Interview with Michelle Bogden Muetzel, 01/19/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Michelle Bogden Muetzel on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

MBM: Sure, my name is Michelle Bogden Muetzel, that's M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E. Then the last name is a two parter. It's Bogden, B-O-G-D-E-N and then a space and Muetzel is M-U-E-T-Z-E-L.

GL: Now for the purposes of getting a good audio recording, tell us again, who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

MBM: Sure, my name is Michelle Bogden Muetzell. I am currently the Risk Manager for the university. My pronouns are she, her, and hers.


GL: Thank you. And before we dive into your Campus COVID Story, you know, we just like to get to know you a little bit better. Just tell us about where you grew up.

MBM: Sure. I grew up in South Central Wisconsin, in a small town called broadhead. Which many people don't know where that is. But it's in between Monroe and Janesville, in southern Wisconsin, about 40 minutes south of Madison.

GL: And was going to college something that you always thought about, was this something that was expected in your in your childhood?

MBM: Yeah, it was just kind of thought of as it's just the process is just what you do. We didn't really learn about or hear about, you know, much other many other options. Blue collar work wasn't really something that was encouraged in my hometown. Not that it was discouraged necessarily. It was a little bit in our classes. But yeah, it was just kind of thought, you know, yep, you're gonna 00:02:00you're gonna go to college. And if you don't, you know, it was it was kind of looked down upon. So I was looking for initially, I thought I was going to go into music business, because I'm very, you know, passionate about music and the arts and that kind of thing. So, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh had a has their had a Music Business Program. We had apply to the music program to be able to do that major. So I had to have an instrument that I applied with, and I didn't really want to be doing the trombone throughout my career. I do, I do play I have played trombone did for many years. But I didn't want that to be what I went to school with. So I was a alto singer tried out with that and did not get in. They had many altos and I didn't have any voice lessons or anything before that it was a small town school. So I was undecided for a while and then 00:03:00created a major because that's something that you can do at UW Oshkosh. Or could at the time, if there isn't a program in the UW system that's like it that we can support here at UW Oshkosh. It was sustainable advocacy, basically, minor in like environmental policy.

GL: What year was that?

MBM: I graduated in 2008. I started fall 2003.

GL: I had no idea that you could actually make up your own your own major.


Yeah, it was. It was something I dug into when I was like, okay, otherwise, I'm going to have a double major in like poly psi, and, you know, human services, but I also wanted, you know, minor environmental studies and all these different things kind of combined into one cohesive program. So I really wanted to be well rounded, but at the time, you know, that was the way to do that. And I found 00:04:00that out. And so I did that. And then I had a friend who was in other campus programs like I was and he did the same major, but for social justice rather than environmental policy. So it was really neat to see.

GL: And how did you end up working here?

MBM: So I was a student worker. When I went to school here I worked in the English department for a couple of years, and I really enjoyed it. I never thought that it was going to stay in Oshkosh. But I got in a serious relationship with somebody who grew up in Oshkosh, always wanted to stay in the area. And I actually ended up getting really involved with city politics and environmental projects, I guess you would say, and a part of the sustainability advisory board for the city. So I really kind of put down roots that way and 00:05:00then thought, okay, if I'm going to stay in Oshkosh, what, where do I want to work? Where is a good sustainable place that I would enjoy working for? And UW Oshkosh has done many great things at sustainability. So I thought, you know, this is this is something that you know, a place I want to work for.

GL: So when did you start working here full time, and what was your job?

MBM: So I started working full time as a limited term employee in November 2008. So just a few months after I graduated, I had short stints working for a short term employment with a nonprofit. And with a core business, which I did enjoy. So yeah, I joined in November 2008, as a financial specialist, and Student Financial Services. So I dealt with student accounts, kind of helping behind the 00:06:00Cashiers Office, and with people's accounts, making, you know, helping them make sure that they got everything paid on time and that kind of thing.

GL: And the position you have now, when did you start that?

MBM: I started that in January 2019. And in between there, I was working for six years for the Environmental Research Innovation Center and Biodigesters that we have.

GL: Okay, so what is your, what are your tasks as the risk manager? Is that right?

MBM: I started in 2019, as a program manager and I was 50% in Risk and Safety 50% in office of sponsor programs. And my risk, the risk part of my job really then was limited to kind of helping out with more administrative functions, you know, helping here and they're working with special events with the lieutenant 00:07:00at the time Trent Martin with the police department. So it really didn't have many things. It's mostly yes, Fairy by wrote smaller duties.

GL: Okay, and then your other half of the job.

MBM: With sponsor programs, it was helping doing a lot of the work that Leah Mann, I'm just assisting her with helping faculty find grants and things and just supporting them in their process and applying for grant funding.

GL: And right before COVID, what did you have the same roles, or did you have different roles then?

