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Presidential Memos

Memos and other communications from University of Idaho President C. Scott Green and his leadership team are sent periodically to the university community.

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Jan. 15, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Results Encouraging; Testing Appointments Available Tuesday


It is great to have everyone back together again and classes underway. You are getting this on Friday rather than our usual Monday communication because we want to give each of you time to schedule a COVID-19 test on Tuesday, Jan. 19 — and Monday is an important university holiday honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.

We tested more than 5,000 people since Jan. 6, and our lab team worked tirelessly to process results quickly. We’ve also processed the requests for remote instruction overrides, verified test results from outside our testing system and verified vaccination cards. These efforts helped us get students in the classroom for in-person learning. The number of positive results are below 1.8%. These results indicate we followed the Healthy Vandal Pledge even when away from campus and classes. What we achieved is incredible and again proves that Vandals can realize any goal we set out to accomplish. Thank you for planning appropriately and taking the steps to keep our campus as healthy as possible. The weekly results will be posted on the U of I coronavirus website on Tuesday.

But we must remain vigilant.

Consider your activities as you head into the holiday weekend. Winter activities are in their prime now, and they are a great way to get out and be active with reduced risk of exposure to COVID-19. Follow the Healthy Vandal Pledge in all you do. Get tested no sooner than five days after any concern of exposure. Participate in surveillance testing. The more we test, the more accurately we can monitor and respond to the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

For our friends across the state, we recognize the virus remains a barrier to returning to the classroom and engaging in teaching, learning and research in ways we would like. Thank you for making these activities a priority and for continuing on, despite the challenges.

Vaccines continue to roll out across the state, and some in our Vandal Family have received them. At this time we do not plan to require vaccination, but it is highly recommended. Students who receive vaccination will be removed from the random surveillance testing and the required mid-semester re-test when documentation is provided.

Idaho remains in Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan. Most events on campus, including club events, will be limited to fewer than 10 in-person participants.

We are enthusiastic about the opportunities before us this spring. Knowing we can thrive and be successful amidst a pandemic is heartening. Enjoy the long weekend, and please keep the health of others in mind as you go about your activities.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Jan. 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Appointments Available


More than 1,800 Vandals made their way to the Student Recreation Center last week to be tested for COVID-19 before classes start. Thank you to everyone who scheduled early. Appointments are still available for students as well as faculty and staff. Moscow-based students must be tested before participating in in-person instructional activities and all those living in Housing and Residential Life must be tested no matter your class delivery methods.

Last week’s tests resulted in a 1.77% positivity rate as we kick off the semester. We expect this could rise as people return to campus and have been preparing to mitigate the spread and care for those who test positive. Testing is key to keeping our community safe, which is why we will reward 50 students on the Moscow campus with $100 VandalStore gift cards for getting tested before the end of the day Tuesday, Jan. 12. All those who tested beginning Jan. 6 in Moscow, or who provided documentation of testing elsewhere in that same timeframe, will be entered to win a gift card.

Vaccines are being distributed across the country. While the general university population will not be eligible for vaccination until later this spring, Vandals who work in healthcare or other priority areas are currently being vaccinated. Vaccination does not reduce the expectations of the Healthy Vandal Pledge. Face coverings are still required in all university buildings and outside when 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained.

We are excited to begin classes and despite the challenges before us, know that the shared Vandal experience makes us all stronger. The stresses of life will continue to push us. We have a duty to take care of each other. If you are concerned about someone, file a VandalCARE report. If you are a student needing support, contact the Counseling and Testing Center at 208-885-6716. Faculty and staff needing assistance should use the free and confidential EAP resources available through your benefits.

If you have questions about testing or other COVID-19-related matters, email covid19questions@uidaho.edu. The COVID-19 website is updated regularly and provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

We need to stay vigilant to keep COVID-19 from beating us. We know we can remain in person this spring through thoughtful actions. This weekend is a holiday weekend – please plan your activities with the health and safety of your Vandal Family in mind. Your actions will help us set the stage for successfully navigating the next five months.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Jan. 4, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Begins Jan. 6 in Moscow


Happy New Year! We hope you had a healthy and restful break. We are optimistic about recent medical advances that will help us in our battle with COVID-19 — but we must also prepare for the challenges that confront us now.

During the break, the pandemic continued with record case numbers throughout Idaho. As such, we begin the semester with the state in Stage 2 of the governor’s plan. This means no gatherings of more than 10 people outside of classrooms, which are exempted. Note that no cases were traced back to the classroom in Fall 2020.

Students

Similar to the fall, those students returning to Moscow and attending in-person classes or living in the residence halls must clear testing protocols. COVID-19 testing for the semester begins Wednesday, Jan. 6. Register now for testing that will be available Jan. 6-8 and Jan. 11-13 at the Student Recreation Center. There are also 800 slots available for testing on Sunday, Jan. 10 for students living in residence halls or campus apartments. We encourage you to return early and test early as results must be received and processed prior to attending class in person.

Prior positive results through the university testing or previously submitted documentation eliminate your need to retest. You can provide a valid PCR test result dated Jan. 6 or later instead of testing in Moscow. If you received a positive test result or valid test outside the university’s testing system, documentation should be sent to jblazzard@uidaho.edu for medical validation and clearing of your student account. If you have specific questions about requirements or testing, direct those to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Students living in residence halls or Greek chapters who test positive will again be cared for in Targhee Hall. Those identified as a close contact of a positive case by Idaho Public Health will be expected to quarantine. But the CDC has reduced the suggested quarantine to 10 days (from the prior 14 days). This timeframe can be shorted to seven days if a test no sooner than day five after exposure is negative. We plan to have testing available for such situations. This does not eliminate the need to wear a face covering and social distance.

Staff and Faculty

Staff and faculty in Moscow can sign up for post-holiday testing on campus Jan. 6-8 and Jan. 11-13.

Instructors will begin receiving the list of students ineligible to attend in-person classes beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13. This list will include, but is not limited to, students who have not completed their COVID-19 testing requirement.

Courses will be taught in the method indicated in the course catalog. Instructors are encouraged to accommodate students as much as possible but are not required to provide long-term COVID-19-related instructional accommodations outside of the assigned course format. Students are encouraged to attend in-person instruction when feasible to maximize student learning and engagement.

We have enjoyed flexibility in work schedules during the break between semesters. Flexible work accommodations must again be requested through Human Resources and approved by your supervisor and appropriate dean or vice president prior to working remotely after Friday, Jan. 8.

Vandal Community

Remember, if you are symptomatic, contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu or your healthcare provider to be tested at the Gritman drive-through site, which has been relocated across the street from Gritman Medical Center.

When you log in to VandalWeb, you will again be asked to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge. This includes participating in all safety protocols such as wearing face coverings, social distancing and being temperature screened at all on-campus dining facilities. You will also be prompted to update your contact information, which is used in the event of an emergency.

If you are working or learning at a location outside Moscow, check your local protocols for testing availability. Symptomatic COVID-19 testing is covered by U of I employee and student insurance policies.

Our innovative and proactive approach in Fall 2020 allowed us to remain open on the Moscow campus and finish the semester with a COVID-19 positivity rate that was far below the local, state and regional average. It takes all of us working together to again accomplish this. While we are prepared to coordinate free vaccinations with Gritman Medical Center for students and employees who want them, it could be months before we have access to vaccines for all but our most at-risk employees and students. In the interim, we know each of you will take this pandemic and related protocols seriously to help us succeed – for your education, your job and the university. We expect that COVID-19 will again challenge our campus this semester and keeping the university open with live class instruction will continue to be determined by our community’s ability to manage our positive cases. Let’s stay mindful and not let COVID-19 beat us. We have many opportunities to thrive this spring if we stay vigilant and committed to each other.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Dec. 14, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID Testing Available Tomorrow; Resumes Jan. 6 Before In-Person Classes


We celebrated with nearly 600 Vandals on Saturday at a virtual commencement ceremony punctuating all the accomplishments, challenges and points of pride of our newest Vandal alumni. It was also the celebration for all those who helped make the semester successful, meaningful and, most notably, in person.

As we head into Winter Break, COVID-19 cases across the state continue to rise. Even in Moscow, where numbers have remained relatively low, we are seeing a steady increase. Tomorrow will be the last on-campus opportunity for those in Moscow to be tested by U of I before the holiday break. If you have not yet scheduled a test, please do so — for your health and for the health of those with whom you spend the holidays. You can register for a test or walk in to the Student Recreation Center testing site from 9-11:45 a.m. tomorrow, Dec. 15.

We tested 399 people last week, mostly close contacts and symptomatic people with 3.01% results returned as positive.

Classes will begin again on Wednesday, Jan. 13. These will be delivered in the method indicated in the course schedule, so please be prepared to return to in-person learning. COVID-19 testing will be required for Moscow students and begins Wednesday, Jan. 6. Students will receive an email during Winter Break from which to register for testing. We have come a long way since the start of Fall 2020 and test results are now routinely returned in less than 48 hours. Still, please consider returning to Moscow early to ensure your results are back and you can properly participate.

In lieu of being tested at U of I, we will accept a valid, physician-administered PCR test dated Jan. 6 or later. Send documentation of positive or negative test results taken outside of U of I to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Students who have previously tested positive will not need to test again to return to classes. If you suspect exposure to COVID-19 over the break, please be tested well before your return to campus. If you test positive before returning to the Moscow campus, it may shorten or eliminate your isolation period on campus.

Ineligibility lists will be provided to instructors beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Housing and Residence Life opens Saturday, Jan. 9, and early arrival fees have been waived. This is a change to help you get settled, tested and prepared for the semester. If you live in a Greek chapter house, your chapter officials have more information about open dates.

In Spring 2021, we will continue to do specific COVID-19 testing based on known hotspots. We will also continue random surveillance testing, so please participate when you receive an email invitation. A mid-semester re-test of all Moscow students (except those exempted by a prior positive test) will begin after Spring Break. We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, as well as any potential for vaccination administration, and will provide further guidance about testing and classes post-Spring Break after the spring semester begins.

More details about spring semester classes will be sent by the Provost’s Office later this week. Please watch your email.

Enjoy the break. Rest. Relax. Follow pandemic guidelines. Happy Holidays to all!

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Dec. 7, 2020
SUBJECT:  Spring Classes Resume Jan. 13, Testing Required for Moscow-Based Students


As final exams get underway, we wish all the best to those taking and giving exams over the next two weeks. It has been an unusual and challenging semester, yet each of you has found a way through to help us have a successful and in-person semester — not many other universities can say that.

COVID-19 testing continues for those remaining on the Moscow campus. Wastewater testing shows an increase in concentration of the virus since Thanksgiving. We strongly encourage those living on campus to get tested. We encourage students and employees who have been exposed to be tested before traveling to see family and friends over Winter Break and again six days after you return. Last week we tested 296 people, and most were tested because of close contact or were symptomatic. Because of that, the percentage of positive results was higher at 4.73%, versus the lower rate when we are conducting asymptomatic general surveillance testing.

We are looking ahead to Spring 2021 and know that the challenges will not be any less. Cases continue to grow across the country and in our own Idaho communities. Despite this, we know each of you is committed to living and learning together in the spring and doing your part to make that possible.

We will begin testing Moscow-based students on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The campuswide testing in January will be very similar to the previous two required tests. Signup links will be available soon, so please watch your email for more information. The nurses cannot swab everyone on the same day, so there will be pre-scheduled time slots for you to sign up for the date and time that works best for you. We anticipate some days will fill up quickly, so if your schedule is more limited please watch for the link and sign up early. There will be testing Jan. 6-12 so we can have everyone swabbed before the first day of classes. Testing will continue Jan. 13-15 for those arriving late due to weather, travel or other unforeseen circumstances.

In addition to being tested in Moscow, we will also accept test results from other healthcare providers as long as the testing was conducted Jan. 6-13; however, there are limitations and restrictions as to which test types will be accepted, the information will soon be added to the U of I COVID-19 website. In the meantime, send any test results or questions about testing from other healthcare providers to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Residence halls open Sunday, Jan. 10. Students are encouraged to return prior to the start of classes to ensure proper time for testing. Students living in a fraternity or sorority facility should check with chapter leadership on when that facility will open.

All classes will begin on Jan. 13. Students registered for in-person classes will be expected to attend in person except where they have made arrangements with their instructors. Faculty will receive lists of students ineligible to attend in-person classes. These daily lists will include students who may be ineligible for a variety of reasons including:

  • They have not completed the required COVID-19 test.
  • Their results for the COVID-19 test have not yet been updated in the U of I system.
  • They are required to observe a period of time in isolation or quarantine.
  • Reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

Each of you will be asked to again acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge, which has been updated slightly but continues to outline what we expect of each other — including wearing a mask, social distancing, monitoring your health and not putting yourself in a situation that could help spread the virus.

We know this virus moves fast, and we must be agile. Please continue to monitor your email during Winter Break to keep current on any changes or updates. Except for healthcare workers and those most at risk, we have been told by Idaho Public Health that it will be months before a vaccine will be available. As more information becomes available about a vaccine, we will update you on how this will be implemented across the university and our community. We are prepared and ready to administer the vaccine as soon as we receive supplies. It is exciting and encouraging to think we may be getting closer to the end of the pandemic and returning to a more normal way of life.

Staff and faculty are encouraged to work remotely with minimal staff in offices to address walk-in traffic, with supervisor approval and where possible, through Friday, Jan. 8.

We look forward to seeing you back in offices and classes in January. Stay safe and enjoy the break.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 23, 2020
SUBJECT:  Torrey Lawrence Appointed Provost and Executive Vice President


After a national search resulting in more than 70 applications, and the careful consideration of five highly qualified finalists, I am pleased to announce Torrey Lawrence accepted permanent appointment to Provost and Executive Vice President, the position he has filled in an interim role since April.

