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>>BOB ZALTSBERG: This is Noon Edition on WFIU. I'm Bob Zaltsberg your host. Co-Host Sara Wittmeyer will be joining us next week. She's out this week. But today we're going to be recording the show remotely as we have been since March. And we're going to be talking about back to school plans for Indiana University Bloomington and other campuses. We have five guests who will be joining us today. Kirk White is assistant vice president for strategic partnerships at Indiana University. Dr. Aaron Carroll is director of surveillance and mitigation for the COVID-19 pandemic at IU. Mary Catherine Carmichael the Director of Public Engagement for Bloomington in the office of the mayor is joining us during the second half of the program. Amelia Parnell will be here. She is National Association of Student personnel administrators vice president for research and policy. And Abiodun Davids (ph) is here. He's a parent of an IU student who will be a sophomore at IU Bloomington this fall. You can join us on Twitter @noonedition, and you can also send us questions for the show at email@example.com. Well, thank you all for joining us today. It's very good to have you. And I wanted to start with Mr. Davids. I wanted to ask you about your daughter coming back to school as a sophomore. How do you - how do you feel about sending her back to Bloomington to start a new semester?
>>ABIODUN DAVIDS: Thank you very much. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Abiodun Davids, the father to a senior, not a sophomore. My daughter is finishing May next year. I as a parent never expected the school authority would want to ask their students to come and attend school on the campus. We thought because of the pandemic which is still very rampant around us here we should or the school authority should at least allow the students to continue to attend virtual classes, I mean online. But the decision is theirs. And I feel the appearance is part of - should be part of the decision-making process whereby adequate consultations could be made such that if the parents will allowed or wish, they are you know - they're students could come to school. However for the school authority to have you know make this decision that is the most I've heard - some plans in place. But basically as a parent I will be so touched that hey this is a high risk for me to allow my student to go back to school. Like I said the school authority will have their plans, and I hope and I wish their plans would work out fine. One other area I felt so apprehensive was the area we were asked to be I mean to sign addendum. That's for whatever it is that happens the school not responsible. We are 100% responsible. It is awkward and definitely there's not a one can do about it. Because much as we want our students to attend classes and make their you know goals, possible goals, and many goals and achievements, high achievement in the you know education. So there's nothing we can do than to allowing them to go.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Mr. Davids, we're going to have - we have Kirk White from Indiana University and Dr. Aaron Carroll from IU. And I'm going to let them address some of your concerns. And then if you have some further questions for them you can ask them. So Kirk White, what's IU done to try to alleviate these concerns of parents like Mr. Davids?
>>KIRK WHITE: Well thanks Bob and thanks Mr. Davids for being with us today. Well we sure understand those concerns. And I'll be honest with you myself I'm the parent of an incoming freshman and so I share a lot of those same concerns that you have. But we share them as a community and as a university community. We realized last spring that this was going to be a major effort for us And we needed to study it closely. And so the university put together I would say a blue ribbon committee of the university restart committee headed by the dean of our School of Medicine. That took our best experts as well as external input and put together a comprehensive plan about how we could restart the university in the fall. And the plan really is comprehensive. So once it was finished and the hundreds of people that worked on it it was then distributed to each of the campuses in our system across the state. And now we're implementing it at the campus level. And I've been involved closer to that at Bloomington. And I can tell you that this is a monumental effort for each of our campuses. And again we've got our - it's an all hands on deck effort by all of our faculty and staff to make it a safe environment. The main priority of the restart plan is safety for students faculty and staff. And from our facilities department to our residential services departments to athletics to all ends of the university we're working night and day to make sure that we follow all of these guidelines set forth by a restart committee that of course we're taken - we've taken into consideration the CDC and and state and local regulations as well. So we're working hard to make that happen. And you know Bob I think at this point it's probably a good idea. One of the the linchpins of our restart plan is making sure that we can test our students, ask them the test before they leave home to make sure they're not positive. And then we're going to test them when they get to campus. And then we're going to continue surveillance testing through the semester. At this point I think Dr. Carroll who's worked so hard on this project could probably give us some more details about how that's going to work.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Dr. Carroll?
