October 5, 2020
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. 5-9.
New this week
Changes to campus dashboard
UNL’s COVID dashboard is updated daily with results of testing students, faculty, staff and affiliates. It now includes results from the previous 14 days, in addition to the cumulative results since the dashboard launched in August. Information is provided by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and includes results from Test Nebraska, the Health Center and other testing sources. LLCHD recently changed its methodology to report positive case data as the sum of individual positive tests. The total now excludes duplicate positive results from the same person, retroactive to when campus case reporting began.
Mitigation testing under way
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.
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 increases testing capacity
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 now 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 email@example.com 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.
Prevention remains the best strategy
Faculty, staff and students are reminded to follow a layered approach to preventing the virus’ spread: 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.
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.
Understanding quarantine vs. isolation
The Centers for Disease Control has a helpful video that explains the difference between quarantine and isolation, and when each approach is appropriate.
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.