"We will do our best to avoid the back and forth shifts that created uncertainty for everyone in the fall. We didn't arrive at these decisions lightly, but we firmly believe it's the right decision.

"We are asking everyone to remain in their home communities and delay travel to Boulder until we return to in-person learning. This will help reduce the risk of transmission in the community.

"Faculty and staff are being asked to work remotely when possible. Approved on-campus research and innovation will continue in person, with existing protocols. Our testing program will continue to be available for all students, all faculty and all staff.

"In the spring semester, we will have weekly updates and opportunities for feedback. We will convey decisions as clearly, transparently and quickly as possible. And just because we're starting with remote learning doesn't mean we won't be working around the clock to make the Buff experience better.

"On a personal note, I'm disappointed in the changes we're needing to make right now, but we need to hang in there for a little while longer. There's a light at the end of the tunnel and we're going to get there together.

"Thank you for all of the engagement throughout the semester and the year. It's been crucial to hear the community's concerns, answer questions and stay connected. Thank you, and turning it back over to Jennifer."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Chancellor. We want to give you all the maximum amount of time to ask your questions. So if you have a question, please feel free to enter it in the Q&A function at the bottom of your screen. We are prioritizing questions from students and family members. So we'll go to those questions now.

"This first question is for Pat. Pat, why did CU make the decision about virtual commencements so early? I'm just curious if any alternatives are discussed, for example, spreading graduation out across different dates for the various schools?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So thanks, Jennifer, and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to chat with everyone today. Instead of just limiting the question to the issue of commencement, I thought it might be helpful to take a second to talk about some of the things that are shaping our overall COVID perspective, including commencement, so that you've got the context to be able to put it all together.

"So, if you don't mind, I'm going to share my screen for just a couple minutes.

"So, Jennifer, can you let me know that you can see the..."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Yes." 

Patrick O'Rourke: "Thank you. Thank you. Okay. So we start out by recognizing that the state and the Denver Metro area are in a situation where the COVID rates have gone up and down some.

"This is a current graph showing where the Denver metropolitan area counties are, and you can see how it was somewhat flat in between April and about Sept. 1st. Boulder County is the red line on this graph. And you can see the spike in cases that we had in the September-October time frame. And that was the cases that were really associated with the 18-to-22 year old population and CU students.

"What we saw after that, though, was a significant outbreak all across the state, and that those numbers went up and reached their peak and within the last month. And it started to come down a little bit. That's good news. The post-Thanksgiving spike wasn't as steep as they expected it to be.

"But it's still fairly significantly high in Boulder County itself, we remain within Level Red on the state's COVID dial, and they measure that by looking at really three different types of information. Number one is the rate of infection in the community. Number two is the average positivity rates for PCR testing. And number three is the rate of hospitalization.

"And the number that we've been focusing on most is this number related to the to cumulative two-week incidence rate. That number is currently 572.5, which is down significantly from what its peak was in Boulder County about a month ago, but it's still about 350 ... still way above the 350 people per 100,000 necessary to reduce down back into even Level Orange.

"What we know is that the cases in our student population have normalized and have become much closer to what they are in the general population. You can see this big steep curve that happened in September, and now the student infection rate or the 18-to-22-year-old population infection rate in Boulder County has become much more normal compared to the rest of the of the population, which is good news. But all of this is dependent on us being able to get further down in terms of what the infection rates are to be able to safely return to campus.

"Currently, Colorado social distancing average is at about 48%; that is compared to when it was an 82% in April and then it dropped down to a low of about 29% of October, and that's contributed to the rising rates of infection over the past few months. We also know that Boulder County is doing better than the statewide average, but why this is important is that with the social distancing and the other things that occur, if those infection rates go down, it affects where we are on the COVID dial.

"And this is important for really a few reasons. The first is when we were deciding whether or not we could return in-person in January. We know that if we were in Level Red that the personal gathering size would be none, which means that we would have an experience where students who were living in the residence halls and otherwise living in the Boulder community wouldn't be able to have social interactions outside of their immediate households. We also know that CDPHE has required that we be remote for the instruction in Level Red with some very limited ability to offer in-person instruction when necessary, but we weren't there.

