Colorado State calibrates pandemic response for spring, building on lessons learned

Colorado State University is heading into the Spring 2021 semester with a recalibration and expansion of its pandemic teams.

The Pandemic Preparedness Team, which advises university leadership on all matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to be co-chaired by Lori Lynn, executive director of the CSU Health Network, and Assistant Vice President for Safety and Risk Services Marc Barker. Barker will also serve as facilitator of the PPT.

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The Spring 2021 at CSU town hall for the university community on Jan. 15 has reached registration capacity. The session, which will provide updates and answer questions about the Spring 2021 semester that begins on Jan. 19, will be recorded and captioned for later viewing and posted on the COVID website. The CSU community can still submit questions if they are not registered to attend the town hall. Questions may be submitted prior to the session.

The Rapid Recovery Response Team will continue to be led by Vice President for Research Alan Rudolph and Chief Medical Research Officer Heather Pidcoke. Other teams reporting to the PPT will specifically advise on budgets, communications, data governance, logistics, policy and legal review, public health and teaching continuity and recovery.

“Our pandemic teams are made up of extraordinary individuals, and our campus will forever be indebted to them for their time, expertise and wisdom in 2020 as we worked tirelessly to keep campus as healthy as possible, while also keeping academics and operations moving,” said President Joyce McConnell. “The spring semester gives us a chance to put into place all the lessons we learned last year. Adjusting and recalibration is critical to successfully overcoming complex challenges of the pandemic and managing our return to more regular campus operations.”

Spring semester and beyond

McConnell’s decision team includes Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen, Vice President for University Operations Lynn Johnson, and representatives from the Office of General Counsel. President McConnell said she will also rely on the expertise and leadership of others on the PPT to guide CSU’s spring semester and planning for 2021 and beyond.

“Colorado State is uniquely positioned to emerge from the shadow of this pandemic because of our incredible research capabilities and, moreover, our CSU community that is so dedicated to taking care of each other,” McConnell said.

The PPT and RRT members meet several times each day, culminating in a joint meeting every afternoon. The new organizational structure will help streamline both the reporting of issues and the decision-making process.

“We want to be as nimble as possible,” said Barker, who assumed his role as AVP in December. “We learned last semester that [public health] guidance changes by the week, sometimes by the day, and we want to ensure CSU is in the best possible position to be successful. It’s going to take the collective work of the entire CSU community to climb out of the pandemic canyon. I think we can do so in a way that puts CSU in a position to quickly recover and move forward.”

The university community can always find the most up-to-date information about CSU’s COVID response on the COVID Information and Resources site. Questions can be submitted through the form on the site.

Forever Stalwart: Rising Above the Pandemic

This article is part of the “Forever Stalwart: Rising Above the Pandemic” series, telling the inside stories of how the CSU Ramily has rallied its brilliant minds, great hearts, creativity and collaborative spirit to continue its land-grant mission and overcome the challenges of COVID-19 with innovation and resilience.