Updates from the Research Task Force: Oct. 12-16

News for Researchers

Posted October 12, 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 Oct. 12-16.

New this week

Lincoln/Lancaster County at high risk for community spread

As of Friday, Oct. 9, the City of Lincoln/Lancaster County COVID-19 risk dial measured at the “elevated orange” level, meaning there is high risk of community spread. This is an increase in severity from the previous several weeks, when the dial was at the mid-orange range, and represents the dial’s highest position since it was introduced May 11. Prevention remains the best strategy to preventing the virus’ spread. Faculty, staff and students are reminded to follow a layered approach: wear a face mask, wash hands frequently and maintain 6 feet of distance. Employees are encouraged to continue working from home whenever feasible to decrease density in campus buildings. Read the Oct. 11 update for Lancaster County.


Operating plans for research and creative spaces
Through October, 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 encouraged to participate in mitigation testing

Chancellor Ronnie Green announced plans to begin random mitigation testing of faculty, staff and students beginning Sept. 28. Those selected will be notified by email and given instructions on how to get tested. Participation is voluntary but strongly encouraged to help the campus better assess its health status and to prevent community spread of the virus. Chancellor Green’s Sept. 18 message includes detailed information about UNL’s testing strategy.

On-campus testing resources

The university, in partnership with Test Nebraska, offers a free COVID-19 testing site for faculty, staff and students. The test site is located on the ground floor of the 17th and R streets parking garage. The site has increased the number of tests available and is offering weekend appointments. Same-day appointments are available weekdays from 3-6 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Visit the COVID-19 on-campus testing webpage for details about using this resource. The University Health Center also offers testing Monday through Saturday based on a telehealth consultation. Insurance coverage is required to use Health Center services. To request an appointment, call 402-472-5000.

Guidelines for positive case reporting, contact tracing

Faculty, staff and students should be 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 LLCHD with support from the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team. The two work together to notify contacts who may have been exposed.

Resources for leaders, supervisors

Guides areavailable 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.

Responsibilities of researchers hosting visitors
Research teams may have reason to allow visitors, such as vendors or collaborators, in their spaces. Although UNL does not prohibit visitors during this time, faculty hosts are responsible for making sure guests are aware of and follow UNL’s COVID-19 policies and guidelines while on campus. Researchers also must inform their supervisor of any planned visits to ensure they approve of hosting visitors.

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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