A series of videos is guiding students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as it maintains the safest possible environment this semester. The series, created by professor of immunology Brian Merkel, covers a range of topics, including why young people should remain vigilant about the virus, the science of vaccines and the reasons for getting a flu shot. The videos, which are also meant to dispel myths and rumors about the pandemic, appear to be having an impact. The university’s COVID dashboard shows a positivity rate of 0.87%, out of about 5,400 tests since the beginning of September. About 7,600 students are enrolled at the university’s four locations.
A local university has decided to push its December Commencement Ceremony to May 2021. According to a letter shared with WFRV Local 5, UW-Green Bay says the decision is in response to the “current global health crisis.”
Balances in tuition reserve funds across the University of Wisconsin System are at their lowest levels since 2008. Without a significant cushion, some campuses are cutting spending and staff to address financial problems caused by declining enrollment, the coronavirus pandemic and eight years of frozen tuition.Data obtained by WPR through a state open records request show that leftover revenues known as tuition fund balances fell at most UW System campuses between the 2017-18 school year and June of 2020.Tuition fund balances are revenues left over after expenses are paid in a prior campus budget year and are used to safeguard a university against declines in revenue from tuition or reductions in state funding.
…A WPR review of balances for “unrestricted funds” — a broad category of funds that includes tuition reserves — at state universities shows only UW-Green Bay meets the benchmark of having three months of reserves on hand. UW System leaders have stressed for years that a majority of funds described as “unrestricted” are actually dedicated for things like future construction, maintenance, student assistance and paying debt service.
Green Bay is one of three campuses without a savings plan to see tuition balances grow between the 2017-18 school year and June 30, 2020. The university has bucked the trend of declining enrollment, reporting annual gains since 2015.
But because the campus’s tuition balances now makes up more than 12 percent of its expenditures, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Michael Alexander said it has to submit a plan showing how it will bring them down, another requirement from lawmakers.
“We need to make sure that we keep growing, that we spend that down appropriately and reinvest in the campus to keep us moving forward,” said Alexander.
NORTHEAST, WI (NBC 26) — COVID-19 cases across Wisconsin have steadily climbed for a month now. In the last 31 days, the average positivity rate for the virus according to DHS is at 14 percent. But local universities and colleges are doing much better than that, some with a positivity rate on campus of less than one percent. Some colleges and universities across Northeast Wisconsin are seeing much lower positivity rates of COVID-19 than the communities that surround them.
“They have a very good strategy in terms of testing frequently, identifying those who are positive and getting them isolated and out of exposure to other people,” says Amber Allen the Executive Director of Primary Care Quality and Innovation for Prevea Health.
And as communities, surrounding college campuses try to replicate a trend going on in many higher learning institutions, health care leaders are optimistic that communities can learn from the example set.
“I do think that there is going to have to be some additional mitigation strategies to continue to contain this virus,” says Allen.
Right now, UWO has a positivity rate amongst staff and students of eight percent, UWGB has a positivity rate of just over one percent, and Lawrence University in Appleton has students testing positive for COVID-19 at a rate of less than one percent over the past month.
Brian Merkel is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs. He joined Rachel Manek on Good Day Wisconsin to discuss why it’s important to educate oneself about the coronavirus and influenza and understand the science behind the viruses.
The rising number of cases has hit colleges statewide, with some having to go into quarantine and virtual learning. But despite that, administrators at UW Green Bay are experiencing lower numbers of positive tests.
Vince Lowery, Director of Student Success & Engagement at UW-Green Bay, provides steps for students who test positive or may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and are under isolation and/or quarantine. Please reach out to your professors to let them know that you will be out indefinitely. Let them know that it’s your intention to continue in their course and complete your work. If you need assistance, the Dean of Students will work with your instructors to facilitate remote learning. Most importantly, if you are too ill to participate in classes, the Dean of Students will work with students and instructors in applying the Extended Absence Policy. Contact info: https://www.uwgb.edu/dean-of-students/contact-us/. Any questions related to COVID-19, reach out to the Office of COVID-19 Response at email@example.com or by calling 920-465-5060.
Video Transcript for How do I keep up with my classes if I’ve been quarantined?
Hello, my name is Vince Lowery. I’m the Director of Student Success and Engagement at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and I want to speak to you today in particular about ways that you can engage your faculty and the support services that are available to students who have been quarantined or are in isolation as a consequence of exposure to COVID-19 or positive tests for COVID-19.
When you are moved into quarantine or are placed into isolation your instructors will see receive this communication which is standard protocol from the Dean of Students Office, you’re currently dealing with a personal illness and that you will be out indefinitely. Now you might be thinking what’s the next step. What do I do?