>>AARON CARROLL: Thank you. Thank you for having me here. And thank you for everyone else for being here. I - again I want to reiterate that I think we all share the concerns that Mr. Davids said that you know we want to make sure that being on campus is arguably safer than not being on campus. And that's I think our goal that by opening up IU and investing heavily in a lot of infrastructure to keep students safe, we can do a better job of keeping students faculty and staff safe and even our surrounding communities than if we just went online and just let everybody move to Bloomington and said we're not going to open campus. And so in addition to taking many steps to make classrooms safe - socially distancing, physically distancing people, really de-densifying our classes, moving many of them online, staggering them so that we don't have students entering and exiting in ways that'll bunch them up, having assigned seating in many classrooms where students will be at least 6 feet apart, mandatory masking in all buildings, really doing thorough cleanings, checking the ventilation, making sure that it's not only just adequate but excellent in terms of keeping everybody safe, doing all these steps in addition to setting up robust infrastructure to make sure that anyone who has any symptoms at all can immediately access telehealth visit and get diagnostic testing if they need it, significant contact tracing and isolation of any infections that will occur, making sure that we find people who might be at higher risk or infected getting them to quarantine, setting aside a significant amount of dorm space specifically for quarantining and isolating students who are infected so that we can limit the spread and limit outbreaks, and on top of that, adding in robust surveillance and screening, certainly above anything you're going to see in the outside world but certainly something that we would put up against almost any other school. So as as Kirk said we're having before-arrival testing for all on campus students we're having on-arrival testing for all on campus students on all of our campuses in addition to offering it for all off-campus Indianapolis students and mandating it for all off-campus Bloomington students. The goal of all this is to start campus with as few infected people interacting as possible and then from there really doing robust surveillance and getting to screening over the course of the semester. Initially sending out PCR tests to other sources so that they can be done on a regular basis as we start this semester. But we're in the process of standing up two labs in Indianapolis and one lab in Bloomington that when they're completed can likely do more tests than the rest of Indiana. And it's our goal to get to a point where we're testing all students on a regular basis hopefully more than once a week. Certainly for on campus students and testing all faculty and staff quite regularly. The idea being that recent studies and continuing models show that repeated over and over again testing of large groups can significantly slow the spread of the virus and keep the community safe because we feel we have an obligation to our students, to our faculty and staff, but also to our surrounding communities and even to Indiana to make sure that we're keeping all of those groups as safe as possible.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Dr. Carroll, just a quick definition. PCR testing - what's PCR stand for?
>>AARON CARROLL: Sure. So polymerase chain reaction. So to test for infection there's a couple of ways to do so. It's first important to distinguish between tests that look for current infection and tests that look for ever having been infected. The latter are what we call antibody tests and we're not focusing on those right now because we're most concerned about current infection. So sort of what we might say is the gold standard or the best test that we have to identify current infection now - use PCR. You're basically looking for viral RNA or DNA, mostly RNA. Now how you collect the sample can differ. Some tests will use what we call a nasopharyngeal swab. That's when you go see a health care professional and they take a sample basically deep into your nose, well into your head. Some people, you know, find it to be very uncomfortable. Some people think that that's the best test. But it's very hard to do those at scale. If I tried to test 10,000 people at IU with nasopharyngeal swabs and gather them together, I'd be more likely to cause an outbreak than to prevent one. So other ways that you can do it are either nasal swabs or what's become most popular is saliva because it's very easy to collect saliva. It can be done by a student themselves or any of anyone themselves. We don't need a lot of health care professionals to do so. A lot of studies show that saliva can be as sensitive sometimes even more so than nasopharyngeal swabs. But we'll be doing most of our testing with saliva-based tests, still checking by PCR. That's still the way that most tests run. They're not the super rapid but they can be done at scale sometimes even same day if we build up enough infrastructure and we can collect saliva at scale. So that's what we're going to shoot for with our on-campus labs.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, thank you. Dr. Amelia Parnell, you have seen what schools are doing around the country. So can you - you don't necessarily need to compare IU but just talk about you know other methods or are the methods that IU is using pretty much standard for what the best universities are doing?
>>AMELIA PARNELL: Yeah. So would it help for me to provide some context I guess the vantage point of what NASPA is?
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Absolutely. Yes.
