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Questions and Answers with Parents: June 4, 2020

Jun 4, 2020

Interim President Maria Pallavicini, along with President Designate Chris Callahan and Interim Provost Michael Hunter Schwartz, held a Zoom meeting with parents and families on June 4, 2020.

I have two questions. The first question is with regard to the remote attendance; will some students be required, because of the limited space you may have, to be remote on some days? Some days they could come to class and some days they're not allowed to come to class?
Michael Hunter Schwartz: That's the crux of the model. Our goal is to have that number be as minuscule as possible. We believe there will be some students who are going to say they want to be entirely remote, and so if they are, that will basically free up extra spaces for those who want to be entirely in person. And so our hope is that that natural selection made by students will actually mean that we're going to be able to maximize in-person attendance and come as close to getting everyone to be in person all the time, or as close to all the time, as we possibly can. I'll be disappointed if we ever have one person who wants to be in-person who can't be, but I suspect that's going to happen for certain classes.

And my second question is how will housing work with fraternity houses?
Chris Callahan: Haven't finalized that yet, hope to next week, but right now the way we're designing we're thinking about doing exactly the same thing, which is sort of having our sororities and fraternities and students in those houses in the same way they would except in single rooms, in private rooms, as opposed to sharing.

My question was the juniors, do they usually go out to group activities outside of UOP from housing perspectives, so since you mentioned that there will be enough space for everyone to have a private room, should they consider reapplying for any UOP housing?
Maria Pallavicini: Yes, so I can answer a little bit and Chris might want to chime in on that because he's been having a lot of conversations on housing. We're really looking for the housing priority to be for freshman and sophomores or those who have already signed the housing contract. On the number of rooms available to what other opportunities there might be for students outside of that group. Chris, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Chris Callahan: Yeah, no. That's exactly right in terms of priorities but if your student is not signed up yet and wants to apply, certainly welcome to. We can't guarantee a spot but certainly can apply.

Just a follow-up question, how will you maintain the social distancing when they have social gatherings?
Chris Callahan: I'm laughing because you just hit on the single biggest issue. Dr. Pallavicini has been having leadership meetings literally around the clock seven days a week. We're really confident about so much of what we can do; the planning, the classes, the technology, the dining halls, the residence hall. One thing that keeps me up at night is the socializing. They're young people, they're college students. They want to be around each other. We understand that. And that's where you all come in. We need your help in terms of making sure that our students, we want them to be having a great time, that's part of the college experience, but they need to be doing it safely. They need to be doing it in social distance ways, they need to be wearing their face coverings certainly for at least at which time it'll be safe not to. But we'll really need your help with that.

We're going to have policies in place, we're going to have a Pacific pledge that students are going to sign to make sure they understand all of that. Because, at the end of the day, we can't physically control that, and that is the one area that probably gives us the most angst, I would say.

Will there be a testing center on-site for COVID-19?
Chris Callahan: We're still working on screening testing and tracing protocols, but we will have all those in place by the time August rolls around. It is still in progress, but yes, we will have those.

I had a question a little off of COVID testing. I had a question with regards to the summer classes. I'm just questioning; my son is enrolled in all three summer sessions and I read on the website that if you take classes in all three summer sessions there's $100 discount per unit for the highest class. I did receive a bill for the third summer session today but I haven't seen the discount. I did call and ask about it. I'm just wondering, do you know when that will go into effect?
Maria Pallavicini: That's a very good question. I think we will have to get a little bit more details on it. The policy that we have is that when the student takes that third course, regardless of the unit number of that course, they will get $100 off per credit. I don't know exactly when that's going to show up. It probably is a little bit behind the student actually registering, and so probably when the student completes that course perhaps there'll be a credit. But we could find out that answer. I'm going to jot this down. And probably the best way to get an answer is to call the bursar, but I will alert the bursar that there is that question and to be prepared.