The appointment is effective immediately.

Torrey’s knowledge of and dedication to the University of Idaho bring key strengths to the position that will continue to benefit the university through the challenges ahead. His leadership during the pandemic, improvements to faculty process and commitment to our students show he is the right person to lead the academic side of our Vandal house. Feedback from across the university during the finalist interviews showed overwhelming support for Torrey’s leadership.

He has been a Vandal for over 22 years, coming to U of I as faculty in the Lionel Hampton School of Music. He served as Director of Athletic Bands from 1998-2012, Associate Director of the School of Music from 2012-13 and Director from 2013-17. He served as an Associate Dean in CLASS, then moved to the Provost’s Office in 2018 as Vice Provost for Faculty before being named Interim Provost and Executive Vice President earlier this year.

He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music performance and wind conducting from the University of Oregon. He also holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University.

As Provost and Executive Vice President, Torrey will lead the academic mission of the university and, therefore, a broad scope of areas including faculty matters, student success, budget management, strategic planning, and academic programs.

Please join me in congratulating Torrey in his appointment to this new role.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 23, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing


This week we celebrate the things for which we are thankful, and high on that list was the ability to live and learn together this fall. Vandals gave of themselves each and every day to help us meet the high bar of remaining in person amid a pandemic.

As we anticipated, many took advantage to voluntarily test before leaving for the Thanksgiving break. As expected, results for 1,095 tests this past week had a higher percentage of positives than the previous week, coming in at 5.48%. This is due to no random general surveillance testing and is in line with what we are seeing in the Moscow community and across the state. We are glad so many from our U of I community took the opportunity to test and head into the holiday week aware of asymptomatic cases and able to take actions to reduce the spread.

While many students and staff will resume work and class remotely Monday, Nov. 30, some students and employees will return to the Moscow campus. Testing will be available, but we ask you to wait six days after your return to test in an effort to get the most accurate results. Contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu to schedule a test.

Employees statewide should work from home if it is feasible and you have supervisor approval. All services and supports should remain available through Dec. 18.

We will continue to post our numbers, as we always have, on the official COVID-19 website, but our communications will be intermittent through the remainder of the semester and Winter Break. Plans for spring semester are being finalized and will be communicated after Thanksgiving. Please watch your email for those details. It is safe to say the spring semester will look a lot like fall. We will test, use wastewater sampling and thermal-imaging scanners. Face coverings will continue to be required in buildings and social distancing measures will be in place.

What will be different in the spring is sports. At this time, we are planning for a busy spring with a calendar full of games — including spring football. Our basketball games will begin without spectators due to the state being moved back to Stage 2. While we can’t be there in person, I know I am excited to take in a game and glad we have the opportunity to do so with all games streamed live on PlutoTV Channel 1010 or Pluto.TV/live-tv.

I wish you a restful and relaxing Fall Break. We will see you online Nov. 30.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Nov. 16, 2020
SUBJECT:  After Thanksgiving Classes Online/Remote Only; Staff Work from Home if Possible


An incredible amount of work and deep commitment to our success brings us to Thanksgiving Break. Each of you has given of yourselves, putting the university first. We have had our noses swabbed multiple times. Many have spent time in quarantine while others have endured a positive diagnosis and, in some cases, some pretty miserable symptoms of COVID-19.

Our weekly testing shows an increase over the prior week both from those living on campus and off, a trend that is consistent with what is happening across the state and region. We conducted 1,756 tests and found a positivity rate of 3.76%. This includes the last general surveillance group as well as many symptomatic and close contact tests from our U of I community. We have 32 students in isolation with five leaving today. We recommend that students traveling home for Thanksgiving, particularly those that will visit high-risk family members such as grandparents, get tested before leaving campus to protect your families. Testing is available by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 18-19, at the Student Recreation Center. People who are symptomatic should email covid19questions@uidaho.edu to get a referral for the Martin Wellness Center drive-through testing site.

Since we will be testing primarily symptomatic students and employees and not doing surveillance testing for the remainder of the calendar year, we expect our positivity rate to go up over the next few weeks. U of I has conducted over 20,500 tests since August. After Thanksgiving, we will continue to operate the U of I COVID-19 lab in partnership with Gritman Medical Center not only to help our Vandal community but also to help the greater community by handling additional testing for other entities.

On Friday, Gov. Brad Little moved the state back to Stage 2, with modifications. This has no impact on our in-person delivery for this week. If you have a scheduled event impacted by this change, you should have already received notification.

After a much-deserved break next week, we will transition to online/remote course delivery for the remainder of the semester. We will be back in person for the start of the Spring 2021 semester on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Students

All classes will be held online/remote starting Monday, Nov. 30, and will remain online/remote for the remainder of the Fall 2020 semester. If you travel during the break, we strongly encourage you to not return to the Moscow campus until January. We also recognize that some of you will return for a variety of reasons. If you do return, you should again be tested for COVID-19 no earlier than six days after arriving back to town. We will provide instructions for testing the two weeks following Thanksgiving Break when you return. The Moscow campus will remain open through Dec. 18 — although you will see a reduction of in-person staffing and a reduction in hours of operation of some offices and buildings. Support services will be available and should begin with a phone call to the office or unit. Limited dining options will be available on the Moscow campus beginning Nov. 30.

Absent further notice, U of I Coeur d’Alene, U of I Boise and U of I Idaho Falls facilities will be available for students to access Wi-Fi and classroom/study space through Dec. 18. Building hours may be reduced, so call ahead.

Faculty

Continue to work with your students to ensure they are getting the support they need to engage in online/remote delivery. Classrooms will be available for continued course delivery. Office hours should be moved to online-only. If you have active research and need to be in your regular work space, you may continue to do work from that space. If you can work remotely Nov. 23 through Jan. 8, you should do so.

Staff

Staff statewide will return to a work-from-home status anywhere it is feasible from Nov. 23 to Jan. 8. All offices should remain open and able to accommodate walk-in traffic, but supervisors may consider strategies for rotating staff on site (A-B schedules or other strategies.) No additional paperwork is required to work from home during this time, but all supervisors should communicate with employees about plans for their unit.

All employees concerned about a potential exposure or feeling symptomatic may contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu to schedule a testing appointment.

Spring Semester

Details about COVID-19 testing in January are still being determined. While we want you to enjoy the break and get some rest, please also check your university email regularly for any updates. All Moscow-based students must be tested before participating in in-person classes. Those living in Housing and Residence Life will also be tested even if you are not taking part in in-person classes. Random general surveillance testing will resume in January and continue through the spring. This action proved invaluable this fall and was, without a doubt, a key factor in keeping our community healthier.

We have proven we can live and learn together in person. But that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. The statistics of the past week show that COVID-19 is still a threat and we must be diligent in our efforts. Take the guidance of the Healthy Vandal Pledge with you as you travel, gather with family and enjoy the holidays. Your healthy actions away from the university are just as important as those taken in the classrooms or on campus. We wish our entire Vandal Family a joyous and restful Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 9, 2020
SUBJECT:  Finish Strong By Following Healthy Vandal Pledge


Positive COVID-19 test results this past week increased but continued to show a relatively low percent of positive cases. We tested 999 people and saw a 2.50% positivity rate. This is the fifth consecutive week at 3% or less in positive results from 7,956 tests performed during that period. We currently have 13 students in isolation. Thank you to everyone who participated in surveillance testing. Continuing to monitor seemingly healthy people and finding those asymptomatic cases helps not only our campus, but our community. We are fortunate that our efforts thus far are paying off. Our hospital and our community are not seeing the overwhelming number of cases seen in other parts of the state.

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving and are concerned about possible exposure prior to travel, contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu to schedule a test. We are down to just two weeks before Thanksgiving Break and I ask that each of you continue to monitor your health and follow the Healthy Vandal Pledge. Not only do we want to keep our campus healthy, we want to keep our families healthy as we gather for Thanksgiving.

You all have done a tremendous job this semester. We should be proud of what we have accomplished and finish strong. Following our protocols will get us there.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 2, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Finalizes Agreement, $6 Million Annually to be Invested in Strategic Initiatives


Everyone at the University of Idaho has worked incredibly hard over the past 16 months to improve the financial position of our institution. Each and every effort to limit spending, participate in furlough and put the university first is very much appreciated.

Simultaneously, we have looked at business practices across the institution and come to better understand the unrealized potential of our steam plant. This asset, however, is one of many across our university and across all institutions in the state, that is a victim of deferred maintenance. There are few viable ways to turn this around when state dollars for such things are limited.

Today, the State Board of Education approved our partnership with Sacyr Plenary Utility Partners Idaho LLC to lease the steam plant and utility system in a 50-year public-private partnership (P3) agreement. This partnership provides the university with money to invest in strategic initiatives, allows a world-class operator to bring efficiencies to the plant and is a responsible business strategy.

The agreement will generate $6 million per year, from the investment of the net proceeds of an up-front payment of $225 million. The funds must be used for projects that generate revenue. We will invest those funds strategically and proactively within our university and cannot use them to offset university or unit deficits. By doing this, the investments will pay programmatic and financial returns for 50 years.

In the first year, we plan to invest:

  • $3 million in graduate student success and research, including increasing the number of graduate student scholarships and stipends as well as the number of post-doctoral positions;
  • $1 million in telling our story to recruit new students; and
  • $2 million in student success initiatives, including scholarships to help bridge the $5,000 funding gap many of our students experience.

The agreement requires the P3 dollars be invested in activities with financial return, which will, in turn, help our overall financial position.

We are not alone in using a public-private partnership to invest in our future. The University of Iowa and The Ohio State University have P3 agreements for their utility systems, among others.

This partnership is an incredible opportunity for the university to invest in itself. This investment will, over time, help each of you have the resources you need to achieve even more. Putting the university on a solid financial path is not a quick or easy journey, but it is one in which we will succeed by working together as Vandals do.

To learn more about P3 and what it means for U of I, visit the FAQ.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 2, 2020
SUBJECT:  Positive COVID-19 Cases Decrease in Moscow as State Numbers Rise


With just three weeks remaining until Fall Break, we are continuing to see a decrease in new COVID-19 cases on our Moscow campus despite increases in many communities across the state. Last week we tested 789 people and returned a 0.89% positivity rate. That brings our cumulative average to 2.42%. We have no students in isolation, and no Greek chapters remain in quarantine.

While we are diligently working to keep the virus under control on campus, it is not under control in much of the country. I encourage each of you to think about your plans for Fall Break and the weeks after.

Students are strongly encouraged to remain at your permanent residence after the Thanksgiving break and finish the semester remotely. Undoubtedly, some of you will return to Moscow but we encourage everyone to minimize travel as much as possible. Please keep safety of your family and friends in mind and continue upholding the Healthy Vandal Pledge as you travel and celebrate Thanksgiving. Testing will be available before you leave, and also upon your return by contacting covid19questions@uidaho.edu. Remember, the virus takes at least six days to incubate from the time of your last exposure, so you don’t want to test before then. Please use safety protocols and strive to keep our campus healthy.

I appreciate all the work our faculty have done so our students can engage in in-person classes. I encourage students to attend in person and let instructors know you appreciate their work to make the semester successful.

We have a lot to be proud of. We are still here because each of you stepped up and did your part to help keep each other healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19. Let’s finish the semester strong — like Vandals.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 26, 2020
SUBJECT:  Testing Results Remain Steady, Spring 2021 Calendar Unchanged


Our COVID-19 testing results for the past week continue to show low levels of infection within the Moscow campus community. We completed 912 tests and saw a 2.3% positivity rate. Wastewater testing confirmed these findings and no Greek houses remain in required quarantine. We continue to monitor other parts of the state where increased infection and hospitalization are a serious concern and consider this in our decision making.

Plans are underway for Spring 2021 with the assumption that COVID-19 will continue to influence our operations. Current safety protocols will continue as long as necessary and we will continue to follow all directives from the governor’s office, including adhering to requirements of today’s Stage 3 declaration. Our productive collaborations with Idaho Public Health and Gritman Medical Center will also continue.

Calendar

We worked with Faculty Senate, the Senate’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee and Provost’s Council to identify three viable calendar options for spring. A survey was sent to collect input and we received great feedback. All three options have strengths and weaknesses. Our conclusion is that no new option was clearly better than our original schedule and the benefits of changing did not outweigh the problems associated with such a change. The Spring 2021 semester calendar will remain unchanged. Classes will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 13, Spring Break will be March 15-19, and exam week will conclude on Friday, May 14. We hope to have Commencement on Saturday, May 15.

Testing will be required for Moscow students to attend in-person classroom activities in January. Classes will likely begin online/remote as all students will be tested upon return to the Moscow campus. Details of this testing will be shared in November.

Web Fees

No Hyflex or Virtual Meeting courses will have a web fee in Spring 2021. As in prior semesters prior to Fall 2020, Online (web) courses and Hybrid courses will have a $35/credit web fee. These two formats have significant asynchronous online elements. Web fees, in addition to other course fees, are updated and currently visible in the course schedule. If web fees challenge your ability to attend in the spring, please contact the Financial Aid office to discuss financial options.

We are obviously in a dynamic environment. The availability of a vaccine could alter the path we are taking, but for now, we are assuming COVID-19 will be with us through the spring. We appreciate all you have done to make this semester the best in-person experience possible under the circumstances. We will do our best to continue to offer live instruction and make improvements for our spring semester. As a reminder, a hold will be put on accounts where students have not tested by Nov. 9, so ensure you have either tested or are not required to do so by that date. If you tested after Sept. 28, have previously tested positive or were already taking all classes online/remote with the approval of your instructors, you do not have to retest. If you have arranged to finish the semester online, you can clear your testing status by emailing covid19questions@uidaho.edu. Thank you for keeping our campus safe and open.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
Lauren Carlsen, ASUI President
Barbara Kirchmeier, Faculty Senate Chair
Chad Neilson, Staff Council Chair
DATE:  Oct. 23, 2020
SUBJECT:  Plan Ahead for Voting on Tuesday, Nov. 3


There is no doubt that casting your ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 3, is vitally important. ASUI recently approached the administration about changing the upcoming election day to a university holiday to make voting more accessible to students, staff and faculty. Many people support their goal and enthusiastic initiative, but a calendar change like this was not possible due to policy that would have required extending the semester into Thanksgiving or Winter breaks.