"For the issue of commencement, what really drove the decision was the fact that even when you are at Level Red, we would have very little capacity to offer in-person commencement type of experience. That would have been a situation where the capacity, and this is rated on the entrances and exits to a facility, would allow you to have outdoor seat events with a maximum of 75 people. The best that we ever got during the fall semester was Level Yellow, which would have had a venue like Folsom Field limited to the capacity of 175 people for those each of those separate exits and entrances, and even if we got all the way down to Level Green, which has never happened since the COVID metrics came into effect, we wouldn't be able to offer a graduation experience like the type where we bring thousands of people into Folsom Field and have them congregating with each other in ways that we wouldn't be able to manage it. And we are just making the decision, as difficult as it was, based upon the fact that given where things are on the COVID dial and that the dial itself is not likely to change with what we know about the rate of infection, it was a difficult thing that we wanted to communicate to you about commencement, but we wanted to do that as soon as possible."

"We didn't want to provide information in a way that left the people uncertain, where they would have to be canceling or changing travel plans and we knew that there was no good time to share the news. So we chose to share it as soon as possible.

"But we know and we didn't mean to cause any stress upon people by announcing it at a time when people were taking finals, and we didn't mean to appear insensitive, but we knew that people were going to have questions about spring semester, and in particular about commencement and what it means to them. And so it was extraordinarily difficult decision, but we had to look at it realistically, based upon all of the public health information we have, and our ability to project out into the future.

"And the best projections that we've seen from across the state, even with the distribution of vaccine leads us to believe that, given that the 18-to-64-year-old population, unless they have some type of pre-existing comorbidities that would allow them to bump up in terms of the vaccine distribution schedule, we did not want to offer a false promise of normal type of commencement. We will have our teams working to determine what we can do to be able to honor our spring graduates as best we can, within the environment which we find ourselves.

"But in contrast to last year, when we were making decisions and they were really up to us to be able to make, this year, we had the COVID dial that has come in on top of us and really controls our decision making from a public health standpoint. We want to make best decisions for the educational experience. We want to make them for our community, but we also recognize they're not entirely in our hands. So I hope that information was helpful and look forward to answering some more questions as we go through."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for that. This next question is going to be for Akirah Bradley. When Will students be allowed to return to the residence halls in person instruction does not resume. When will you allow residents back into the dorms to get their belongings.

Akirah J. Bradley: "Thank you, Jennifer. So currently right now we're working with students if they've forgotten something and need to get back in the halls. The next dates coming up where students can enter into the halls is Dec. 22, the 28th, and Jan. 4, and they should email to schedule an appointment. If in-person instruction does not resume, we will continue to add dates so that students can come to the halls to get their belongings."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Akirah. Pat, If I could go back to you. I have a multipart question. On the website, it keeps saying 'if' in regards to going back in February. How likely is it that the school would delay this, and how likely is it that the students will go back in February, for sure?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "It's a great question. And what we tried to do was to pick a date for February that we thought was realistic from being able to move from Level Red back down to Level Orange because that's really when two things happen.

"We get the ability first for students to have a greater degree of social interaction, and we've heard loud and clear from the students that that's really important to them. And so Dr. Bradley, who you heard from a moment ago, her team in Student Affairs is working so that when we do have the ability to bring people back, that we're making it a good experience. Um, what we believe, based on the latest modeling that has come out of the Colorado School of Public Health is that if the infection rates peak, like they were predicted to, shortly after the New Year's holiday, that it takes about three weeks for there to be a significant regression in the number of cases and then we have to, along with Boulder County, apply to CDPHE to be able to move our status on the dial after we have been below that 350 cases per 100,000 for a period of two weeks.

"So this is our best projection. It's not set in stone, because we don't know two things we don't know. Number one, what the COVID rate of infection is going to be. And we don't know exactly when the state will move us on the COVID dial. But we've tried to do this conservatively.