>>AMELIA PARNELL: OK. So NASPA is a national nonprofit association that works directly with campuses and specifically the people who work on campuses in student services. So a lot of what the previous answers have touched on would be focus areas for areas that we would research and study and provide training and professional development. So everything that you just mentioned in terms of housing, food services, health and well-being, all of that comes of the arc of student affairs. And this nonprofit that I work for NASPA, we focus almost exclusively on student affairs, student services. So as you can imagine, yes, this has definitely been a topic of discussion not just because we are in higher education but because it touches on so many facets of what the focus is right now. So I definitely would say while every campus approach is different, this whole strategy for IU - you could look at that and see elements of it at a small college, a large public institution, it doesn't really matter - even two year institutions that don't have residential living have aspects of what you describe. So what I would say first off is that no two approaches are the same. But there are certainly some consistent themes, the first of which obviously is related to the health and safety of the campus community. And the second one is related to flexibility. So everything that has been said so far kind of hit on both of those things. But I think what I would add to the conversation is once we have to lead with the discussion of the health and safety aspects of COVID-19, the virus itself, that takes up a lot of the air in the conversation. But I definitely want to say that a second consideration that is just as important in some new ways is the psychological aspect of this. And I think we're finding that the staff who work on campuses as well as the students themselves are overly concerned about what's going to happen. And so if it's an in-person decision, its the concerns over testing. How would that be done effectively? If it's a remote environment, what does that mean for the isolation impact and the impact of not having community and being able to advance our studies? So I think there was an earlier reference to telehealth. And so I think that that is also a resource that if students are exhibiting physical signs and symptoms, you certainly want to figure out a strategy for leveraging that. But then also if that mental health impacts again as well, to be a resource and help students manage those symptoms as they arise.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right we're talking about IU's return to the classroom and and really all campuses returning to classrooms and online learning this fall. If you have any questions for us, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can also follow us on Twitter @noonedition. Well, Mr. Davids you've heard what Kirk White and Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Amelia Parnell have had to say. I wonder if that makes you feel a little bit better about sending your daughter back to Bloomington. And also I wanted to ask you this question and try to get - I think this may be a question of yours and that is, you know, could your daughter have taken online only classes from home and not come back to campus at all? And I guess Kirk could you answer that real quickly?
>>KIRK WHITE: Well, yes. We certainly want students to have that option. In fact, that we've told our students that if they feel uncomfortable that they should work with us to restructure to an online platform. And I use in pretty good shape on in that effort because for decades now we've been building our online capabilities and catalog of online, IU online offerings. Now we know that's not going to work for everybody because in Mr. David's case, you know, this may be - his daughter may be in a case where as a senior there maybe a couple of classes where - that require an in-person perspective or in-person instruction lab teaching or et cetera. But for the most part, most of our students can continue their progress in an online platform.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Well, Mr. Davids, I know we only have you for about a few more minutes here so I want to give you the opportunity. Is there - are there any other questions you have, or have these comments by the IU people helped to ease your mind a little bit?
>>ABIODUN DAVIDS: Thank you very much sir. I have no doubt in my mind we talk worth of hard from the team. I can see and I can feel it that there is virtually a robust set of plans in place. And so with this I believe there will be no problem anymore. And there - we hope the students community will cooperate with the team and the plans they have in place. So I really appreciate this enlightenment program and I'm happy. I'm so happy that I'm part of it. So I don't have any further questions. I understood all that was said by the participants. Thank you so very much.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Before I let you go can you tell us what is your daughter studying and does she have - you know, does she have significant concerns about what's going to happen this fall?
>>ABIODUN DAVIDS: She is studying psychology major at the - and then in behavioral psychology, you know, major. And another one is a freshman coming to do a double major in their political science and computer science. So there are two of them coming. And then I think I'm good. I'm all right.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Good.
>>ABIODUN DAVIDS: Yeah.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. All right. Well thanks very much. We appreciate your joining us. So that was Abiodun Davids who's a parent of an IU student. And he joined us for the first half. We'll be joined on the second half of the program by Mary Catherine Carmichael, the Director of Public Engagement for the city of Bloomington and the Office of the mayor. She'll be with us in just a little bit. So I want to go back to Kirk White and ask about how the check in, which starts on what on Sunday, how that's going to be different from normal years.
>>KIRK WHITE: Bob I'll tell you it will be a much different. Normally it's a pretty decentralized process where are our students coming to campus that will be living in our residential programs and services facilities, the residence halls, would normally be reporting directly to their residence halls. This time they'll be starting out at a central location at the athletic complex on the on the 45 46 bypass. They'll pull in off of the bypass and we basically have assembled a small village up there. It will be the largest onsite testing facility in the state of Indiana for about two weeks while it's in operation. Students and their parents will come in in their vehicles. We will screen them accordingly, get them in the right lanes. They'll get a test to see if they're positive or negative and then continue through the process where they will get their crimson card, housing assignment, and we will even issue them a couple of cloth face masks to make sure that they've got them. And then they'll then proceed to their residence hall and get moved in.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. That's good. So I know that you're going to be limiting that to a certain number of students per day right?
