Master Your Finances Kurt Baker with Kelly Bidle – Transcript

Written by on August 22, 2020

00:00 ANNOUNCER: Good morning, and welcome to Weekend Rewind. Today we’ve got Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner with Certified Wealth Management and Investment, LLC. Where he’ll share all his financial tips and tricks to help you with your personal wealth management. Remember, you can catch Kurt at his normal time, Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy Master Your Finances, only on 107.7 The Bronc.
00:26 Kurt Baker: Good morning and welcome back to another edition of Master Your Finances, presented by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. I am Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner professional, located in Princeton, New Jersey. I can be reached on our website, which is, or you can call me directly at 609-716-4700. This week, very pleased to have with us Dr. Kelly Bidle, who’s the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Kelly, very happy to have you on today. And I thought what we might wanna talk a little bit about is you’re in education realm, a writer as a Dean, and I know that we’ve had a lot happening throughout the year. So I thought you might start off by just giving a little bit of background about how things worked prior to all of this happening, what would be kind of a normal way of operating the college, and then maybe we’ll move on from there. So what is kind of the normal way we used to operate colleges?
01:16 Kelly Bidle: Sure, yeah. Thanks for having me on, Kurt. I appreciate it. So for those of you that are familiar with higher education, the normal way is, for many residential colleges, we have students living on campus. We have our classes taking part nearly wholly on campus, in classrooms, faculty and students interacting with each other, students living in dorms. Typical college experience. But obviously, back in March things changed very dramatically, and so like all higher education places of business across the country, we had to pivot very quickly. Pivot is a word we’ve used a lot in the last six months, I will say. And so back in March when the pandemic hit, and the seriousness and the gravity of the situation hit, Rider, like almost all universities, realized we were going to have to close, and obviously closing in the middle of a semester poses very unique and interesting challenges. And so basically, we had spring break to figure out, “How would we continue to deliver our curriculum remotely over the next six to seven weeks. And so we can certainly talk a little bit more about that, but that’s where March took us.
02:24 Kurt Baker: Right. So I’m just gonna think back… I just remember, myself… Is like I remember the announcement, “Okay, everybody, we’re gonna shut… ” At one point, we had a virus. We go, “Okay, everybody be careful.” And then also they said, “Hey, this is really serious. Let’s shut down for two weeks, and then we’ll come back, and everything be kind of normal.” So can you kinda take us back to what was that initial reaction? To me, most businesses we shut down for two weeks. Not a huge deal. It’s inconvenient, and then as you went through those two weeks, we realized it wasn’t gonna just be two weeks. We’re gonna have to, as you said, pivot and maybe run things a little differently than we were before.
02:54 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. I think when that realization hit that it wasn’t, “Oh, this is temporary. We’ll just get back to business as usual.” With businesses, things got really serious. We recognized that we couldn’t get back to business as usual, because in addition to students in the classrooms, we had students living on campus. And so those are situations where we are the stewards of their health and safety. And so it was really, really critical for us to recognize we couldn’t control for the health and safety, given all of the uncertainties. So we’ve learned so much. Here we are in August. But back in March, we knew so, so little. And so the right and the safe thing to do was to send our students home, as we had to figure out those next steps.
03:40 Kurt Baker: So I’m sure that was interesting. You mentioned spring break. I don’t remember the exact time, but did that correlate fairly similar to spring break periods? Is that what kinda happened.
03:48 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. So I can clearly remember the President calling his Cabinet together, saying, “We have a situation.” And so it’s like what you would probably imagine, 20 people sitting around a large table even like you do in the corporate world, saying, “We have a real situation.” And so what we decided to do is, it was coinciding with spring break, we took a two-week spring break. Students had no classes for two weeks, and the real important reason for that, Kurt, was to allow faculty to prepare to deliver their curriculum remotely. We recognized that a week was a really short period of time to figure out. “How do I do this?” So giving them those two weeks, in theory allowed them more preparation time to finish out the semester remotely.
04:32 Kurt Baker: So it sounds like you kind of knew that you had to be ready, right? Because we really weren’t sure back then. So changing an entire in-person experience where kids are going… I’m envisioning a lot of things. One, I’m on campus, and maybe… It’s not so easy for me to go home. Right. Who knows. What the situation is, is I’m supposed to be here for two or three more months, maybe where I’m supposed to go. So I can envision that as being very complicated, getting all the students actually moved home. That must have been interesting. And then also converting your entire in-school curriculum, in-classroom curriculum to an online curriculum. I know our non-profit had to do that, and that took a little longer than two weeks. And we’re a little, tiny non-profit. We’re not a big organization. So I’m envisioning this as having a lot of barriers, depending on the professor and the curriculum and what they had to do. How did you kinda get that done? That’s pretty quick.