MBM: I had I had different roles then I had grown since then pretty quickly. And what I was able to do, we did have somebody leave risk and safety in September 00:08:00of 2019. That was one FTE, and she was not rehired. So at that time, I took on a lot of the property claims that we deal with at UW Oshkosh. Additional insurance programs, a lot a lot more responsibilities to deal with risk and safety.

GL: Were you overseeing anybody? During the right before COVID?

MBM: No, just students.

GL: Okay. All right. All right. So let's move to the early days of COVID. Do you recall the first time you heard about this virus?

MBM: Yeah, I remember the interim director at the time for risk and safety and sponsored programs, Kimberly Langolf. She and I were talking about it, and she said, you know, this is a pretty big deal. You know, this is this is something that's coming down the pipeline, I was like, ah really well, you know, it's over 00:09:00there, you know, you know, you know, hopefully won't come over here or won't be, you know, as affecting us too much. And, you know, of course, making light of the name and everything with, you know, Corona and everything. But, you know, I really had no idea at the time, how serious it was going to be.

GL: And at what point did you realize this is something that you actually have to be worried about?

MBM: How very quickly it's spread, and how serious we started to see it being how very sick people were getting. I was watching it very closely with the department because we started to have meetings with a lot of different departments about what we need to do to prepare. And I was asked to take minutes for one of them, and just an attendance and things like that. So that was the 00:10:00beginning of my duties for EOC. So I just I just kind of got to hear and just understood, wow, okay, well, we have students, they're studying abroad, some of them are in that area, some are going to be coming back, what do we do? You know, we're gonna we're planning on sending people to different countries that are now having restrictions. And, you know, this is something that now okay, it's in the United States. Now, you know, we know it's probably in Wisconsin, it just very quickly became something that's like, okay, yeah, we really need to do something. And we really were I mean, we started in January is when I got involved. So you know, pretty much it was all through there. And into February, when we were really making our preparations.

GL: Were you part of the group was Lieutenant Martin, and Kim Langolf that first, when they called the first meeting, where a Chief Leibold and Chris 00:11:00Tarmann were actually out of town.

MBM: I don't believe I was I think there were a couple of meetings that happened before I was involved.

GL: Okay. So, tell me what happened after, you know, the university got word that we are shutting down? I mean, were you part of that, the whole process of getting the university to that place?

MBM: Yeah. So um, after that first meeting, where I was just taking minutes, then all sudden, I started to get more involved, we started to do more work, and thinking about, okay, what do we have to know, we have to, you know, keep a watch on what's going on around the world, around the country, in our state in the system, things that we've done so far with ourselves things we've communicated to other people, what our response has been what the news is saying. And so I developed a spreadsheet, to start keeping track of these kinds 00:12:00of things and trying to create something a one place shop where we can have what we need to know, what we do know, and what we're telling everybody else, you know, that we know, at this time, you know, making sure everybody's informed and that, you know, here's when we said this is happening.

GL: Your spreadsheet is something that people have asked me, you know said, you need to ask Michelle about the spreadsheet.

MBM: That was even the pre this was this was a different spreadsheet. So I'm yeah, I'm one of those people that always has a spreadsheet for that, like I went so there's an app for that now I'm there's an Excel spreadsheet for that. It's my way of just, you know, kind of keeping everything in one place. And you know, having an easy way to help calculate things make life easier. So we, you know, that was kind of the initial spreadsheet, and I was a part of the meetings where, you know, we were, all the sudden, we were bringing hand sanitizer, and 00:13:00can you know, everybody sanitizing their hands, everybody has to, you know, pick up their own paper in the beginning for the agenda. We started spacing out more. So, you know, these gradual things and seeing, okay, this in this school are saying that they're going to close, you know, we know this is probably happening, you know, what do we want to make that call is now time kind of a thing. And so, you know, all along had kind of been having this increasing knowledge of yep, this is coming. It's just when? And it all pretty much happened at the same time. And it was like, yep, this is this is all happening now. So it wasn't a surprise too much.

GL: What was actually going through your mind when you're seeing these numbers, the data coming in? It seems like it's like a tidal wave that you cannot avoid, what was going through your mind?

MBM: Yeah, so at that time, I mean, we didn't have too much data. We didn't, we didn't know what we didn't know. At that time we didn't even know what data we 00:14:00needed to know. We didn't have any much knowledge about the virus is just, you know, trying to keep track of, you know, what we do find out and, you know, sharing it with the group. So right then it's just, you know, how do we manage and, you know, how can we how can we still get things done behind the scenes we had to figure out at the time we were figuring out how many, where's our PPE that we have on campus you know, all sudden we need to make sure that our essential workers or essential personnel who have to be there have what they need to do their job safely. And what we need them to do to keep us safe. So it was kind of that, you know, I kind of helped Lori I was, I was in the initial process of purchasing the PPE. Um, so I did buy do a lot of that those purchases, I was looking everywhere for the thermometers, I was, you know, going through all this stuff, trying to find what we could get from anybody to be able 00:15:00to handle this at UW Oshkosh. So that that was kind of my initial response there, I guess, I guess it would help you to know the timeline of all that. So, you know, when everything shut down, that's kind of what we were doing. Um, I personally actually got sick. The same weekend, everything got shut down. And you know, when we talk more personally about what happened with me, you know, we can dive into that more. But I did not have COVID. From what we can tell, but it was a virus that changed everything for me. It still causes things today to you know, kind of just changed my life. But I ended up taking a little bit of a break, when those furloughs came in, I voluntarily took some furlough, took the continuous furlough, so that I could heal and try to get better. Um, and that 00:16:00was in May. In mid May, I believe. And then it was three weeks later, it was early June and Kimberly Langolf, you know, still Interim Director at the time of risk and safety, asked me back, said, would you consider coming back, we really need you. We need you to help us figure out what we're going to do for fall and start the, you know, get this team together for our Titans Return Plan. So.