>>KIRK WHITE: Yeah. We're expecting up to 12 to 1,400 students a day to come through there on peak days. The students have signed up. If they have not already they need to. Some have not. I've heard of our latest report. They need to go online to the RPS website and sign up for a time to arrive. They'll have a choice of a couple of time blocks over the two week period either in the morning or the afternoon. So we'll be splitting it up to help us with the the flow of incoming new RPS students, new freshmen mostly.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, Dr. Carroll I know that you gave a webinar for faculty members in the last couple of days, I think it was earlier this week. Did you have - what kind of questions did a lot of the faculty members have for you? What are their biggest concerns?
>>AARON CARROLL: I think, you know, some are concerned legitimately about potential exposure, especially among groups where they hadn't before, especially if they're in classrooms where they hadn't been before, and especially if they're at high risk. Of course many faculty were not yet understanding about some of the many measures that we've taken to de-densify and try to make classes safer. Some are also concerned because I don't think that they understood how rigorously we plan to enforce policies about masking and about making sure that students comply with physical distancing and everywhere else. We're taking this very seriously. And it has been made clear that we're expecting not only people to comply with all of the policies we set up but all of the surveillance and screening testing that we plan to do. I think they were also unaware of the significant investments we've made into all of that testing both for on-arrival testing for testing everybody on campus and off campus for, again, and our commitment to test throughout the semester in order to make sure that we're constantly identifying students who might be infected and getting them and staff and faculty for that matter but getting them into housing where they would be separated. And so certainly levels of concern vary but about two-thirds of our classes, I believe, have been shifted to online only. So many faculty are teaching from a distance. But I think there's also levels of concern as there legitimately should be about spread to vulnerable members of members of the community. We're continuing to reach out and try to answer as many of those concerns as possible to keep everyone as safe as possible, to allow those who can and want to work from home to do so, to allow students who want to get education online to do so but to provide an environment on campus where those who wish to engage safely can do so. And recognizing that there is interest in those areas to do everything that we can to make those as safe as possible. I think also it's very important that we continually get the message across. Infections are going to occur. They're going to be identified positive cases. Our goal (laughter). I mean, ideally our goal should be zero, but that is not going to happen. If we believe the background prevalence of COVID it is about 1% which it was at the last time we checked in June, and if we bring tens of thousands of anyone to campus or just even look at tens of thousands of people, hundreds of people are likely infected. Our goal is not - or we shouldn't expect to have no infections. Our goal is to have fewer infections among those who are engaging in the IU community than would otherwise occur without the engagement and efforts of everything that we're doing in the community. We want to do better than the rest of the world would do because we're planning to do more. And so while infections will occur, our goal is to minimize, to keep those as low as possible. And I'm hopeful with all of this infrastructure and all these efforts that we're engaging in that we can reduce the number of infections that will occur below that which would otherwise have occurred had we've not done all of this.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I think you just addressed a question that just came out, was actually a comment that just came in from Mary who said I am very concerned that if students are infected at a rate of say 1% and many of those students live off campus then at the beginning of the semester you add potentially hundreds of COIVID-19 cases to the community. And that is kind of what you said that you you want to make sure that the people who are connected to the university are showing up at a lower rate than people who aren't connected to the university.
>>AARON CARROLL: Yeah. And let's be clear if we shifted to online only and said we're not opening up campus at all, I fully expect tens of thousands of students might still move to Bloomington because they want a college experience and they can achieve a lot of the social aspects of that with or without online - with or without in-person class. So recognizing that many students might still move to Bloomington because that is what they do, we felt it would be irresponsible not to engage in all of these efforts and all of this testing, which is why we are testing all Bloomington students on campus or off before the beginning of the semester. So even if those cases do move here, we hope to identify them very quickly and get them into quarantine or isolation, you know, as quickly as we can to try to limit any spread from those students moving in and then to surveillance and screening of those populations as we move through the semester. Because, again, I expect infections will occur. They would occur with or without our opening up campus or having in-person classes. Our goal is to make it all as safe as possible and arguably safer than what would exist if we didn't do all of this and just left it up to sort of what the world is doing. I have...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: This is - oh.