05:21 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. There’s a lot there. So let me comment on a couple of those areas. First, let’s talk about the students in residency. So you pointed out something really important. Not every student has the luxury of just being able to go straight home. We have international students. We have students that are housing insecure. And so, the one thing I wanna do is give a huge shout out, not just at Rider, but I think across the country to all the residence life professionals and facilities professionals who really worked to make sure that if students couldn’t leave campus, they were allowed to stay, allowed to stay safely. They were still housed and fed and safe. So Rider did that very well as did many other universities. As far as the point about the faculty, one advantage Rider had that I’m very grateful for is we do have a good number of faculty that are used to delivering the curriculum remotely. We have a good array of online courses.
06:10 Kelly Bidle: So unlike some other universities where there’s no online teaching, we were at least in a position of strength to say, “Okay, we got this. We know how to do it.” But then as far as those faculty that have never taught online, you’re absolutely right. Two weeks is not sufficient time. And so we had a lot of our teaching and learning center professionals, a lot of our IT professionals really trying to get those faculty up to speed. And then the last thing I’ll note is that, again, not all students have the luxury of proper technology to be able to receive courses at home.
06:43 Kelly Bidle: Whether or not it’s not an ideal living situation, whether or not it’s… You’re living in a rural area where you don’t have access to good, high-speed Internet. So we had to struggle through a lot of those problems just like a lot of other universities, but I am pleased to say that students were given loaner laptops if they needed them, if they didn’t have that technology. So these are not things that are unique to Rider, if you interviewed anyone from across the country from Higher Ed, you’d see a lot of similar themes.
07:09 Kurt Baker: Yeah. No, we’ve seen a lot of people having to adjust, and I know that some of the courses… So I’m thinking about, going through the courses in my mind. So, one of the things we had unique as a non-profit, we actually have dog training. So there’s something that’s like a really hands-on.
07:22 Kelly Bidle: Right.
07:22 Kurt Baker: So I know colleges have the same thing. If you have a lab where there’s chemistry and there’s things where people actually go into a location to do the work, how do you adjust to that? Because some of that’s really hard to do. You can do some of it virtually, but other things maybe not so easily.
07:40 Kelly Bidle: Right. And so I’m a scientist myself, and I’ve had more than my fair share of teaching laboratories over the years, and you’re absolutely right. They’re very, very hands-on. So, short-term, if we reflect back on the spring, short-term, students were doing a lot of data analysis, basically some of the things that you don’t do hands-on. There was also, I’m happy to say, a lot of very high-quality videos that are out there, that are available to faculty, to at least have students sort of see how some lab experiments work. Moving ahead for the fall, regardless of whether or not the state was closed or not, stage two or stage three, the governor did recognize that hands-on laboratory instruction is critical. And so things like clinical labs and science labs were allowed to operate in-person, provided you put all the safeguards in place: Social distancing, mask-wearing, etcetera. And Rider, certainly we’ll be doing that. I have children that are attending other universities, and I know they’re doing their science labs in-person as well in the state. So, there is that recognition that you can’t really learn if you’re not doing hands-on learning in science labs.
08:45 Kurt Baker: So it sounds like even if you’re working “fully remote,” it’s really gonna be a little bit more of a blend, and when necessary I guess some of the students will be able to come on campus to do certain types of lab work. But what if I’m one… I guess they’re staying on campus, so some people that can’t commute, so you have to divide them up a little differently, right? As far as how you do that. And I’m sure you’ve had to make accommodations in the facilities, right, ’cause there’s a lot of rules and regs that came into place. So if they’re living on campus, did you have to make adjustments there as well to the housing itself?
09:15 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. So as far as the housing itself, Rider, like many other universities in the state, is allowing occupancy. So, allowing housing occupancy because students… There are many students that wanna still come and live on campus. We’re just doing it with a reduced occupancy. So, basically, we’re at about 50% occupancy at Rider right now, and so those students will be living more in singles, less sharing of bathrooms and that sort of thing.
09:39 Kurt Baker: Okay, yeah. So that’s fantastic. And so there are accommodations, the people that are commuting, when you’re coming into the classrooms themselves, have you made adjustments there as well as far as the laboratories and just the campus itself? Have you had to make changes there as well?
09:54 Kelly Bidle: Absolutely. So, as mandated by the state and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, all classrooms must adhere to social distancing. So, six feet of social distancing. All indoor spaces, including classrooms, there’s mask-wearing and that’s mandatory. So the students that are coming into the classes, they’re already now at a reduced capacity because of social distancing. So maybe it’s a classroom that used to hold 20, now it can only go 10. Plus our facilities crew has done a phenomenal job of making sure that all of our buildings have sanitizing hand wipes and hand sanitizers, and all the things that you can go into a room, grab a wipe, clean your surface, wipe it down, almost the same way when we use gym equipment, right? So you’re used to, “If you use a piece of equipment, you wipe it down before and after.” In the classrooms it’s gonna be the same thing.