GL: Let me let me get this straight. Um, in the March, when we were all sent home, did you go home?

MBM: I did go home. So we kind of knew at that time every day, I was taking my laptop home with my essential supplies. Because I didn't know when it was going to happen, but or what was going to happen. So I you know, I had everything at home. And you know, I guess was kind of ready that way. But yes, and I have a 10 year old son. So all of a sudden he couldn't be in school. So I was there with 00:17:00him. And also trying to help him still get in the things that he's supposed to be learning for the rest of the school year, while I am trying to also work full time and get in what I need to try to help the university. And I wanted to do that I have a passion for what I do. I don't just do things for a paycheck. I'm very, you know, I go in 110% and really care about it. So you know, it was it was something I wanted to keep doing if I could.


If you don't mind me since we're doing the timeline. I mean, do you do you mind telling us what the illness so you contracted?

MBM: Um, yeah. So we weren't sure what that what it actually was. My son had had strep in January, early February. So we assumed that's probably what it was. But then I was told by another doctor oh, no, strep does not last that long. You wouldn't have contracted it at this point. And so then we did some more testing 00:18:00tested blood oxygen level, because of course, we couldn't get our hands on a COVID test at the time. We're testing for mono and all these other things, and we're coming up with nothing. Um, eventually I was able to get an antibody test and I tested negative for COVID antibodies. So we assume that's not what it was. But since then, I mean, I was I was really just it sounds like lung COVID where I was just laid out like I had no energy I felt like I was hit by truck. Just until like maybe mid you and I started to feel a little bit more human. Um, but I still going up the stairs makes my heart race trying to just jog a little bit with my son outside or, you know, if I go from squat to stand or you know, laying down to standing positional change, made me want to faint. So it was kind 00:19:00of disabling for the most part, but thankfully, I didn't have a very physical job. I was lucky enough to be able to work remotely even though I have an essential job. So I feel pretty thankful about that.

GL: Seems like it's amazing that you actually continue to do your job, you know, despite all that.

MBM: Yeah, we did find in September of 2020 a medicine that would help me it's there's something called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS for short. And I couldn't get diagnosed with it because there's there wasn't a good test, they would show me positive, but the medicine for that works for me. So, I've been using that. And for the most part, as long as they take it every three to four hours, I can manage.


GL: Tell me when did your symptoms first arrive? When?

MBM: Literally the Saturday after we all went home. So it was like that weekend, and then my son was having like wheezing that night and had sore throat and I'm like, I just could not believe the timing. But yeah, that was scary.

GL: Wow. You went home, and, um, and just did you stay home until June? Or did you, are you still working remotely?

MBM: Um, I'm kind of I'm mostly in person now. But remotely when I need to be. Right now they're redoing the furniture in the office. So I am working from home for this week. But I was largely working remotely until that fall, fall of 2020 when we started to come back. So sometime in that July, August timeframe, I 00:21:00started to return to work.

GL: And you said, you said that you took voluntary furlough or were you actually furloughed?

MBM: So everybody, you know, had some kind of furlough. So there's the intermittent furlough or you can, you know, take certain days for your furloughs. Or you could take continuous furlough for the summer or for you know, a few months and get all your furlough in, but you'd have more furlough than others. And, you know, I decided to I volunteered to take the continuous furlough even though I was deemed essential and could do the intermittent furlough.

GL: Okay. So tell me, when did you when were you, you know, scrambling for the PPE and for whom were you getting those PPE?

MBM: Really, when the EOC started to meet, we started to get an inventory of our 00:22:00PPE, Lori Welch, our Environmental Health and Safety Manager, she really was the spearhead of that she was that she was on it, you know. And she was getting our PPE from various departments that we might have on campus. So that would have been, yeah, February, even. Maybe January, but the purchasing I mean, I was doing some when was still there in person. But then also, obviously in March, just trying to see what we can get, I mean, throughout, right? So even coming up into fall 2020, then we're going okay, what PPE do we need for people to come back? What do we need now they're gonna have more people on campus. So that that lasted for a while, but it was fall 2020 that I stopped doing the PPE purchasing or things like that, because I just had too many other responsibilities at that time that I could not keep fulfilling that.

