January 12, 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 Jan. 11-15. Please continue being vigilant throughout the winter mini session and the upcoming spring semester. New updates will be posted on the COVID-19 Research Response website.
New this week
Updated spring 2021 mandatory testing information
The campus’ strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 has evolved in response to the state of the pandemic. UNL will provide free saliva testing resources for faculty, staff and students, with the aim of protecting campus, visitors and the larger community. Results are expected to be available within 24 hours of testing. Saliva testing is mandatory for anyone who will be on campus during the spring semester. Faculty, staff and students who will not be on campus are not required to participate in testing. Complete details were outlined in a Jan. 11 message from Chancellor Ronnie Green and are available via Nebraska Today.
Testing will begin the week of Jan. 19-24 to allow time to access on-campus testing resources before the spring semester begins Jan. 25. Individuals must have completed at least one round of saliva testing by Jan. 25, with a negative result, to gain access to campus facilities. To maintain access, individuals must complete two rounds of testing at the beginning of the semester. Users will be notified via the Safer Community app when their second test is due, usually around 10 days after the initial test. Additional measures will be coordinated with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department in response to conditions in the community and vaccine availability.
Faculty, staff and students can use the Safer Community app to schedule testing appointments. The app will use a color-coded system to verify individuals’ testing status: yellow, which indicates a recent negative test result; orange, indicating a test is required for a first-time user, or for other reasons, including a past-due test, self-reported symptoms, exposure notification or quarantine status; and red, for a positive COVID-19 test result. Wellness attendants will look for an “access granted” approval stamp. More details about the app for iPhone, Android and web users will be announced later this week. An alternative will be available for those who do not have smartphones.
Campus visitor policy for spring semester
Research teams may have reason to occasionally allow visitors, such as vendors and collaborators, in their spaces for business-related reasons. Although UNL does not prohibit visitors at this time, hosting visitors for non-business reasons is discouraged. Faculty and staff hosts are responsible for making sure visitors are aware of and follow UNL’s COVID-19 policies and guidelines while on campus, including wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing and staying home if ill. Visitors must check in at the wellness attendant screening area and be escorted into campus facilities by the UNL host with whom they are doing business.
Researchers also must inform their supervisor of any planned visits to ensure they approve of hosting visitors. Visitors are not able to participate in UNL’s new mandatory testing measures.
Guidelines for participants in human subjects research
All in-person human subjects research protocols are allowed to continue activities under the auspices of UNL. Research personnel must follow all university policies and guidance, or relevant federal guidance, regarding the performance of in-person research protocols during the pandemic. More details and guidelines are available on the UNL IRB COVID-19 webpage and FAQ guide.
Human subjects research participants are considered visitors. After checking in at a wellness attendant screening area, they must be escorted into buildings by a UNL host. Human subjects research participants are not able to participate in UNL’s new mandatory testing measures.
Two levels of authorization required for domestic travel
To protect the safety and well-being of Nebraska researchers and the community at large, international travel continues to be prohibited. Domestic travel outside the state of Nebraska is highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval. The second level of travel authorization is offered in Concur through the Firefly portal. Travel approvers within each unit can manually add a designated supervisor to the travel request. Make sure to click “Approve and Forward” in Concur.
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.