>>AARON CARROLL: Yeah, I've certainly written multiple times about the fact that I think we should be doing a lot of this testing writ large. Unfortunately across the United States we have not engaged in the widespread testing that would help to keep many of these populations safe. So we can at least do that for our community.
>>KIRK WHITE: And Bob, I might want to add I may have left out that in addition to the residence halls testing that's occurring at the stadium, we'll also have testing occurring for our off campus students. So we'll begin on the 12 of August both at the stadium and other sites and in on the campus. And that will continue up through the next couple of weeks as well starting on the 12. So that's how we're going to get to the off-campus population as well.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: That's a great segue to welcome Mary Catherine Carmichael. Mary Catherine, some of you will remember was the co-host with me on this show for many years. And now she works with the city of Bloomington. So Mary Catherine, thanks for being here. And I wanted to ask you about, you know, your concerns about the city's doing to try to make sure and mitigate any situation that might arise when the students return?
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: Well, hi, everybody. Hi, Bob. It's nice to be back on Noon Edition. It's been, gosh, five years already since I was co-host with you, so this is fun to be back with you and thank you for inviting me to be on. This has been a really hot topic, as you can imagine, among our residents and our staff both of - you know, every year we have the excitement of the fall return of students, but this year it's a little exciting in a little different way, for better or for worse. And so we have been working really hard on this issue and, you know, I imagine Kirk White's probably pretty much sick of me by now. We've been working together quite a bit over the last several months on this and...
>>KIRK WHITE: That can't happen Mary. (Inaudible).
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: (Laughter).
>>KIRK WHITE: Can't happen.
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: That's nice to hear. But anyway, yeah, we look at this really not just as an IU issue, but as a really holistic community issue, and that's how we've been approaching it. And so not only has the city of Bloomington and Indiana University been working closely on this, but we've engaged other - representatives from other major organizations throughout the community. We've had Ivy Tech in on this, we've had the greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, we've had the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, we've had MCCSC - you know, just a whole group of organizations in various departments within IU, I might add. I worked very closely with the dean of students on this, as well as IUPD. So nobody's working in a vacuum. We're all complementing each other's efforts. We've got the Apartment Association pulled in on this because we want to help reach those off campus students with messaging. Mayor Hamilton developed some COVID precautions - some - that we're sending out to every off-campus renter. So we really want to be a partner on this. We want to work together. And I think that's been going really quite well, honestly, since this began.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So before you got on - right before you got on, Dr. Carroll mentioned, you know, faculty was maybe a little surprised at how seriously the university is has taken all of this. And I guess I wanted to ask him and then, you know, you can jump - anybody else can jump in too. I know that there was a memo sent out last week again to try to clarify what kind of steps will be taken if students on campus, anyway, don't follow the rules. So Dr. Carroll, could you address that? And then, you know - then I want to say - I guess then I want to sort of segway into, yeah, the rules that'll be enforceable on campus, but then how do you enforce those same rules off campus? So Dr. Carroll, if you can talk about that first.
>>AARON CARROLL: Sure. I mean, for on campus purposes, clearly, we have a little bit more control because one of the things we can remove is the ability to go on campus. We can turn off card access. We can - we will be more easily able to keep track of students in isolation housing, if that is where they are moved. And certainly we can enforce rules like masking and physical distancing within our buildings. It is more difficult to enforce those kinds of policies off campus. Clearly, we will do our best in working with the community to make sure that gatherings don't get above what is allowable in Monroe County. We will also continually be hammering home the messages about good behavior, including masking and physical distancing and good hygiene. And we are - we can, you know, get students to comply with the surveillance and screening testing that we are engaging with. And I know that our provost takes this incredibly seriously and, you know, there can be repercussions up to and including, you know, expulsion, which we hope we don't get to and I certainly don't think that would be, you know, step one, but we expect and have asked everyone to sign a commitment that they're going to engage in all the measures that we need to take to keep our community safe, and that includes our IU community and our surrounding public community. So we take this incredibly seriously and we are going to hold all our students, faculty and staff accountable to complying with the measures that everyone has deemed necessary to remain as safe as possible.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Mary Catherine, what kind of steps - yeah, go ahead.