GL: And again, who was the PPE for?


MBM: All the PPE was for the people who had to be there in person, who had more risk to their jobs, which would be the custodians who'd have to go into rooms where somebody would know to be positive, you know, we'd have to go in and clean it with something we called the 360. I don't know the actual real term for the equipment, but in any case, the people who would have to be in spaces where somebody could be positive, so and we always stuck with the CDC guidance of okay, they're saying just you know, healthcare personnel need this. So we would follow that, that they're the only ones you know, that have a N95. But, you know, what can we still give to our other staff? That still have to be there, like custodians and our police department? So yeah, Student Health Center, 00:24:00obviously, our testing center, they needed, yeah, PPE definitely. So it was a lot of it was for the testing center, definitely because they were going to be highest risk along with the Student Health Center.

GL: And were you I mean, what was it like trying to find the these kind of supplies and being you know, stymied?

MBM: Um, that was difficult it was hard to sort out what was really official PPE. I mean, even now, as we're finding out about N90, N95, or KN95, right, so, at that time it was who's actually making a good thermometer? Do we need to check people's temperatures as they come in the door? So, you know, we couldn't find thermometers, no touch thermometers that were made for people's temperature. So then it's okay, well, is it okay to use these other ones that are designed for ambient air or these other purposes that we can use for this? 00:25:00Or is this a thermometer that's, you know, deemed safe for that? Is it one that's going to work, there were a lot of really cheap ones that were thrown out there that didn't do anything. I'm pretty sure we got a shipment of those, found out that they were not what we needed, and we sent them back and we had to, you know, get other ones. We were trying to find, some of the other PPE was looking for face shields, and face masks, we didn't know how many we would need. So we're just trying to get our hands on what we could. So is going to many different vendors, we had, I think five vendors that we had blanket purchase orders open for so that in quotes ready so that we could order from these different ones, if all of a sudden this one doesn't have any stock that we had one as a backup, we could go to them. So it was just a ton of preparation and looking everywhere. And UW system had given us an exception to our standard 00:26:00university guidelines, we could basically go to anybody, not just those people that we have not just those companies that we have our current agreements with, we could you know, look anywhere to try to find what we could. So that helped.

GL: Was that part of your job prior to COVID? To buy supplies?

MBM: Yeah, so I also did administrative duties for Risk and Safety and sponsored programs. So I naturally was one of the people then with that was ordering for our COVID response.

GL: Okay. All right. So what, were you working during the summer? Or that was when you were doing to continuous furlough?

MBM: My continuous furlough actually just lasted three weeks, I came back really early. Um, I was guessing it was gonna be a lot quicker than it was. But I think 00:27:00it was two weeks, I was on continuous furlough And then I was asked to, you know, come back, if I could, you know, obviously, it'd be okay if I said no, but they could really use me. So then I came back in June. Yeah.

GL: Okay. And then what kind of work were you doing during the summer of 2020?

MBM: I was doing a lot of different things. So I was working really closely with Lieutenant Trent Martin, on metrics, things that we would need to measure at our university to make the decision of what level of alertness we were at, when we might have to take certain measures. So I really helped develop the metrics with the help of, Harvard had a really good document at the time, and I believe Stanford, you know, had already published some things that that helps give universities guidelines of what to look for in the community, what to look for 00:28:00in our testing, our percent positive, things like that. So that really, that helped us develop some things we came up with low alerts, medium alerts, high, and very high. And, you know, had all these, we made a very well to believe made the template, standard operating procedure that other departments could use to come up with their continuous work plan or, you know, their operating procedures for their department at different levels. I was doing a lot of research on safety measures and writing standard operating procedures for those So Lori Welch and I split them up. So we have four university wide standard operating procedures that we had, which was face coverings and the hygiene, personal 00:29:00hygiene, and the disinfecting and the physical distancing. So Lori Wlech worked on the more environmental health and safety ones the sani- the disinfecting, and the personal hygiene one and I worked on face coverings and physical distancing. Looking at best practices, educational articles, trying to form our practices that we were going to use when we come back and fall 2021.

GL: One second, when you're talking about the alertness level that you and I'm Lieutenant Trent we're working on right, was that unique to UW Oshkosh? Or was this something that other campuses were using? Or other entities, organizations?

MBM: It was something that other places were using, I believe it was a model 00:30:00that we also got from one of the pieces of literature that we found, as best practice, so it wasn't novel. I'm not sure how many of the system schools were using it at the time, but, you know, we were doing our best to do what made sense scientifically, and educationally, just, you know, making our best effort, do things as safe as possible.

GL: What were your feelings and thoughts about the university opening up and bring back to students and staff and have holding in person classes?

