Faculty Senate met virtually on Dec. 2 via Microsoft Teams. Senators were provided with information on student wellbeing, required COVID-19 testing for the spring semester, and updates on UofL Health’s COVID-19 response.
Two program proposals were presented to senators. The proposals included a bachelor of arts in computer science degree program through the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, as well as a master of science in health profession education through the College of Education and Human Development. Votes on both proposals were tabled and will be resubmitted to the Faculty Senate at a later date.
Ben Barberie, a representative of the Student Government Association, shared the preliminary findings from the Real Cards campaign organized by the SGA. Over 100 students were given the opportunity to voice their concerns about the past fall semester. Barberie shared the following response submitted by a student, which was said to summarize many student concerns from the past semester.
“I wish they knew that I’m trying my best to give 100% for everything. I struggle with prioritizing taking care of myself, on top of everything going on and everything I have to do. I appreciate professors saying they understand what we’re going through, but actions speak louder than words and I’m not seeing much action. I feel so depleted and anxious all the time. Going to face-to-face classes makes me feel like I’m putting myself in harm’s way and there’s no way around it.”
Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm acknowledged this concern raised by the SGA and announced that the Student Wellbeing committee, cosponsored by the Provost’s office and the Faculty Senate, has been reinstated. The committee has prepared a list of policy decisions for faculty to include in their syllabi for the upcoming spring semester. These recommendations were forwarded earlier as part of the Academic Scenario Planning committee, and Boehm stated they would be forwarded once more before the end of the year.
Boehm also informed senators that campus buildings will be locked from the end of the semester until and our return in the spring. Research faculty expecting packages over the break were encouraged to coordinate with Physical Plant and/or Canon mail to arrange deliveries and pick-ups.
Senators were updated on COVID-19 testing protocols for those returning to campus in the spring. Boehm announced plans for four required testing periods for the upcoming semester, with the first testing period taking place from Jan. 4 to Jan. 15. All students, faculty and staff will be required to either participate in the testing period or submit a form stating they will not be on campus.
Dr. Jason Smith, chief medical officer for UofL Health, presented information on the current state of UofL Health’s COVID-19 response. Nearly 100 COVID-19 patients are currently receiving treatment through UofL hospitals. While only 10% of beds are being occupied by COVID-19 patients, Smith informed senators of the dangers that the state-wide surge in cases has imposed on smaller institutions.
He stated, “we’re seeing a lot more of transfers in from the outside, so we’re starting to see smaller hospitals become full with patients and they’re sending us non-COVID patients that they typically would have kept themselves and been able to take care of but there’s just a lack of beds overall within the community.” Smith went on to say that last year’s healthcare acquisitions have made it possible to accept the overflow of patients during the pandemic.
As of Dec. 2, UofL Health has performed almost 95,000 tests across Louisville. Smith reported an increase in positivity rates, with a 23% positivity rate in the last week of November. To combat this surge, UofL Health has coordinated care with other healthcare systems in the Louisville area on treatment protocols, testing opportunities, and community-wide bed placement to ensure the ability to provide care for the community.