"We want to be real clear: our number one goal is that once we are able to bring people back, we want to make sure that we can keep people back. And we've heard from a lot of students, faculty and staff throughout the course of the fall semester that it was the uncertainty and the changes in status and going back and forth, that caused a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety. The modeling that we're seeing, both in terms of what will happen, probably in the spring, what is going to happen as vaccine starts to take root in the community, is that we want to be in a position when people come back, we're really confident that we'll be able to keep them here, that will be able to increase the number of experiences as a semester goes on and really have this return to a much better experience than what people felt like they hadn't all were. They were very frustrated by the shifts and status."

"So to answer the question, Feb. 15 is not an absolute locked in date because what we're really tied into is the state COVID dial. But what we want to be able to do is provide the best estimate of when we think we're going to move and we'll be updating that. We should have really good projections around the first or second week of January, with the post-holiday numbers coming out and we'll be able to model pretty well from there."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you."

"Provost Moore: Did the new regulations have any influence and the new inbound international students? And for international students, when do you recommend that they arrive to Boulder.

Russell Moore: "So my hope is that the new regulations will make it more, make it easier for our international students to arrive here in Boulder. With respect to the timing of their arrival, as you can imagine, there are visa issues and all sorts of regulatory needs that they have to comply with. But my recommendation to our international colleagues and our international students is to contact our housing and dining folks so that they can make arrangements for a move-in that works both for their schedule and that also works with our testing and contact tracing protocols on campus."

Jennifer McDuffie: "So this next question is for Pat, or maybe our financial experts who are on the call. This is a multipart question.

"How are you going to redistribute our tuition to benefit us while we're taking classes online? Will tuition be adjusted to account for remote learning this semester?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So thanks, Jennifer, and I appreciate the question. The short answer is that for tuition with the delayed start with in-person instruction, we are not planning on adjustments to tuition. We will be incurring the same instructional costs that tuition pays for and we need to be able to make sure that we're enabling us to be able to return to in-person instruction, that we've made the investments in the technology necessary to allow remote instruction for that introductory period. We will, however, be looking at the location-based fees, and we'll be working on being able to return some of those to the students because they will not be incurred those first few weeks."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for that. If you don't mind. Can you stay on. So we can shift topics that I think you'd be the best to answer?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "Sure."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Will you be administering the COVID-19 vaccine to students?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So the answer is yes, but we don't know when. So if you look at the state's distribution schedule, that it really begins with first responders and healthcare personnel, and they are in what is considered tier A, or Tier 1, of the distribution schedule, and so they will be prioritized in terms of who gets vaccine first. You may have seen over the last few days that are healthcare people who are receiving vaccine. The next people who get prioritized after that are people who are in the elderly age range, people who are going to be living in places like nursing homes, long term care facilities. After that, there's a prioritization for people who have different types of health-related conditions. Right now, the population that is lowest on the tiers are those people who are ages 18 to 64 without any comorbidities.

"And so for students who are otherwise healthy, it probably won't be that there would be a vaccine distribution scheduled, where it would reach those students, until late in the spring or early in the summer. And so what we're hoping is that once that vaccine becomes available, if our student population coming into the next academic year can really get out there and take the vaccine, we can create the herd immunity that will really allow things to return to more normal for everyone. We're really excited about what that could mean for the next for the next year."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. This next question is for the chancellor. Sending news on commencement during finals with a bad idea. Why did it have to come then?"

Philip DiStefano: "So let me, let me begin by saying, I certainly apologize for giving that news during finals. However, as we talked about earlier, we wanted to make sure that information got out as quickly as possible about graduation. Many of our non-resident families start making plans for the biggest event in the spring right around this time, and the one thing we didn't want to do was to not say anything, have individuals make plans or hotels and airfare and so on, and then have to cancel. We know today and as Pat pointed out in describing, you know, the what we're doing now and red and orange, and even if we were to get down to the lowest level, that we would not be able to have the traditional ceremony that we normally do at Folsom Field.