MBM: You know, we, we knew that, at some point, we were going to have to try to do something again, we weren't going to be home forever. It was trying to find 00:31:00the safest way to do it, we knew we were going to do it. So at that point, you know, I was, I felt a little bit weary of that. Especially for those who would have a lot of student contact, you know, or a lot of people contact with a lot of people or the general public, but you know, we're gonna do our best to do what we can to make it safe. So that's where we're putting in our safety measures and best practices and things like that.

GL: Were you sleeping well, at that time? I think that's one of actually one of Elizabeth Hartman's questions. So she, she asked him, what keeps you awake at night?

MBM: Well, it's funny, because I felt horrible that I couldn't do any of my sponsor programs work, right. I was supposed to be one of the only two full time people helping faculty get grants, and at the time, you know, they might want to 00:32:00do something to help COVID or research something, and, and I couldn't do that I just could not provide much help at all. I felt horrible about that. But in.

GL: Why's that, why couldn't you help them?

MBM: Um, I just had too much work to do for COVID. There was just so much going on. And it was just hard to imagine, since I had gotten this virus that was unknown, we don't know what kind of virus it was, or you know, what virus it was, but not being COVID. And, you know, if I got that from COVID, what will we COVID do? You know, it was it was always is the practice that we take going to make other people sick or potentially die, or, you know, it was just trying to take care of our community as well. So it was that was, that was hard. But as, as a whole, my problem is not being able to sleep, it's wanting to sleep all the 00:33:00time. I honestly was I had one moment where I was literally bringing a piece of popcorn to my mouth watching something to try relax at night, and I literally lost consciousness. And then my mind was still awake, but my body just shut down. It was like, it just, it just needed to. So there were just times where I tried to just keep pushing, and doing but you know, my body was just shutting down. Like, we just need to relax and, and take it easy. And you know, it's but we got to keep going. Regardless of you know, how we feel this is happening. And you know, we have to keep going and how do we do that? So I think that was hard. It was not only you know, we just us having to figure it out. It was also having to figure out how to be a mom, during now a teacher for your kid, figuring out okay, is my kid going to be okay, if I sent him to public school, you know, K 00:34:00through 12 I always think of that, as you know in daycare is like kind of a Petri dish already. Where germs are just going to be spreading like wildfire. And at the time, actually, I was taking a medication to that suppress my immune system in August, so it was just a really it was a scary time for me. So I at that time, oh, that's right. It was it was fall 2020. Oh, it's so hard. measuring time. I feel like I can't do that anymore from the pandemic. But you know, I actually was remote for the school year for the most part for 2020, because I had my son doing E-Academy it's called the online learning in the Oshkosh Area School District that year because I didn't know if I was going to 00:35:00be immunocompromised that whole year, or what was the right choice. But at the time, I didn't know if masks were going to be required, safety practices, were actually going to be in place. So I made that decision. So I had to be there. For my child at home for that whole next school year as well.

GL: Talk, talking 2020-2021?

MBM: Yep.

GL: So tell me about your work during that fall 2022 through 20, spring 2021.

MBM: So we did the we did the Titans Return right? So I kind of left off there. Summer 2020. And I had to help come up with we came up with what do we what do we need for students and staff to come back safely. So we got everybody two facemasks, two cloth masks, hand sanitizer with a little lanyard, or a little 00:36:00clip, carabiner clip, and we had stations where the people could fill those up, we had a little Titan promise card of you know, these are the things you have to agree to be able to be here. Kind of a deal. So I was helping get all that together. And Lori Wlech helped to get out the door as well, and distribution and things like that. And then it was since I helped develop the matrix, and I'm such a data nerd. Um, I helped figure out okay, then what do we need to measure? What do we need to keep track of to be able to tell where we are at? And that's the birth of the spreadsheet that everybody has been referencing the dashboard, we call it so it was it was measuring data from the community. We had the 00:37:00Winnebago County Health Department was sending us and is still sending us information every week about, you know, that has all their data so that we could, you know, use that to help us and see where we're at we literally are even looking at the census tracts closest to campus and seeing what the positive levels are like there because they might not have tested at UW Oshkosh. But that's where a lot of our students who are commuters will be or non resident students. It was looking at what, what's our athletics programs, the possible cases there or in the dorms. We knew if we were going to bring students back to campus, we had to find a way to help students in the dorms be safe, and try to contain outbreaks before they happen. So we knew okay, so we want to know, not 00:38:00just what's going on in in a whole dorm, but floor by floor. So um, you know, we had certain protocols for testing that students were living in the dorms had to get tested every so often. And then if we saw multiple positives on a floor, I basically I had a whole formula and tracking system to be able to catch those outbreaks. And so we'd move people over to quarantine obviously, right away if they were exposed to the person who was positive. And if a floor you know, was 10%, or more positive, that's what we were like, okay, we need to send a notice to the students and kind of you know, remind them to stay safe, and things like that and how they need to go get tested and things like that. So that's what we were starting this whole big system, it kept growing and changing of what do we 00:39:00need to be looking for? It you know, I literally had something for all of the counties that were our campuses are on as well as our data and state data and UW system.