The other part of my question was I noticed on his summer tuition that there is a wellness fee with every single summer session. Is that something that, because the kids aren't on campus, I'm just not real clear on why that would be charged for a summer session.
Maria Pallavicini: Yeah. The university is still providing wellness services with regards to counseling, psychological services, access via telehealth. Many of the services that were provided when the students are actually here on campus, we are still providing just virtually, and so those services are available.

In August, do you think the cafeteria will be opening? And if it does, what are the steps that you are going to take to make sure the social distancing will be taking place?
Maria Pallavicini: I think any one of us could answer that. I'll just take a quick shot at that. When we have students on campus, the cafeteria will be open. Seating will be positioned in such a way that there will be social distancing. We will have other opportunities to seat outside the DUC in other buildings as well to allow enough space for students to be able to dine. When we have students, we will be opening the cafeteria per the CDC guidelines.

We are very carefully following the CDC guidelines with regards to social distancing, with regards to facial coverings, with regards to the size of groups that can meet and get together. And there'll be other guidelines coming out for higher ed. as well in the next few weeks.

Will there be signs posted to let the students know that they must follow social distancing rules?
Maria Pallavicini: Many signs, many signs. And some buildings will have places where you can enter here and you exit there. We will be looking at egress and ingress into buildings. There'll be lots of signage around that.

Michael Hunter Schwartz: Could I just add that there's also going to be established policies that communicate the expectations, the pledge that the president designate mentioned, and so it'll be... We're going to do training for our students, so there's a whole series of strategies we're adopting to increase the likelihood that we succeed in getting our students to follow safety protocols.

I don't know if it was the last meeting with you or the previous to that, you mentioned that leave of absence would be offered if there was going to be online or remote learning exclusively. Since there is on campus and remote, is that still being offered if the student's uncomfortable being on campus?
Maria Pallavicini: We're doing everything we can, following all different guidelines to make sure that we have a safe environment as possible. If a student is uncomfortable, the student could take it online and from wherever he or she would like to do so. But yes, if a student does not want to come back, we would of course like to see that student back the next year.

Chris Callahan: I would also just add to that, your student could actually start in August completely remotely, and then if you and your child decided that at some point it was safe and appropriate to come back, then they can come back to campus at any given point.

My student just finished her freshman year. This would be her sophomore year so can she apply for a leave of absence or take a leave of absence that was previously offered for sophomore year and then come back her junior year?
Maria Pallavicini: We want to be as flexible as possible to ensure that your students do come back to Pacific and get the Pacific experience. I think what we'd like to suggest is kind of go with the flow for now, see how things pan out, see how you are feeling, but yes, we will always want your student back.

But is leave of absence an option?
Maria Pallavicini: If the leave of absence is what you need to do, then yes.

My daughter already signed a housing contract. There are four people in a two bedroom. And I'm sorry, I was five minutes late from the beginning so I know you guys talked about housing, but is that still going to be maintained? Or would they no longer be able to stay in a two-bedroom with four people? Would that be split up?
Chris Callahan: We haven't quite finalized this, we should by next week, but our current planning is to keep everything as safe as possible to make sure that all students are in private rooms. So in other words, they wouldn't be sharing a bedroom.

I know you just addressed that based on the CDC guidelines you would be following that as far as social distancing (in the DUC). But I more specifically wanted to discuss or know if the food service company was going to be changed because there were a lot of issues with food poisoning last year.
Maria Pallavicini: I haven't heard the issues of food poisoning, but we do know that they're going to change how food is served. It'll be much more of a grab-and-go versus a serve yourself at the buffet. There will be no self-serve buffets at this point. There'll be some changes they'll make. I'm not really aware of lots of food poisoning incidents.