The university provides a number of opportunities to allow sufficient access to the polls; however, everyone who wants to vote should make a plan for Nov. 3 — how you will vote, where you will vote and when you will vote. We offer the following resources to assist you:

  1. ASUI’s Vandals Vote webpage.
  2. Voter information for Idaho residents.
  3. Voter information for Washington residents.
  4. Voter information for other states.

With the threat of COVID-19, we strongly encourage voting in advance or by mail to decrease in-person traffic at polls on Election Day. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot in Idaho is today, Oct. 23. For those registered to vote in Latah County, early voting is available now through Friday, Oct. 30, at the Latah County Courthouse. Idaho polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

Instructors teaching classes on Nov. 3 are encouraged to offer alternative class activities that would not require attendance (e.g. special projects, recorded resources, etc.) so students have greater flexibility to vote. Instructors are also encouraged to incorporate the topic of civic duty into their lectures and course activities during this time, when applicable. Policy prohibits employees from using their position to support specific parties and candidates, but we can encourage voter participation. See FSH 6230 for details.

For university employees who want to vote on Election Day, FSH 3710 addresses schedule flexibility: “G-3. Polling places are typically open extended hours and absentee voting is widely available. However, employees who are unable to vote outside of scheduled hours will be allowed time off to vote. If available, an employee may use accrued annual leave, compensatory time or, if approved in advance, may be able to make up time lost to vote within the same work week [FSH 3460] through a flexible work schedule. Otherwise, time off will be approved, but unpaid.” Classified and hourly employees should make arrangements with their supervisors. Due to the nature of their positions, exempt staff and faculty already have flexibility in their work schedules.

As a final measure to increase voter options, we discourage units from having events or meetings on Nov. 3, unless absolutely necessary.

We encourage everyone to support voting on Nov. 3 through flexibility and decreasing potential scheduling challenges. Thank you for helping fellow Vandals participate in this important civic duty.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

Lauren Carlsen
ASUI President

asui-president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/asui

Barbara Kirchmeier
Faculty Senate Chair

barbara@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/facultysecretary

Chad Neilson
Staff Council Chair

staff-chair@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/staffcouncil

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Oct. 20, 2020
SUBJECT:  Enrollment Down But Does Not Significantly Impact Budget


Our recruitment efforts pre-COVID-19 showed much promise, with our applications up as much as 16% and acceptances up 14%. With those numbers, we were looking forward to an increase in enrollment. No one knew what to expect for Fall 2020 when campuses across the country closed in March because of COVID-19. Forecasts were for drastic declines in enrollment — as high as 20%. Our Strategic Enrollment Management team, with the help of many of you, took the problem head on and continued to reach out to prospective students to show them what they have to gain from higher education. We had six colleges that saw increases in new student enrollment.

Fall 2020 enrollment is 10,791, with a 3% decline in full-time student and overall decline of 9.5%. A dip of 584 high school students through the dual-credit program was larger than expected and is most likely due to COVID-19. We also saw a large decline in non-degree students. These students are not full tuition-paying students, so while there is a decrease, it is not a substantial hit to our budget. We will, however, need to work harder to get these students into the college-bound pipeline.

While we are seeing a decline in full-time enrollment there are some bright spots. Namely, we saw a significant increase in higher-margin WUE students, that together with an adjustment in tuition waivers, brought savings that will offset the decline in enrollment.

Undergraduate Enrollment

Overall undergraduate enrollment is 6,830.

First-time undergraduate student enrollment is 1,429, down 56 students from 2019. Conversely, students participating in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) — students from a Western state who, as part of the WUE consortium, pay less than out-of-state tuition — are up 21%, underscoring that U of I is a great value to students from our neighboring states.

Three years ago, we expanded WUE to make the experience at the University of Idaho more accessible and affordable to students in all 16 participating states and territories of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). We knew it would take four years to account for the full financial impact of the transition. We made the decision this year to build both years three and four into the budget and absorb the deficit into our most recent round of budget cuts. As a result, the loss was built into our revenue budget and we closed this gap a year earlier than planned.

Students from outside the Western consortium, or non-resident students, are down 27% to 441.

Graduate Enrollment

New graduate student enrollment is 573, up 4% in a continued trend from 2019 when graduate student enrollment increased 2.6%. The university has in recent years invested in more competitive packages for graduate teaching assistants and plans to invest further in the coming year.

International Students

The pandemic and international relations have had significant impacts on international student enrollment. This group is down 29% from 652 in 2019 to 464 in 2020. While many of our international students remained in Moscow over the summer, most new students were not able to attend this fall.

Law

The College of Law saw a significant increase after the university accepted transfer students from the now-defunct Concordia Law School in Boise. U of I took in 110 students in the largest-ever transfer for a Western law school.

Diversity

Native American, Native Hawaiian and students of more than two races are all up this fall. Native American students are up 8%, or 8 students; Native Hawaiian students are up 27%, or 10 students; and students of more than one race are up 14%, or 50 students. The university has received two separate $1 million grants in recent weeks. Both are to aid Native American students with scholarships.

Retention and Graduation

A year ago, the university implemented a number of strategies to improve retention. These efforts resulted in retention holding steady at 77%. With all that has happened with COVID-19 and the economy, this is truly impressive. It is also worth noting that the Spring 2020 graduating class was the largest in the past six years — requiring us to bring in even more first-time students to fill the gap created by successful completion of degrees.

A lot of work went into recruiting students during challenging times. Thank you to each of you who played a role. As we look to better days ahead there is no doubt that students will return in larger numbers. They will understand that a college education is proven to make you healthier, wealthier and wiser. We will continue to deliver on the high-quality education and unique Vandal experience that has made the University of Idaho great for 130 years.

Financial Impact

Late last spring, we made a decision to wait and see how FY20 ended and what our fall enrollment numbers were before taking any concrete action on the legislature’s FY21 2% base reduction. That proved to be a good decision as we outperformed expectations in FY20. Considering waiver savings, higher-margin WUE enrollment and the much smaller financial impact of dual-credit and non-degree enrollment shortfalls, we do not anticipate the need to make additional reductions in the FY21 budget. There are certainly still risks to our financial health. Our financial forecast assumes that we are able to keep our university open for live instruction, that our units continue to live within their budgets, and that we do not have any further COVID-19-related shocks or government holdbacks. We are in a much better place than last spring, despite operating within the confines of a pandemic.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us arrive at this more sustainable position. Let’s keep on the path and all work together to attract those students who decided to sit out or forego dual-credit this year. Together we can help them improve their lives by going on to higher education.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 19, 2020
SUBJECT:  Retest of Students Shows Continued Reduction in COVID-19, All Classes Return to Original Modalities


While we continue to see cases of COVID-19 climb in other areas of the region, we are pleased that our retest of all students and limited surveillance testing of faculty and staff show a decrease in our community.

We completed 2,757 tests this past week. Within that, we saw a 1.56% positivity rate. The two-week retest of students captured 5,256 students with a positivity rate of 2.2%. Since the university started testing in early August, we have a cumulative positivity rate of 2.5%. We currently have 11 students in isolation and only one Greek chapter in quarantine. What we are doing is working. What you are doing is working. We need to continue following the Healthy Vandal Pledge to ensure we maintain low positivity levels until Thanksgiving Break.

All students taking in-person classes on the Moscow campus should have retested. If you have not, contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu to set up a testing time. You will not be allowed in classrooms without retesting. If you have arranged to finish the semester online, you need to clear your testing status by emailing covid19questions@uidaho.edu. Failure to do so may result in a hold on your student account and your ability to register for the spring semester. A reminder if you tested after Sept. 28, have previously tested positive or were already taking all classes online/remote with the approval of your instructors, you do not have to retest.

All instruction should return to its original modalities this week. Instructors should work with students to help navigate continued in-class participation. Students who can attend class in person are encouraged to do so. Ineligible lists will be refreshed daily with names of those who did not test as required or tested positive. As before, the lists do not include the names of students in quarantine. Staff should continue to work with supervisors to ensure safety measures are followed in offices.

Due to a positive case, the ISUB Food Court is closed today for disinfection out of an abundance of caution. Einstein’s, The Grid, Papa John’s, Joe’s Cheesy Grill and The HUB are all open and prepared to handle additional traffic. The Food Court is expected to reopen on Tuesday.

We are finalizing plans for spring, including the spring calendar, testing plans upon return in January and Spring Break. These will be communicated soon. In the meantime, please continue to keep your university and the safety of your fellow Vandals as a priority. Your diligence is what has gotten us this far, and for that we are grateful. We have five weeks until Thanksgiving Break.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Oct. 13, 2020
SUBJECT:  Strong FY20 Financial Results Show Us on the Path to Financial Sustainability


Our audited financial results are in and we have a lot to be proud of at the University of Idaho.

In one year, you improved our cash position by $22 million. By paying close attention to your spending and putting the university first, the operating losses of 2018 ($21 million) and 2019 ($19 million) were reversed in 2020 to an operating surplus of over $900,000. This result is particularly impressive when you consider the financial impact COVID-19 had on our operations. Year over year, improvements were widespread, coming from nearly all university operations across the state. In short, we not only did what was asked of us for this year, we exceeded it, evaluating every expenditure for the good of the university. Together, we stopped the financial bleeding and created capacity to respond to the many challenges presented by COVID-19.

FY21 brought additional challenges, even prior to the pandemic. In addition to the $14 million we cut in FY20, we projected an additional $8 million budget deficit for a total of $22 million. We used our Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, Optional Retirement Incentive Program and other separations to meet much of this deficit.

While our unrestricted net position has also improved by more than $4 million, our reserves are still well below Regent (State Board of Education) requirements. In short, we have disrupted the trend and should rightly be proud of the incredible progress made. However, we are not financially in the clear yet and need to maintain our focus on headcount, operating expenses and cash management.

In addition to these improvements, we have decreased our Other Post-Employment Benefits liability by $14 million. This improvement, stemming from plan changes and market growth, is in addition to the projected savings from changes made to the delivery of the plan that were approved early this year.

For all of this, we can be proud.

Enrollment will be finalized and communicated this week and we know it will be down more than expected due to low dual enrollment numbers. We are analyzing the financial impact of the decline but expect it will be manageable. In the meantime, let’s continue on the course we have set for ourselves.

I want to thank every Vandal for the stunning progress we have made in a single year; proof positive that Vandals just get it done. The work you are doing has literally saved the university. Thank you for doing your part to help bring us back to financial health.

Go Vandals!

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 12, 2020
SUBJECT:  Re-testing of All Moscow Students Going Well, Campus to Return to Original Modalities by Oct. 19.


Summary

This past Friday, we received a photo of an engineering class being taught in person. The professor took the photo of his 75 students, all masked and social distanced with their concert lights on from their phones and their thumbs up to let us know all was well. They were appreciative of the opportunity to interact and learn from their professor and peers in person. This experience, the one that has been the hallmark of the University of Idaho since its inception, is what we are fighting to maintain. We have made significant progress toward this goal. We received test results on 3,642 students from last Monday through Sunday evening and saw a positivity rate of 2.20%. By the end of this week, we will have tested most, if not all, of our in-person Moscow-based students and moved any lingering asymptomatic students into isolation. Our number of active positive cases compared to our U of I community population continues be very low at 1-1.5%. All faculty will return to modalities they started the semester in by Monday, Oct. 19.

Details

Our COVID-19 website reports the results received by Oct. 9 were 2,499 students and a positivity rate of 2.96%. As more results were processed over the weekend the number of positive cases and rate continued to decline and showed a marked improvement from the week prior, an outcome confirmed by wastewater sampling. These results demonstrate the impact of our Greek community leaders who worked closely with us over the previous weeks to quarantine, test and isolate positive cases. We know this has been hard on our students in quarantine. It can be discouraging as the quarantine exit dates move each time a new positive case is identified. We appreciate how our Greek community took responsibility and did the right things to contain the infection in their chapters. How quickly the virus spread, from low single digits to double digits, even though we had already deployed mitigation tactics, was also instructive. Many students saw first-hand that this virus is indeed unpleasant at best and made some students very sick. No one wants to get COVID-19, and we all need to do our best to continue living the Healthy Vandal Pledge so that we do not inadvertently bring the virus back to our living groups.

Over the past few weeks, we tested hotspots to enable quicker isolation of positive cases, which contributed to the higher positive rates in our test results. We currently have three fraternity and sororities in quarantine, down from 14 last week, and 31 students from Greek and on-campus residences in isolation. While the focused testing of hotspots was effective and enabled the university to quickly implement mitigation tactics, it did not give us a good sense of the campuswide infection rate. Surveillance testing helps our modelers better predict the course of the virus. After we have completed the full retest, we will again take up general surveillance testing until Thanksgiving Break. We expect that by testing all students, isolating the positives and continuing to take the Healthy Vandal Pledge seriously, we will experience a much lower positivity rate over the next few weeks.

Last week, a White House working group recommended that some Idaho universities go online, including the University of Idaho, citing an 80.7% positivity rate among 18-24 year-olds in Latah County. Obviously, this data is incorrect. The White House working group would have no way of knowing that we are a masked community, have our own lab, that we aggressively test asymptomatic students and employees, that we model the positive cases and respond to results, that we monitor and respond to wastewater sampling, or that the positive cases we have experienced were isolated to particular living groups. We thank the White House for their recommendations, but we will continue to work with Idaho Public Health and Gritman Medical Center to make decisions based on accurate data that are right for our community.

