Updates from the Research COVID-19 Task Force: Aug. 31-Sept. 4

News for Researchers

Posted August 31, 2020 by Dan Moser

During the fall semester, 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 Aug. 31-Sept. 4.

Operating plans for research and creative spaces

Through September, investigators should continue following the reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist if they have not already done so. Investigators can modify existing reopening plans by clicking on the link embedded within the original approval e-mail.  

Campus releases COVID dashboard

UNL’s COVID website now includes health notifications for the campus community, as well as a COVID dashboard that is updated daily at 5 p.m. with results of testing students, faculty, staff and affiliates. More information about the dashboard is available in Nebraska Today.

Resources for leaders and supervisors

The Forward to Fall committee has developed resources for unit leaders and supervisors, including a screening guide; a response guide for having conversations with faculty, staff and students who notify them about COVID-19 symptoms, exposure and/or a confirmed case; and a supervisor FAQ guide that answers important questions about how to appropriately communicate with employees about COVID-19. These resources, outlined in an Aug. 18 message from Chancellor Ronnie Green, are available at go.unl.edu/cv-response-guidance.

Dual approval needed for domestic travel

The university’s travel policy has been updated to allow for blanket travel authorization only for in-state travel. Domestic travel outside Nebraska is discouraged, but when deemed absolutely necessary, two levels of authorization are required prior to departure. University-sponsored international travel remains prohibited until further notice.

Reminder about positive case reporting and contact tracing

Faculty, staff and students are urged to become familiar with university procedures on positive case reporting and contact tracing. Anyone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 should promptly notify the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team at covid19@unl.edu or via text message at 402-266-6865. They also should promptly notify their direct supervisor and/or instructors. Supervisors may contact the Public Health Advocacy Team about a positive case but should NOT notify anyone else. Contact tracing is conducted by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department with support from the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team; the two work together to notify contacts who may have been exposed.

EHS updates cleaning, disinfecting protocol

Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of shared spaces is important to prevent the virus’ spread. Environmental Health and Safety has issued a new set of protocol that all students and employees are urged to follow while on campus.

Working with SARS-CoV2 specimens or COVID-19

The Institutional Biosafety Committee has issued updated guidelines for researchers who work with COVID-19 clinical materials or SARS-CoV-2 materials, available on the EHS website. Researchers should contact EHS biosafety staff to complete a risk assessment and before submitting a grant proposal for a project that would utilize those materials. Investigators should plan to submit a new IBC protocol or update their protocols for existing projects.

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.

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