10:42 Kurt Baker: Well, that’s fantastic. We’re gonna take a quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’re gonna be right back.
10:46 ANNOUNCER: We are back with the weekend rewind edition of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner with Certified Wealth Management and Investment LLC. Only on 107.7 The Bronc.
10:57 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker here with Dr. Kelly Bidle, and we’re talking about some of the interesting challenges that higher education is having, in fact all education is gonna have this coming fall, and some of the adjustments that we made in order to accommodate some of the students who maybe didn’t have any place to go when COVID hit and they were sent home. So you made accommodations on campus. You’ve also had to make some adjustments for online learning. Fortunately, I guess, in your case, Rider had some experience already doing some online courses, and so you kind of… I guess you had a professor-to-professor consultation group of some kind I’m assuming, where they would help each other out. The ones that had been doing it would help other ones get their things online. And I know you’ve got some unique challenges with some of the courses that aren’t so easy, really, to bring online.
11:39 Kurt Baker: So, what do you think is gonna happen now. You’ve got a little bit more experience. You kind of finished out last semester. We kind of thought we might be back in the fall, but then we weren’t sure, and now it’s looking like a good portion of the learning is gonna happen online, right? And so how are you guys preparing right now? I know there’s probably a lot happening ’cause the rules keep changing, right? The governor keeps deciding different things. So how has that little process been going on over the summer? And have you had to make any adjustments based on the different rules that are coming and going, so to speak, right?
12:10 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. So, you bring up a good point that the rules… We’re sort of on a little bit of shifting sand right now. So us at Rider, just like many other universities, have pivoted about two or three times over the summer, because of sort of these changing rules. Where we’ve landed is we’re gonna begin the semester remotely for three weeks, allowing students to get onto campus, allowing those that have to have mandatory quarantines coming from other states, the time to do the quarantining. And then we’re gonna begin the semester with a mix of hybrid, in-person and remote instruction on the 21st of September. And as far as over the summer, our faculty have been fantastic. They’ve been preparing all summer for how to deliver remote instruction to our students in the most quality of ways. And you’re right, there is a lot of peer-to-peer sort of help for those that know what they’re doing to those that don’t know as much.
12:58 Kelly Bidle: We have a teaching and learning center that has been running sessions all summer about, “How do you Zoom and how do you do discussion groups” and all of that sort of thing. But the critical thing I’ll mention that I think is really a lesson we learnt from the spring that I think we’re taking really good advantage of, students really prefer what I’m gonna call synchronous remote learning, meaning they tune in at the time of class and their instructor is there and there is… I’m gonna call it face-to-face instruction but it should be more like screen-to-screen instruction, over 80% of our remote courses that we’re delivering this fall are gonna be synchronous, that our faculty will be in real time teaching lessons to their students. And I think that’s really, really important because students need that interaction, they need that feedback, they need to be there with their peers. It’s the closest thing we can do to giving them sort of that mimicking that in-person instruction as we can in a remote setting.
13:54 Kurt Baker: Yeah, you went through a lot there. I guess some of the things that come to mind here now, once we start going back to school, I remember Notre Dame as an example, they went back and also then they had some cases and then they kinda close down. So a lot of the questions that I hear coming up or what are kind of the plans in place if you do have kind of an outbreak? How do you address that every one of us as an individual are kind of in a different place with this. Some of us are like, “Yeah, I wanna go out and interact with everybody right now and I’m not really that concerned about it” And others are like, “They don’t wanna leave their home,” and then everybody’s in between. So, how do you kinda address the ones that are actually pretty concerned about it, whether they be a staff or a student? Are there ways to kind of compromise or adjust for those concerns that they might have? And then the other part is, if something were to happen, do you have any kind of benchmarks or ideas, well, if this happens, we’re gonna go to kinda plan B or different kind of situation, if something happens on campus itself as far as an outbreak goes?
14:47 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, Kurt, the first part of your question is the crux of what higher education is facing right now, that there’s all kinds of different behaviors from students, faculty and staff. And as we’ve seen with some of the outbreaks on campuses, it’s not happening in the classroom, it’s basically like parties and gatherings and things where maybe folks aren’t being as safe and cautious as they need to be. So, I do know that Rider, like many other universities has a student pledge where we’re basically asking students to please keep the health and safety in mind of the entire community. We’re all in this together. We need to take it seriously. So it remains to be seen, when our population comes back, what’s going to happen? But as far as the second part of your question, we certainly have a quarantining plan on campus, we have a plan for if students do get sick, what we do with that, that plan is tight right now.
15:42 Kelly Bidle: The question is, when do you pull the plug on things? What’s that critical number where if we do have an outbreak or there are so many starting students quarantining, what do we do? We have a really good sense of what that’s going to look like too. We’ve been very conservative in our planning. I’m a microbiologist, and to me, health and safety is the most critical thing right now. I understand students wanna be on ground, they wanna be on campus, but if they wanna do that, then they have to have those behaviors that are going to allow us to do that.