Classes and Testing

Instructors may continue to choose how to deliver their classes this week. Staff should work with supervisors to determine the best work arrangement for the unit. We should finish testing the remaining students in the next few days and recognize that managing classes during this period will continue to be a challenge. Again, thank you for your patience and flexibility during this difficult time.

The Gritman nursing staff and our lab worked at full capacity this past week and swabbed, processed and reported all results by Sunday. We owe a debt of gratitude to these dedicated professionals. This work was exhausting and performed with an admirable sense of mission. For students still needing to test, refer to the email you received from covid19questions@uidaho.edu for details. As a reminder, if you have been tested since Sept. 28, previously tested positive or are not taking any in-person classes, you will not be required to retest. Testing will be at the Student Recreation Center. If you are symptomatic, email covid19questions@uidaho.edu to set up a test at Gritman’s Martin Wellness Center. Transportation to the center is available through Parking and Transportation Services. After Friday, Oct. 16, ineligibility lists will be populated with any students who have not been tested or tested positive. Those students will not be permitted to attend any classes in person starting Oct. 19.

Faculty and staff will continue to be invited to participate in random general surveillance testing each week. If you receive an email invitation, please participate. The more test results we have, the better we can respond to positive cases.

Going Forward

We continue to see troubling spikes in positive cases in certain counties across Idaho. There is little doubt that unnecessarily traveling outside of Moscow puts us at risk and could lead to making yourself or those around you sick. For those employees who must travel, take precautions. While our community takes the Healthy Vandal Pledge seriously, many areas of high infection do not have similar practices nor do they comply with mask mandates, making inadvertent infection possible. Travel is still discouraged unless necessary. If you do travel, test at least six days after returning from travel — this gives the virus time to incubate so you do not become an unintended source of infection. In the meantime, you should limit your interactions and follow COVID-19 safety protocols. Our goal is to continue in-person course delivery until Thanksgiving Break — that is a six-week commitment we all need to make to each other and to our university.

Again, a big thank you to our students, faculty and staff for continuing to participate in testing and in quarantine when asked. I know it isn’t comfortable, but it is necessary. Testing combined with following the Healthy Vandal Pledge, will keep our campus healthy and on track to reach our goal — a full semester together as Vandals.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 9, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Is Going Well, Teaching Method Remains Flexible Until Oct. 19


Thank you to all the students who stepped up this week to be tested for COVID-19. We know this is not fun, but it is extremely helpful as we continue to identify and respond to where the virus exists on our Moscow campus. This week we swabbed over 3,000 students, and the results will be delivered over the weekend. We will continue to swab students next week until every Moscow-based student attending in-person class has been tested.

Employees were not tested this week as we focused specifically on our students. Next week, we will increase general surveillance testing for employees. Please watch your email for the invitation to participate.

Our preliminary results for this week show progress resulting from the actions taken over the past two weeks. This data is confirmed by our latest wastewater sampling. We continue to identify and isolate positive cases in our on-campus Greek community. Results from all other areas continue to include few positive cases, indicating our safety protocols are working.

Because of continued movement of students through isolation and quarantine, and therefore not being able to attend class in person, instructors may continue to choose the delivery method that works best for their classes. All instructors should communicate clearly with students about how classes will be delivered. Unless the final data indicates otherwise, faculty who have changed course delivery should plan to resume classes in the modalities originally intended beginning Monday, Oct. 19. Staff should continue to work with supervisors to determine what work arrangement is best for the unit.

Public Health continues to report that they have not traced any positive cases to the classroom and believes the infection rate is manageable. Our data indicate the same. We understand that increased positive numbers have created increased anxiety. We are grateful that our faculty and staff have remained calm, supportive and committed to delivering the best learning experience and services to our students.

Testing results from Oct. 3-9 will be available on the COVID-19 website on Monday, Oct. 12. Email any questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

We are making our way through this semester one day at time. Please watch out for each other, keep vigilant about good choices and know that your hard work and dedication is appreciated. As said before, we truly are all in this together.

Keep Calm and Vandal On. 

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 5, 2020
SUBJECT:  All Students to Be Tested, Broad Spread Off Campus Not Found in Weekly Results


Summary

Being together on campus, even with the COVID-19 restrictions, is valuable for us all. The experience we gain from interaction is irreplaceable. But that experience is at risk if the spread of COVID-19 becomes too great. The results from this past week show continued spread in our Greek community; smaller, but noticeable increases in our residence halls; and few cases in off-campus students and employees.

Details

Testing of 1,389 people resulted in an 8.35% positivity rate for the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 (which is reported Friday to Friday). This positivity rate includes some targeted testing from the previous week that was processed after the Friday cutoff. From the data provided, the modeling team believes that the university community as a whole might be testing at 5.3%. As predicted by Public Health, the broader surveillance showed a significant decrease from the nearly 12% we reported from our focused testing the week of Sept. 19-25. It also shows the impact of our additional focus on the Greek community, which was tested at higher percentages than other populations.

The past several weeks we focused on potential hot spots and limited our general surveillance testing. The result was quicker isolation of positive cases. It did not, however, give us a good sense of the campuswide infection rate. That broader testing this past week confirmed higher infection levels were limited primarily to Greek row. The overall active cases are 1.0-1.5% of our Moscow-based community. The only population with higher than a 5% positivity rate is our on-campus Greek students, who account for approximately 10% of our community. We currently have 14 fraternities and sororities in mandatory or voluntary quarantine (with Public Health releasing two of those chapters from quarantine later today) and 59 students from Greek housing and on-campus residences in isolation. Conversely, fewer than five employees, who aren’t also students, have tested positive through our testing program since August. Importantly, Public Health has not traced any of these positive results back to a classroom.

Classes and Testing

Instructors may continue to choose how to deliver their classes this week. Given that many students on Greek row are in quarantine and that we will be testing all students over the following days, we recognize that managing classes during this period will be a challenge and thank you for your patience. Some instructors prefer to teach in person and some disciplines require it, so we want to provide that option where it makes sense.

Some will ask why we are not immediately going fully online. First, the infection is primarily isolated in the Greek system, and Greek leadership is working with us to protect the campus by going into quarantine. Second, we know that going fully online does not, in itself, restrict the spread of COVID-19 — and may, in fact, make it worse. As mentioned earlier, Public Health has confirmed that no transmission has been traced to the classroom and that our protocols for in-class delivery are still valid and working. Having said that, if our plan to again test all students is not as effective as we expect and strains our healthcare system, we will not hesitate to move to online instruction.

We will work over the next two weeks to test all students. Most will receive their results within 24-48 hours but given the increased testing volume, some will take longer. If you test late Thursday, you may not receive your results until Monday morning. Students, we also ask for your patience with our testing protocols. Details on how to sign up for a test will come from covid19questions@uidaho.edu. If you have been tested since Sept. 28, previously tested positive, or are not taking any in-person classes, you will not be required to retest. Testing will be at the Student Recreation Center. If you are symptomatic, please email the same address to set up a test at Gritman’s Martin Wellness Center. Transportation to the center is available through Parking and Transportation. After Oct. 16, ineligibility lists will be populated with any students who have not been tested, and those students will not be permitted to attend any classes in person.

Faculty and staff will continue to be invited to participate in random testing after the student testing is completed. If you receive an email invitation, please participate. The more test results we have, the better we can understand spread of the virus.

Going Forward

We saw a spike in positive cases across the country and here on campus after Labor Day. There is little doubt that traveling outside of Moscow puts us all at risk and could lead to making yourself or those around you sick. We again ask you to please stay in Moscow until Thanksgiving Break.

A big thank you for continuing to participate in testing. I know it isn’t comfortable, but it is necessary. Also know that testing negative does not mean you are immune. Testing combined with following the Healthy Vandal Pledge, remaining vigilant especially in communal living communities and following city and state COVID-19 protocols will keep our campus healthy and on track to reach our goal — a full semester together as Vandals.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Oct. 2, 2020
SUBJECT:  Preliminary Results Confirm Need to Test All Students and Maintain Flexible Course Delivery 


A rise in positive COVID-19 test results last week from within our Greek community was certainly a cause for concern and illuminated the need for broader testing to better understand the spread of the virus.

We tested approximately 1,200 students and employees this week and the preliminary results showed continued spread in the Greek system but little increase in other populations. Because of this, we will continue as we did this week: campus will remain open and instructors who want to teach in person may continue to do so. Instructors preferring to teach remote/online may do so without additional approvals. Instructors need to communicate clearly with students about course delivery. Plan to return to your course’s original teaching format on Monday, Oct. 12. Expanded testing of our community will continue next week, including testing all students. Details will be shared on Monday.

Public Health indicated there are no cases linked back to classrooms. Public Health’s contact tracing shows most spread has come from living groups and social situations in which people are not following safety protocols.

Students should remain in Moscow. Online/remote class delivery is not an excuse to travel and increase your chances of infection. We have seven weeks until Thanksgiving, after which we will move to online-only delivery for the remainder of the semester.

Campus offices will remain at their current level of operation.

Complete testing results from this week will be available on the COVID-19 website on Monday, Oct. 5 and will be accompanied by the weekly COVID-19 update email. Email any questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 30, 2020
SUBJECT:  Chief Marketing Officer Hired


I am pleased to announce the selection of Teresa Koeppel as the Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Director of University Communications and Marketing (UCM). The appointment is effective Monday, Nov. 9, 2020.

Teresa currently oversees marketing, communication and engagement globally for Compass Group at Google, including strategic communications, brand strategy, regional field marketing, digital strategy, creative services, internal communications and crisis communications.

Teresa received her bachelor’s degree in communication from Whitworth University and her master’s in organizational communication from Washington State University. She worked as the Director for Marketing and Communications at the University of Washington and later as Senior Director for Communication and Engagement at UW Medicine Advancement. Prior to that, she served as Director for Communication and Marketing at the WSU Foundation.

She has led the development and implementation of communication and marketing strategies for major fundraising campaigns, including a campaign at UW that concluded at $6 billion. She has extensive knowledge of higher education and also brings private-sector experience.

Teresa served in various positions on the board the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII, representing Pacific Northwest and Canadian institutions.

Outside of work, she and her husband, Chris, both enjoy teaching group fitness classes and hiking with their dog, Budo.

Thank you to the search committee, led by Kathy Barnard, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations and Advancement Communications. Kathy has also served as Interim Executive Director of UCM since July. I thank her for her dedication.

Please help me welcome Teresa into the Vandal Family.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  Moscow-Based Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Sept. 28, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Hot Spots Detected in our Greek System; No Classroom Transmission Found


Summary

Last week, our COVID-19 testing on the Moscow campus identified several hot spots on Greek Row that resulted in eight chapters being placed in quarantine. The outbreak seems isolated to fraternities and sororities, but we will increase our general surveillance testing outside the Greek system this week to verify. Our infection rate for tests last week increased to 11.94%, but tests were targeted to known hot spots on Greek Row. Currently, the number of active positives is about 1% of the total Moscow-based U of I community, including students and employees. Our modelers and Public Health tell us that testing primarily the Greek population is not indicative of the overall infection rate, which is likely much lower.

Public Health believes our classroom protocols are working and they have not identified any classroom transmission through their contact tracing. We recognize, though, despite the safety protocols in place in the classroom, some may have heightened concerns about the increased infection rate. Faculty preferring to teach online may do so this week without additional approvals. We ask that you communicate clearly with your students to ensure a smooth transition, keeping in mind you may be required to move back to in-person instruction Monday, Oct. 5. Any questions should be directed to the dean of your college.

If data collected through Friday, Oct. 2 drives us to online-only instruction, the recommendation is that it be for two weeks. We will update you on our findings on Friday. We ask that everyone remain flexible and patient as we gather more data and provide next steps.

Background

Over the past two weeks, our surveillance testing focused on Greek Row and noted increased viral load in wastewater, helping us understand where targeted testing should be done. Post-Labor Day testing continued to confirm positives in that population. Some chapters have been told to quarantine by Public Health while others have implemented self-imposed quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

We continue to discuss our findings with Idaho Public Health and our modeling team. While many (understandably) try to compare our results to infection rate metrics at other universities, these are not comparable because some of those universities only test close contacts or symptomatic students and employees and some only compare positives to their total population versus actual number of tests performed. In order to continue to address hot spots while getting valid infection rate metrics, we need to significantly increase the diversity of samples taken each week through broader participation.

Once we have more general surveillance data, modeling will help determine whether the strategy to continue targeted testing and quarantine of Greek Row will isolate the threat. Greek Row residents represent approximately 10% of our Moscow-based student body.

Will We Go Online?

As we have learned from other institutions, simply going online is not an effective or preventive response to COVID-19. But temporarily going online, combined with adherence to protocols such as those articulated in the Healthy Vandal Pledge, has proven to help bring hot spots under control. Should we decide to go online, it will be because the data from our testing this week and subsequent consultation with Public Health and our partners at Gritman Medical Center indicate it is the most effective response. As discussed at our town hall, considerations and decisions about any change in instruction, in order of priority are:

  1. Government Restrictions. The governor’s website has our area listed as “low transmission” and they have not asked us to make any changes to our operations.
  2. Idaho Public Health Recommendations. We are working closely with Public Health. They do not believe our results are indicative of the true infection rate and performing more general surveillance testing will help us assess the true infection rate.
  3. Gritman Advice and Consultation. We do not want to overwhelm the healthcare system, and Gritman tells us they have plenty of capacity.
  4. U of I’s Isolation Capacity. We currently have 72 in isolation and have planned for over 170 beds, so we still have plenty of capacity.
  5. Positive Case Numbers within Latah County. Latah County is identified by Public Health as “minimal risk.”
  6. Positive Case Numbers within the U of I Community. The trend is now becoming a factor for us.
  7. Infection Modeling Advice Prepared Specifically for our Unique Factors.  

