Correction: UO adds 29 more positive student cases to last week’s covid count

9/28/2021 update: I reported yesterday, from UO’s covid tracking site, that there’d been only 1 covid case last week. Several readers pointed out they’d got an email yesterday saying there had been 29. Now the official count is up to 30. Note that they’ve also sorted the data on count rather than date, which is silly:

9/27/2021: With > 95% vax rates, only 1 new Covid case at UO last week:

From https://coronavirus.uoregon.edu/cases and https://coronavirus.uoregon.edu/vaccination-dashboard

Returning UO faculty to enjoy anti-viral health benefits of steam heat and fresh air

The older your office or classroom, the more likely you are to survive teaching this fall and winter, because of quack Civil War era science. Bloomberg explains here:

… It turns out that the prodigious output of steam-heated buildings is the direct result of theories of infection control that were enlisted in the battle against the great global pandemic of 1918 and 1919. 

The Spanish Influenza, which caused just over 20,000 deaths in New York City alone, “changed heating once and for all.” That’s according to Dan Holohan, a retired writer, consultant, and researcher with extensive knowledge of heating systems and steam heating. (Among his many tomes on the topicThe Lost Art of Steam Heating, from 1992.)

Most radiator systems appeared in major American cities like New York City in the first third of the 20th century. This golden age of steam heat didn’t merely coincide with that pandemic: Beliefs about how to fight airborne illness influenced the design of heating systems, and created a persistent pain point for those who’ve cohabitated with a cranky old radiator. 

Health officials thought (correctly) that fresh air would ward off airborne diseases; then as now, cities rushed to move activities outdoors, from schools to courtrooms. When winter came, the need for fresh air didn’t abate. According to Holohan’s research, the Board of Health in New York City ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open. 

The memories of the flu pandemic lingered. Engineering books from the 1920s often mentioned this need to design heating systems, notably the boilers and radiators, to operate with all windows open, a requirement of the “fresh air movement,” Holohan says. This health crusade, which has its roots in the post-Civil War era, saw fresh air as a necessity for good health; adherents believed that rooms with closed windows and tight airflow meant that others would breathe in your vapors and catch disease. The theory originated before modern germ theory, at a time when tuberculosis was a significant health threat. “They called unventilated air the ‘national poison,’” Holohan says. 

… A key proponent of the idea was Lewis Leeds, a health inspector for Union Army field hospitals who came to the conclusion that “vitiated,” or spoiled, air was the cause of the many diseases. The “spent breath” of the occupants of poorly ventilated homes contributed to 40% of the deaths in the country, he claimed, and often said “man’s own breath is his greatest enemy.” 

I imagine this explains why the hall formerly known as Deady is hellishly hot, while by the time the HVAC engineers (OK, just HV) got around to PLC they cut things a bit closer on the heating margin.

Anyway, two days back in the office and I’m already learning stuff from hallway conversations again. Thanks to a PLC floormate for the link – not really sure who it was, what with the masks.

Student-Faculty ratio increased in 2020 as UO lost 193 teaching faculty

I’m guessing it will increase again this fall. Rumor is that it will be a banner year for student FTE. Net, we lost 193 faculty between 2019 and 2020, and I’m assuming will see another hit when this fall’s data is released. Meanwhile rumor has it that student credit hours will hit an all time high this fall.

From IR’s “Teaching Faculty to Student Ratio”[sic] page here:

Dean hosts zoom meeting to instruct faculty on mandatory in-person teaching policy

The Greeks had a word for this:

Sent on behalf of Harry Wonham, Divisional Dean for Humanities:

Dear Colleagues,

I have arranged with the Teaching Engagement Program to offer a Fall Teaching Overview for Humanities faculty Monday, September 20, 10:30am-12:00pm. Zoom link: https://uoregon.zoom.us/j/98855984910.

I’ll host the session, which we’ll record for colleagues with conflicting commitments.

This will be a chance, particularly for faculty teaching face-to-face courses, to come together to learn essential information, use the chat to log questions and share ideas, and draw on the support resources that are here to help us and our students.

We’ll highlight:
University COVID-19 policies related to classrooms and teaching;
Academic Council policies and guidance;
Technology-aided teaching support;
Practical strategies for enacting flexibility and teaching and learning masked;
Ideas for supporting student wellbeing and success—with the help of the Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling Services, and UESS.
Please let TEP and me know if you plan to join us:
https://oregon.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6DuZUbOTuvXwqEK.

Best,
Harry Wonham

Pres Schill appoints Josh Gordon as new “Faculty” Athletics Rep to NCAA

Gordon was one of the founders of the “Competition not Conflict” program, which ran sham undergraduate classes in the Law School with help from then Dean Michael Moffitt.