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: Can I just comment on that real quick, Bob? I just wanted to say I knew that IU was taking this extremely seriously very early on. I was in a meeting with Provost Robel and she said that, as students were applying, they were told that - you know, what the protocols would be and that they were, indeed, asked to sign this agreement. And if there was any pushback or they wouldn't agree to sign the agreement, that they were being invited to apply to other universities. So I knew from that moment on that IU was serious about this and just really appreciate their conscientious approach to this.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Now, it seems like the city has just come out with some - maybe some new - I think it was the county - it was the county health - the new county health order about gatherings at fraternities, sororities, other rooming houses. Can you talk about that a little bit?
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: Yeah. Those were issued by the county health department, and so I think that they mirror pretty nicely some of the things that IU is doing. But because those are a county order, I'm probably not the best person to speak to those. I can talk a little bit about how we're handling off campus events as they come up, if you'd like to talk about that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Sure. Yes, that'd be great.
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: Sure. OK. So, you know, the weather's been stunningly beautiful, as everybody knows, and classes hasn't - have not started yet and some people have moved back into their rental properties off campus, and so we are beginning to see some off campus parties. And there was a brief period of time - about a week - when the city order was about a week ahead of the county order as far as gathering sizes and mask wearing, and so we were - my office was receiving complaints about those parties that - you know, front lawn parties, backyard parties, that sort of thing. And so we take those complaints very seriously. IUPD and the Bloomington Police Department have been working together on this and have worked out a system that worked beautifully all summer, and we're going to continue that now that more students are back in town, and that is, if you see a large gathering that appears to be a student or a group of students off campus that are behaving in ways that are unsafe - you know, a lack of mask wearing especially or a very large gathering, we're really encouraging people to call IUPD because they can go to - and be sure to get an address, because they need that so they know where to go. And call IUPD, tell them what's going on. They'll send somebody over there. And the reason we're asking IUPD to do that is because they'll gather names of students involved and then those names are forwarded to the dean of students - and the dean of students, again, just like the provost, is taking this very seriously. So we have found, over time, that IUs students tend to take intervention from the dean of students more seriously than they do Bloomington Police Department because they care deeply about receiving their degree. So we found - have found that this is a very effective way to deal with people who are not minding the rules, and we anticipate that probably, at the beginning of things, as they return, we're going to have some reports, and we hope that those slack off as time goes on and word gets out that, hey, you know, the city of Bloomington and Indiana University is not kidding about these protocols and each person sticking to those protocols.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Excellent. Thank you for that. We have about 15 minutes left to go in the program. If you have a question or comment, you can still reach us by sending your question to email@example.com or you can follow us on Twitter at @noonedition. Dr. Amelia Parnell is with us and she has a bit of a more global view. She's following what's going on around the country with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. So, you know, again, you've been listening to the conversation. I guess I want to go back to ask you, you know, how do you feel about the - can you give us some insight into the quality of education that students are going to get this fall around the country with, you know, having to deal with these - you know, you mentioned the - you know, the isolation and the mental health impacts, also trying to learn to do your classes online. I mean, what's your best hope for the fall in terms of academics and student success?
>>AMELIA PARNELL: Yeah. I think I'll take the second part of that. If we think student success, I think a portion of it is academic, you know, a portion of it is managing their financial position, and some of it is getting ready for a career or whatever else awaits them. I think what makes this so difficult is that each student is coming at a different point in their academic journey. And so I've definitely been privy to a lot of conversations about the impact of this for first year students - for this would be their first time coming to a campus and getting to know college. Knowing that functions like orientation and onboarding of students about what the college experience is going to be, including how their academic experience is going to be in the classroom or outside the classroom, is essential. And so that, in comparison to a student who was planning on having this be their last year in college - some of the early hurdles to get over about how to navigate college might be a little bit different, naturally, in this COVID environment, but not so unfamiliar that they don't know what the steps are to take. And so I think the quality of the educational experience - some of it truly is procedural. I think that campuses are doing the best they can to manage things like orientation. What we're left with is still a lot of questions around the quality of how that pedagogy might occur. And so I know that a lot of conversations have come up about certain majors of study for which you need an in-person lab to be most effective in the traditional sense of how you would, you know, relay that information. I know faculty are working really hard to try to figure out how to do some types of adjustments in this period until we can get past, you know, the COVID aspect of it. I think what I would probably highlight with regard to student success specifically though is that there are several student populations that will experience this tremendously, especially with regard to their financial position. So I know that it's no secret that certain students - if they're trying to get a stable Wi-Fi connection, they may be academically prepared and ready to engage, but if their infrastructure is not stable that would make it really hard for them. There's been a lot of research coming out of various centers about the impact of this on homeless students, foster care, alumni students, low income students. And so I think that the broad arc of student success is multifaceted for sure. And if we think about that with regards to academic preparation and, you know, stability, specifically there are some levers that are going to make this a really critical time. Now I think, on the positive side, we've seen a lot of campuses do a lot of things virtually that used to be in person and it still has actually made up a lot of difference. So virtually advising, virtual mentoring and coaching, virtual tutoring centers - a lot of those things have gotten better over the last several months, and I think those definitely have an impact on students academic journey as well.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Excellent. So Kirk White, how has IU addressed this issue that Dr. Parnell brought up about first year students. How are you going to help them get along in their first year in college?