Next Steps

We have all seen the benefit of conducting in-person instruction, but we need to obtain a valid general surveillance sample if we are to continue in-person instruction. We will be sending a request for many of our students and employees to participate in testing. If you receive a request, please participate as the results will have a significant impact on our university. If selected to participate, you will receive an email from covid19questions@uidaho.edu with instructions. Know that we appreciate you doing your part to help keep our university healthy.

Conclusion

Since we started our official COVID-19 testing on Aug. 6, we have completed approximately 10,000 tests, and the overall percent of positive results is now 1.81%. We have eight more weeks until Thanksgiving break and have much work to do if we are going to be able to continue live instruction. We need to be even more vigilant about adhering to the Healthy Vandal Pledge. Socializing indoors, in large groups, without masks, must be avoided. Continued spread of COVID-19 will cause changes to our delivery methods and ability to remain in person. It may also impact the health of our colleagues. Please continue to wear your face covering, social distance, wash your hands, and if asked, participate in ongoing surveillance testing. If you show symptoms, please call your family doctor or the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693.

We truly are all in this together, so please to do your part. For more information on the U of I COVID-19 response, visit our website and email any questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  Moscow-Based Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 21, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Efforts Continuing to Show Compliance by Most 


As we enter the fifth week of classes, it is important that we recognize and appreciate how people doing the right thing can make a significant difference to the health of our community. Because our personal decisions do impact others, each of us doing our part will help keep our campus safer and allow us to continue our in-person classes until Thanksgiving break. Last week we tested many who traveled over Labor Day weekend and found 4.71% tested positive, an increase over previous weeks.

For those who traveled, some have inadvertently and unknowingly brought the virus back to Moscow. Our testing results for last week found 25 primarily asymptomatic, positive cases in students and employees residing both on and off campus. While we asked everyone to stay in Moscow, not everyone did. We are grateful to those who followed our request to be tested after traveling and want to encourage everyone to continue to make good decisions. For those who traveled and have not yet tested, we strongly recommend that you do before returning to classes. There is no defense for those who travel out of our community, then return and, as a result of not being tested, infect others.

Because there is a minimum six-day incubation period for this virus, if you traveled the weekend after Labor Day (Sept. 12-13), you should test this week. Choosing avoidance over doing what is right is not what Vandals do. We expect more from each other. Sign up for free testing available at the Student Recreation Center (SRC), Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 23-24. Email covid19questions@uidaho.edu with any questions.

Surveillance testing continues this week with a focus on Athletics, ROTC, some sororities, and students or employees who recently traveled. As part of the overall surveillance testing, we are developing a protocol to randomly identify students and employees each week to find and isolate asymptomatic cases. When it’s time for you to participate, you will receive an email from covid19questions@uidaho.edu with instructions.

Since we started our official COVID-19 testing on Aug. 6, we have completed approximately 9,000 tests, and the overall percent of positives is 1.32%. We have eight students currently residing in our isolation facility. A big thank you for the efforts made by our students, staff and faculty to keep us on track. We have nine more weeks until Thanksgiving break, and we can’t let our guard down for a moment. It is not lost on us that October was the worst month for the Spanish Flu pandemic in the early part of the last century. As we move back indoors, we need to be even more vigilant about adhering to the Healthy Vandal Pledge. Please continue wearing your face covering, social distance, wash your hands, and, if asked, participate in ongoing surveillance testing. If you show symptoms, please call the Vandal Health Clinic. If you don’t need to leave Moscow, I strongly encourage you to stay here until Thanksgiving break. Also, be mindful that Pullman and WSU are still responding to a severe COVID-19 outbreak. Please limit your time in Whitman County.

We truly are all in this together, so please continue to do your part. For more information on the U of I COVID-19 response, visit our website or email any questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 14, 2020
SUBJECT:  Our COVID-19 Efforts Are Paying Off – Keep It Up 


Now that we are beginning our fourth week of classes, I want to reflect on what we have accomplished together and outline the hard work that needs to continue for us to remain in person until Thanksgiving break.

Testing for Those Who Traveled Over Labor Day Weekend

Gritman Medical Center has been a valuable partner, and I can’t express enough gratitude to their leadership and staff. Their nurses swabbed each person who took part in the university’s in-house testing program and will swab many more before Thanksgiving break. They will be at the Student Recreation Center (SRC) Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 15-16 to swab anyone who traveled over Labor Day weekend. For those who traveled, some may have inadvertently and unknowingly brought the virus back to campus. We know it is not convenient, but I ask that you do the right thing and sign up for testing this week if you traveled over the long weekend. It is important we all continue to participate in testing to contain the spread of this highly contagious virus.

What We’ve Accomplished

Since we started our official COVID-19 testing Aug. 6, the university has completed over 8,500 tests, and the overall percent of positives remains at 1.11%. I am grateful for the efforts our students, staff and faculty have made to get us off to a good start. We all want to remain open and are willing to make sacrifices to support our world-class faculty who provide students transformational educational experiences. I also appreciate the modeling experts at our own Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation (IMCI). They predicted a 1.06% positivity rate for our initial screening, and the actual number was 1.08%. The IMCI team was pivotal in our preliminary screening and planning, and we continue to use their expertise as we transition to surveillance testing.

Not only is this testing helpful to the University of Idaho, but also for our community. Because we are the only institution in the state with a lab with these kind of testing capabilities, we will be able to provide additional COVID-19 testing for our region during the winter flu season.

Since the beginning of testing the university has housed a total of 31 students in our on-campus isolation area and currently have only four students residing there. We have audited and confirmed 100% testing compliance from students living in Housing and Residence Life. In addition, the entries on the daily lists of students ineligible to attend class are dwindling as we settle into the semester. Faculty members recently helped the university move over 250 students from the list who still identified as needing to be tested, confirming with us that the students have made alternative arrangements, including participating in their classes remotely.

More than 1,000 people per day have gone through thermal scanners at the Wallace Complex (The HUB) and the ISUB Food Court, where people take their masks off to eat. Fever is a symptom of COVID-19 and is also a symptom of many other flus and head colds, so the thermal scanners are not just preventing symptomatic COVID-19 carriers from entering, but those suffering from other contagious illnesses. To date, only one person had to be turned away after failing the secondary testing. This is an encouraging indicator of health and a positive sign that people who are not feeling well are being responsible and staying away from the food courts. Again, our employees and students are doing the right thing.

Our custodial and building staff have been diligent in making sure the Healthy Vandals sanitizer and disinfectant are refilled and readily available across campus, including in the over 80 conference and event spaces converted into classrooms. We have tripled the number of Zoom-capable classrooms and increased the frequency of cleanings in heavy-use spaces. PPE has been distributed to employees and students and the university has ordered face mask extenders as requested by faculty. If you would like a face mask extender, please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu. Extra face coverings are available to students free of charge thanks to generous donations by U of I alumni and can be picked up at the Dean of Students Office in the ISUB.

Compliance with the Healthy Vandal Pledge has been strong. From Aug. 16 until now, there have only been eight calls to Campus Security from concerned faculty and staff about lack of compliance regarding COVID-19 protocols – the majority of which were complaints about face coverings not being worn outdoors. In addition, Moscow Police told us they have observed very high face covering compliance on campus. Thank you to all employees and students for doing your part.

Surveillance Testing

Several efforts are underway to continue COVID-19 monitoring. The university started surveillance testing earlier than planned due to the outbreak in neighboring Whitman County and will continue this testing until Thanksgiving break. Surveillance testing means sampling a subset of our U of I community each week to understand and respond to any potential spread of COVID-19 on the Moscow campus. The goal of continued testing throughout the semester is to identify students and employees who tested negative when arriving on campus but who have since contracted COVID-19 and may be asymptomatic. Identifying and isolating positive cases helps keep our campus healthy while ensuring our colleagues and classmates get the dedicated support and care they need.

Zero positive cases resulted from subsequent testing of 168 student-athletes this past week. This illustrates the dedication of Athletic Director Terry Gawlik, Director of Athletic Training Services Chris Walsh, coaches and student-athletes. Athletics staff members have worked hard over the summer and into the fall to transition student-athletes back to campus in a responsible manner and provide the environment needed for practice, team activities and learning. The university learned a lot from their efforts.

U of I employees living in Whitman County were recently invited to test again due to the exceptionally high infection rate there. Despite the difficulty of controlling the outbreak in Whitman County, the number of positive cases identified was low. This is yet another example of the commitment of our employees to engage in safety protocols.

Researchers in the College of Engineering are also conducting wastewater sampling of eight locations on campus for early detection of COVID-19. Wastewater testing is one tool to help monitor on-campus residence halls and apartments, as well as Greek Row. This sampling prompted follow-up testing of students in two residence halls and identified six new positive cases.

Next Steps

I am very appreciative of all the hard work to get us here, including all the preparation at centers and Extension offices across the state. But the work is not done. There are 10 more weeks until Thanksgiving break and we can’t let our guard down. One super-spreader event could undo this success. Please continue to wear your face covering, social distance, wash your hands and participate in ongoing surveillance testing if asked. If you show symptoms, please call the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693. If you don’t need to leave Moscow, I encourage you to stay here until Thanksgiving. Also, be mindful that Pullman and WSU are having a severe COVID-19 outbreak. If possible, limit your time in Whitman County until they have contained their spread of the virus.

Again, if you traveled over Labor Day weekend, please get tested this week. We are all in this together and what we have accomplished thus far is testimony to the Brave and Bold Vandal Family culture that has been our hallmark for generations. For more information on the U of I COVID-19 response visit the COVID-19 website or email questions to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Keep Calm and Vandal On. 

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 13, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Moscow Campus Closed Sept. 14 Due to Poor Air Quality 


The Moscow campus of the University of Idaho will be closed to business and all classes and events canceled on Monday, Sept. 14. Students, faculty and staff here are encouraged to stay home and avoid outdoor activities. The safety and wellbeing of our community members are core values in the Vandal community.

The HUB, Papa John’s, Joe’s Cheesy Grill and the Grid will be open for food service.

Wildfire smoke continues to pose an air quality problem in much of the Northwest. Air quality conditions deteriorated significantly over the past 48 hours and are currently unhealthy. Air quality will vary in the coming days in the Moscow area between good, unhealthy and hazardous depending on wind and time of day. When air quality is in the very unhealthy or hazardous range, all groups should avoid physical activity outdoors.

All Moscow-based employees, including exempt employees, should report time as Emergency Closure in VandalWeb.

Air quality information can be found on the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality website, but please note that air conditions can change quickly. The university will continue to monitor air quality conditions and will notify the university community if conditions worsen. Other University of Idaho locations (Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls, and research and Extension sites) will make their own closure decisions based on the air quality conditions of their area.

Anyone with symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to excess smoke exposure, including repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, heart palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue or lightheadedness, should contact health care provider or the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693.

The Moscow campus will re-open Tuesday, Sept. 15 and all classes held as usual unless further communication is received. Please watch for Vandal Alert text messages for urgent updates. If you did not receive the text alert about Monday’s closure, please update your settings in VandalWeb.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  Sept. 8, 2020
SUBJECT:  Surveillance and Wastewater Testing Provide Data


Surveillance testing for COVID-19 is underway at the University of Idaho. Several tools are helping us better understand where to focus our efforts.

As cases in Whitman County grew last week, we offered testing to all Whitman County employees. In addition, we tested random samples of students from Housing and Residence Life, Greek Life and off-campus housing. We will continue to invite students, faculty and staff to participate in this testing. If you receive an email request, please consider participating.

A team of U of I researchers worked this summer to develop methods of testing wastewater for coronavirus. With the help of Facilities staff, a sampling of eight specific on-campus living areas began last week. Results show that two areas within the residence halls showed evidence of the virus. While we expected to find some level of the virus due to prior-known positives (those who had the virus earlier this year), out of an abundance of caution we will test all students in those two residence hall areas.

Students in affected locations were notified of the results Saturday, reminded to diligently follow safety measures, and told to look for testing details. They will be tested this week with all results available by Friday. Public Health confirmed that quarantine is not necessary for these students; however, we have asked them to participate in their courses via remote delivery where possible and we ask faculty to support them with these requests.

As before, any student who tests positive will be contacted by a physician and Public Health and instructed to isolate. Contact tracing will follow. The university will provide additional support to students who live in university residences and are instructed to isolate (positive test result) or quarantine (direct contact, according to Public Health).

We will continue to test wastewater twice weekly. Results will focus our individual testing efforts and increase our ability to isolate infection of students living on campus.

All community members should continue to follow safety measures outlined in the Healthy Vandal Pledge. If you have any questions, please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Sept. 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  COVID-19 Testing Results and Future Plans 


It is great to see students back on campus. We are hearing many positive reports of students and faculty grateful to be back in the classroom. Our challenge now is to keep those in-person classes viable.

Yesterday we posted test results from last week to the COVID-19 website. Weekly testing results will continue to be posted on the site. We have processed over 7,700 tests and have experienced a 1.08% positive infection rate. Because we tested every student and hundreds of employees, it is inevitable that there has been a reported increase of COVID-19 cases in Latah County.

The good news is these students and employees, most of whom were asymptomatic, were identified, isolated and received care. We currently have three students being cared for in our on-campus isolation unit. While there are still approximately 50 students who have tested and are awaiting clearance, and some students still arriving to campus (many WWAMI students will likely arrive this week), testing of students and employees has been largely completed.

