COVID-19: Town Hall Meeting #2 with Dr. Brooks Keel

Good afternoon everybody thank you so much for joining us here on this rather unique presentation based off some rather unique times I don’t want to just apologize to you right up front this is gonna be a little informal a little more casual than a lot of presentations that I would do and and it maybe won’t be as fancy as I typically do with PowerPoint presentations and all that but we thought it was more important to try to get information to you in the most effective way possible instead of trying to worry about about making this any formal form then we need to I’m also gonna have to apologize to you because I don’t have to be doing a lot of reading so instead of looking at you like I really like to be doing I may have to be looking down on my notes but hopefully this will keep me on track and allow me to really cover most information than we need to cover today so again we appreciate you all being here and the appreciate your your your willingness to tolerate this and and your patience so many of you have heard me say over and over and over again I’ll never get tired of saying and I really hope that you never get tired of hearing and it is that Augusta University our first and only priority or our patients and our students that’s what drives the entire enterprise but we know very well we can’t be and provide a world-class education for our students and we can’t provide state-of-the-art clinical care for our patients without the most outstanding faculty and staff and caring for those individuals as well therefore the pate the safety of our patients and students and of our faculty and our staff who teach and care for them or obviously our main concern therefore we wanted to hold two town halls this week to do a couple of things to provide opportunities for Augusta University and for our health system community to hear from leadership about the coronavirus COVID-19 preparations the situation and to allow you to ask questions and we had originally scheduled two town halls one that we just had this past Tuesday here in the auditorium and and which way it was live and in person and we had it was streamed and it was recording we had an opportunity for face to face opportunities to get information but we figured in light of the recent guidance from the governor’s office and from the University System of Georgia regarding the need at this time for social distancing that we believe that this live virtual format that you see today it’s the best venue for today’s update I really want to encourage you to go look at the video it’s on the Augusta University, Augusta.edu website go to the very top banner and click on COVID-19 resources you can download that video and see us got a lot of really good information and information about what the virus is how we prepare for how we deal with it what it means to us from two of the literally the world’s leading experts in this area our very own Dr. Coule, Dr. Vasquez and so we hope that you will find this information informative so we apologize for having to cancel the in-person some of the Town Hall and hope you understand and hope that you’ll find it’s informative so let me get started let me tell you kind of where we are what what the situation is and how we’re dealing with it at 3:40 at 3:30 4:00 rather p.m. yesterday I received notice from the University System of Georgia the state of effective Monday March 16th all University System of Georgia institutions will temporarily suspend instruction for two weeks to allow time for USG institutions to test a business continuity plans and online instruction modules and for state official officials to continue to assess the current situation regarding coronavirus COVID-19 as it’s now called in Georgia students on campus are asked to depart campus by close of business Friday March 13th and to remain from campus until March 29th 2020 at this time is important to know we’re not asking students to move out of their dorms for the remainder of the semester rather we’re asking students to be to leave and go home for this two-week period at 7:29 p.m. yesterday I received additional guidance to the University System of Georgia based on following further guidance from the governor’s office which has asked us to take immediate action to implement telework options for staff who can tell a work from home or the locations without interruption to their duties when we talk about teleworking we’re also talking about a flexible scheduling we’re asking supervisors to implement schedules that will reduce the number of employees physically on campus and to the minimum level required in any given time to sustain service safety and compliance we’re asking our staff and our faculty to take advantage of virtual meetings and gatherings to transition

