Clemson University Update – Kyra Lobbins, Deputy Chief of Staff
Clemson is in a good place—will get through this. Clemson went into the pandemic ahead of the curve and will come out ahead of the curve.
Brought students back from study abroad early
Business continuity plan in place that’s been worked on over the last 4 years in case of a major issue that disrupted campus operations.
EOC—emergency operations committee meeting every work day for the past 2 months
End of semester and summer programs: final 1/3 of semester has been completely online. April 24 was final day of classes
Students from different backgrounds: rural, limited wi-fi. Sent laptops and hotspots to rural areas
Summer 2020 instruction moved online, study abroad canceled, summer camps canceled. New student orientation will be virtual
No traditional commencement, but hope to have on-campus graduation either later in the summer or in the fall when classes resume.
Refunded $15 million in student fees—housing, dining, etc.
Role in supporting Oconee tornado—pivoted to look for ways to help: facilities crew did tree cleanup, Clemson FD responded to emergency calls and contributed to search & rescue efforts, 60 employees volunteered in Seneca
Clemson faculty supporting COVID-19 research: adjusted research operations in 3 ways:
To preserve the health of faculty and employees
Work to preserve essential research function to the extent possible
Alternative research functioning: several faculty are working with MUSC and Prisma to help come up with ways to improve testing for COVID-19
Strategy for 2020 school year? Phased opening approach from now until then, with faculty and staff returning in a tiered approach, weeks at a time. Plan will be based on science and recommendations for student safety, but the focus is on being able to resume classes in the fall.
Freeze tuition/fees for next year; housing/dining fees will be decided on soon. Hiring freeze in place, hoping to avoid furloughs.
Hotel/conference center closed; golf course, botanical garden and experimental forest opening up May 1
Football—many options on the table: football season moved to January? Only regional? No fans? Only 8 games?
Federal Update – Jeff Duncan, SC- District 3 Representative
Approach to COVID-19 similar to national COVID task force, delegated across 16 employees that serve 3rd congressional district.
Voted for $2 trillion in spending for rapid restart to economy. Supported CARES Act, and PPP.
More than $587,000 loans totaling to over $43B have been approved for lenders with less than $10B in assets (smaller banks). Lenders with between $10 and $50B in assets (medium banks) have been approved for more than 206,000 loans totaling $20B. Lenders with greater than $50B in assets have been approved for 167,000 totalling over $25B dollars.
Set up in 7-10 days, some glitches where portal froze. Portal closed yesterday for a time so small businesses could access loans.
Making many calls to constituents, small business owners and chambers to see how staff can help.
If a bonafide letter of rehiring has been issued and employee chooses to stay home, no access to $600 unemployment bump.
Q&A from call:
Is there consideration for expanding WYOA funding to states? SC saw significant reduction in adult, youth, and dislocated worker funding. Staff member will reply. Duncan believes money will trickle down to states.
How will we pay for debt? Duncan not for tax increases, would like to address federal spending. Delve into mandatory spending program, tariffs, punitive measures toward China.
Will 501c6 organizations be included in future funding efforts? Reached out to Ways and Means Committee, possibly in a third traunch of money. Not planning to changing classification, but add to future legislation.
Do you advocate reduction in social security, Medicare or are there other programs to reduce? No, but changes might be made for future beneficiaries under 50 years old now. Might look at SNAP and WIC and housing due to $26T in debt. Every topic on the table. Congress will ensure it does not impact certain populations.
Greenwood & Abbeville – Marisel Losa, United Way of Greenwood & Abbeville
Greenwood Emergency Response Committee trying to connect people to resources
Other counties are providing a positive update and community challenge shared by Sharon Purvis
Hannah Jarrett, director of financial stability strategy, United Way of the Piedmont (for Spartanburg, Union, and Cherokee Counties):
Encouraging: We applied for and received funding for food/shelter from the One SC Fund. This funding will be distributed to nonprofit partners providing food/shelter in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties. Most nonprofit recipients have been notified this week.
UWP is convening regular calls with the nonprofit community. We are encouraged by the collaboration, coordination, and creativity of the nonprofit community to address the unique needs of our community during COVID-19.
Challenges: Pantries are struggling to keep their shelves stocked, mostly related to supply chain issues. Organizations in all three counties have not been able to make bulk purchases to stock their shelves. Stores aren’t letting this happen and volume is an issue. We have brought a group together to discuss making a group bulk purchase but also engaging local farmers to bulk purchase from them, because they are having challenges of their own.