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Joshua Gordon, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow and senior instructor of sports business and law, as the UO’s next faculty athletics representative (FAR). In this role, Joshua will work with the president and the faculty to ensure the academic integrity of the intercollegiate program, promote the well-being of student-athletes, and support institutional control of athletics through oversight of compliance and student eligibility.

Joshua joined the UO School of Law in 2010 with two decades of experience in conflict resolution, business, and legal strategy with a focus on sport and governance. He transitioned to the Lundquist College of Business in 2013 where he has been integral in the development and implementation of immersive student experiences and innovative teaching to undergraduate, MBA, and executive MBA students. He has also developed and led sports business study abroad programs in the Netherlands, Germany, and United Kingdom. He has served in numerous administrative roles, including faculty advisor for the Oregon Consulting Group, director of minors and undergraduate sports business, and faculty advisor and program manager for the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, to name a few.

In 2013, he founded the Sports Conflict Institute (SCI), to ensure high-performance goals in sports can be consistently achieved with integrity. At SCI, he has worked with many NCAA member institutions to provide independent assessment of their programs and to develop a blueprint for fostering a culture that is attuned to both competitive goals and student-athlete academic experience and well-being. Joshua is also an international arbitrator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport, chair of the USA Track and Field SafeSport Appeals Committee, and serves on the editorial board of LawInSport.
A former student-athlete, Joshua earned his bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Brandeis University before receiving a master’s in dispute resolution from the University of Massachusetts Boston and his JD from Suffolk University.

Joshua will begin his appointment on September 15, 2021. As announced in May, the current FAR, Tim Gleason, plans to retire at the end of this calendar year. Tim will continue in his role until December 31 as co-FAR to ensure a smooth transition.

I again would like to thank Tim for his dedication and leadership during his time as the FAR, and for his willingness to contribute his expertise as he transitions into retirement.

I would also like to thank the search committee, chaired by Hans Dreyer, associate professor of human physiology, for their time and service throughout the search process.

I am very pleased that Joshua has agreed to take on this new role. The professional and personal experience he brings will contribute significantly to advancing our commitment to supporting the academic success and well-being of our student-athletes. Please join me in congratulating Joshua and welcoming him to his new role as faculty athletics representative.

Sincerely,
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

UO offers $5K prizes to anti-Vax students who submit “philosophical exemption”

You can’t make this shit up. From Around the O:

The University of Oregon is offering a total of $50,000 in prizes to students who complete compliance with the UO’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements earlier than the prescribed deadlines.

Any student who has completed the policy requirement will be eligible for the drawing. Compliance is either uploading proof of vaccination or applying for an exemption. Students who have uploaded their vaccination requirements by Friday, Sept. 10, at noon are eligible to win. Prizes range from $1,000 to $5,000.

On any Sunday,

you will probably find me in my ’87 Caballero making a run to the Glenwood Transfer Station, Eugene’s finest recycling center and garbage pit. If you’re a friend of the blog and have some stuff to add to the load, drop me an email.

This load cost $32.50 to get rid of. It included a bunch of recyclable cardboard boxes (recycling gets you a $1 discount) as well as a mattress and a boxspring ($12 each to drop off, ouch). Underneath are about 100 lbs of iron from a bedframe and random car parts. Sometimes I take the metal to Schnitzer – if you wait around they’ll pay you a bit for it, but at 6 mpg I’m not sure a special trip is environmentally or economically efficient.

This was my second trip of the day, the first was a load of books to St. Vinnies. Terry McDonald does good work and he knows how to find a good, paying home for your unwanted books. Yes I’m talking to you, Professor!

Special thanks to my daughter for helping load and unload.

Overconfident Provost’s Office thinks they have a clue about what will happen next with Covid:

Full email here.

What You Need to Know

Fall In-person Instruction and Operations: 

Thanks to carefully developed safety plans, the UO remains confident and committed to welcoming students back to campus for in-person learning, living, and experiences for fall term. Our full suite of safety plans and tools include: requiring vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff [except those with philosophical objections who watch a video], requiring face coverings [not really, see the FAQ below], activating a regular testing strategy [regular but slow – UO won’t promise testing results quicker than 4 days], and other measures. See the COVID-19 website for more information. 

Vaccination: More than 95% of UO students and employees who’ve submitted their information are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have not already submitted, please take action now.
Students are required to use myUOHealth to submit their records. Students in residence halls must do so by September 14; all others by September 27. Remember, students who submit by September 12 will be entered to win prizes.Employees are required to complete a secure online form. The form is mobile-friendly and can be completed using any device. The deadline is September 17.Learn more on the UO vaccine webpage.

Information Session: UO Safety and Risk Services will be hosting an info session for university employees on the latest campus event regulations and UO event guidance. The session takes place Tuesday, August 31, at 1:30 p.m. Register for this session. See the regulation details.