16:12 Kurt Baker: So speaking of the health and safety, what are some of the protocols? We hear different protocols, depending on where you are. On a plane, as an example, might be a little bit different than if you’re going to a restaurant where you have to wear a mask until you sit down and then you’re allowed not to but the staff is still wearing one. So are there different kind of protocols based on the circumstances that the students and the staff might be in at a particular time, or the type of class that they might be involved in?
16:37 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, I can tell you in the classroom, mask-wearing is mandatory. Now, for the faculty in-person teaching the class, a mask is a very… It’s a bit of an impediment. So what we’ve landed on is the faculty will be six to 10 feet away from where any of the students are sitting and they’ll be wearing plexiglass shields that we’ve synthesized, actually with some of our own 3D printing on campus.
17:01 Kurt Baker: That’s great.
17:02 Kelly Bidle: To allow the faculty that plastic barrier in front of their face but not being impeded by a mask. And I’ll give you a really easy… Or an example of why a mask when you’re teaching is difficult. We have students that need to lip read, and so for an accommodation, we need to make sure that the student can actually see what the faculty member is saying, and so that’s just one example of why the plexiglass mask during teaching makes a lot of sense.
17:27 Kurt Baker: I think that’s great. I remember somebody, I think it was the mother actually made in the early stages, she made her own mask which had a little plexiglass, like little cut out so her… I think it was her son. So her son could read her lips while she was talking to him.
17:40 Kelly Bidle: I remember that. Yeah, I remember seeing that.
17:42 Kurt Baker: I thought that was pretty creative. We hear about temperature. So what are your thoughts about, tell me… I know we’re having a walk coming up ourselves, we’re a non-profit and we have these little temperature things, we’re gonna take everyone’s temperature as they come in. Is that the type of thing that might be monitored on campus, ’cause I hear pros and cons to that, whether it’s accurate or not accurate. What are your thoughts about that based on what’s happening right now?
18:02 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, so what I can tell you, there’s two things we’re doing, one in high density areas like residence halls, the library, dining halls, we are doing temperature checks. It’s hard to enforce that in other places where there’s less density, but every person on campus, whether they’re a commuting student or resident student, faculty or staff or administrator, we have to do contact tracing every day. So everyone at Rider has an app, where we have to fill it in every day and if you haven’t filled that in every day, you are not allowed on campus or to go into a classroom or anything like that.
18:36 Kurt Baker: So what would trigger having to get a test done? I’m assuming you have some protocol in place for at what point somebody might wanna get tested. Have they been given guidelines or do you have… How did you work that out? Is to find out another that must be infected.
18:48 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, so for student on campus, because they’re covered by health and the student health insurance, any symptom reporting is gonna trigger a test at the health center. For faculty and staff, any symptom reporting basically means do not come to campus and go see your healthcare provider for a test.
19:03 Kurt Baker: Well, I know one of the challenges that we’ve personally… Because I’ve taken this test myself just to be careful as I was visiting my elderly father who is at risk, and mine took like five or six days before I got it back. I think my daughter’s took two or three a couple of weeks later. Is there any concern about the lag time or I know somebody have these instant tests, but that’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing more of these tests that go off to a lab and it’s a couple of days later before you get a result. What are your thoughts about that?
19:28 Kelly Bidle: Yeah. That’s a really great question, and that’s a problem I think we’re just grappling with as a country, right? So not just access to testing but also rapid results to testing, because waiting five days does nobody any good, right? So I do know that in addition to some of the saliva test that we’ve secured, we’re also looking at FDA-approved antigen tests. And so they are not as accurate as the PCR RNA detection tests that the saliva or the swabs do. But antigen testing has its place, and it also is rapid. And so we have a good number of those on campus as well.
20:04 Kurt Baker: So is that that 10 or… 10 to 15 minute one they talk about? Is that the antigen test?
20:09 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, so basically it’s detecting the antigen that are present on the virus itself. So yeah, it’s a quick rapid test. It’s not as accurate, it’s between 80 and 85% accurate but it certainly is better than waiting for five days.
20:24 Kurt Baker: Right, right… So you could be cautious if you get a positive, and then…
20:29 Kelly Bidle: Exactly.
20:30 Kurt Baker: I guess you could take it in coordination with another test if you’re concerned, right? And one that you get right away, and the one would be a few days later.
20:36 Kelly Bidle: Right.
20:37 Kurt Baker: Yeah, but I have heard the testing is speeding up. That’s been my experience with the people that I know. What have you heard as far as the ones you send away? It seems to be getting on the shorter end, like days instead of like a week or so.
20:50 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, I think it is, but I also think it depends on where you live, what kind of test it is, where it’s getting processed. It’s still not as tight, quite frankly, in the past six months as it should be.