"But I think, you know, what we want to do is, you know, look at some alternatives to spring commencement, and right now we do have students who are on the Commencement Committee and they're working on that committee to look at alternatives for spring graduation. If anybody has ideas about alternative activities for spring, you can go to the commencement website and put in your recommendations. So I'll back up by saying, I know it was difficult, and I apologize for giving that information during the time when some of you are taking finals. However, what we heard from our parents and our students and our faculty and staff is that they really did want information that we knew as early as possible. And that's why we chose to do it last week."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Chancellor.

"For Pat: If commencement can't be in person, how are we going to be able to return to in-person instruction?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So the, it's a great question and you really have to be able to distinguish between events like commencement, which commencement at Folsom Field brings together more than 10,000 people and they have interaction with each other in a way that is just not possible. What we have though is within our classroom environment, and we still won't be in a position where we'll be having the same type of large lectures, but we will have the ability to be able to use our spaces to be able to socially distance. And the CDPHE and others have space calculators that we use in order to be able to stay within the limitations under the dial and to make sure that we are appropriately ventilating classrooms, making sure that we've maintained the safety of the classroom environment.

"Throughout the fall semester, we worked really hard to be able to try to make sure that the campus teaching environment was a safe space, and we still don't have documented cases of classroom spread of infection.  The cases that happened when we used our contact tracing capability really showed us that a lot of the infection that occurred in the CU student population wasn't happening from students who were in class together. It was coming from social experiences that they have. And so we want to maintain the safety of the classroom environment, but we also want to make sure that when we're bringing people back, that the rates of infection have gotten to be low enough in the community that we know that we can bring people back and not risk another spike that would throw us out of the ability to have those in-person classes continue because like I was talking about earlier, we want to be in a position when we're picking up in-person instruction, that we're making sure we're able to see it through."

Jennifer McDuffie: "And if you could stay on the line for this next question. We're going to talk a little bit and shift a little bit to February. So would it be possible to build in travel days just prior to dorm move-in and resuming in person classes in February to accommodate those who may be traveling from long distances?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "Um, so, like what we said earlier, we're hoping for the ability to start around Feb. 15. That's a suggestion that I'd want to go back and talk to the team, including those people in Student Affairs, about what they're planning for move-in, and so we'll be in a position to be able to communicate what the move-in schedule is and make sure that we're doing it in a way that we're making it work well.

"We are planning on beginning move-in the week before on approximately the week of Feb. 7 starting, and this is just a reminder that for those students are going to be returning to the residence hall environment, we want to make sure that you either get tested for COVID immediately before coming back to campus or we'll have the ability to use our on campus testing because we want to have move-in occur as safely as possible, and the instructions on move-in how it'll occur, travel schedules and all of that. Look for a really firm update in January."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. Speaking of moving in and housing. This next question is for Akirah.

"Akirah, by precluding students from moving into the dorms, you have effectively precluded only the freshmen from returning to campus. Students living off campus do not have this. How will freshmen bond with their peers to be able to feel like they belong at CU?"

Akirah J. Bradley: "Thanks, Jennifer, for that question. Well, our goal and intention is certainly not to single out our first-year students or anyone that's actually living in our residence halls and we're working to keep our students safe by limiting travel during what could be peak infection times. We want to make sure that our students, our first year students and our continuing students who are moving back in, are moving in and traveling at a time where CDC feels like it's safe, and we are working with students who have housing needs, though, starting Jan. 10, which is around the beginning of instruction remotely, anyway. So for anyone who has housing needs, we do ask you to reach out to us, but for right now, we believe that it's safest for students to stay in their communities until some travel restrictions are lifted for them to get here safely."

Jennifer McDuffie: "And Akirah, thank you. Before you go, can I give you one more question? Will room and board fees be adjusted to the shortened time on campus?"