GL: How many columns did you have?

MBM: I mean, I stopped before there were three digits in the alphabet. Um, I couldn't tell you.

GL: Oh my God.

MBM: Just so many well, and it was, it was not just that it was sheets, you know, so there was, you know, multiple sheets with so many columns, and then formulas that, you know, went across the different sheets and everything to pull into one place, because we had, you know, all of that data, but nobody, no one else wants to, you know, look at all the data to deal with a data, I literally, I felt bad for anybody, I didn't know how to explain how it works anybody else to be able to have anyone help me with this, I was doing reports, every time we 00:40:00met for EOC, then, and at the time, you know, we were meeting every day, for a while for three hours. And then it was, you know, three times a week at least. So I was reporting every day, I was taking in all this data and trying to give it in a more comprehensive format. So I had a summary page, where it had more graphs and you know, quick facts, and things like that. So there was more of an easy take, there was the information we needed for our front facing dashboard that had the positive testing rates, the positives, and negatives, all the things like that, from our on campus testing. And, you know, all of the other background data, all the other noise we needed to look at, just in case. Basically, we wanted to take a look at the whole picture, right? So all these 00:41:00little pieces by themselves, everybody had a little piece of it, you know, we could have made it happen without me. But the part that I am excited I got to help with was bringing all that together in one place. So we can look at it and see what's going on at the university as a whole.

GL: Is this is where you, could I mean, I seem to remember that our university was testing better, or we had fewer positive cases than these, you know, the county and the state. And this is where you would be able to see that?

MBM: Yes, actually, the CDC actually took notice of the testing program that we had, because we contained COVID so well at our university. We're, you know, so lucky that we have Kimberly Langolf and that she was in the director position because she had to all of a sudden figure out a testing protocol. She'd ran a lab before so she, you know, kind of helped, but she never had to build one up 00:42:00from the ground immediately. Um, so, you know, she helped get that started and everything and, and, you know, eventually the vaccine center in the vaccine program as well. But yeah, we had such a great program and a way to observe COVID on our campus and squash it that we had really great numbers. And we actually did some studies with the CDC, the CDC came to our Culver's our Culver's, Culver Family Welcome Center, where we had some community testing so that they could do some studies as well. The Surgeon General came at one point to talk about how safety measures have really worked at UW Oshkosh. And you know that everybody needs to be doing this because it works. And that was that was really cool. Actually. Chief Kurt, Kurt Leibold of the you know, UW Oshkosh 00:43:00police department he that morning, I was going into the Surgeon General's like this the you know, the whole event that was going on that he was going to be at I believe is the opening of the Culver Family Welcome Center testing site. And I could be wrong on that. Like I said, my, my perception of time is so warped now. But Chief Leibold had had just said as we were in passing, oh, good job on the data Michelle, and I thought he was just you know, giving me craps. I hadn't submitted it for that day yet. And I was like, yeah, yeah. Chief and like, yeah. And then he comes up to me, and he tells me no, really, you know, we have the surgeon general look at it this morning. You know, he thought it was really cool. And it was really impressive and all these things and I was like, wait, what? You know, you want to like clean it up or you know, make it make it a 00:44:00little bit better 100% up to date, if someone is going to be looking at it, you know, a national representative, but that was still really neat and, you know, I I kind of wanted to be able to meet them and they'd be like, yeah, that was that was me. That's, you know, the data came up with but I didn't I wasn't that person. I didn't do that. But it was still it was really cool to see him on campus and to have this on our campus.

GL: Did he actually see your spreadsheet or is that the summary?

MBM: Oh, he saw the spreadsheet. Yeah, they were showing all the stuff that we so that oh, it was, yeah, he's, he was amazed, I'm sure if you show anybody, you know, all the spreadsheets, they go, oh my gosh, that's a lot of things. Like you said, I didn't really have anybody to back me up. So it's like, I could not really be sick. Like, I just had to keep going. Even if I was gonna maybe be off for a little bit. It was like, okay, maybe after I get the dashboard done. So, 00:45:00Missy Burgess, who works in reviewing and on campus is just amazing. She's on our Emergency Operations Committee, she has really good pulse on what's going on with the students, because of her work with events in in Reeve. And she reached out and was like, hey, I could really help you, you know, if you want to teach me how to do the data, I could help you when you're out. So you can take vacation, you can take sick time or whatnot. And I was like, are you, are you sure? Yeah, I didn't think anyone would want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. And I don't think you know, it's something that she's super wanted to do. But she's just such a really nice person, she wanted to do that for me, and could see how much you know that that would be needed. So she has had, she has done that for me a few times. So she's seen the method to my madness. With that one. 00:46:00It was different in fall 2021, because we had different things that were happening, right. So in spring 2021, all of a sudden, the vaccines were more widely available. We were all of the EOC, you know, were highly encouraged to go get vaccinated. And of course, since we've been so neck deep in COVID data and management for so long, we're like, yep, already signed up. Already done.