21:02 Kurt Baker: Yeah. No, I hear you, oh yeah. We’re gonna take another quick break here. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’re gonna be right back.
21:08 ANNOUNCER: We are back with the weekend rewind edition of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, a Certified Financial Planner with Certified Wealth Management Investment LLC. Only on 1077 The Bronc.
21:18 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker here with a Dr. Kelly Bidle. And we’re talking about the education and all the changes we’ve been making during the pandemic and the adjustments that were going on, and now you’re getting ready for the Fall semester. Of course, the rules change as more data comes out and each Governor is making their own decisions on what might be happening. ‘Cause I know different locations and states and probably different universities are reading the data differently, maybe slightly and saying that this is what we think is the best approach. How does a university that’s never been through this before, I mean, do you guys coordinate together? Do you talk together and maybe learn from other places in New Jersey and maybe even across the country about what’s going on? Because, again, we’re all going through this for the first time. I’m just wondering how you can use that pool of knowledge to work out and now maybe help everybody a little bit.
22:06 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, I’m gonna answer your question, but before I do that, I’m gonna go to what you said in the beginning, just about how difficult it is to figure out what to do, given this is so unprecedented. And what I can say is, what’s been incredibly frustrating Kurt, is the lack of real guidance for us. So it’s almost as if we’re all figuring these plans out on our own. And so instead of this more cohesive approach, you hit the nail on the head, people are looking at data differently, they’re making their decisions differently and that’s not useful. That is just not useful, and I think it’s really slowed us down in terms of having a better response. And so that’s just my own personal feelings. But to your question, absolutely, within the state, there has been a consortium of university presidents from the privates, Rider included. They talk weekly, sometimes multiple times a week. They talk about best practices, they talk about what their plans are. President Dell’Omo, who is the president of Rider University has been fantastic bringing those thoughts and that information back to the cabinet and the deans. And so our decision-making has certainly not been in a vacuum, I can tell you that. And you can could probably tell from looking at the plans across the state of what many universities are doing, we’re all doing very, very similar things.
[overlapping conversation]
23:29 Kurt Baker: I don’t mean to interrupt you, but one thing that I just… I’m thinking back to the beginning again. In fact, I think of the name of our organization, Center for Disease Control, right? I mean, the name itself says their whole purpose is to control disease, and it sounds to me like… And I don’t wanna turn this into a scientific conversation, but it’s kind of like, we kinda knew this was gonna happen at some point. We didn’t know the level, we didn’t know the degree, and I would have thought that we would have been a little bit better prepared, whether it’s local, or state, or national, whatever the case may be. I guess, did universities even have conversations about this before this hit us? Because I know I didn’t really talk about it much. I’d read articles every once a while about, “Well get ready. At some point, we’re gonna have some virus or something that we’re all gonna have to respond to.” I do remember reading articles like that, but I was like, “Ah well, whatever.” It was back in the 1900s, the early 1900s and [chuckle] “Yeah, don’t worry. We got great science and we’re good to go.” That’s the kinda response people had.
24:25 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, I think it’s a real tragedy that it wasn’t taken more seriously sooner. That’s a common theme that you hear over and over again, whether you’re in Higher Ed, whether you’re just as a citizen of the United States reading the newspaper. We weren’t prepared, we were not prepared in any way, shape or form. And so to your question, no, there were no discussions in Higher Ed in January and February happening about this. It really hit the way it hit most people like, “Oh my God. What has happened and what are we going to do about it?” And the fact that there was no plan or it wasn’t taken as seriously as it needed to be early on, like I said, I think is a real tragedy. And it was preventable. It was preventable.
25:11 Kurt Baker: Right, so I’m thinking… So now what I’m trying to do is… Now that we’re a good portion the way through this, we’re not done I don’t think, I think most people would agree with that. But once we’re done, what do you think we might do a little differently in 2021, 2022, whenever this thing finally really does kinda fade away a little bit and we say, “Hey. You never know the next one might be six months afterwards or it might be a 100 years after, but we don’t wanna be caught in the same situation necessarily. We should have some basic things in place, so that we can ramp up fairly quickly if it becomes necessary.” What are your thoughts about that?
25:48 Kelly Bidle: Well, on a really simple level, if you look at other countries… And we did this for a while, we locked down. So other countries locked down, we locked down. We didn’t lock down tight enough. Mandatory mask wearing came too late, we didn’t do that soon enough. And yet if you look at other countries that handled things a little better, it was a national mandate, mask wearing and lockdown, and being a good citizen, and all of those things. And I think a lot of Americans were great about it, and they proved that they could do those things. You said you didn’t wanna turn this into a scientific discussion, which I really love.
26:28 Kurt Baker: No, I do want it to be scientific.
26:30 Kelly Bidle: But I don’t wanna turn this into a political discussion but I will sat that it would’ve been helpful to have our leader wearing a mask and sort of mimicking what we all should be doing, and I’ll leave it at that.
