I'm Kerry Bringhurst. You're listening to Utah Public Radio and joining me is Noelle Cockett, President of Utah State University.
Noelle Cocket: Thank you, Kerry.
KB: What is happening at Utah State University in regards to COVID-19 updates and other issues that may be a result of having to do things a bit differently this year when it comes to helping educate students?
NC: We've been having classes in fall semester for about a week and a half. And things are going remarkably well.
We do have positive cases both in the residential halls as well as students who live off-campus and a few staff and faculty. We have a case containment group, that once the positive test results come in people within the case containment team call the individuals to make sure they're doing okay. And to explain what they need for quarantine and self-isolation.
This has really helped keep the risk of infections in control on our campuses and in our centers.
KB: I know that one of the concerns that you and others on campus have is the mental well being of these students, especially who are isolated. What are some of the resources that are available to address these mental health emotional concerns that are associated with self-isolation or required quarantine?
NC: Our CAP (USU Counseling and Psychological Services) staff are available, both in-person but also virtually. Either through Zoom or through phone calls. And so this can be a conversation with the individuals who need more of a connection with others and a professional who can help them work out their anxiety and their feelings of self-isolation.
One of our faculty members in the Department of Psychology, Michael Levin, has developed a phone app. It's called ACT Guide. And it's preventative, early intervention, self-help. And so I really encourage people to download that app and look through it. It talks a lot about both physical and mental well being in light of anxious days and nights.
KB: Well, speaking of anxious days and nights, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a pretty major windstorm that affected all of Cache Valley and also on campus. I know nearby at the Logan City Cemetery, several trees were uprooted. Did we have any damage that you know of as a result of that windstorm here on campus, and did that affect students’ abilities to access their online classes?
NC: We had worried about that. But our internet was up and able to broadcast out remotely to people all across the state.
We had some trees down particularly along Old Main Hill, but our facilities crew was out with chainsaws and shredders and tractors and garbage bins. IT really didn't affect people to access to the classes.
KB: How about those who are trying to access from statewide campuses outside of the Cache Valley area?
NC: The Kaysville Center and the Utah Botanical Center, both areas sustained some damage and Taylorsville Center, where our Salt Lake Campus is also had some internet and power outages. But the good thing about our classes being remote is we've been able to store those away for people that need extra time to look at those lectures or course notes.
I did tell a group of students this morning that we're actually doing a video about registering to vote, which I'm strongly, strongly supporting, that we've made it through a week and a half and we only have 12 and a half weeks more to go.
KB: And for those next 12 weeks, we will keep in contact with you President Cockett about what is happening on the USU campus. Of course, if you'd like to keep up to date daily, you can go to our website at up UPR.org we have all of the information and ways to connect to USU and other resources mentioned during this interview.