There is concern about the moratorium of evictions being lifted tomorrow. We anticipate an influx of need and requests over the next couple of weeks related to this – with abnormally high bills from people who’ve had to skip payments due to financial hardship. We encourage people who have been impacted by COVID-19 to call 2-1-1 to be connected to resources, organizations, and financial assistance.
Jon Caime, Laurens County Administrator:
Encouraging: “I’m encouraged by a lot of things. Laurens is going to propel forward coming out of this.” There is growth in the northern part of the county, growth along the interstate, and a new spec building outside of Grey Court. The industrial base is strong.
Challenging: The biggest challenge is the unknown. “My number one concern, speaking economically, is figuring out how to open up. I’m concerned about the effects on our small businesses.”
Dave Eldredge for Oconee County:
Encouraging: As all know, we had a severe tornado that almost leveled Borg Warner factory that employs 900+ employees as well as residential areas.. Its amazing to see the progress being made to get it repaired and open again. The BW HR staff is operating out of our Oconee Economic Alliance office.
From small business area: Encouraging thing, my clients realize this is a new world and they have to have better emergency plans…
Challenging thing, a number of small firms and maybe nonprofits as well will definitely not survive
Lindsey Tabor, Communications and PR Manager, Hispanic Alliance
by Lindsey Tabor, Communications & PR Manager, Hispanic Alliance, with Sharon Purvis
The Hispanic Alliance was born as a network of people within the Upstate’s Hispanic community, along with individuals—educators, pastors, and others—who work in and with that community. That network became a non-profit, and ten years later, the network is more than 2,000 strong and counting. With community teams around four pillar areas—education, financial stability, health, and legal services—the group seeks to connect Spanish speakers in the Upstate with the resources they need.
Q: Tell us about your ongoing interventions and how they’re impacted by COVID-19.
When COVID-19 hit, we knew there would be an immediate need for trustworthy information. We knew that without a vocal advocate, the needs of the Hispanic community could be muted amidst many competing concerns. Though heartbroken to cancel our Community Team events, we pivoted immediately to a massive outreach and communications push. We are collecting data on needs reported by Hispanics and those who serve them through our COVID-19 Community Survey of Needs, as well as our outreach staff’s documentation of community calls. We successfully convened our four Community Teams virtually, and our April Network Meeting had record-breaking virtual attendance. All these sources feed our new bilingual COVID-19 resource webpages, and weekly newsletters to spread the word to the community. For those who lack internet access, we are partnering with local Hispanic businesses and essential services to provide our information flyer to families.
Q: You told me that you’re finding that the Spanish-speaking community is severely under-informed about the virus itself, precautions they need to take, and health, financial, educational and legal resources available in Spanish. What are some things that employers, churches, educators, and agencies who work with this community can do to help disseminate information?
Trust is the most valuable currency of the Hispanic community. An important step for allies is to form relationships with “bridge builders,” people who speak the cultural “language” of both the Hispanic community and mainstream American culture. This may be a bilingual pastor of a Spanish church, or an ESOL teacher, or a Hispanic outreach specialist.
Also, take time to translate. Contract a translator or find bilingual volunteers to translate your most important announcements and materials and then spread the word using media popular with Spanish-speakers. Many are getting their news and information from social media apps and Facebook groups. Local Spanish radio is also a tried and true form of communication.
And remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Know where to refer Spanish speakers for information and personal guidance in their language. Our Hispanic Alliance Outreach Coordinator (864.256.0760) welcomes calls and is adept at referring folks to the resources in the community that will meet needs and help them feel safe. English speaking “allies” can also find a wealth of bilingual resources at our English COVID-19 landing page.
Q: You completed a survey earlier this year of needs within the Spanish-speaking community. Can you talk about what some of those needs were and how they might be compounded or at least impacted by the pandemic?
Hispanics in Greenville may not understand the basics of the American financial, legal, healthcare, and education systems. They just don’t have the experience that natives take for granted. This leads to underutilization and distrust of banking services, lack of access to legal and health services due to language and cost barriers, lack of personal experience with the public education system of their children, and many legal and practical barriers to resources. Lack of information leaves Hispanic families vulnerable to scams, misinformation and rumors, and means that their hard work will not pay off for them in the form of increased stability, the same way it does for those born in the US.