>>KIRK WHITE: Well, it's a challenge, and it's a different - a completely different kind of orientation, as Dr. Parnell mentioned. And, you know, the discipline that she talked about - our student personnel administrators - this is probably going to be one of the biggest challenges they've ever had in their careers. How do we best interact with freshmen who are learning how to be college students? And many of them - when you talk to the students that are incoming, they're nervous right now. They're not sure if they can learn all they need to and be brought into the university environment if it's an all-online process. So we've done our best to figure out ways that we can responsibly have person-to-person events on the campus as part of orientation so that freshmen can start to feel a part of the community and understand that they can be part of IU and get the freshmen experience while still being responsible by keeping their masks on and the social distancing or the overall de-densifying of the campus as well. For example, where we normally have a huge activities fair, we're going to split that out over several days so that it's not as big and that it won't be as compact and there will be room for interaction but being able to do it responsibly. And as I've talked to some of our RAs and our residence life administrators, they know they've got to be up to the challenge for this as well, and I see a lot of dedication in their faces to make sure that, you know, the 60 people on their residents hall floor have the best experience that they can understanding this environment we're in.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We have a question that I think is best answered by Aaron Carroll - Dr. Aaron Carroll and by Mary Catherine. It's not so much a question as it is a comment with lots and lots of exclamation marks. Bars and restaurants should be closed - many exclamation marks. Hoosiers are not complying with mass mandate or social distancing. So, you know, we're - again, we're in a college town here in Bloomington and a lot of the college experience, whether we like it or not, is connected to bars and the bar scene. So can we stay safe and still have the bars open in a community like Bloomington? Dr. Carroll?
>>AARON CARROLL: So I don't get to make public policy, so I get to answer from, you know, Aaron Carroll's perspective. So, look, I'm not going to bars and I'm not eating indoors at restaurants and I totally take the case that indoor activities in both of those are relatively unsafe and cause, you know, a serious number of positive cases all across the country. So I am completely in line with the concerns of this listener. I get that. I would much rather see people eating outdoors. I'd even like to see bars experiment with, you know, socially distanced outdoor service because that's likely safer with respect to transmission of this virus than packing people indoors. I do believe that Munroe County has taken steps to reduce the densification of bars in the sense that I believe that they are asking for only table service and at a certain distance, which will make things safer. But indoor restaurants and bars certainly are among the more unsafe things that exist, but IU does not set those policies.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Exactly. So Mary Catherine, the city - the county health department, the state, the city - they're all involved in policy setting. So where do we stand now and, you know, are there benchmarks that you're going to be looking at? I'm sure there are.
>>MARY CATHERINE CARMICHAEL: So, you know, throughout this pandemic Mayor Hamilton's been in very close contact with the Monroe County Health Department - you know, all the health officials there. We're in contact with the governor's office, we're in contact with other health professionals, certainly IU Health. The mayor meets weekly and, in some cases, more frequently. So really everything - every decision that has been made has been based on the data available to us at the time. So Indianapolis, for example, has chosen to go ahead and take that next step and close their bars. And, you know, that's certainly something that's on the table - pardon the pun. But really the data has not pointed to that at this time. But again, you know, that could change based on how things trend and how things unfold once the densification of the student population comes back. And I want to really say, we're also working with Downtown Bloomington Inc. and the downtown bars and restaurants, some of whom have chosen to stay closed because they don't think that they can manage to keep folks safe, and we really applaud that. We think that that's a - got to be a hard decision but a really grown up decision that we appreciate. And we're going to continue to keep an eye on this very closely and as is the county. I know that they are absolutely watching this. And if you have concerns about establishments that may not be abiding by the guidelines that are set forth, the county has a hotline that you can call and report those establishments.