Akirah J. Bradley: "That's a great question. And I know that that's a concern of many of our students and families. And let me tell you, in support of our students and families, the previously published spring room and board rates will be reduced. There'll be reduced by approximately 25% to account for the delayed move-in. But we're asking students if they have specific questions on their room type, whether they're in a single or double, etc., that they reach out to with those questions."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. This next question will be for Provost Moore. Will you offer a pass/fail option for students this fall as you did in the spring?"

Russell Moore: "Yes, we will offer a pass/fail option. And as you may recall in the fall, we extended our pass/fail declaration deadline from the end of the third academic week to the end of the 10th academic week. So we are still going to maintain that extended pass/fail deadline to allow more flexibility for our students to be successful as they go through their spring semester.

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Provost Moore. Before you go, can I ask you one more question? Do you have the statistics yet for the pass/fail rate of students this year compared to last?"

Russell Moore: "In terms of numbers of students who took pass/fail option?"

Jennifer McDuffie: "Possibly. Do you know?"

Russell Moore: "I believe that that selection, that pass/fail selection was significantly greater, but I don't have the exact numbers at my fingertips, I can certainly provide those."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. For Pat, if we could go back to vaccines and just clarify what's available. Will all faculty and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So, right now, we're not in a position where we have mandated that anybody has to take a vaccine. Right now, the vaccines are still under being used under an emergency use authorization, which makes them experimental. Most of your medical and biomedical emphasis really say that you shouldn't require people to take a vaccine which is still in that experimental phase.

"And so we would certainly encourage people to be able to take the vaccine as soon as they are able to do so, but we also want to make sure that we're not compelling people to do that while it's still in this particular phase. What we would need to be able to do is, if it becomes an approved therapeutic, is to be able to evaluate at that point in time and see if there are certain percentages of our population who are at higher risk who we would want to have that type of requirement for, but we'd really need to analyze that and there'd also be much better evidence about the efficacy of the vaccine, as well as any potential side effects, that we'd want to take into account before making that decision."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, and if you don't mind staying with me, this is a two-part question. Will free saliva testing still be made available to off-campus students during remote learning, and what is the infection rate needed to return to in-person learning?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So there are ... let me answer both parts. So first, during remote learning, not only will the saliva testing be available, we really want people to do it. The testing gives us a good indicator of what's going on within our community and helps us to understand what's taking place and how we can work, be able to keep the community safe, and I would mention that that testing is not only available for students, it's available for all of our faculty, and all of our staff and all of their families. All you have to do is to be able to present a BuffOne card and we can do that testing and it's really, really helpful and crucial that we do that. By expanding that to the faculty and staff and their families, we're reducing the burden on Boulder County Public Health's testing system, making sure the other testing resources in the community are being used.

"We're also handling all of the contact tracing now for all CU affiliated people who come through the testing program, which gives us good knowledge and allows us to make sure we know what we're doing. So the answer to the first part of the question is yes, that testing will be available and it would make me so super happy if everybody used it frequently because it's a wonderful thing that we can offer.

"The second piece about what type of infection rates we would need to see to return to in-person learning: it's less about the infection rate that gets revealed on the testing. So far, except for a very brief blip in time, we didn't have the type of infection rates on the testing that would have driven us into that Level Red status. Instead, the Level Red status in the community was based upon the number of people who are infected per 100,000, and you may have seen across the state, that number has gone up and down. But at its peak, in some of the Denver Metro area counties, it was over 1,000 people per 100,000 residents, which is really, really high.

"The number that the CDPHE, the Department of Public Health and Environment, is targeting is 350 cases per 100,000 residents in order to be able to move from Level Red down to Level Orange. Now, we'd really love to be able to move beyond Level Orange to get to Level Yellow or even to Level Blue as the semester goes on, because that normal not only allows us to carry on in-person instruction, but it really will give us the ability to have those increased social experiences. The restaurants will be open with a greater degree of frequency and it just becomes a more normal experience. But right now, 350 per 100,000 is our magic number."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for that. Provost Moore, if I decide not to attend CU in this spring, can I defer enrollment and, if so, for how long?

"I have more questions after this for you."