GL: Well, I'm gonna stop you there, what was, um, when you were able to get your vaccine, you know, what were you thinking? What?

MBM: Oh, I, I was so relieved. I was so excited and so relieved, I wanted to cry. I, you know, in the past, I was a person who was not very, I was hesitant about doctors, had not had very good experiences, was apprehensive about 00:47:00vaccines in general. And, you know, the preservatives in them or whatnot. With my son, you know, I kind of spread out his just so that he got them, but you wouldn't necessarily have to get as many, things like that. But I hadn't lived through anything. And now that I had lived through this experience was like, no, you know, what, I'm, you understand that when they come up with a vaccine for kids, you are getting that. And he knew for a long time, that he was gonna have to get that vaccine. And, and I certainly did. So I was I was so happy for that. I started really appreciate, I think, because of my illness, I think I started to really appreciate doctors and medicine and current practice, because they helped me feel like a human being again, I you know, I need the medicines that I 00:48:00have to be able to operate. So. Yeah, I I was very appreciative.

GL: So the, how did your work change between, you know, from fall 2021 to spring 2021? Is that right?

MBM: Spring 2021 to fall 2021?

GL: Yes.

MBM: Yeah, yeah.

GL: Right. Fall 2021.

MBM: So it was kind of like in the summer, you know, we were excited spring 2021 We really didn't have any cases on campus. We were doing such a good job, or like, I didn't have to do as much COVID stuff, I could actually start doing other things that were part of my job again, and I was really excited about that. Um, and then summer, you know, you're hearing rumblings, but we have the vaccine, hopefully everything will be okay. And then delta hit and you know, we are already preparing like, okay, what do we need to know now that we have 00:49:00vaccines and variants going around? What do we need to track? And so it was, you know, I knew we were gonna need to track what variants are going around and the number of students and staff who have reported that they've been vaccinated because we wanted to kind of use it to judge you know, the amount that COVID could be serious on our campus if we had, you know, more or less people vaccinated. So it was just a whole different picture, right? And we were going to go quote, unquote back to normal. As we've seen, where we were going to have pretty much anything could happen that would normally happen during a semester, just with some protocols in place like masking. So that was everything's gearing back up 100%, and then all sudden delta. And now we have a lot of cases again. 00:50:00And that was really scary for me, because it's, you know, all of a sudden, oh, my gosh, so, you know, here we go again. But now I have, you know, at least in the past, everything was suspended, right events were happening. Events are a big part of my job helping them come safely to campus but now it's, oh, God, how do we help those come safely back to campus? We're gonna have so many people coming back and being around each other during this. So it was intimidating.

GL: I think I remember, I was this summer that we were allowed to go without a mask for a couple of weeks? Maybe I can't remember.

MBM: Yeah. I mean, there was a time where it was like, okay, all of a sudden, the CDC says, yep, if you're vaccinated, you don't need to wear a mask. It was certainly before Delta before more contagious ones. We'd have more breakthrough infections, you know, where people who are vaccinated could still spread COVID.


GL: Do you remember the do you recall the meeting where, yeah, we're gonna recommend, we don't have to wear masks if you're vaccinated. Do you remember that meeting at all?

MBM: Hmm, not that specific one. We've had so many meetings where it's, okay now, this is the new CDC guideline. How do we implement that here? Do we want to do that? What spaces do we do that in? So it is really hard to just remember that specific guideline that was changed. I think. Yeah, again, there's so many times where like, okay, well, where do we have to have masks? Where do you know, certain employees where, you know, custodians are working, you know, really hot conditions are gonna be moving up and down the stairs, they can't breathe very well, anyway, in a mask. So it doesn't make sense for them to wear that when, you know, it could be more hazardous to them than helpful. And if they're vaccinated and things so, you know, it's kind of like, well, people are, it 00:52:00started to be the question of, do we still need to be 100% responsible for people's health in our university? When there's a prevention method, you know, you can be vaccinated. So, you know, it's, it's, it's a hard balance to take, because, of course, we want everybody to be safe on campus. But, you know, we're, it's, like I said, it's a balance of always, you know, figuring that out with the current guidelines, and what we know about the current variants that we're dealing with.

GL: You know, all the things that you have, have done as part of your COVID response, what would you say is, are the things that you're most proud of?

MBM: Um, I think things I'm most proud of are, are the probably the dashboard, you know, that that spreadsheet and being able to create kind of a picture for everybody, I, this year, actually, UMC, the University of Marketing 00:53:00Communications department asked me to come up with a Microsoft Word document instead of just a separate spreadsheet to show the, the data in a better way, or in a more approachable way. So it was more, you know, pictures, fine notes, things like that in an actual document that they could print off and bring to cabinet or bring to the Chancellor and things like that. And it was, you know, I think after it was shown to the Surgeon General's like, oh, okay, so other people are seeing this, this could really be used outside of the EOC. So yeah, that's when I started to clean things up and really be it hit home, how much this could be affecting things.