I believe the issue was more related to cleanliness, and I know there was observed a lack of cleanliness as far as the food preparation part, so that's what I kind of wanted to address maybe at a later time. As of right now, you're not changing food service companies.
Chris Callahan: No. And just so you know, you're talking to the three senior leaders of the university and none of us have even heard of this, so we will certainly check into it but that is the kind of thing that, quite frankly, very quickly comes to our desk. But we will certainly look into it. For what it's worth, Bon Appetite has been a terrific partner of ours, and in fact... And I will tell you I've been, over the last decade or so, I've probably visited 100 different U.S. university campuses and I will tell you that the food services at Pacific is superb. And the feedback we get from students is great, so we can certainly talk more about this, but we are unaware of any of those kinds of concerns.

My daughter is going to be coming back as a third-year and she has not done the housing yet. She wasn't able to. I think she tried to after the whole COVID-19 thing blew up. I'm wondering then if it makes sense for her to just do a whole year off campus living at home here down in San Diego and just doing online classes. It sounds like that's possible, is it not?
Chris Callahan: It's certainly possible, and if that's what you and your daughter decide is the best thing to do, then absolutely. But if it's a question of housing, you really should get with the housing folks because I wouldn't want to leave the impression that there is no possible way to get into housing now.

You don't know if there's going to be any room, really.
Chris Callahan: Yeah, and there very well could be. Again, we're just sort of finishing up the final designs on our plans to go to a private room mode. But I wouldn't just give up on it, I would pursue that. And if you have any questions, please get back to us and let us know.

So, she wouldn't need to do anything different, she just wouldn't sign up for housing but just keep her classes signed up as is. She doesn't need to let anybody know that she's not going to physically be there?
Maria Pallavicini: That's right. It'll be the same kind of small-sized classes, the same interactions that you would have otherwise. And so it'll be a different experience but many of the same benefits of a Pacific experience.

Michael Hunter Schwartz: And I just want to add, just as a thought, which is like she would've done with any class, let her professor know so that the professor does small group work and uses Zoom to put the students in breakout rooms. The professor can plan to make sure that your daughter gets into a breakout room with other students in the most effective way possible. So, it's more just the normal thing like if she were going to miss a class anyway because if she missed the class, the professor would email her about it anyway so she might as well let the professor know that she's going to be online.

For some reason, there was information of tuition going up to $137,000. Is that correct?
Maria Pallavicini: No, that's not correct. It was a technical glitch and you should have received shortly, very shortly after that message went out, an explanation and with the right amount of tuition. Yes, we had a problem.

The amount is already out?
Maria Pallavicini: The amount is out for tuition, yes.

Chris Callahan: Yeah. And we apologize for that but you should've gotten the correction right away. Let us know if not.

Okay, so thank you for these sessions. They've been really very informative and I really appreciate them. My question, and I recognize you haven't planned through it thoroughly, but I'd like to know if you're thinking about, when you say daily screenings, are you just taking temperature or are you actually going to test a whole student population who's going to be on campus as well as faculty and everybody else who works there?
Chris Callahan: No, it's a great question. We appreciate it. When you hear institutions talking about COVID-19 screening, whether or not that a university or company or nonprofit or what have you, what they are referring to is the use of an app on your phone where each morning you would go through a series of questions, you would take your own temperature. We're actually going to provide thermometers for all of our students as well as the face coverings. You would go through that and it would basically say yes, you're clear to go to school or to work, for our faculty and staff, but if not, if there's a red light, then it will instruct you to call the health services, and then we would take it from there whether or not the student should come in for a test or not. But these are all, and again, all companies, all universities are doing. Different apps, but all on these electronic apps where you're doing it yourself and seeing if you're ready to go or not each day.

OK, so there is no thought to doing universal testing on campus for everybody on campus to get an idea of where everybody's at?
Chris Callahan: We're not planning on that. That's actually not physically possible. You actually can't get that, right now anyway. You can't get that quantity of tests. And the CDC, which we're following very, very closely as well as our state regional health officials, aren't suggesting that. Really, nobody is suggesting testing for everybody. They are very much suggesting the daily screening.