26:45 Kurt Baker: No, that’s fine and that’s perfectly legitimate. One thing that kind of, okay, struck me initially was like, I used to think this years ago, is how certain cultures… I’m thinking in the Asian world, wearing a mask is fairly common. They’ll wear on their way to work. And I always thought of that being more from a pollution standpoint, but I think it’s more than that. And do you think that once this is over, that some people will continue to do that, because it’s good. I’m gonna guess that… I’m assuming Influenza is way down this year, because if everybody’s doing social distancing and being self-quarantining when we’re out and about, use through a mask and 6 feet and things like that, aren’t we spreading less disease in general?
27:28 Kelly Bidle: Oh, absolutely. And to the question about what happens after. I say this to any… My husband and I talk about this all the time. Think about the silent generation, the one that went through the Great Depression. That left an indelible mark on those people, and their behaviors were just irrevocably changed after that. I look at this as something that is going to just put a stamp on us, and our behaviors are going to be so different moving forward. I mean think about it yourself, are you gonna continue to shake people’s hands in the future? Are you gonna continue to give people that you don’t know so well a hug? I know that seems really funny to think about, but in all seriousness, I think about my own behaviors and I think about as dean how many people’s hands I shake, and I’m thinking, “Wow, I don’t know how comfortable I’m gonna feel doing that in the future.”
28:22 Kurt Baker: Yeah, you bring up a good point, but I like people, so I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do that, but I probably should. I think I will definitely be washing my hands a lot more, even though I did it pretty consistently anyway. ‘Cause I was talking to friends… I have a sister-in-law that’s a nurse, and we have friends that are nurses, and they say the biggest thing, they keep talking… Even in the early earlier in the process was, “Keep everything clean, keep your hands clean.” ‘Cause if your hands are clean and you accidentally touch your face or your nose or whatever, that’s the key from their perspective. They were talking about how if they washed their hands a 100 times at work, as they’re going from one room to the next room to the next room and between every patient, they’re obviously washing their hands and moving on, so I have a feeling that definitely… At least I know personally, I’ll be very, very careful about that, washing hands to keep them very clean as far as that’s concerned.
29:10 Kelly Bidle: Absolutely, and those are all good behaviors to have learned from this experience. And then hopefully when the vaccine is ready, folks will not be afraid to get that. That’s a whole other can of worms to talk about, but I know at least on campus, bringing it back to the idea of Higher Ed, we are going to start in September having flu vaccines available and ready for students and staff and faculty. Because even though we don’t have the COVID-19 vaccine ready yet, it is still going to be flu season and you don’t want that perfect storm of flu outbreaks along with COVID outbreaks, and so I would just remind folks here as a public service announcement to remember to get your flu vaccine starting in September.
29:51 Kurt Baker: Oh, I agree. Now is that something you were doing prior to COVID or had you always done that?
29:56 Kelly Bidle: We’ve always had a faculty and staff vaccine like a wellness fair, but it’s usually a little bit later in the Fall, but we’re just trying to be a little bit more proactive in getting that done soon in the Fall, as early as possible.
30:07 Kurt Baker: So I know, through every time we have a shift in knowledge, I know we’ve had some challenges, but I think through challenges we tend to learn things. So what have you learned that maybe we’re gonna take with us as a positive? So I think a lot of us talk about all of the negative things that just happened just over the last few months, but I think there’s some positives that came out of it. One, I’ve learned how to use video conferencing tools much, much better. It was always on of those things in business where, yeah, it’d be great to know that ’cause you never know when a client might wanna talk to you on video call, but it wasn’t real a big demand. ‘Cause the my clients weren’t really using it, I wasn’t really using it, so we didn’t both wanna learn it at the same time but now that everybody knows how to use this stuff, I’m doing it all the time. So I would take that as a positive, that we’ve all learned how to use video conferencing equipment. What other things maybe have you seen through this experience that we might take forward to us as a positive, that we’ve learned that we can advance ourselves going forward?
31:06 Kelly Bidle: Positives. So I think folks have the idea that Higher Ed is a dinosaur and that it doesn’t know how to change. I think from this we’ve learned how to adapt and we’ve shown our students, our faculty, our staff that we do know how to adapt. I would also say that it shows us that we have learned how to be really creative and innovative. I think there’s a lot of new ways we can deliver our curricula curriculum, and I think that’s all a good thing. I see positive change happening as a result of this, but I also say that Higher Ed is still a critical, critical piece to a student’s development and education is still a key and I would hope that a lot of students still continue to see Higher Ed as an important piece of their learning experience.
31:47 Kurt Baker: Well, I would have to agree. We’re gonna take another quick break. You’re listening to do Master Your Finances, we’ll be right back.
31:54 ANNOUNCER: We are back with a weekend rewind edition of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner with Certified Wealth Management Investment LLC. Only on 1077 The Bronc.