GL: You know, you had to deal you have, you're still dealing with your own health issues. And, and carrying the burden among with the other members of the of the task forces. Why, why, why are you doing this? When I mean, for the most 00:54:00part, it's a volunteer. I mean, you got voluntold to join this. You could, you know, you could have said this is too much. You absolutely could have. Why didn't you?

MBM: Yeah, and there certainly been days. I mean, honestly, there have been days recently, where you're staring down at so many more cases and trying to figure that out knowing my job is going to be tripled with what I've been doing, where it's like, is this worth it? And for me, I really want to feel like my work is making a difference. And I really, I want to be there to help. I know how important this is. So I don't want to leave people in a lurch. I want to be part of the great team, the EOC is I'm sure you can, you've heard other people say, 00:55:00it's just such a wonderful team to work with that it's just been, it's been really great. To be on that team. So you know, I feel some not just personal responsibility, but connection to it, you know, at UWO. So I guess it's that that keeps me here.

GL: Tell me again, that your major, your, the one you created for yourself?

MBM: Um, it's called independent study. It was a bachelor of arts. I always described it as policy change through grassroots and nonprofit organizations.

GL: Did you have any idea that this was how well. I mean, did what you learned back then I mean, did that play into what you do now?

MBM: Um, I mean, sure, I learned a lot about policy. Right. So that was part of 00:56:00my study was communications, political science, public administration, I had some courses in that. So yes, I'm not using as much of the sustainability aspects of that, although that is part of the university. But definitely my studies helped me with this, I wouldn't have known that this would be the kind of position but I knew I wanted to be in public service of some sort with policy. So I mean, it's a, I guess, it is surprising to me that actually, this is something that is directly related. It's what I got a major in.

GL: Um, so what has living and working in the time of COVID taught you about yourself?

MBM: Um, just how much you can endure. I think anybody can say that now. I had 00:57:00no idea that I could have done the things that I've done. But now that we've done them, we know that about ourselves and can feel proud that we are here. We have survived at this point. Sometimes that's really been the bar I have to remind myself is to survive, and then try to thrive if you can. But it's, you know, it's feeling proud of what I've been able to do for the university for myself for my son in general.

GL: And then, I think we did talk about some of your family situation, was there anything that we haven't touched on that you would like to add?

MBM: Um, just that it was it was really neat to although it was extremely hard to have to help my son through school at different times, you know, spring 2020, and the year of 2020 2021. But I got to experiences ADHD firsthand. Any kind of 00:58:00limitations and strengths he has in school so that I could help him be successful as he's back in public school this year, and I got a 504 plan together with the school for him. So it was just really interesting and neat to be able to have that part. So I mean, yes, we were overwhelmed. And it's just been insane. But you know, I'm really proud of, I guess, what we've done too, and there are good things that came out of it.

GL: Just to clarify, how old your son now?

MBM: He is 10 and he's in fourth grade.

GL: Has he been able to get this vaccine?

MBM: Yep, he got it in December. So he was fully vaccinated. His two weeks after his second dose was December 23. So it was my Christmas present is fully vaccinated by Christmas so felt better about seeing my family that were also you 00:59:00know, vaccinated and everything so that was that was amazing.

GL: Oh, I just saw something else I would like to ask you, knowing what you know now, was there anything that you would you would do differently regarding your work?

MBM: That's a good question. I mean, maybe asking, helping, and coordinating that I think a little bit earlier. But at the time, you know, we didn't have help. There weren't extra people around to really do that. But you know, I think saying that I needed help with the data, for instance, having a backup would have been good to do earlier and things like that. And I've really learned how important that is now. I know there is another thing I wanted to add, and I'm 01:00:00going to have a hard time thinking of it.

GL: You can always, you can always email me afterwards, too, when you think of it. You know, I asked you about what you've, you've learned about yourself, but do you, do you have any thoughts about what you've learned about others during this time?

MBM: Um really that it does take a village it. I mean, as much as they say that, you know, people kind of behind their brows, are like, oh, yeah, everybody else. But really, if you get a group of people together, that have different perspectives, a lot of different people have different perspectives. But you know, small enough that you can actually get things to happen and make an agreement. It just really just how powerful that can be. Because we had so much balance, that it was just it was so cool to see. You know, where we all kind of 01:01:00agree, but you know, how do we even do this thing, and sometimes there were disagreements and things. So it was it was really neat to see that with others. And just to see the amount that other people were pushing themselves to help everybody else as well that everybody kind of wanted to chip in and help for the most part. My aunt is a is a nurse and she was in the ICU for a long time. And she was voluntold to hey, all the sudden you're going to be at this remote testing center, you know, and you're going to be testing people for COVID now for your job for a long time. So it was just, you know, interesting to see how everybody was kind of coming together at the same time to help in different ways.

GL: Okay, well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus COVID Stories at UW Oshkosh.

MBM: Thank you so much.