Help Wanted: The Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP) K-12 testing program is hiring, with multiple immediate openings to help provide free testing to K-12 schools in southern Oregon counties. Complete details are on the K-12 testing webpage.

Featured FAQ

Will classes be held in rooms at full capacity?
Classes are scheduled at their pre-COVID capacities for fall 2021.

Will students be required to wear masks in class?
Yes, the university has an indoor face-covering requirement, including classroom spaces, for all individuals. The face-covering requirement will continue to follow CDC and other public health authority sector guidance for higher education and will be based on public health indicators, including campus vaccination rates, campus case rates, community case rates, CDC transmission rates, and hospitalization data.

Can an instructor teach in-person classes without a mask if they can maintain at least 6 feet of distance from the students?
Yes, a fully vaccinated instructor who is at least 6 feet away from an audience can remove their mask when all others in the room are masked. If the room cannot accommodate 6-foot distancing between an instructor and students, the instructor must remain masked.
See more information for instructors and researchers on the Office of the Provost website.

See all the UO’s COVID-19 FAQs.

SCOTUS gives lowly faculty a chance to get a piece of big-time college sports wealth

Give the front four a pass then bet on the home team. Or the opposite. Law school prof Marc Edelman has the details in Forbes:

In the three years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its seminal decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, at least 21 new states have legalized some form of sports betting. Most of these states have taken reasonable steps to prevent athletes and game officials from betting on particular sports. But, to date, no state has imposed a ban on college administrators or faculty from betting on their students’ games. …

But note his disclaimer: “Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice.

Faculty Union delivers sensible list of Covid “asks” to Johnson Hall bosses

The full message is here. Ask Number One:

Ask 1 – Flexibility for Illness and Quarantine

We told the administrators that our first priority was for instructional faculty to have a process for moving their class to a remote modality if they have COVID, need to quarantine, or have children who cannot attend school because of COVID.

Going into the conversation, we anticipated that this would be our most difficult ask. To date, we have only been told “the course schedule is the course schedule,” and it cannot be altered, leaving faculty no flexibility to take care of themselves or their children if needed.

We raised the issue that faculty and/or their household members may contract COVID, be exposed, or find themselves in a quarantine situation. When a child tests positive in a childcare center, that center or classroom often closes, and children are asked to get tested and to quarantine. School-age children who contract or are exposed to COVID will also be required to quarantine. Under these circumstances teaching remotely would be a logical solution if the faculty member is not too ill.

The administrators seemed receptive to this idea. They liked that it had “triggers” that were clear and would have a definitive ending period. They seemed to agree that there might be circumstances when it was unsafe for faculty to be in a classroom, and that there might be situations where faculty had unavoidable commitments preventing them from being at work. 

When the conversation moved to a larger discussion about faculty being professionals who can choose when it is necessary to change a course modality, we had a more difficult time. For instance, we raised the issue of faculty parents who are concerned about sending their children to school or day care during a pandemic. The administrators reiterated their objection to faculty working remotely due to their “fears” about COVID. We had some sharp conversation about when “fears” during a pandemic justified action and whether they should be dismissed at all. It was clear, though, that the administration is not willing to be flexible about teaching modalities outside of those dictated by medical requirements or government-directed quarantine.

To be clear, if a faculty member has a medically required reason to teach remotely, they can pursue accommodations through Human Resources. This appears to be the one and only way the administration sees teaching remotely as an acceptable solution. If you have had any difficulty with the accommodations process, please reach out to us and we can help.

We hope the administration will act in a timely and collaborative manner with us to work through remote options for faculty, but in general, the conversation around this topic was tough and took the bulk of our meeting time. While many of us faculty see this as a fairly simple request for instructors of record to adjust their class modality as necessary given the extreme and unusual circumstances of the pandemic, our administrators are finding this topic difficult to navigate.

Knight Campus scientists use Prefontaine Track Meet crowds to test UV light machine’s effectiveness against Delta variant

While prior research (e.g. Biasin et. al 2021) has found that UV light is effective in inactivating Covid-19 in controlled laboratory conditions, Knight Campus scientists are the first to attempt a large scale study of this effect “in the wild”.

A large sample of test subjects were recruited using the guise of attending a track meet in Eugene Oregon. The excitement of the track events ensured cheering and yelling – activities known to increase viral transmission. Subjects were assigned seats at varying distances from the UV light (as shown in figure A) to ensure variation in the treatment effect.

Subjects were not individually tested prior to the event, but urine and feces were collected from restrooms to estimate initial viral load. The effectiveness of UV exposure will be determined as subjects are identified in post-meet hospital admissions and names are compared with the HayWard Field seating chart.