February 9, 2021
The Research Task Force will continue sending updates about campus operations that affect research and creative activities during the pandemic. This message addresses topics for the week of Feb. 8-12. New updates will be posted on the COVID-19 Research Response website.
New this week
Chancellor announces third round of re-entry testing
In a Feb. 3 email to campus, Chancellor Ronnie Green announced that faculty, staff and students will undergo a third round of mandatory saliva testing. The aim is to provide the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department with additional data, and to isolate and mitigate the virus’ spread, especially from asymptomatic cases. Initial testing efforts showed that positivity rates thus far have been low. If the low positivity rate continues, campus will move toward random mitigation testing.
- To maintain access to campus facilities, individuals must complete three rounds of testing at the beginning of the semester. Users will be notified via the Safer Community app when a test is due, usually around 10 days after the previous test.
- Faculty, staff and students can schedule their second and third tests through the Safer Community app or through the COVID-19 testing portal. Individuals are advised to schedule their test at least 24 hours before the deadline.
- Given this week’s forecast for cold temperatures, those getting tested are advised to plan ahead and expect longer wait times in the drive-through testing lines.
- Students, faculty and staff who will not be on campus this spring are not required to participate in the testing program. Read more about exemptions and the FAQ guide.
The university is collaborating with LLCHD on a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the UNL community, following the state’s plan to prioritize health-care providers and emergency medical technicians in Phase 1A. More information will be forthcoming.
UNL personnel who may be eligible for Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, are encouraged to look into local and state resources sooner. Phase 1B includes individuals 65 years and older, people with underlying conditions that have been identified as being at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and essential workers.
LLCHD is handling vaccine distribution for Lancaster County as supplies become available. Lancaster County residents may register online to be notified when they are eligible. UNL personnel who live outside Lancaster County should consult their local health departments on plans for those areas.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services also has opened its vaccine registration portal. Nebraskans who are age 65 or older AND who have registered with a local health department do not need to register again. Nebraska residents who are ages 18-64 and have a high-risk medical condition should register with the State of Nebraska to ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B. The State of Nebraska is working with local health departments on vaccine distribution. Visit https://vaccinate.ne.gov/ for full details.
Check your reopening plans, checklists
The reopening plan and checklist is still required for all research laboratories and creative spaces. Investigators who have already implemented their plans are encouraged to review them again to ensure they meet local and state directed health measures. Investigators can modify existing reopening plans by clicking on the link embedded within the original approval e-mail. Anyone who has not yet submitted a reopening plan should become familiar with the reopening guidelines before submitting a plan for approval.
This communication is distributed to principal investigators with approved research and creative activity re-opening plans as well as the associate deans for research. Please share this guidance with members of your research team as appropriate.