Russell Moore: "Yes, yes, you can defer enrollment and I believe that enrollment deferral is up to a year."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Perfect. And then next part of this question is when does the decision have to be made to defer and can I take courses elsewhere and have them transfer?"

Russell Moore: "The exact date to declare your deferral, I will have to check on that. But you can do that now, if you wanted to differ in the spring. And in fact, I think you can do it almost all the way to the beginning of the semester. It is possible to take courses elsewhere and transfer them into CU Boulder, but my recommendation would be to check with your current CU Boulder advisors on the transferability of any course offerings you might be thinking of taking, and to contact Katherine Eggert's office to determine what the transfer ability of certain courses might be.

Jennifer McDuffie: "Provost Moore, thank you for that. We're seeing a few questions come in about pass/fail. And so I wanted to circle back with you about any, you know, pass/fail limits or requirements that you'd like to share."

Russell Moore: "Sure, okay, so great question and I wish pass/fail was as simple as it sounded, but it's not. But let me try to be very, very clear here on this one. So in declaring and whether you take a course pass/fail, for those courses in your respective schools or colleges that qualify to be taken as pass/fail, you have until the end of the 10th week of the semester to declare pass/fail.

"I want to stress that not all courses in your major leading to certain degrees are eligible for pass/fail declarations. But most many, many, I think, majority of our courses are. Again please work with your advisors to make sure that if you wanted declared a course as a pass/fail option that that course can be done pass/fail and allow you to get your degree.

"One other clarification I would like to make is, as you recall, last spring, when covered first landed on us, we were very liberal with our utilization of the pass/fail option and we allowed that to occur all the way through finals. That will not be the case this spring, nor was it the case in the fall, and there are a number of reasons for that, including providing predictability for both students and faculty and also to make sure that people's transcripts are truly reflective of the work that they're doing, so that when they graduate, they'll have a better opportunities post-graduation."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for sharing that information.

"Chancellor, if I could direct a question for you.There's a statement in here as well.

"I appreciate the chancellor asking the professors to be open to supporting the students even more during the pandemic this year. However, when I reached out to my professors or Was, there was only one out of four that offered me an opportunity to raise my grade. Is there anything else I can do?"

Philip DiStefano: "And I want to apologize. I don't know if it's my audio or yours, but could you just repeat the last part of that?"

Jennifer McDuffie: "Yes, sir. I'm so sorry about that. And so the question is about how appreciative they are that you asked professors to be supporting during this pandemic. However, when they reached out to my professors or TA, there was only one out of four that offered me an opportunity to raise my grade. Is there anything else I can do?"

Philip DiStefano: "As far as raising your grade, I've been obviously, the decision about grading is really left up to our faculty because they're in the best position to make that determination. I would continue to reach out to faculty or TAs, if it's TAs that are handling your classes, but when it does come to grading, I do want to defer to the faculty to make those decisions. I'm sorry that only you know one out of four, you know, we're once able to assist the student, but again it's a faculty decision, and I believe that is probably in the best, you know, interest of our is to have the faculty make that decision."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for that. I want to make sure, Chancellor, that we're able to keep you on. So this next question is directed at you as well.

"A lot of us students feel like we have not had our money's worth. And there's a suspicion that CU Boulder is more interested in finances and money and not about the student experience. What values are guiding you in the decision making processes?"

Philip DiStefano: "Well, obviously, the number one value is the health and safety of our students. That's number one. That's the top priority for me and to make sure that you have the best experience that you can have given the conditions that we're in. If you think back to it, we've not raised tuition in three years. And as I mentioned earlier, we are one of the few institutions in the country that has a guaranteed tuition. So students do not see their tuition going up, and also we do not have, you know, the course fees anymore that we used to have, which has saved students in the neighborhood of about $10 million a year. On top of that, we've invested heavily in COVID-19 prevention aspects, as Pat mentioned in our classrooms, making sure that the classrooms are safe for in-person learning.