from in-person meetings to an electronic format or to reschedule in-person meetings for a later time we’re asking to cancel or to move all current remove to online all current campus gatherings and sponsored events we’ve also have been directed to suspend non-essential travel for all employees this includes travel to conferences particularly those held out-of-state training site visits in any other non-essential activity so let me emphasize when we say a ban on travel its own non-essential travel I’ll get to that just a minute for those of you who are planning to travel during the upcoming spring break in April I know you’ve got a lot of questions about what you should or should not do please use your judgement majority regarding travel we encourage you to go to the CDC website which has a tremendous amount of information about travel safety and tips and suggestions and also sup dated very frequently we do ask that you denote that currently if you plan to travel to level 3 countries and you can go to the CDC website to know what those level three countries are you may be required to self quarantine when you return to this country for 14 days before you will be allowed to come to campus so again if you have questions about this if you aren’t sure about this go to the CDC website look at those countries that they’re recommending not to travel to and and use your personal judgement as to what you think is best followed by physicians travel across the state the entire state of Georgia is on campus and for those physicians who are required to travel to see or treat patients we that you continue to do so as we certainly deemed this as essential travel the goal here is to the best of our ability to limit the number of students faculty and staff on our campus during this time and to encourage what’s been now referred to a lot of social distancing so from my point of view with regard to these two a guidance documents that we just received yesterday there are two primary issues here issues that involve our students and how we deal with our students in issues that involve our employees so first let me talk about students for a minute you want to talk about coursework in this and the and the guidance that says we need to cease in-person instruction in person instruction is to cease effective this coming Monday March 16th I’m told that they may very well be classes this Saturday and we encourage that if there are classes to go ahead and hold those classes as scheduled but to cease all in-person instruction effective Monday this posit or this cessation of instruction is to continue until March 29th during this time our faculty should begin transforming their in-person instruction to fully online capabilities our faculty have already been engaged and and and determining how best to do this they’re looking at this we have had all about all of our business units looking at business continuity plans in the event that this issue might arise they’ve been doing this for several weeks now so now we’re asking our faculty to fully convert the your in-person instruction to online and I will go in a little bit more detail what I mean by online a distance education now if you need help and converting your courses online and we know that not all faculty have the expertise or the talent or the ability because they’ve never done it before we know you’re gonna need help and we want to try to provide you with this much help as possible please go to www.augusta.edu/continuity augusta.edu/continuity it’s a wealth of information there that can help you take your current in-person class and convert it to an online a platform seek help please go to your department chairs go to your Dean’s we want to give you as much help as we can to convert this education to online so at the end of the two-week period regardless of what the situation is at that point we are fully prepared to go online now for those courses that are currently online that you already have been performing online these courses will continue this Monday and throughout the next two week period without any cessation or interruption in other words the course is currently online it’s business as usual if you’re giving an online lecture yesterday or today you’ll continue Monday and throughout the rest of the period of time as usual with the exception of current online course offering student the structure will cease during this two-week period this will give our faculty time to transform their in-person classes to fully online offerings now having said that we realize that au is a is in a very unique position because it is they’re very unique institution we are the state’s only health science public health science medical and dental school and we know that makes us very unique if you are in these disciplines please work closely with your Dean’s if they’re

issues that you believe make it difficult to transform course offerings to online or that make it impossible for you to cease education during this two-week period I just left a meeting with your Dean’s and these and these colleges and awful clinical courses they’re going to be working with the Provost we’re going to be working directly with the University System of Georgia to see if we can how we can deal with those unique courses that require students to have patient contact or because of their cohort lockstep progression we don’t we don’t want to interfere with that so if you’re in those disciplines you should be getting guys than that as soon as possible this is very important then we know this is going to cause disruption it’s gonna cost infusion this come cause a little bit of a heartache but we want to do everything in our power to hold our students harmless regarding their education experience and we would do everything in our power to ensure that every student receives the academic experience that will allow them to achieve full credit for their particular courses regardless of the venue regardless of the method to deliver that education that is I promise that a commit to you we’re going to work with our students to make sure that they can continue their education even under these most unusual circumstances we’re asking our faculty and college administrators to be flexible and be creative in delivering educational experiences for our students we also ask that our faculty be mindful that their individual students capabilities to successfully complete online or at even distance education or different and to please be cognizant of home bandwidth issues of home computer capabilities etc you may have to resort to old-fashioned teleconferencing picking up the telephone to achieve your course requirements again use your expertise be creative help you help your students be successful in whatever way you have to do it and be mindful that not all students have the capability to do state-of-the-art own on education or prepared for all online education so we’re gonna have to be patient with each other I’m going to be patient with our students and I’m excited to see how our faculty going to be able to use their incredible talents to make this possible we have already cancelled several study abroad programs and we ask students and faculty to watch for more updates on this as we move forward we are the provost in her office even as we speak or or looking at study abroad programs that we are tackling those that are the most freak of most recent to us and we’ll be getting word out to you as soon as possible about whether those programs will continue so now let’s move the student in housing we know we have a lot of our students that are a house on campus and we want to be mindful of that students are asked to depart campus by close of business today Friday and to remain away from campus until March 29th we are not asking students to move out of their dorms but they should take with them whatever they need to continue their studies or remotely leave your TVs in the dorms take your book back okay leave that leave your dorm stuff there take with you home things you might need for the next two weeks and think that you might need to continue to studies remotely if we if we deem that necessary we realize that some students may not be able to move out for a variety of reasons these students will be allowed to stay in their dorms but we ask you to please get with student affairs if you need to stay in and your dorms for any reason students who are on work-study will be allowed to stay and to continue their work we realize that some students this is their only source of income it’s very very important that we maintain this and allow these students to continue to make this income and continue to work and we will make provisions for you to stay on campus so that you can do so very good work students will also be allowed to continue their work we’ve already gotten information federally that will allow us to do that if you employed in town and you really believe that you need to stay here and you can’t afford to take off and go home or other location for a two-week period please get with student affairs to discuss these possibilities will work with you however we can try to make it convenient for you to stay but the goal here is is to get our students away from campus and get them home if you’re PhD or a doctoral student or graduate students you’ll be allowed to continue to research if needed we know how important that is to your study and your students – and we want to hold you harmless as well so please know that if you need to stay here to continue that do so but we encourage you to use flexible scheduling to encourage your mentors to work with you a flexible scheduling or remote study and remote research if that’s at all possible for those students will be required to remain on campus for whatever reason student service this is we’re already