Our lab will remain open until the viral threat is diminished. As we shift to surveillance sampling, lab capacity will also support testing in the region. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, do not go to class or work, please quarantine and contact the Vandal Health Clinic at 208-885-6693 to coordinate getting tested at Gritman’s Martin Wellness Center. You should quarantine until you have the results. If you need transportation to the drive-through testing site, sign up online. For other testing questions please email covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

Because of Labor Day travel, we planned to begin surveillance testing the week of Sept. 13, but as we monitor the rise in infection rate in Whitman County, we may begin surveillance testing sooner. We are working with our modeling team to determine both the process and the number of samples to take each week.

Our model of the risks of COVID-19 at the University of Idaho is just one tool being used to assess ways to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for our students, staff and faculty while on campus. The model itself uses an epidemiological compartment model that has been overlaid onto the U of I community. From there, we will update model parameters based on our ongoing data screening to predict the expected burden of COVID-19 in the coming weeks. We will also use the model to assess COVID-19 surveillance testing strategies — such as a thorough post-Labor Day round of tests — and how those strategies might benefit U of I by preventing a severe outbreak. We will continue updating the model throughout the semester with the latest data to provide the best forecasts for our community. We understand there is great interest in surveillance testing. Information will be updated regularly on the COVID-19 website.

As a reminder, we strongly encourage students to remain in Moscow until the Fall Break, including over Labor Day. If you do travel over Labor Day, we ask that you arrange to be tested again no sooner than six days after your return (the incubation period for the virus is 6-14 days, so you may have it, but you may test negative if you test too early) or at the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms. Contact covid19questions@uidaho.edu for help scheduling a non-symptomatic testing appointment. With the significant increase in infection rate in Pullman, we appreciate your heightened observance of Healthy Vandal protocols. Whitman County has had 350 cases and climbing in the past 10 days — this is significantly more than we had in our entire initial screening. Care and caution should be taken by all employees and students as these are our colleagues, friends and neighbors and many members of our campus community live in Whitman County. We owe it to each other to act responsibly.

Again, it is great to see everyone back on campus and complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge. We do sincerely appreciate your continued diligence to keep our campus safe.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students 
CC: Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
Torrey Lawrence, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
Blaine Eckles, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
DATE:  Aug. 21, 2020
SUBJECT:  It is Up to You to Keep our Campus Open


Just three days ago, we communicated to you how important your help is to keep our campus safe and open. In that short time frame, however, we have had reports of several troubling events including parties, on-campus and off, where appropriate social distancing was not kept, and face coverings were not worn. To the vast majority of our students who are complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge, thank you. To the few who have not, your continued behavior will put our entire community at risk. Your behavior diminishes the hard work conducted all summer to prepare for your arrival. Faculty and staff have invested thousands of hours into making opening our campus possible, and your actions endanger the ability of your peers to get the live instruction they are working hard to secure.

Several campuses have already closed after experiencing superspreader infections from large gatherings, including North Carolina State University and Notre Dame. Many others have begun suspending students, including St. Olaf College (17 students), Syracuse University (23 students), Virginia Tech (seven students), Purdue University (36 students) and Radford University (three students). Frankly, if you are not willing to support our university and those who want an in-person instruction environment, you should not be here, and we will take the necessary steps to remove you from our community.

Our Dean of Students Office and the Moscow Police Department are following up on these off-campus parties. We will place students into our disciplinary process who flagrantly violate city ordinances and institutional policy which, if found responsible, could lead to suspension or expulsion. Where we identify a fraternity or sorority chapter engaging in similar conduct, we will hold these organizations accountable through the Fraternity and Sorority Life disciplinary processes that could lead to relocating first-year students out of the house or even closure of the chapter.

We promise those thousands of students who want to be here: we will fight hard to keep our campus open. We need your help by keeping the Healthy Vandal Pledge and helping us identify and separate those who do not.

We have only one chance to get this right. Please keep that in mind this weekend and as you continue through the semester. Students, we have your back... now it’s time to do your part.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Torrey Lawrence
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

Blaine Eckles
Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

deanofstudents@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/dean-of-students

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  Our Success Begins with Your Leadership


Welcome back to campus! We have been working hard all summer for the start of classes and are prepared. This has been a fall like no other, and I expect we will continue to be challenged to provide the learning experience we have delivered for over 130 years, and that you expect.

We hope you are familiar with our plans to do all we can to reasonably protect our campus and community. That begins with testing all of you before you participate in in-person classes. We are also encouraging faculty and staff who have traveled out of our community to test as well, although this is not mandatory. As of this morning, we have received results back on 3,694 tests, have 1,000 samples currently being processed and have another 3,000 scheduled to be swabbed over the next week. Positive tests are running at 0.97% of those tested. Most of the employees and students who tested positive live off campus and are isolating in their homes. However, we have five students who live on campus and are receiving care in our on-campus isolation facility.

Our new lab, opened in partnership with Gritman Medical Center, is now testing samples as they arrive from the swabbing site. Getting this lab up and running has been a Herculean effort but worth it. Few universities in the country have the capability we now have.

Despite having tested each of you upon your return to Moscow, the single most effective tool we have against the virus is compliance with the Healthy Vandal Pledge. The cornerstone is that all students and employees will be required to wear face coverings while on campus. Face coverings work. It is also important that we are mindful of these practices when we leave campus. Notre Dame, which also tested every student, recently had an outbreak of 29 cases, all traced back to an off-campus party. Just today they announced they are moving to online-only delivery.

For our campus to remain open, we all need to take responsibility by showing our leadership, taking action when poor decisions are being made and looking out for the health of our fellow Vandals and those in our community. To be clear, if we fail, we will close the campus and students will be sent home. It is a daunting responsibility but one I know you will help us lead. Frankly, employees and students not willing to protect our community and each other should not be here. All Vandals, employees and students, need to avoid gatherings where social distancing cannot be practiced, particularly where face coverings are not worn. Moscow has a face covering mandate. If you identify such a gathering held without face coverings, please contact the Moscow Police Department at 208-885-2677.

We have a saying at our university, Keep Calm and Vandal On. In the face of adversity and anxiety, our team remained steady and focused on preparing our campus at a detailed level for the fall. We have worked tirelessly this summer to prepare for you, and I am proud of how our staff has responded. There are few, if any, universities that have done more to reasonably protect their communities. We are focused on you and doing all we can to ensure that, like those before us, we execute on our mission to provide the best learning environment possible. Now it is up to you, the next generation of Vandals, to help us remain open.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Moscow-Based Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Lab Up and Running as Students Return to Campus


We are all working hard preparing for the start of classes. This will be a fall like no other, and I expect we will continue to be challenged to provide the learning experience we have delivered on for over 130 years and that our students expect.

We have detailed our extensive plans to do all we can to reasonably protect our campus and community and that includes testing all of our students as they arrive on campus. Most of the COVID-19 testing in the country is done at private laboratories, and testing capacity in the state is limited.

To not be reliant on the variable turnaround times of private labs and to have a more fiscally efficient way to do ongoing testing throughout the academic year, we decided early on to set up our own lab. While we met all Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) standards over a week ago, we were required to meet some previously unknown criteria before our lab was authorized to begin analysis. Our lab is now testing samples as they arrive from our swabbing site. I cannot thank enough the entire U of I team including Dan New, Barrie Robison, Toni Broyles and the team at Gritman Medical Center for the Herculean effort to get this lab up and running. Few universities in the country have the capability we now have.

As of this morning, we have received results back on 3,694 tests, have 1,000 samples currently being processed, and have another 3,000 scheduled to be swabbed over the next week. We have an infectious rate of 0.97%. Most of the employees and students who tested positive live off campus and are isolating in their homes. However, we have five students who live on campus and are receiving care in our on-campus isolation facility.

Thanks to the leadership of Dan Ewart and Lindsey Brown, we will be providing instructors a daily report of students not eligible to be in the classroom. This list does not mean that a student has tested positive, rather it will likely mean that they have not been tested or have not received their results. We expect students who are not eligible at the beginning of classes to work remotely and I ask instructors to have patience with them. Those who might not have cleared will include international students we know will be arriving late, those who work in agriculture and are working a late harvest, and wildland firefighters.

Some of us will be challenged on enforcement of our policies. The provost provided guidance to faculty for handling ineligible students who arrive at class. If students, employees or visitors to our campus are not complying with the Healthy Vandal Pledge by wearing a face covering or other pledge standards, treat them with respect, and if they still refuse, call campus security.

Despite having tested all students on campus, our single most important tool to combat the virus is following the Healthy Vandal Pledge. The reality is that face coverings work. We have communicated with students and their families in emails and through town halls, making it clear what is at stake if the pledge is broken. We have worked tirelessly this summer to prepare for our students, and I am proud of how our faculty and staff have responded. I recognize that many on our team are exhausted from the extra work needed to prepare to open, but being Vandals, they just got it done. Let’s do our best to stay focused on our students and do all we can to ensure that, like those before us, we execute on our mission to provide the best learning environment possible. And as always:

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  Christopher T. Nomura Appointed Vice President for Research and Economic Development


I am pleased to announce the selection of Christopher T. Nomura as the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. The appointment is effective Oct. 1, 2020.

Christopher replaces Janet Nelson, who served in the position since 2016. Brad Ritts is serving as Interim Vice President, a position he has held since February. I am grateful to Brad for his commitment and excellent service to the university.

Christopher, who is tenured in the Department of Biology, comes to the University of Idaho from the State University of New York (SUNY) in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he served as Vice President for Research and was a professor of biochemistry. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from University of California at Santa Cruz and his doctoral degree in biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology at The Pennsylvania State University.

Christopher is an internationally recognized scientist/administrator with an outstanding record of publications, grantsmanship and student mentoring. He has more than 85 publications in top journals in his field in addition to book chapters, conference proceedings, new technology disclosures and popular press articles. Christopher serves on several editorial boards.

He is part of a multi-disciplinary research group whose interests span the fields of molecular microbiology, microbial physiology, metabolic engineering, protein engineering, biochemistry, synthetic chemistry, and polymer chemistry with a focus on producing sustainable materials. In his current position, he oversees McIntire-Stennis funding coming to SUNY that is designed to increase forestry research focused on production, utilization and protection of forestland; to train future forestry scientists; and to involve other disciplines in forestry research. This experience will serve him well as U of I is also the recipient of McIntire-Stennis funding.

Christopher has an outstanding record of mentoring high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and visiting scientists. He currently oversees six graduate students in his laboratory and has strong international connections to the RIKEN Institute (Japan), Hubei University (China) and Centro Nacional Patagonico (Argentina).

Christopher has extensive experience fostering industry collaborations and working with national and international research funding agencies. He brings a wealth of talent, energy and new ideas to U of I.

Thank you to the search committee, led by Michael Parrella, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. We are happy to welcome Christopher into the Vandal Family.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 4, 2020
SUBJECT:  Schedule Your Time Slot Now | COVID-19 Testing


Testing is a key part of our Fall 2020 COVID-19 reopening plan, and we are making strides to ensure every Moscow-based University of Idaho student is tested before entering classrooms.

Testing will begin Thursday, Aug. 6, on the Moscow campus and is free of charge for Moscow-based students, faculty and staff. An assessment center has been set up at the Student Recreation Center to swab as many as 1,000 people per day in advance of fall classes. Please enter the SRC from the backside (north side) for the testing.

Anyone experiencing symptoms as defined by the CDC should cancel their appointment and contact Gritman Medical Center at 208-882-4511 to schedule a time to be tested at Gritman's drive-through testing site.

Time slots are available for first come, first serve sign-up by students and university employees through the online schedule program, which also includes a short questionnaire. Faculty and staff are encouraged to be tested in early August as we will be holding Aug. 13-21 for students only. The following dates are available:

  • Aug. 6-7: Students, Faculty and Staff
  • Aug. 10-12: Students, Faculty and Staff
  • Aug. 13-21: Students Only
  • Aug. 24-26: Faculty and Staff Only

Please bring a photo ID and the QR Code from the online sign-up to your testing appointment.

Those who test negative will receive an email within approximately 24-48 hours after the analysis is complete. Those who test positive will receive a phone call from a Gritman Medical Center physician. Gritman Medical Center — our testing partner — will also send those tested a link to complete the setup of Gritman’s Patient Portal. Finishing patient portal setup is not required to receive test results.

A negative test is required before students can enter a classroom in person. Testing is also required for all students who want to reside in university residence halls.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate and remain so until cleared by a negative test, doctor or Public Health. Students residing in residence halls will be moved to an isolation area on campus. Greek chapter facilities each have a plan for isolation in chapter houses. Off-campus students and employees should isolate in their homes.

The university will provide all faculty and staff a face covering in kits delivered to each department/unit. All students will receive kits with a mask and hand sanitizer, which they can pick up at the SRC testing site. Questions about the kits, or any topics related to U of I’s coronavirus response, can be sent to covid19questions@uidaho.edu.

The University of Idaho’s testing policy is unique and the latest accomplishment in a long-time partnership between the university and Gritman Medical Center. I’m grateful to Gritman for working with us on this valuable project. Testing, along with the University of Idaho’s face covering policy and other modifications for fall, will help provide a safer environment and a memorable experience for our students this semester.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 31, 2020
SUBJECT:  Jim Craig Named U of I General Counsel


I am pleased to announce that Jim Craig has been promoted to General Counsel after having served for the past four years as Deputy General Counsel for the University of Idaho. This appointment was effective July 1, but will be implemented over the next year as prior General Counsel Kent Nelson transitions into a Special Associate General Counsel role with the goal of retirement in June 2021.

Jim was raised in Idaho and graduated from Moscow High School. He has degrees from both the U of I College of Business and Economics and the U of I College of Law, and an LL.M. degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. He has worked as a law clerk for a Nez Perce County district judge and as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Valley and Latah counties, handling both criminal and civil matters. Prior to coming to U of I in 2016, Jim worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Orlando, Florida, for nearly eight years.

In 2015, he received the DHS Secretary’s Silver Medal Award, the second highest award given by the DHS Secretary to DHS employees, for his work on a high-profile human rights case.