"We've also invested heavily in our online remote teaching; our faculty have the latest technology to help them with remote learning. We've set up a Center for Teaching and Learning. All of these things have cost us money.

"And so it's not a matter that we're putting finances first, it's really we're putting safety first and the health and safety of our students. So between the investments that we've made, not raising tuition, I feel that that we've lived up to that promise of providing students the best education in the dilemma that we're in now with COVID-19."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for sharing those values with us, Chancellor.

"For Pat, This next question is about parking. What will happen for those of us who live in the dorms and have already purchased parking permits for next semester? Will we be reimbursed for the month that we cannot use them?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So, um, I have to confess. This is the first time that I've thought about the parking passes. And until this question came up, I had not given it the consideration that is obviously deserves. So let me go back in and work on them because I had not thought of it until now, but I appreciate them bringing it to my attention."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Pat. For this next question, Provost Moore: When does the decision has to be made if my freshman decides to defer for the second semester? Can he take courses elsewhere -- so, similar to the transfer questions -- and then be able to get his stuff from the dorms?

Russell Moore: "So the first part of the question is you, the student, can declare the deferral up to the first day of class of the semester that would begin. So for example, if the student wanted to defer acceptance and not attend in the spring, the student could make that decision, all the way up to the first day of class, which would be Jan. 14.

"The next question would be, can the student take courses elsewhere? The answer is yes. And the students should check with an advisor, a CU Boulder advisor, regarding the transferability of the courses that the student is considering taking.

"So please be attendant to that because if the student does go to effort to take courses elsewhere, we want to make sure that when they come back to Boulder, that they succeed and then get full credit for the courses in the work they do elsewhere.

"And with regard to retrieving things from the dorms, please contact the housing office and they'll make arrangements for the students to come and retrieve their belongings."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. Provost Moore, the next question is for you as well. Is there guidance for labs during the remote time? Will students who wish to access labs be permitted to go to campus for those?"

Russell Moore: "So for the spring semester, for the first four weeks of remote learning, all labs will be conducted remotely. So, for example, background information, theory, etc., will probably be the heaviest during that portion of the semester, and then we will allow students to return to lab activities, hopefully, on Feb. 15."

"Thank you for that. For the Chancellor or possibly Pat: Can you address how football and basketball games are allowed in these levels, according to the dial? Looking at the chart of how many folks are allowed at an outdoor event, I'm sure football games exceed this capacity with just the teams and staff required."

Philip DiStefano: "So, yes. So let me start and then Pat can add to it. But we work very closely with our conference, the PAC-12 conference and our student athletes, both in football and basketball, are tested on a daily basis and are informed both the teams that -- our teams, as well as the teams that we play -- they must follow the same protocols for testing and we hear from te PAC-12 conference weekly if a team tests positive. In football, it's not so much the, the number, the overall number of student athletes who test positive but it's more of positions. So they need to have so many individuals who are able to play at their positions. If that cannot happen, then the games are cancelled. And as you know, not because of Colorado, but because of the teams we were playing, we've cancelled three games.

"That's the same in basketball and games have been canceled in basketball, as well. So the protocols that we have in the PAC-12 and through the NCAA make it possible for our football team and our men and women's basketball team to play out. I don't know if there's anything else you want to add to that."

Patrick O'Rourke: "I can add just a couple of things, which is first, right now, for all the sports, there are no spectators permitted. That may at some point in time change, but while we're in this Level Red, that's just not a possibility.

"And that's something that has been mandated by the state. With respect to the protocols that Chancellor DiStefano was describing just a minute ago, the Boulder County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have a different framework by which they've analyzed sports both that high school level, college level and professional level. And that we submitted the protocols, including the daily testing and surveillance that was being done, as well as the players within those sports have been very limited in terms of the interactions that they've been able to have outside of the playing and practice environment.

