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Keeping Pace Safe and Connected

News Story

This month, Director of Emergency Planning Brian Anderson talked with Opportunitas to discuss Pace's COVID-19 Task Force, and how the University is collectively ensuring Pace remains stronger than ever during these uncertain times.

Pace's COVID-19 Task Force has been hard at work for the past several months, ensuring that the University keeps its community safe and connected during this crisis, while also planning for current and future scenarios to make sure that the University will be well positioned to manage and weather future developments as they relate to the pandemic.

In order to best inform the Pace Community as to the Task Force's primary aims and objectives, Director of Emergency Planning and Environmental Health and Safety Brian Anderson took the time to talk with Opportunitas about the situation at hand, touching on everything from the Task Force's day-to-day operations, to the impressive ways Pace is staying connected.

1. What are the primary aims of the COVID-19 Task Force?

Early objectives were set in a time when the situational threat was abroad.  The primary aims were to protect the health of the Pace Community, provide the highest-level medical care, mitigate the impacts to our international students, and continue to promote Opportunitas. 

As the situation became a greater domestic threat, the group was expanded and focus area teams developed to better prepare and respond to a local impact. The focus area teams originally included Academic Continuity, Business Continuity, Campus Operations, and Communications; the teams currently include Case Management, Financial Impact, Government Coordination, and Student Life. 

The original objectives included:

>> Protect the health of all students, faculty, staff, patients, and guests of Pace University from the potential health impacts of COVID-19 through the application of the guidance of government public health authorities and engaging strategic initiatives of the University’s leadership and subject-matter experts
>> Provide medical care of the highest order to any suspected and/or confirmed patients of the 2019-nCoV illness in accordance with the guidance of government public health authorities and leadership of the University’s medical experts
>> Anticipate and subvert any recruitment and enrollment challenges as well as impact to research operations that may stem from travel restrictions to/from or embassy/consular closures in China or other impacted countries
>> Promote Opportunitas and ensure our campus climate is welcoming and open to all

More current charges include:

>> Protect and support the health, safety, and welfare of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the assets of Pace University
>> Maintain commitment to our mission to provide instruction, research, and service
>> Maintain business and administrative operations
>> Recover as quickly and efficiently as possible of any operations that are interrupted or suspended
>> Ensure multi-modal communications on campus, with community

2. How frequently does the task force meet? What are some typical agenda items? 

The full task force meets weekly. A core team meets daily and focus area groups meet as required by situational demands, often daily.

A typical meeting of the task force includes briefings on situational highlights, epidemiological review of key case statistics and trends, global/local travel restrictions related to the pandemic, impacts and best practices from peer institutions, operational reports, updated regulatory guidance and break-out reports from the focus area teams.

3. How are the initiatives and information discussed in the task force disseminated to the Pace Community? How can Pace Community members stay best apprised of COVID-19-related developments and initiatives?

Information discussed in the task force is shared in operational email updates and on the University’s COVID-19 webpage. For major impacts to campus, the information is shared as a push notification through the Pace Safe app or as an emergency notification through the Pace Alert system.

4. How does the task force interpret information from the government?

If we receive a public health directive, the team works in a unified way to make sure its implement as swiftly as possible. As new regulatory guidance is provided to Government and Community Relations or other unit’s subject matter experts at the University, the information is shared with the task force in the daily meetings or digitally.

5. What are you most proud of in regards to what the Task Force has been able to accomplish?

I very grateful that I have been able to be part of a unified response. The Task Force has coordinated efforts across the University to keep our community safe, provide the best academic experience possible, and continue the mission of the university. The transition to online teaching and working was the most impactful accomplishments. 

The recent weeks have been a very stressful time for students, staff, and faculty. Our community has shown their grit and resiliency in the transition to learning, teaching, working, and living at a distance.

For the most updated information on Pace's COVID-19 response, visit the COVID-19 webpage.