At least 21% of local Hispanics live in a household making less than $25,000 annually (below the poverty level), and only a third of our participants reported saving for emergencies. Any job loss or cut in hours due to the pandemic would leave these families with no safety net. That is what we are seeing with our current survey of needs, as well as requests coming to our Outreach Coordinator—financial worries due to a lost job, and corresponding food insecurity, are becoming more pronounced as we track these needs through April. Hispanic business owners may have less awareness of loans that can help their business, and face greater communication barriers when applying for these through their banks. Our community is at risk, and fewer tools are offered to them to maintain stability.
Q: What else do you want people to know about how the Hispanic Alliance and the Spanish-speaking community is responding to this crisis?
Among the 10 most common industries for our local Hispanic workers are construction, cleaning services/hospitality industry, manufacturing, food preparation, and healthcare. We also know that Hispanics disproportionately keep our agricultural markets afloat (though this is a population that was harder to reach for our assessment). These jobs are either essential services, where Hispanics will be working longer hours, further exposed to COVID-19, or they are industries that have been wiped out, such as our hospitality industry. At the same time many of these Hispanics, whose work was and is keeping the U.S. economy afloat, are prevented from receiving unemployment insurance, aid from the IRS, and help from many locally run agencies who rely on government funds.
Nevertheless, the Hispanic community is leaping into action to keep the entire community safe and moving forward together. We are currently sharing some of these stories in social media format on Instagram/Facebook @HispanicAllianceSC. There is more to come as we continue to find innovative and collaborative ways to meet needs that will continue to exist long after social isolation.
by Michael Cunningham, Vice President for Advancement, AnMed Health, with Sharon Purvis
AnMed Health, Anderson County’s largest employer, has been serving Anderson and surrounding counties in the Upstate and Georgia with comprehensive healthcare for over 110 years. With its mission “to passionately blend the art of caring with the science of medicine to optimize the health of our patients, staff and community,” the hospital, like hundreds of others across the country, is facing an unprecedented challenge in COVID-19.
Michael Cunningham, VP for Advancement, AnMed Health
Q: What staffing changes have you made during this health crisis?
Like all upstate hospital systems we’ve responded to reduced volumes by making some difficult temporary staffing decisions. These include reductions in some team members’ work hours; reductions in the salaries of all individuals in the organization with the title of Manager and above, which includes the Executive team; and finally, some team members were furloughed.
Q: What procedural changes have you made (sanitation, etc.)?
There have been a number of substantial operational changes but perhaps three of the major ones are visitation, staff and visitor masking, and elective surgeries. AnMed Health’s new visitation policy allows three circumstances for a visitor to accompany a patient: End of Life situations, Labor and Delivery, and the parent or guardian of a pediatric patient. We now also require all employees as well as guests and those coming for appointments to wear a mask upon entering any AnMed Health facility or practice site. We have temporarily suspended most outpatient and elective procedures, but we plan to revisit this change in the next week. Finally, we have shifted a tremendous volume of our physician practice visits to e-visits.
Q: Do you have the supplies you need?
Thanks to a tremendous outpouring from the community and our local businesses, as well as the almost around the clock vigilance of our supply chain professionals, we have been able to maintain the bulk of the supplies we need. We are still struggling with gaining access to the materials to conduct rapid in-house testing.
Q: How are you handling your emergency services?
We screen every patient upon entry to our ED with questions around travel history, potential community exposure, and other clinical questions. In addition, we take their temperature and then mask the patients. Family members are not allowed to accompany patients except under special circumstances and our staff in the ED all utilize appropriate PPE. Finally, we maintain close communication with all of the EMS providers in the community, allowing us to begin the triage process for patients brought in by ambulance prior to them arriving.
Q: What is your normal, pre-COVID bed occupancy rate vs. now?
Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, our average daily census at our Medical center was approximately 275–290 patients. The past several weeks we’ve seen that average daily census drop to 165–180 patients, which has led to the staffing challenges.
Q: What partnerships have you formed to help deal with this outbreak?
We’ve worked closely with our local governments and the representatives of our state and federal government, our not-for profit community, our local school districts and technical school, our independent physicians, nursing homes, and our local businesses, just to name a few. This pandemic is more than any single entity or organization can address. It takes a team approach and we believe our community has assembled a great team to meet needs and be innovative in our problem solving.