Maria Pallavicini: Right. And when you just think about if you were to test everybody when they came back, two days later they could go out to the grocery store, they could go out with some other friends and become positive. And so that initial test, or any test, is only at that point in time. And so doing testing on individuals that are showing symptoms is a much better approach because it's much more tightly linked to the situation at hand.

I think someone mentioned they were contracting with an outside company to do testing when symptoms show up on an individual.
Chris Callahan: Right. Thank you. We still have not finalized our plans for testing and tracing, but we'll probably have that wrapped up in the next few weeks but we haven't completed that yet.

Thanks for having these Q&As. It's really appreciated. My question is about... I kind of joined in a little bit late. You're saying that all students are going to be housed in single rooms?
Chris Callahan: Again, we have not yet finalized that yet, but we're very close to and we expect to be able to tell everybody that definitively early to mid-next week. But right now, we are designing around the notion of having all students who are on campus living in single rooms, privately.

I'm not questioning that you want the students back on campus but my question to you is what is going to be so different from March 15, to when the students come back supposedly in August. That's going to make that much of a difference.
Chris Callahan: And it's a great question. One of the things that we'd like to remind folks of, and quite frankly I need to remind myself of all the time, is the time from today... What are we? June 3rd or so. To our opening August 23, that period of time is basically the same period of time as from today going back to when all this started. In terms of what's really going to change, it's changed dramatically over the last months. We're actually quite convinced it'll change, and we're hoping and we believe, and what we're hearing from our health officials is that they anticipate that it is going to be significantly better and we'll be able to open, but we don't know that. We can't guarantee that. So is there a possibility that things will get worse? Yeah. That certainly is possible. But all the planning is around the idea that indeed in another, whatever that is, almost three months away now, that the health situation will be significantly better.

My son was a freshman last year and was really enjoying his year until everything went to hell in a hand basket, which was not anybody's fault. The problem was certain students that were housed with him did not really follow rules and regulations like they were supposed to, and quite frankly he didn't get really much help even though he filed complaints about doing things properly like not washing your dishes in the bathroom sinks and taking out garbage when you were supposed to and putting it in the right places and stuff like that, and no smoking in the dorms and so on and so forth. How is that going to be addressed this coming year?
Maria Pallavicini: We've talked a little bit about that. First off, we're going to have very clear policies and very clear expectations about appropriate behavior with regards to health and safety. We will have policies related to compliance, and so for an individual that continually is uncompliant with regards to health and safety, there will be consequences and we will deal with that. It's much different than, at this point, in my opinion, of saying you shouldn't wash your dishes in the bathroom. Okay, you shouldn't do that. Very different for behavior that is not following the policies and the practices that the university has established for health and safety. We're going to be very clear with our students about the policies and what the expectations are for following the policies and what the consequences will be if they don't.

Chris Callahan: And if I could just add to that, and really speaking to all of the parents about any issue that comes up at Pacific. Issues will come up with young people, certainly behavioral issues. What you just described I experienced although I think my sons were the culprits in that scenario rather than the ones who actually wanted the room clean. Your student is expected to go through that process. In that case it would be the resident assistant and the like and our housing office. And certainly, you can do the same. But at any point in time, on any issues, if you feel that is a significant issue that you don't think is being addressed, then you should contact the president's office. One of the great advantages of University of the Pacific is our size. And while we're a comprehensive university and we have 10 different colleges and nearly 100 majors and have all of the attributes that you would have at a major university, we're also, certainly on the Stockton Campus, it's a really small, intimate environment so we have the advantage. I'm coming from Arizona State University. It's a fine university. It's the largest university in the country. There are 120,000 students. Don't call the president's office. That wouldn't work. But at some places like University of the Pacific, if you feel like you're not getting a problem solved, you need to let us know because otherwise we don't know.

