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Latest on COVID-19 and campus operations

COO Larry Sampler responds to Denver’s Nov. 6 public health order, invites Roadrunners to tomorrow’s Fall 2020 Feedback sessions and salutes veterans in weekly series.

By Larry Sampler, chief operating officer

November 11, 2020

Dear Roadrunners,

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Colorado, Mayor Michael Hancock provided new public health guidance for the city and county of Denver on Nov. 6. The “Home by 10” order prohibits public and private gatherings of people who are not members of a single household, except for the operation of critical businesses, including higher education institutions. The order is also intended to prevent the spread of the virus by keeping people inside their homes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

In a similar message on Nov. 9, Gov. Jared Polis underscored the serious nature of COVID-19 trajectories in the state. He urged, in particular, that we avoid social interactions beyond our immediate family in an effort to reverse these trends. No one expects a return to “Stay at Home” levels of restrictions, but he did indicate that additional measures might be needed.

We also learned from Pfizer Inc. that the first formal reviews of their COVID-19 vaccine showed that it was more than 90% effective at preventing infection in trial volunteers. This is excellent news, but no cause for celebration yet. Estimates are that the vaccine will begin to be made available as early as December, but that distribution is likely to be challenging.

While this new information does not directly impact our current campus operations at Metropolitan State University of Denver, it does underline the urgency of the situation in our city and state, and the strain being felt by our health care system. As a result, I’m asking that all Roadrunners double down on the health and safety protocols we’ve outlined on the Safe Return to Campus website. Beyond campus, it is also essential that you wear your mask and avoid close contact with anyone outside of your household.  

MSU Denver leaders meet every day to discuss new health orders, the number of COVID-19 cases on campus and how we can continue to keep our community members healthy and safe. As of right now, we still believe we can finish on-campus fall semester classes without needing to pivot to remote learning and operations. You’ve probably read about other Colorado colleges moving online, but unlike MSU Denver, these schools are predominantly those with large numbers of residential students. That said, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and let you know if something changes.

Denver 2 week cumulative chartCOVID-19 exposure notifications

The latest tool in the fight to control the virus is the Colorado Exposure Notifications service you can activate on your phone. Once activated, the service will notify you if you’ve been exposed to a user who may have COVID-19. In its first week, more than 500,000 Coloradans signed up for this simple and completely anonymous service. I’d encourage you to do so, too.  

Fall 2020 Feedback sessions

The Roadrunners Safe Return Committee is hosting three Fall Feedback events Nov. 12, one for each of our respective stakeholder groups – faculty, staff and students. The goal of these meetings is to listen to your feedback on this fall’s planning and execution, so we can be more effective as we move toward spring 2021 and beyond. Please join one of the meetings linked below and share your thoughts. If you’d prefer to watch rather than participate, you can do so on the University’s livestream page.  

Staff Town Hall – 1-1:50 p.m. 

Faculty Town Hall – 2-2:50 p.m. 

Student Town Hall – 3-3:50 p.m.

Other operations notes

We’ve had a few questions from faculty and staff members about ID access to buildings. As of this writing, employee IDs should work as they did prior to March. The operating hours for buildings can be found on the Auraria Higher Education Center’s website. If employees need access to buildings after scheduled hours, please work with your supervisor to make sure you are on the “access matrix.”

Finally, I can’t let today pass without a couple of shoutouts. To all of our veterans in the campus community: Thank you for your service. I know that some of us aren’t always keen on that phrase, but it’s the best, shorthand way I know of to recognize all that you and your families have done to help keep our country safe. I also want to recognize all of the Roadrunners who will be honored at today’s Years of Service celebration for the longevity milestones you’ve achieved at MSU Denver. The changes you’ve seen – and brought about – over the past years will, I hope, pale in comparison to the changes that are yet to come! I am grateful for your contributions.  

Thanks for reading. Hope to see you at one of the feedback sessions tomorrow. If you have questions about anything in this column or about our Safe Return to campus overall, please reach out through this form or via email at


Larry Sampler

Vice president for Administration and Finance and chief operating officer

Topics: Health, Safety

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