Jim has provided effective and impactful guidance to the university during his time as deputy counsel, and I know his expertise will serve us well as we navigate the many challenges in higher education.

Jim is also an ardent Vandal. He plays in the Alumni Marching Band, and his oldest son will join the Vandal Family as a freshman this fall.

Thank you to both Jim and Kent for their dedication to U of I and to a smooth transition that will well-position the university.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 28, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Still Committed to In-Person Classes for Fall; Employee Town Hall Aug. 4


While we can appreciate the institution-specific factors that led to Washington State University’s decision last week to move to nearly all online course delivery for fall semester, let us emphasize that we are committed to be open for in-person classes this fall. This is only possible because we have made truly incredible progress working with healthcare experts and our partners at Gritman Medical Center to design specific safety protocols.

We continue to implement a uniquely robust set of safety measures — including required testing of all students — to provide effective learning and work environments and a campus that is as safe as possible for students, faculty and staff. More than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country plan to open with in-person classes this fall, including all four-year Idaho institutions and our competitors in Montana and Utah. While going on-line could make our job easier in some ways, it would be the worst possible outcome for many employees and students.

We understand the anxiety some feel about returning to work and class. Please join us from 8:30 to 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4, for an Employee Town Hall meeting. We look forward to walking you through the details of our preparations and answering your questions. We will not only provide details about our plans, but also the impact to employees should we need to go back on-line during the semester. Participants must register ahead of time via Zoom. The town hall will be recorded and posted on the U of I COVID site after the event.

We look forward to seeing you Aug. 4.

Stay Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO: University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM: Scott Green, President
DATE: July 16, 2020
SUBJECT: Fall Plans to Deliver Classes, Including Schedule Change after Thanksgiving


While COVID-19 continues to dominate how we go about our day-to-day activities, I am pleased at the progress we have made in shaping our plans for fall semester at the University of Idaho.

We will be delivering excellent in-person education beginning Aug. 24. It will look a bit different, of course, and will require flexibility and agility by each of us. We are in uncharted territory with COVID-19, and we need to do everything we can to both prevent spread and to have an immediate response should spread of the virus take place in our community.

We each have an obligation to make our university as safe as possible. That is why we are requiring all faculty, staff and students to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge. When you log in to VandalWeb, you will be prompted to read and acknowledge that you understand our safety protocols set forth in the pledge. All faculty, staff, students and visitors are expected to follow these protocols.

We are aware of rising COVID-19 cases in our state and will continue to monitor the situation closely. We will continue to rely on data and the advice of our public health officials as we navigate delivery this fall. Everyone should be prepared for the unfortunate possibility that we may need to transition quickly to online/remote delivery should the data and advice from our public health officials change.

Schedule Change After Thanksgiving/No Winter Commencement

The most recent decision in our COVID-19 response involves instruction after Thanksgiving. Because comprehensive testing of all students is not realistic after Fall Break, and knowing many people leave during this break to visit other areas, possibly with higher instances of outbreak, we will end in-person class delivery on Friday, Nov. 20. Classes will resume on Monday, Nov. 30, using online/remote delivery exclusively. We do not intend to close any U of I location. Students wishing to return to the Moscow campus after the break to ensure the best academic outcomes may do so, and campus offices will remain open. Students residing in a fraternity or sorority chapter facility will receive guidance from their organization as to what post-Thanksgiving living options will look like. Students likely will be tested again in January for COVID-19 when returning for spring semester.

Fall semester final exams will be given online/remotely.

Unfortunately, this also means we will cancel Winter Commencement, scheduled for Dec. 12. In its place, we are planning a large commencement celebration for May 15, 2021, to honor all the students who have earned their degrees during the pandemic.

Working Remotely

All staff and faculty are expected to return to their regular work location by Aug. 1, unless they have an approved flexplace plan. Employees can work with Human Resources to request any change to regular work locations for Fall 2020 due to prior medical conditions, higher risk factors or other approved reasons. Filling out the online form will begin this process.

Classes

We are planning to deliver in-person learning in the fall for most classes. We are a destination campus, and students expect and deserve an in-person learning experience whenever possible. Enrollments are down across the country as students evaluate whether to sit out a semester or a year. The primary determination is whether there will be live instruction at their institution. Our preference is to provide direct student/instructor interaction and the interactions that come from being together on campus, even in unique ways.

In most cases, classes will have an in-person maximum of 50 percent classroom capacity. We ask that classrooms not be rearranged. It is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of distance in the classroom and meet our classroom demand, so masks are required in the classroom during the entire class session.

Information Technology Services (ITS) has equipped an additional 147 classrooms (220 total) with Zoom-capable technology. Providing class content in as many ways as possible is important to providing the education delivery students expect. Instructors will communicate with their students to ensure all are informed of necessary details about attendance schedules, online tools, course resources, etc. Students should communicate with their instructors if they are sick and unable to attend class.

Cleaning

More frequent cleaning of all public areas, including classrooms, will be a priority. But staffing and supply constraints won’t allow cleaning between every class. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer will be provided in every classroom, and you are encouraged to use them.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are required in all university buildings statewide. One cloth face covering will be provided to each faculty, staff and student upon return in the fall. Face coverings include cloth masks, bandanas, scarves or any other material that covers the nose and mouth.

All faculty, staff, students and visitors across all U of I locations must use face coverings whenever in any U of I buildings, with limited delineated exceptions or an approved accommodation from Human Resources or the Center for Disability Access and Resources.

Individuals who choose not to wear a face covering while in a campus building or in a class will be asked to don a face covering or exit the facility. Face coverings are required on campus in outdoor settings where 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Faculty members must wear a face covering or face shield while teaching. Six feet of distancing should be maintained while wearing a shield. Shields for faculty can be requested online.

Testing

We will test Moscow-based students for COVID-19 as they return in August. The university is working with Gritman Medical Center to administer tests. Details about testing procedures will be sent in early August.

Students who test positive and live on campus will be isolated on campus in a facility away from other students and monitored by Idaho Public Health. Students living off campus are expected to quarantine in their own residence.

Staff and faculty, particularly those who have traveled outside our community, can ask to be tested, preferably before the testing of incoming students begins. More details will be available soon. Any staff or faculty member who tests positive is expected to quarantine according to CDC guidelines.

Faculty, staff, and students who work at U of I locations outside of Moscow should contact their local healthcare provider for testing options. U of I insurance through Blue Cross of Idaho covers COVID-19 testing as does the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP).

Temperature Scanning

Prior to accessing some high-traffic buildings on the Moscow campus, you may be asked to have your temperature checked by walking through a thermal scanning device. Protocols for these machines are being developed, and more information will be communicated soon.

Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases

If a fellow employee or student reveals to you a possible COVID-19 exposure or positive test results outside of our university testing, you should immediately file a VandalCARE report. These reports are monitored and distributed to the proper offices for follow-up and supportive response. Campus personnel have been trained by Idaho Public Health to provide support and response to those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Supervisors cannot share medical information with other employees. If someone is shown, through contact tracing, to have been exposed, those individuals will be contacted by Idaho Public Health or a member of the U of I contact tracing team.

Student Technology

A modern computing device is essential for completing online course components and finishing the semester while we are online-only after Fall Break. ITS provides recommended specifications for personally-owned devices. ITS also has a limited number of devices available for checkout to students. More information on checking out devices can be found on the ITS support portal.

Student computer labs will be open for the fall semester with appropriate social distancing in place. Specialty software is also available online for those unable to visit a physical lab. Please see the ITS support portal for more information.

Centers, Research Sites and Extension

Our statewide presence presents unique challenges as COVID-19 affects different areas of the state in different ways. Please work with your center executive or supervisor to ensure you are following local protocols.

Athletic Events

Fall is a prime time for sports at our university. Most of our fall-sport athletes are back on campus and are training, although with much different protocols. We are working with the NCAA and the Big Sky Conference to determine how fall sports will be administered and what the impact may be on spectators. More information will be released when it is known.

Coping During a Pandemic

I know these are challenging times, and we are all feeling pressure. Please remember mental health services are available if you are feeling overwhelmed. Faculty and staff can use the free and confidential EAP resources. Students are encouraged to contact the Counseling and Testing Center at 208-885-6716. If you are worried about a student or co-worker and are unsure of what to do, please file a VandalCARE report.

Website Resources

For more information, please visit the U of I Coronavirus website and review the FAQs. We continue to update this resource regularly. If your question is still unanswered, talk to your supervisor or file a VandalCare report. A comprehensive U of I re-opening plan will be available soon.

The task in front of us will be difficult at times, but I am confident that by coming together as a Vandal Family, looking out for one another and doing our part to deliver the stellar, in-person education we are known for, we can and will navigate through this together.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 6, 2020
SUBJECT:  Aug. 1 Commencement Canceled


Many communities across our state and region have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases. Some have taken a step back in their reopening plans including the city of Moscow, which is now requiring face coverings in public. This is a reminder that it is imperative we all work together to stay as safe and healthy as possible and why we continue to require face coverings in all of our buildings on campus and throughout the state.

A recent analysis of those who planned to attend the Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony revealed that over 40% would be traveling from counties in our region experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. Unlike our preparations for the fall where we will be testing students for COVID-19, we are not able to test all of the graduates, relatives and friends who would have been making the trip to Moscow. Because of this, we are canceling our Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony. We simply can’t risk bringing in hundreds of people from hotspots throughout the region for one weekend without the ability to identify those who may be ill — it isn’t fair to our community. We will, however, recognize the many accomplishments of the Spring and Summer 2020 graduates with personalized video messages and social media attention beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1.

In a few short weeks, we will welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. We will test all of our students as they return to the Palouse, giving us a baseline to work from. We have detailed plans for isolating and helping any student who becomes ill and/or tests positive. Starting today, all faculty, staff and students need to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge when signing onto VandalWeb. The pledge includes wearing masks inside campus buildings, self-checks and isolation when necessary.

No one is more excited to have students back on campus than I am, and no one is more concerned about the safety of our entire Vandal Family than me. Months of planning have gone into making our campus, centers, research and Extension sites as safe as possible. We will meet or exceed CDC and Idaho Department of Health guidelines. If each of us does our part, we can identify, isolate and protect our community, just as we did this past spring. We are a destination campus, and that has been true for 130 years. We cannot thrive as an online-only option. Many students are delaying, avoiding, even changing their choice of where they are currently enrolled based on whether their instruction will be solely online or will be offered through live or hybrid instruction. Faculty interaction is key to the great work we do here — the work our students deserve.

We recognize that the current situation is dynamic, and we stand prepared to go solely online should we find ourselves unable to keep our community safe. We will continue to communicate often. We are Vandals, and we will stay strong and persevere.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  Recapping Our Budget Challenges and Decisions


When I returned home a year ago, I knew we faced budget challenges. What I didn’t know was the full magnitude of these issues and how we would be further challenged by a global pandemic. While this has been exhausting for all of us, what I have found at every turn is a Vandal Family that cares deeply about this university. Each of you is dedicated and determined to do what is best for our students, our state and each other. For that, I am grateful. In summary, we have accomplished much together. We have:

  • Reduced our operational spending in FY20, not only hitting our $14 million reduction target but, excluding one-time expenses due to COVID-19 and the voluntary separation programs, exceeded it.
  • Cut our cash burn rate by $13 million, or over half, including the impact on our cash inflows due to COVID-19 (and may be even better once we close the books).
  • Reduced our Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities by $11 million. This will be recognized in our FY21 financial statements.
  • Passed a budget that, depending on any lingering effects on enrollments due to COVID-19, should eliminate our deficit by FY22.
  • Produced a new budget allocation model that will be more sustainable because it will tie funding to enrollments, persistence, collaboration and efficiency, all characteristics of successful educational institutions.

The details of these successes are provided below.

Reducing Expenditures by $14 million for FY20

We went into FY20 with significant increases to employee benefit costs and a projected tuition revenue shortfall. We also needed to improve our net position to meet new accounting requirements reflecting future obligations to university retirees. We knew we could not address the full deficit in one year but did make $14 million in cuts to the FY20 budget.

We worked together, holding each college and unit accountable for preserving accumulated cash and reducing expenditures. This level of attention reduced spending and controlled budgets enough to realize the full $14 million reduction to our operating expenses, excluding the one-time costs of implementing the VSIP and ORIP programs. The full cost of those programs was recognized this year, but the benefit will be recognized in financial statements over the next two fiscal years.

Simultaneously, we kicked off our first working group — the Sustainable Financial Model Working Group. After several months of work and refinement, the whitepaper proposing a new funding model is now available for your comments. We will solidify the metrics to be used and model this plan through FY21 and implement it in FY22.

The state, feeling the effects of a slowing economy, implemented a 1% holdback in late 2019. In response to this one-time event, we implemented voluntary furlough, which many of you graciously participated in, allowing us to meet this holdback without permanent cuts. COVID-19 certainly prevented more people from taking voluntary furlough as we pivoted to the new normal. However, we did realize about $300,000 of this goal, with the rest funded from the operational savings achieved in excess of our $14 million target. The state also told us to prepare for a potential 2% holdback in FY21, which did indeed come to fruition.

We revamped our Other Post-Employment Benefits to phase out full benefit coverage for certain future retirees, while keeping our commitment to those who already have retired. We were the only institution in the state and among our peers to offer such a robust program. This change will result in a reduction of OPEB liability of $11 million that will be recognized in our FY21 year-end balance sheet.

Permanent Cuts and Additional Challenges in FY21

The $14 million in budget cuts from FY20 were made permanent in FY21 along with an additional $8 million needed to eliminate our operating deficit.

Again, this was not easy, but together we found ways to make it happen.