Hi there. Thank you so much for these sessions. My question is regarding lab classes. I get a really great feeling for the lecture classes the way that you described having students do remote possibly one session and then they're in the class the next, but how do you address hands-on lab classes?
Michael Hunter Schwartz: The lab classes really will be our greatest challenge. There will still be the same rotation. They're going to have the hands-on experience in every other session as opposed to every session is like our worst case scenario. As we sit here today, it's not really our ideal. Because it'll be happening in real time, your student will be able to say, "I didn't see that, I need to see that again. Can I ask this question?" And be able to sort of walk back the process to maximize as much of the learning as possible from those experiences and know that he or she will be back in person for the next class session.

Will we have specifics about the housing arrangement before the June 8 cancellation date?
Maria Pallavicini: The June 8 cancellation date, to my understanding, is if a student no longer wanted to hold onto his or her contract and said, "Okay, I want to go live off campus." Will we have more information before that date? We'll be very close …If there's an issue just contact one of us here.

Chris Callahan: And Maria, is it fair to say that it'll be quite close? And if there is a concern after we announce, that our parents can still call us and we can take care of them.

Maria Pallavicini: Absolutely. I think if you have a contract, you've got a contract. And if you're planning on staying there, just hold onto that. If you're thinking you want to move, then you could let them know by June 8, or frankly, let them know a little later. That's okay too.

My son has signed a contract for Calaveras Hall with one other roommate but they would have private rooms so I was wondering if that is still going to be maintained.
Chris Callahan: Unaffected, unaffected. It's a great question. Thank you for asking it. Other parents might have the same question. Any of your students who are already in residence halls or our apartments where they're already in a single room, a single bedroom, then nothing changes. It's only for our students who've signed up for our residence halls doubles or triples.

My question was if the calendar was either going to be moved up to start earlier and finish my Thanksgiving or were you y'all adjusting that in any way?
Maria Pallavicini: We're keeping the calendar the same. However, what we're doing is that all classes and final exams, which occur in the two weeks after Thanksgiving, will be online. So a student can decide to do that at home or they can decide to come back to campus and live in the residence halls. We're trying to give maximal flexibility. At this point in time we're trying to reduce the chances for spreading infection if they're still out there. It's really the student's choice.

But there is the option, I guess, to finish up and do exams and everything if they don't return after Thanksgiving?
Maria Pallavicini: Yeah, the exams in the last week will be online after Thanksgiving.

For everyone they're online regardless?
Chris Callahan: Yep. For the week of classes. One week of classes after Thanksgiving and then the week of finals, all of that will be done remotely for all students. And then students will have the option; they can stay at home, they can come back to campus, the library and residence hall, the dining hall. Everything will still be open, they just will be doing that remotely. And again, as Dr. Pallavicini mentioned, just to give you and your daughters and sons the most flexibility possible.

My son is just finished three years undergrad and he's going to the pharmacy school next year in the fall. And the question is that the similar online model for the pharmacy school as what you have for the rest of the university, is it true? And the second one is they have some practical training in the pharmacies. Would they be able to do that remotely like we are from San Diego? Would that be option for them to do that remotely if they wish to?
Michael Hunter Schwartz: Yeah. I'm going to give you an answer with a lot of hedges, and not just because I'm a lawyer. But I think for accreditation purposes and for getting your son or daughter licensed, for that you really have to have that hands-on. And so what they're going to probably going to be doing, and this is the hedge, is that they haven't completely decided is have their didactic classes be more likely to be online and their skills courses, where they're doing those hands-on kinds of things, be socially distanced because then they'll have more space for those in the school of pharmacy. Not 100% on that. I'm still waiting for the final answer on that from the pharmacy team. But I think they're really, from the purposes of actually being able to sign off that your son or daughter has developed the skills...That your son really does have the specific skills that are necessary for him to graduate with a pharmacy degree but also to get out there and get the practical training in the real world that's coming later in the program. And so please stay tuned on that one piece of it.

