COVID-19 Update: City of Denver update and DU's response
Dear DU community members,
As you may have heard from Mayor Hancock's press conference this morning, COVID-19 conditions in Denver have reached a concerning state with rapid increases in cases, as well as hospitalizations. Denver reported 140 new cases on Monday and 375 on Sunday, which was the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) announced today that the City of Denver will move to Safer at Home Level 3, effective tomorrow. Conditions in the State of Colorado are also concerning.
Under this new level, Mayor Hancock announced that retail establishments, churches, and offices must reduce to 25 percent capacity (down from 50 percent); indoor events are now capped at 25 people (down from 50); and gyms and fitness centers will be closed. More details will be announced soon. Higher ed is encouraged to move to hybrid or remote learning and to limit face-to-face learning. Fortunately, DU is already offering the mixture of learning modes the city is now encouraging.
We anticipate that the public health ordinance will be released this evening or early tomorrow, but we wanted to communicate, as soon as possible, about how this change will impact DU’s current status.
Mayor Hancock made a point to stress that Denver colleges and universities had been successful in following health and safety protocols since the public health orders specific to higher education were issued. He also noted that Denver Public Schools would remain at their current operating levels. In general, while he stressed the need to remain quite vigilant in light of the upward trend in cases, he also encouraged people to continue to interact and enjoy what Denver has to offer consistent with public health requirements.
Because of our vigilance with testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine efforts, as well as our disinfection protocols, we have so far this fall experienced relatively low positivity rates on campus. Therefore, because of our proactive measures, even with the city revising its prior ordinance, we do not need to make many adjustments to our current operating modes, and none to our teaching modalities. We do, unfortunately, need to close the Coors Fitness Center, starting tomorrow.
At DU, we had already made adjustments that are in compliance with this new level:
- We are already in “hybrid” instruction, as defined by the total number of students participating in in-person learning relative to our enrollment. No changes to our teaching modalities are necessary at this time.
- We are already significantly de-densified in our buildings. The current public health order requires occupancy at 25 percent or less, and we are and have been under 25 percent across campus. Current badge access records indicate buildings are accessed at under 20 percent of occupancy per day. Thus, no additional behavioral changes are needed at this time to be in compliance.
- This week, we have implemented limitations to visitors, including for research, clinical work and other purposes. We do not currently host in-person admissions tours.
- We are now asking that individuals with field placements or jobs off campus attend these remotely, or, if it presents hardship or educational compromise to attend these remotely, to instead attend DU activities remotely for the remainder of the fall term. We appreciate this presents challenges and may require individual conversations. Due to the high rates of COVID-19 in Denver (and the low rates on campus), this step is critical to keeping our campus safe for occupancy. For individual questions or exceptions, please email COVIDCoordinator@du.edu.
- Our Office of Conference and Event Services will be adjusting our event protocols to conform with the new ordinance.
- The Coors Fitness Center must close, at least temporarily, while we apply for a variance to permit DU to open this facility to our students, faculty and staff.
- At this point, DPS schools are not being asked to adapt their plans; therefore, we do not anticipate changes to Ricks and Fisher. However, we will continue to monitor these requirements closely.
Please be assured that our low positivity rate on campus means that attending class in person or participating in other approved campus activities while following campus policies remains the best way to experience DU. For example, we have monitored closely and have no evidence of classroom transmission. Staying engaged on campus and following protocols (mask wearing, social distancing), provides a way to interact meaningfully and reduces the temptation to engage off campus in less safe ways.
To support your ability to make informed choices, within the next day or two, we will be providing further information and transparency on the updated dashboard — including active cases on and off campus across time, and our total number of tests.
Thank you for continuing to #DUYourPart.