working to ensure that you have access to food and dining and other needs that you have I’ve already spoke you with our chief of police at his folks and and if you’re if we have only one or two students on the floor we’re gonna make sure that you feel safe that you’re attended to and that you can have as productive productive as the experience here as you need to as it stands right now all of this is subject to change and I think we all have to be willing to be flexible and and understand that this is a very dynamic you very fluid situation our originally scheduled spring break will be continued as planned that’s several weeks off as you know we’re planning to go ahead and take spring break at that time trying to change that we feel at this point be too disruptive but that’s also subject to change please stay tuned for updates on this particular issue students please stay in contact with us go to the Augusta.edu website look for updates we’re going to be trying to contact you with emails and texts and phone calls and if you haven’t received information from us pick up the phone and call your department call your faculty you know many of your faculty personally they want to make sure that you’re that you’re safe and that you get that everything was unique now let’s move on the employees because this we’re also asking that our employees help with this social distancing a concept that the governor’s asked us to do regarding our employees we’re asking for all supervisors to work with the employees to allow for teleworking options and we’re also asking you to be creative in finding ways for social distancing our employees for those employees who are working for home as a viable option we want to ask you to arrange to telework opportunities and ask our supervisors to help employees arrange these want to look to have you look at flexible scheduling as the potential option that should also be explored whenever possible we are going to try to give our supervisors as much leeway as possible and give you as much flexibility on how you document both both telework and flexible scheduling we won’t we do not want to overburden you with paperwork but we do ask you to document how you’re dealing with you employees what you’re having them do on the telework situation if you do flexible scheduling how you document that it’s up to you you keep that documentation now and we’ll worry about pulling it all together at another point we want to give you so much flexibility as possible it is very important that we pay attention a special attention to our hourly workers our hourly employees especially those whose job duties do not lend themselves to telework or flexible scheduling I am depending on all of our supervisors and indeed this tire enterprise to find ways to these employees to maintain their work hours and schedules so that no interruption and pay occurs be creative let’s work on ways to share employees where we can if you have a department or three or four departments within a college and you can do flexible scheduling and you need someone present physically the answer the phones and take care of business continuity then let one person from a department on Monday work the next person from another department on Tuesday work share employees let’s find creative ways to allow employees to telework but yet still keep business working so personal supervisors please use your professional judgment to allow for social distancing while at the same time maintaining business continuity although our scheduling may be flexible during the next two weeks we are still open for business in every way shape form and fashion and in every sense of the word please contact human resources if you have questions regarding these issues we’re going to be putting more information out for you frequently asked questions if you can’t find anything you just don’t know pick up the phone and call someone from HR we got one of the best human resource departments in the country bar none and they are dedicated to help you and to help you help your employees through this time they’ve been a lot of questions about employees health especially employees at the health system that have contact with patients or employees that may become ill during this period of time for employees who are subject to high risk at the high risk of illness or exposure to cover 19 the corona buys or who may be caring for an ill member of their household institutions have been asked to allow for flexible utilization of leave all available Lea will be allowed for COVID-19 illness or to minimize exposure with those that are high-risk and unable to telework at that point at the point that all accumulated leave has been exhausted employees will have access to an institution of shared sick leave pool if the institution’s pool becomes depleted a special enrollment period may be initiated to accept additional program participants and leave donations employees who exhaust their pay leave options may be

able to request authorized leave without pay in order to take care of themselves or the community without negatively impacting their continued visit participation and the USG insurance plan FMLA leave may be available will be available to eligible employees who contract over nineteen or who are caring for qualified family member that has attracted COVID-19 finally please ensure that your employees know that it is imperative that they stay home with they are ill or for a member of their household is ill we want to work with you we know this is confusing we know this is hard we’re going to work with employees the very best of our ability to make sure that you were able to take care of yourself or of a family member if anyone in your household becomes ill please contact HR if you have any questions regarding these issues that require you to take leave we’ll do all we can to accommodate you filing while the current guidance is to temporarily suspend instruction and for flexible employee scheduling for the next two weeks this is the continuing evolving dynamic and fluid situation please stay engaged and please stay informed visit the Augusta.edu website frequently for updates our promise from the president’s office is to not over burn you with information but not leave you hanging not knowing what’s going on we would try to get information to you and the most effective ways possible and in the most timely ways possible when all else fails go to the Augusta.edu website we promise to do everything we can to keep you informed these are very trying and uncertain times but Jaguar nation is strong and our commitment to our students and our patients is enduring by definition Augusta University is composed of some of the smartest and most caring people on the planet and I know you will all continue to do what you have always done ensuring that we continue to provide the greatest educational opportunities for our students and the most compassionate state-of-the-art care for our patients we will contend to be over-prepared so that none of us will have to overreact and the best takeaway I can give you as as simple as it sounds is stay calm and wash your hands thank you very much for your attention thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to spend a little time with you as I’ve said my promise to you is we’re gonna do our very best to keep you informed you and I know you’ll be patient with us I know you’ll be patient with our great state and our governor and our system as we as a family get through this particular issue wish you all the very best thank you for what you do and Go Jags!