To help us meet this goal, we provided two opportunities for faculty and staff to benefit from early separation from the university. The Voluntary Separation Incentive and Optional Retirement Incentive programs resulted in more than 110 of our colleagues participating. While no amount of money can replace the institutional knowledge and dedication of this group, their departure does equate to $8.4 million in salary savings and $3.1 million in fringe benefit savings. In addition to these voluntary separations, colleges and units unfortunately were forced to issue non-renewals to 39 faculty and staff to reach their budget targets (including 13 faculty non-renewals for contracts that end in FY21).

I am grateful for the years of dedicated service these Vandals have given and wish each well as they leave the university for retirement or the next chapter of their journey.

We outsourced the textbook portion of the VandalStore, keeping the remaining services with the talented VandalStore team. The buying power of our new partner, Texas Book Company, enabled the university to turn a loss-making activity into a revenue stream. We reviewed outsourcing some of our facilities work, but in the end decided this was not the best way to proceed.

We fulfilled our annual requirement to review all academic programs through the Program Prioritization process. This was done simultaneously with college budgeting; the impacts of one is intertwined with the other. We asked everyone to be intentional in rehiring and document any requests to rehire. In many cases, you have chosen to help curb costs by pausing any hiring. That effort doesn’t come without work — each of you has been asked to pick up slack and take on extra duties. Thank you for putting the university first.

Impacts of COVID-19

Just as we were getting our feet under us and looking forward to putting our financial challenges behind us, coronavirus hit our world, our state and our university. With unprecedented speed and agility, university faculty moved more than 4,000 class sections online in less than a week. Asking students to not return to campus from Spring Break no doubt protected those most vulnerable in our community, but it also came with financial strain. Refunds for housing, parking and other student services began to gnaw away at the gains we had made. We experienced losses in revenue from canceled events and increases in expenses as we moved rapidly to improve technology to support online course loads.

Then the state of Idaho implemented a 5% holdback as revenues across the state plummeted due to COVID-19 response, including stay-at-home orders and business closures, and that caused us to implement a mandatory furlough for the coming fiscal year rather than eliminate more positions.

CARES Act money from the federal government first provided some cash to our Spring and Summer 2020 students. A second allotment of $3.4 million came to the university to help offset some of the costs associated with the pandemic. This federal money was welcome, but it fell well short of covering the impact the campus closure has had and will have on our university. We anticipate losses could exceed $15 million, depending on the impact COVID-19 has on fall enrollment.

To help meet the setback from COVID-19 we implemented mandatory furlough for all employees. Furlough assignments are based on your salary and are available for viewing in VandalWeb. For more details about furlough, visit the FAQ.

Other resources are available, and we continue to apply for funding to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 but also to help us invest in things such as technology (high-speed internet, primarily) at our Extension sites to enable students to succeed wherever they are in our state.

While we have made cuts and adjustments in some areas, we have continued to invest in fundraising and marketing — with the needs of our students at the forefront. We raised more than $650,000 during Vandal Giving Day, smashing previous records, and are using those resources to encourage students to join our great institution this fall. It seems to be working. Last weekend we welcomed 138 prospective students to our Moscow campus to experience what a residential campus has to offer. Our Advancement team has also raised over $48 million this year, the second highest total in our history, to further fund scholarships, research and telling our story. While almost all of this money is restricted by donors for a specific purpose and not available for general operations, it is important for laying the foundation for our future. This result has paid for our investment in this talented team many times over.

Our public-private partnership (P3) opportunity is hitting high gear. The request for proposals was posted this week, and we are working with four finalists who will visit Moscow this summer to better understand our utility infrastructure and help them frame a proposal to best serve our needs. This 50-year lease will provide the university with cash up front that we will place in an endowment. The earnings and amortization of principal will be invested in our students in the form of scholarships and online support, in research and in telling our story, as well as funding a capital maintenance plan for the steam plant.

The Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena is taking shape, and we are moving closer to seeing the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) become a reality. Why are we continuing these endeavors in the face of the budget challenges? These capital projects are funded by gifts, the State of Idaho and student fees, not through operational dollars. If we did not spend these dollars on this infrastructure, we would have to return it to the donors, state and students. Seeing a new building go up is inspiring and hopeful when so many other things are challenging us. These buildings are part of our future — our positive and productive future.

I am excited about the potential of the University of Idaho. As you have read, we have accomplished so much this year despite all that was thrown at us. Not only is our long-term future bright, but in the near term, I can’t wait to see our students back on campus and in our classrooms in August. There is no doubt we will have challenges. But it is imperative we plan for all contingencies, stay flexible and work together to continue to provide the quality residential academic experience our students want and expect. As a destination campus, the University of Idaho cannot thrive without it. Our success depends on the Vandal Family continuing to work together, putting our students and university first.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  June 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  Mandatory Furlough Plan for FY21


As I shared last month, the University of Idaho is implementing mandatory furlough to meet the 5% budget holdback from the state of Idaho for FY21. This holdback is a result of the COVID-19 impact on state revenue and is in addition to a 2% base funding reduction already passed by the Legislature this spring.

Furlough is one tool for decreasing expenses. This is something I wish we didn’t have to do, but it cuts costs while retaining jobs. The furlough plan, developed with input from faculty and staff, could protect as many as 40 jobs across the university. If we all participate, contribute to the solution, and if the state does not make these holdbacks permanent, we can address our financial shortfall with these one-time measures.

Following the May 11 communication introducing the furlough plan, we received feedback from the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and other university employees. I want to thank those who provided many (and greatly varied) recommendations. We are making these modifications to that original plan based on your feedback:

  1. The base furlough will be reduced for all employees from 24 hours to eight hours.
  2. The provost and I will take furlough at the equivalent of 8% of our salaries. This is beyond what is required under the furlough plan formula.
  3. Exempt staff and faculty have the option to take a salary reduction in place of furlough hours; however, they cannot be mixed. Salary reduction will result in the same amount of lost salary as furlough and the decrease will be spread over the furlough period (June 28, 2020 to Jan 23, 2021). You must make your choice by 5 p.m., Thursday, July 2, according to the instructions that will be available in VandalWeb. In addition, no employee will be allowed a salary reduction if doing so would put the university in violation of applicable law. Salary reductions are not possible for classified staff due to the hourly nature of their work.
  4. We recognize performance expectations must adjust accordingly for furlough hours. However, exempt employees are expected to prioritize their time and efforts to best meet the goals of the unit and the university. It is a priority that classes not be canceled and that the overall student experience be impacted as little as possible. How individual faculty and staff meet this priority remains a valid performance measure.
  5. Affected employees may file an appeal through the grievance processes outlined in FSH 3840, 3860 or 3890, as applicable, to contest only whether the furlough violates the procedural requirements of Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) policy, applicable university policy or constitutional or statutory protections, specific to your employment. Grievances may not be filed to challenge the determination that a reduction in budgetary expenditures is necessary, nor contest the decision to enact furloughs, unless the furlough violates your constitutional or statutory protections as an employee.

We strongly considered the feedback requesting an exemption for grant-funded salaries. This is a complicated issue, and either option (including or exempting these salaries) carries significant challenges. However, we believe it is in the best interest of the institution that everyone contribute to addressing this holdback and that would  include incorporating grant-funded salaries into the furlough process. On Monday, an FAQ document will be available on the HR website that provides further details about furlough, including grant-funded salaries.

Also, we will not implement an option for additional voluntary furlough. We greatly appreciate these generous intentions, but we will not combine a voluntary and mandatory furlough system at this time. We will consider this in the future if financial hardships continue to grow.

Here are the details of the plan we will implement later this month:

Furlough Hour Determination

Furlough will be prorated based on annual salary. Furloughs will range from 0.38% to 4.9% total salary reduction, with an average of 2.7%. Human Resources will assign furlough hours to each employee based on the following three criteria:

  1. Base Furlough: Every employee, regardless of title, status or funding source, must take eight hours of furlough. This will be prorated for those who work part time and/or less than 12 months.
  2. Salaries over $40,352: Employees in this range will take the eight hours of furlough (item No. 1 above) plus additional furlough hours based on a sliding scale of 0.25% to 3.6% of annual salary.
  3. Salaries over $90,000: Employees making more than $90,000 will take eight hours of furlough (item No. 1 above) plus additional hours based on the sliding scale (item No. 2 above) plus further furlough hours equal to 1% of annual salary.

How It Will Work

  1. Human Resources will establish a furlough “bank” in VandalWeb. Any furlough hours approved and taken must be recorded on your time sheet. As furlough hours are taken, the furlough bank will decrease. Your total hours will be posted in VandalWeb by Monday, June 22. You will receive notification by email.
  2. Furlough must be taken between June 28, 2020, and January 23, 2021. This provides you with nearly seven months to use your assigned furlough hours over 15 pay periods.
  3. Furlough can be taken in increments as small as 15 minutes.
  4. You can choose the timing that works best for you as long as the time is approved in advance by your supervisor.
  5. No work can be done while furloughed.
  6. Faculty cannot cancel classes for furlough.
  7. In any week furlough hours are taken, exempt employees and faculty are limited to working no more than 40 hours, less the amount of furlough taken.
  8. Employees with an H1B visa, teaching assistants, research assistants, temporary employees and student employees are exempt from taking furlough.

FSH 3450 specifies that notice of furlough must comply with SBOE policies, “including… 30 days written notice to affected employees” that is referenced in our policy. The SBOE has removed this notice requirement in response to COVID-19, but I have still chosen to take emergency action to change our FSH policy to shorten the notice period to 10 days. This benefits our employees — you will have more time to use furlough, including the days around the Fourth of July.

This is not easy. Furlough and pay reductions impact all of us, but as discussed above, we can protect jobs by working together to manage these external challenges. I encourage you to continue to remain focused on delivering the quality work that benefits our students and leads to their success, and I thank you for your unwavering dedication to this great institution.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  Proposed Mandatory Furlough Plan for FY21


As Idaho begins to reopen and we watch closely to see if we can successfully hold off COVID-19, we are also beginning to address the budget impacts of the pandemic on the University of Idaho. I appreciate the efforts already being made to carefully weigh any hiring, delay start dates and continue to watch for any cost savings through open positions.

This alone is not enough to meet the financial burden we are under. The state has already implemented a 2% holdback in FY21. This holdback will be addressed in further budget cuts to units. This is something I wish we didn’t have to do, but we have no choice. Those plans are in the early stages and details will be announced soon.

In addition, Gov. Brad Little has asked us to prepare for another 5% holdback as a result of COVID-19. We also anticipate the pandemic to further impact our reserve balance, despite the infusion of CARES Act funding for operations.

To meet the 5% holdback we are considering mandatory furloughs in FY21. Implementing such a strategy requires input from the Faculty Senate and Staff Council, per FSH 3450. We are already in touch with those leaders and will seek input from the larger bodies next week. Pending their input, we hope to implement a furlough system designed with two primary objectives:

  1. We are all part of the Vandal Family and if each of us takes a piece of this burden, we can save jobs and tackle the problem together.
  2. Employees on the higher end of the pay scale will take the biggest portion of the burden.

The proposed furloughs equate to a 1.15% to 5.8% total salary reduction, with an average of 2.8%. By each of us doing this one thing, we expect to save $3.3 million in our General Education budget. This will help us to meet the potential 5% holdback.

Furlough Details

Furlough will be prorated based on salary. Human Resources will assign furlough hours to each employee based on the following three criteria. Each employee’s total hours will be posted in VandalWeb after the plan is approved. Notification will be sent when this information is available.

Base Furlough: Every employee, regardless of title, status or funding source, must take 24 hours of furlough. This will be prorated for those who work part time.

Salaries over $40,352: Employees in this range will take the 24 hours of furlough as well as additional furlough hours based on a sliding scale that is equivalent to 0.25% to about 2.2% of your annual salary.

Salaries over $90,000: Employees making more than $90,000 will take 24 hours of furlough, additional hours based on the sliding scale and further furlough hours equal to 1% of your annual salary.

Furlough must be taken between June 28, 2020, and Jan. 23, 2021. This provides employees with nearly seven months to use their assigned furlough hours.

Human Resources will establish a furlough “bank” in VandalWeb. Any furlough hours approved and taken must be recorded on the time sheet. As furlough hours are recorded, the bank will decrease. Furlough taken prior to June 28, 2020, will be considered voluntary and be added to the voluntary furlough pool to address the FY20 state holdback.

As with the voluntary furlough many of you participated in this past year, there are specific guidelines:

  • You can take furlough for as little as one hour at a time.
  • You can choose timing that works best for you.
  • All furloughs must be pre-approved by your supervisor.
  • No work can be done while furloughed.
  • Faculty cannot cancel classes for furlough.
  • Exempt employees and faculty are limited to working no more than 40 hours, less the amount of furlough, for any week furlough is used.
  • Exemptions: Employees with an H1B visa, teaching assistants, research assistants, temporary employees and student employees.

Again, we will consider the input of faculty and staff leadership prior to finalizing these details. I encourage you to reach out to your representatives to provide feedback.

I am proud of the effort put into addressing our internal financial deficit over the past year. Together we made hard decisions, resulting in $22 million in cuts. Now we must turn our focus to the external influences on our budget. We each need to do our part to put us back on the path to financial stability we have worked so hard to attain.

We are hopeful but uncertain about enrollment this fall. Each day our dedicated team from Strategic Enrollment Management, assisted by faculty, staff and alumni, is working hard to reach out to returning and potential students. But we won’t know until fall how those efforts will play out. A decrease in enrollment will have further impact on our budget.

We don’t know how or when this pandemic will end. We need to remain vigilant to protect the hard budgetary work we have already done. There will be better days ahead and we will come out of this Vandal Strong. Throughout, we will remain focused on our students, their experiences and their success. We have a commitment to them and to our state and together, as Vandals, we will fulfill it.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Contact Us

Physical Address:
Administration Building
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Moscow, ID
83844-3151

208-885-6365
president@uidaho.edu

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