Q: What is the biggest thing you need from the community right now?
Vigilance. We feel strongly that continuing to practice responsible social distancing as well as good hand hygiene is critical. It’s the thing we can do as individuals that will have a huge impact on how quickly we can lessen the impact this has on our families and communities.
These are extraordinary times for all of us in higher education, for our country and, indeed, the world. I never imagined that we would be heading into what normally is among my favorite weeks of the year—May commencement—with virtually no one on our campus and no graduation ceremonies planned.
I have been struck over the past several weeks by just how much I miss our students and the energy they bring to campus. They are the reason all of us at Clemson University come to work every day, and their absence has made me appreciate them even more.
This isn’t the end to the academic year that any of us at Clemson wanted for our students, especially our Class of 2020 graduates, but I can’t help but be proud of the way the university and our students have responded to this unprecedented crisis.
I’m blessed to have great teammates across the university who continue to work every day—and many nights—to deliver on our promise of providing a world-class education to our students. Over the past six weeks, our faculty has moved mountains to provide online instruction to our students, while our staff has navigated more complex, real-time logistical challenges than I can count.
They’ve done it all with two goals in mind: The health and safety of our university community and the education of our students. And while we have, in my view, been extremely successful on both counts, our work is far from finished.
Clemson, like other universities across the state and nation, already has turned its sights on the upcoming academic year, which brings with it far more unknowns that we usually face. Just as communities and states are grappling with how best to “reopen,” universities are working through similar challenges.
We don’t have it figured out just yet, but if the past two months have confirmed anything it’s that the Clemson Family is up for a challenge. We are moving ahead with a goal of returning to campus in the fall, but with the knowledge that our new normal will almost certainly look different than the recent past.
As with all the decisions we have made thus far, our work to reopen the university to traditional instruction and on-campus activities will be guided by the best science and data around the pandemic. Nothing is more important than the safety of the Clemson community, and by extension, the Upstate communities our students and employees call home.
The last few months have been the most challenging in my 31 years of higher education, and the coming months are likely to provide more of the same. Even as I say that, however, I’m optimistic about the future for Clemson and our ability to weather this extended storm. We have the people and plans in place that we need to come out of this strong and in a position to resume the upward trajectory of this great university.
I am beyond grateful to our staff and faculty for their efforts to safeguard the well-being of our community, ensure the academic progress of our students and prepare the University to emerge from the crisis strong.
I’m also in awe of our students, especially those who will graduate this spring. Their spirit and determination are an inspiration, and they are the reason we all get up every day and do what we do.
Ten at the Top (TATT) has announced the addition of Justine Allen to the position of Program and Event Coordinator.
Her role will be to continue building the capacity of Ten at the Top’s task forces and working groups that have an ongoing focus on collaborating to address regional issues. Those groups include the Education Spectrum group, which has been addressing the teacher shortage in South Carolina and is now working on a statewide portal to enter the profession, along with the Teach at the Top campaign; the Senior Issues group, which is exploring issues around an important topic of growing concern as our population ages; the Upstate Entrepreneur Ecosystem, which is made up of organizations and entities that support entrepreneurs, and which is currently offering a weekly series of webinars related to COVID-19; and the Upstate Professional Planners, a group of city and county planners who convene to share best practices around land use and planning policy. She will also be working with the Ten at the Top board of directors committee focused on new initiatives.
Justine brings to Ten at the Top a background in event planning and management; she came to the Upstate originally to work as event planner, charity liaison, and volunteer coordinator on the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament. With that experience, she will take the lead on TATT’s annual events, Pique and Celebrating Successes.
Justine attended UMASS Amherst and has a BS in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration. She has worked as a catering director in hotels and event companies, as a purser/hotel manager on a small cruise ship, and as event planner, charity liaison, and volunteer coordinator on the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament. Most recently, she was the volunteer program manager at Dining for Women’s Greenville headquarters. She lives in Greenville with her husband, Steve, and daughter Gabby.
“Justine started at Ten at the Top at a rather challenging time,” says TATT executive director Dean Hybl. “Although we have not worked together in the office yet, she has done a great job of connecting with our team and with the initiative committees through Zoom, email, and phone calls.”
“I do look forward to being in the office with my new co-workers and having in-person meetings sometime soon,” Justine says, “but for now, we are doing our best to keep Ten at the Top’s initiatives moving forward while practicing safe social distancing.”