32:04 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker, here with Dr. Kelly Bidle, and we are talking about the challenges that we’ve had in higher education with making adjustments and how you guys have successfully been navigating all of those adjustments as new information comes out, and we get feedback from your students and from your faculty. And of course, the governments involved here with the rules that they’re laying out, and you guys have done a great job of making those adjustments, and now you’re getting ready for the Fall quarter. And I know some of the conversations out there are wow, well they’re gonna do… As you mentioned, they’re gonna be three weeks online and then you’re gonna have things on campus. And I know some people are talking about, “Well, okay. This is a different experience. Is the value the same as it was when we’re all going on campus and having that ‘college experience’ that most of us who’ve been to college remember?” What are your thoughts about that conversation and how do you address that?
32:57 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, it’s a hard question but it’s a fair question. I’ll start answering that by saying that I still believe that the quality of education remains the same, whether it’s delivered remotely or it’s on ground. The cost of instruction does not change. So the faculty delivering the cost are the same faculty, whether they’re delivering it to you in-person or not. They’re still the same faculty that are giving you the same coursework and feedback and all of that stuff. So again, the quality of the instruction should remain the same. The cost of the instruction remains the same. And I would argue the degree that you receive from the institution of higher learning is also the same, whether or not you had to take some remote courses or they were in-person. But it doesn’t dilute what that degree is or take away the education that you received. And so I totally understand why folks are asking those questions, but the other part of the answer is that with having to pivot to much more remote instruction, the cost of technology and the infrastructure that the universities have had to bear to make it possible is also not insignificant. And so, it’s a complicated question, and I’m hoping I’m answering what you’re looking for but…
34:11 Kurt Baker: No, you definitely are. Another aspect of college, at least from my perspective, I met a lot of great people when I went to college. So it’s the education, but I think in part it’s who you meet, the networking of similar thinking and minds and things like that. You meet a lot of really good people that sometimes will be you friends for life. And so how are you… Are there any ideas of how do you continue to help students stay networked together from an education standpoint as well as from a social standpoint? ‘Cause we are social human beings, and I think that is a big part of the growing process when you’re in college, where you’re moving out of high school. You’re a little bit more on your own. It is kind of a step into adulthood as well, not just the education, but also from a social-emotional standpoint as well. So what are your thoughts about how that’s being addressed when the structure is a little bit different now?
35:01 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, and I think that’s so critical what you pointed out there Kurt, is that college is so much more than just your coursework and so much more than just the classes you’re taking. It’s that networking, that time to grow up, that time to meet lifelong friends and that sort of thing. And so the two things during this time, and again, this is a moment in time and I know we’re all gonna be back on ground together soon, and hopefully all those great experiences will happen. But from the academic standpoint, faculty are not just teaching their classes. They’re having virtual office hours and drop-ins and all of that stuff, so students can outside of class say, “Hey, I’m thinking about this internship,” or “I’m thinking about grad school. Can we talk?” So that the faculty academic advising piece will not go away. That’s a continued networking experience for students that we will still try to make as much available to them as possible. And then on the social side of things, our residence life and student affairs team I know have been working really, really hard, as have others across other universities, at trying to make experiences for students where they can gather and meet each other and those sorts of things. And there’s no replacement, like you say, for that in-person experience, but those haven’t gone away, they’re just virtual at the moment.
36:17 Kurt Baker: Well, that sounds great. I know that it sounds like things like drive-in movies are coming back. [chuckle] In fact, that was when I responded when they said they couldn’t have these conventions that we’re having right now in person, I said, “They should have a drive-in set up.” And it turns out they had that. [chuckle] So I was like, “Hey, they took my idea, but… “
36:32 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, back in June there was a drive-in on campus, and apparently it was sold out and it was a ton of fun.
36:39 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I remember them as a kid, and they all disappeared, they got redeveloped into something else. So are those some of the changes? I know we’re not… So you’re gonna have I assume through the different software and electronic things, so we can still stay connected that way. But when they’re on the campus, I know we have these requirements, we have to be safe. So are there ways to still communicate with each other? I guess you’ll have places like the library and things like that. You’ll have the dining hall where they can still gather I guess to some degree, but they have to maintain their safety as well, correct? Is that what I understand?
37:10 Kelly Bidle: Absolutely, yeah. So all of that, and what I can tell you is if you ever have a chance to walk on campus any time soon, we have very large tents that have been put up all over Clint campus. They’re outfitted with lighting and tables and chairs. And so, as we all know, it’s much safer to gather outside than it is indoors. And so again, facilities, residence life, student affairs are doing all these added infrastructure on campus so that students can gather and have music or whatever. And so, it’s not perfect, but we certainly are encouraging our students like, “Get out and be social and see each other.”