What I want to do is offer a few very specific action steps that you can follow in order to try to mitigate as best we can the stress and anxiety that your courses might cause alongside the move into quarantine or isolation. First, after you’ve been moved into quarantine or isolation, reach out to your professors. You’re under no obligation to tell them what’s happened. When you reach out to your instructors, acknowledge the fact that they’ve been contacted by the Dean of Students Office, something to the effect of “Dear Professor Lowry, you’ve already been contacted by the Dean of Students Office letting you know that I will be out for an indefinite period of time. Know that it is my intention to continue in this course and complete my work in a timely manner.”
Now if it’s a face-to-face class that’s probably going to require accommodations of some form for your professor to relay information assignments, expectations, deadlines to you so, that you can complete that work remotely. If your class is virtual, asynchronous, or hybrid you should still be able to continue the course as long as your health permits. To the extent possible, remain in contact, regular contact with your instructors. Any questions you have, any concerns you might have, any difficulties that you encounter, and if your situation changes, you certainly want to be in contact with your professors. Know too that the Dean of Students Office will be able to support you in handling communications if your situation, specifically your health changes.
Understand that instructors have been advised to provide reasonable accommodations to all students impacted by COVID-19. If at any time you have issues with the accommodations that you’re provided, need additional support in advocating for those accommodations, you can contact the Dean of Students Office. Communication is key. It’s important that you then reach out, you stay on top of things to the best of your ability. They’re going to accommodate you to the degree that they can or when you return from quarantine or isolation, they can then formulate a plan. Communication is key and if you need support with those accommodations, you can reach out to the Dean of Students Office for assistance. And please know too, that I am a resource you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be more than happy to take time to chat by phone by virtual call or by email to support you in whatever capacity we can. While we’re facing unprecedented times, our ability to get through this and for you to achieve your goals will come as a consequence of us working together at every stage.
Your goals are our goals and together we will persist. Together, we will rise.
University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson is calling the plan to use antigen testing to screen all dorm residents for the new coronavirus a success, while also noting the UW System is behind its goals for weekly surveillance.
Some campuses, like UW-Green Bay have had few COVID-19 positives reported…
Thompson pointed to UW-Green Bay as an example of campuses doing well with cases and testing. The University has tested a total of 1,721 students under the UW System antigen testing program, which is just over its entire dorm population.
Despite outbreaks and two of 13 UW System campuses pausing in-person instruction, Thompson told Wisconsin Health News on Friday that closing UW campuses “is not on the table.”
This video series features UW-Green Bay’s Immunologist Brian Merkel on COVID-19 and Why it Matters. This series empowers viewers with knowledge to help them navigate through the pandemic. Merkel has a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia. He is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs and has an appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He will be responding to a number of questions related to COVID19 and try to get behind the “why” it’s important to be educated in your decision-making as we navigate the pandemic together.
Video Transcript – COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 6: Can pandemics be stopped before they start?
Hi, I’m Brian Merkel, Immunologist at UW-Green Bay, and we’re here to talk about Why COVID-19 matters to you. I think an important question is, can pandemics be stopped before they start? And the answer to that is possible but very, very difficult. The evidence indicates that COVID-19 originated from China. At the end of the day we live in a global society and what that means realizing that when disease is anywhere it can be and is always diseases can be everywhere. It really becomes a matter of where we want to apply our resources. Because it’s very difficult to stop a pandemic in terms of preventing it from ever starting. But if we invest in health care and other measures that are going to put us in the best position possible to deal with these problems when they arise the better off we’re all going to be. Particularly with respiratory diseases like COVID-19 you can be asymptomatic and spread the disease. We can circle the globe within 24 hours by jet so, these things are very, very difficult to stop. But the question becomes what are we going to do when they start? And the more we invest in good public health measures the better off we’re going to be.
COVID-19 Why it Matters:
- Video Series Introduction with Brian Merkel https://youtu.be/M-yYPSPk30Q
- Part 1: What are viruses and where did this one come from https://youtu.be/DYbiIv8ICgs
- Part 2: Two main types of viruses https://youtu.be/O-OVk3rx96s
- Part 3: Why is this virus serious? https://youtu.be/EDFyNN8i5G4
- Part 4: Why wash hands/wear mask? https://youtu.be/FlcAvlt876Y
- Part 5: I’m young! Why should I care? https://youtu.be/TDrEV_beY1U
- Part 6: Can pandemics be stopped before they start? https://youtu.be/lgWnJZNYbFI
Some campuses, including UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout and UW-Superior have posted relatively small numbers of positive COVID-19 cases via university or UW System dashboards, though total test numbers have also been small compared to other campuses. UW-Stout started antigen testing this week. Classes began last Wednesday. The campus testing dashboard shows a total of 86 tests between Sept. 8 and Sept. 11, including 18 positives. That works out to a total positive rate of nearly 21 percent. Antigen test results have not yet been reported. Source: WPR.