"And so it was really according to those protocols that games were scheduled and being allowed to be able to move forward, but each week before there's any type of competition, we have meetings with Boulder County Public Health to be able to review what's taking place to make sure they can occur within the state's expectations."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Pat. If you don't mind, can we stay on the line with you?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "I'm back."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Awesome. Can you address how two FDA approved vaccines factor into these decisions, and there's some context here: My son and several friends are looking to rent an AirBnB in January and February. Wouldn't it be better to allow them to return to their dorms during that time?"

Patrick O'Rourke: "So the short answer is, let me break it down into two different pieces, first on the, question of vaccine. Vaccine supply, especially for our student population, but also for most of our faculty and most of our staff, is not going to be something that is going to significantly change the picture on campus, certainly by February, and probably not for the majority of the spring semester because of the availability.

"It's really, we hope, that by the next academic year, that vaccine will be so widely available and have been distributed so broadly that it will really be a game changer. But for the next several months, it's something that will have an effect, but it really won't change our ability to be able to do things like operate a residence hall.

"With respect to the question about the AirBnB, and the return to to to campus, and in particular to the residence halls, I understand what the parent's question is asking, but what I would ask the parents to understand is that for so long as we remain in that Level Red, that we would not be returning those students to a residence hall experience that they are likely to find to be meaningful. That it would be something where they would not be permitted under the state's COVID orders to socialize with anybody outside of their immediate roommate.

"Nor would it be something where we'd be able to offer any type of things like dining, other than on a grab and go basis. And we know from the last semester, just how mentally taxing that was on students, when they weren't able to socialize outside of their own residence hall rooms.

"Rather than being in that type of position where we're bringing people back for an experience that they, in the residence halls, that we know isn't meeting their, their needs, socially, it's probably better for them to be in a supportive environment at home, to be in their communities of origin, to have that interaction with their family members and others, and then be in a position when we can bring you back safely, in a situation where we can have a better social experience to accompany the academic experience that we're able to do that, rather than bringing people back into experience that we know has been really hard from a mental health perspective and that doesn't have the a much greater opportunity for social interaction, the ability to form friends that we know students are really clamoring for."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you for sharing that. And I do have a quick update regarding the earlier question on parking permits: our parking director, Tom McGann, indicates that Parking will refund permit costs, and you can reach out to parking for any questions. They're"

"We do have this last question before time and I address it to Akirah Bradley: For Akirah, what type of support will students like me get when we suddenly are moving back into the dorms in the middle of the semester?"

Akirah J Bradley: "Thank you. So we have lots of support and resources on our campus that are available for all of our students, especially our first year students who are moving back into the residence halls, we have supportive of your RAs, your hall directors. We also have continued events, in-person and virtual events -- in person when we're able to -- that will support our students throughout the spring semester. We are making sure that we are able to meet the needs of the students, similar to as Pat was saying, once we are able to have students back in the residence halls."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you, Akirah."

Akirah J Bradley: "Can I add one more thing, Jennifer?

"The other thing that I would love to add for our students who are living in housing in our families who have students in housing, is that we are holding an information session for our residents and families on Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. to further answer any questions that you may have specific to housing, I know there are a lot of questions out there. You can talk to to get more information, but you can definitely find us at, and we will have an information session for you to follow up on any questions you may have."

Jennifer McDuffie: "Thank you. And thank you all for joining us today. If you have any further questions or would like to see additional information, you can do so by visiting our COVID-19 website; that's There's a chat in the bottom right where you can ask questions. CU Boulder will host another update session on Tuesday, Jan. 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. Mountain Time.

"The city of Boulder has one more community briefing this year; that's on Thursday, Dec. 17 from 3 to 4 p.m. The focus will be on pandemic effects on local retailers, ways to support one another during the winter holidays, and an update from the city on enforcement. You can also tune into the city council's first Tuesday meeting of each month at 6 p.m. for the update from health officials and other agency partners such as CU.

"You can also watch the county's briefings and sign up for one month a briefing the city will do on the third Thursday of every month from 3 to 4.

"And lastly, we do link to the city's COVID-19 page from the COVID-19 CU Boulder page. We'll now in this call. Thank you so much for joining and best wishes for a holiday season of health and safety."