>>AARON CARROLL: Can I add one more thing there?
>>KIRK WHITE: Yes, absolutely.
>>AARON CARROLL: I would also like to - I'd like to acknowledge what was just said, and I think that many institutions are acting very responsibly. I also think that we should be nimble and able to respond to what's going on in the local community if we see that the prevalence of this seems to be really getting much lower and we're not seeing a lot of infections, that's an argument for loosening restrictions. If we see that the cases are flaring and the rates of positive tests are on the rise and we're concerned that outbreaks are imminent, then tightening restrictions seems relevant. So we should just be - I mean, I think we just don't want to say, you know, one-size-fits-all, everyone should do X or everyone should do Y. We should just probably respond appropriately to what we're seeing in the environment. Over the last few weeks, we've been more concerned. Things have not been looking as good in Indiana and in many counties as we would like, which is an argument for taking further steps, which I think you've seen the governor and various counties do, and that's appropriate. If things get better, you know, trying to loosen things up is also appropriate. And this semester is going to be many weeks and we will likely see many changes.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We have a couple of questions I want to get to in the next three or - three minutes or so. One is for Kirk White. Are room rates pro-rated since they're not returning - students are not returning after Thanksgiving?
>>KIRK WHITE: Bob, the housing rate - the contract is for the full year, so we've adjusted that to reflect their four year contract. We expect, of course, that students will be returning in February and we'll finish things out. This is all part of, basically, the dedensifying of the residence halls. In most cases these students will be in single rooms, and that's lowered our occupancy considerably. So - and this is a way that we can curb a possible spread as well. So the contracts they're signing is for the full year and that rate has been adjusted to reflect that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. And I'm going to ask Amelia Parnell - Dr. Parnell to answer this last very general question. It says can students really have a positive experience on campus with so many rules in place? And you're seeing - you know, you're looking at it from a broad perspective.
>>AMELIA PARNELL: Yes. I think - and I'll definitely explain my slant on this, which is that one of the best parts of the college experience is relationships. And so I think I might - you know, hopefully you all take this well-received - that it kind of mirrors what we're trying to do outside of this higher education landscape in our own personal lives. And so many of us have probably had several limitations on how we can see people and how we can interact the ways that we would prefer to. But I think there are some bright spots - though we may be able to not do it the same way we would be normally doing it, the relationship between the student and the campus can still be facilitated. And so I think this requires us to use different approaches and be very flexible in some very new ways that we're not used to doing. But I think that the key to a student's still having an enjoyable experience - and one that's fruitful and worth their time - is that it puts the extra emphasis on that relationship. And so to the extent that campuses like IU can be very forthcoming in their communications about what they're doing to show the elements of care and proactivity on this, I think that sends a signal to the student that we'd still welcome them. We still want them to have a fruitful experience and that we're willing to do this together in a way that, over the long term, they shouldn't be losing too much of what they hoped to get in the beginning in normal circumstances.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Have you seen other examples in other universities or things that were just, you know, particularly interesting to you?
>>AMELIA PARNELL: Yeah. I mean, I think the early stages of this - it's a one kind of micro example, but I know that some campuses - back to the point I made about students not having - all of them having internet access - they set up parking lot spaces. So students could drive up to the campus, remain in their car, and actually still access the Wi-Fi and be able to access the libraries and things like that. So that's a very tactical example, but I think being proactive that way - it signals to the student, like, hey, we still want you to be here even though it may not necessarily be in person. And we also want to give you the tools and some flexibility in terms of resources to help you do it and stay engaged. So, yes, that's my short answer.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. And I know, Kirk, that IU has done some of that, right?
>>KIRK WHITE: Yes, we sure have. And we've opened that up to community as well - to use the Wi-Fi access at a couple of our locations around the state.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Well, we are out of time. I want to thank our guests today - Kirk White, Dr. Aaron Carroll - and Dr. Carroll's column appears occasionally in the New York Times - Mary Catherine Carmichael, Amelia Parnell, and from the first half of our show Abiodun Davids, a parent of the incoming IU student. For all of our help today - producers Bente Bouthier, John Bailey, and Mark Chilla. For engineers Matt Stonecipher and Mike Paskash. For my usual co-host Sarah Whitmire, I'm Bob Zaltsberg, thanks for listening.
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>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: NOON EDITION is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at wfiu.org. Production support for NOON EDITION comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at smithville.com. And from the Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at bloomhf.org.
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