37:51 Kurt Baker: Have you noticed any of the students changing what they might wanna study based on what they’ve been learning over the last a few months? I know whenever we have an interesting knowledge growth so to speak as a society, sometimes people are like, “Wow, I’d like to be more involved in maybe learning how to find a vaccine or cure for a virus,” and things like that. Has it perked their interest from an education standpoint?
38:15 Kelly Bidle: I haven’t seen that Kurt, but I think that’s a really interesting observation going into public health or microbiology or virology or something like that. I don’t know, and I think I won’t know that until I get back and sort of look at… And see where some of our majors have gravitated towards, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet.
38:34 Kurt Baker: And I know just because we’re kind of being forced to learn a little bit, right? [chuckle]
38:37 Kelly Bidle: Right.
38:39 Kurt Baker: I didn’t know what an antigen test was until we started talking about it. I mean, “What the heck is that? What do you mean there’s different types of tests? I thought you just went and you got tested” [chuckle] I know they’re all the same, but apparently there’s lots of different ways to detect whether or not we might have a virus. So have we learned anything I guess from… Since that’s a little bit of your expertise, have we learned anything as far as… It seems like they’re there are around to up an awful lot of different types of tests fairly quickly from my perspective. So what have we learned anything from that process itself about how to find these tests and hopefully how to find a vaccine sooner rather than later? ‘Cause normally these things take a couple of years, under most circumstances.
39:19 Kelly Bidle: Right. Well, I think why you’ve seen… I will say the entrepreneurial spirit in America is strong. So I think the fact that you’ve seen so many tests pop up, I think what I would caution all of your listeners to make sure is that make sure that whatever test they use is FDA approved, because there are a lot of sketchy tests out there that I would be very wary of. But you’re absolutely right, developing a vaccine that’s safe is not something that happens overnight. But given how deadly this virus is, I am hopeful that that process can be sped up safely, but I guess that remains to be seen.
39:54 Kurt Baker: Yeah, ’cause I remember… Well, I think we heard, didn’t Putin say, “I have a vaccine.” But I think they have had three people tested or something. [chuckle] It sounded like it was a little… They hadn’t actually done it in any kind of wide-spread manner yet, and I think that’s where you learn where people might have negative responses to the vaccine itself. It’s kind of hard to know some of this until people actually are trying it.
40:17 Kelly Bidle: Exactly, there’s a reason why any drug or vaccine that you take has gone through so many copious clinical trials and been tested on so many people. That way you know what you’re taking is safe and effective. There’s a reason why we have these processes and standards in place, I will say.
40:36 Kurt Baker: Well, that’s good. Hopefully, they do a good job. So, now they’ve… Haven’t they streamlined… I know the FDA is still involved, but they’ve streamlined some of these processes from what I understand as well at this point, right?
40:45 Kelly Bidle: Yeah, the one that I’m the most familiar with… So Rutgers University had really the gold standard with their saliva tests that they developed early, and that was very, very accurate. I just read that Yale University has taken that saliva test and sort of streamlined it to the fact that the results are faster. I don’t know if they’re as accurate, but they have cut out some of the labor that’s involved in the Rutgers test. But see, look at this part. That’s two universities with world-class scientists and faculty developing these tests. Those are where we should be looking for accurate testing and things of that nature, not maybe some of these sort of… I don’t know. [chuckle]
41:25 Kurt Baker: I’m gonna trust our smart people over other… [chuckle] So I’m with you on that one, for sure. Yeah, so it’s fantastic what we’ve been doing, so any more thoughts about how we see education maybe rolling forward after… As we mature through this? I guess we hear different timeframes, but I believe most of us are probably thinking this is at least through the next spring at some level. So what are your thoughts about how the year might finish out and how we might move ahead from there, as we wrap up here?
41:57 Kelly Bidle: Sure, well, yeah, and you point out accurately Spring right now is a big black box. We don’t know what that’s gonna look like, but I do know that when we are able to get back to campus and get back to normal, whatever normal is going to look like, the value of higher education remains one of the best things that anyone can invest in. I think having learned a lot through this, we are gonna probably do even better with our remote delivery, remote instruction and giving students maybe more and different ways to learn. And I would also just say that I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that by this time next fall, we get back to business as usual. I really do.
42:34 Kurt Baker: Alright, Dr. Kelly Bidle, I appreciate everything you did and everything that you’re doing, and I hope you have a fantastic Fall and Spring. I know it’s a lot of challenges, but I appreciate you coming on and explaining to people a lot of things that have been going on out there ’cause I know there’s has been some confusion. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances. You can subscribe by going to Remember, together we can master your finances, so you can enjoy financial piece of mind.
42:55 ANNOUNCER: That was the Weekend Rewind edition of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner with Certified Wealth Management and Investment, LLC. You can catch him at his normal time every Sunday at 9:00 AM. Tomorrow, Weekend Rewind is back with Health 411, so be sure to tune in right here on 1077 The Bronc.

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