Bryan's question was will students' temperatures be monitored in the housing units? And what will be the protocol if someone has a high temperature and/or symptoms?
Maria Pallavicini: Yes, the students will be asked to daily report their temperature. And if there are symptoms, there will be contact information for them to contact. So for a student it would be the health services. Does that help?

Michael Hunter Schwartz: I just want to add that the faculty and staff will also be doing the same thing on a daily basis and get instructions if, for example, if they're running a temperature.

Will all of these plans be typed in an email so all students and family will be able to stay informed?
Chris Callahan: Absolutely.

Maria Pallavicini: Yes, and we will be having some additional Zoom calls over these next few weeks, so once the information comes out, if you still have questions there'll be lots of opportunities to ask them.

How would it work for the students in regards to using the kitchen? Her daughter follows a strict diet and she has to cook in order to accomplish it.
Maria Pallavicini: Don't know. We'll get some information for you as soon as we have more. That's a student life question, and we'll get info for you on that.

Chris Callahan: I'll tell you, one of the great things about these sessions for us is there's always one or two questions that we say, "Huh, not sure if we've tackled that yet." And we will, so thank you very much for letting us know.

The two questions I had I think have been partially answered. One had to do with that June 8 deadline on the housing contract. My daughter had signed the contract, however was placed on a wait list because her housing was not available, I guess, at the point that she was picked. We're still in that kind of unknown land of where or how that housing's going to work out for sophomores. I'm just curious from a facilities standpoint how that may play out since, at least for sophomores, the plan was Calaveras or Southwest, the only two options. But obviously with these changes you guys are talking about there's a little more going on, I'm sure.
Maria Pallavicini: There's clearly a lot of questions on housing, and I think there'll be more clarity on this, I think, by next week. We'll certainly have another call with some individuals that can actually provide some more detailed answers to some of your questions. So, if you could just hold off on that, not worry about the June 8 deadline right now. There'll be more information coming as we narrow it down.

When you start talking about some of these dorm situations, even with individual rooms, given that there's shared ventilation and things like that do you have a plan already in place if somebody in a particular dorm would test positive, how they would respond? Is there going to be a separate dorm for potential quarantine scenarios? I don't know if you've really talked through that level of detail on the potentiality of somebody having a positive test in a living situation.
Maria Pallavicini: We actually have. And the questions that you're asking were the same that we asked in the beginning of our planning. And certainly if someone tests positive there will be a space for that person to quarantine. And so ideally what we would like is for that student to go back to his or her home if it's a more local area. But regardless, there will be a place for the student to quarantine. And if a student tests positive we will also begin to initiate some contact tracing.

Will the university provide face coverings?
Maria Pallavicini: Yes, we will. We will provide some cloth coverings and perhaps a few disposables, but we will provide some cloth coverings that can be washed. Actually, what we're going to be doing is giving a "welcome back everybody" bag with some of these essentials in there as well as some very clear indications of our policies and compliance expectations, etc. And there'll be lots of education of students along these lines. Part of it is going to be changing a little bit the culture of how students behave on campus. But ultimately, students do care about each other, they care about their faculty and they care about the communities so we're hopeful that we'll be able to move positively in that direction.

Will graduate students be handled the same way as undergrads in terms of classes?
Maria Pallavicini: Grad students' programs are quite varied versus undergrad programs both in terms of how they learn, where they learn, when they meet. And so certainly we'll be following the same social distance guidelines and the same policies that the university has. But often times they'll meet in the evening or the weekend so there's quite a bit more flexibility. But yes, there'll be a mixture of face-to-face and remote, as it is actually already. Several of our grad programs have remote courses.

Michael Hunter Schwartz: And if I can just add that the same thing I mentioned about pharmacy applies to some of our other health programs where the hands-on training part is required, for example, so that your student can go out to her or his internship site. And so we're going to have to do socially distanced hands-on learning or your student wouldn't be able to go out to his or her internship site if your student is in a health program.