Department COVID-19 Updates:
COVID-19 Research Planning UNL IRB COVID-19 response

COVID-19 Research Planning

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.” As of May 21, the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County dropped their requirement on the wearing of face masks indoors.

We will be following their scientific conclusions and safety recommendations. Effective May 21, those who are fully vaccinated from COVID-19 are not required to wear a face mask, indoors or outdoors, on our UNL campuses or in our facilities. We will also no longer require social distancing and will return to 100% capacity for all of our venues.

It is very important to note — these changes only affect those who are fully vaccinated.

The chancellor’s message of May 21 offers more detail.

In addition to new face-covering policy, new travel policies have been implemented.

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Operational Status

  • COVID-19 testing program is voluntary.
  • Abide by local health guidance.
  • Follow UNL health, safety policies.
  • Face coverings not required for people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Pre-approved domestic and international travel for essential university business for faculty, staff and students is permitted. Pre-approved international travel for students will be allowed beginning July 1, 2021.

COVID-Related Research News

COVID-causing coronavirus following predictable mutational footsteps
July 15, 2021
New research from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has shown that the mutations arising in the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus seem to run in the family — or at least the genus of coronaviruses most dangerous to humans.More


Survey finds Nebraska educators can adjust to anything, but at what cost?
May 18, 2021
Researchers warn the pandemic's disruption in learning may have far-reaching consequences if not addressed quickly. More


National Strategic Research Institute appoints 31 UNL researchers as ‘NSRI Fellows’
May 18, 2021
The National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska has launched NSRI Fellows to amplify the university’s research contributions to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies with national security missions. More


Nutrient compound shows promise for halting mother-to-fetus Zika transmission
April 21, 2021
Nebraska researchers are exploring whether a nutrient compound they are developing can stymie mother-to-fetus transmission of Zika. More


Read more COVID-Related News from the Office of Research and Economic Development

Guidelines and FAQs

Animal Care

UNL adheres to provisions of the Public Health Service policy, Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals; Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (ag guide); Animal Welfare Act and Regulations; and commitments detailed in our animal welfare assurance with the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. This includes advance planning for conditions that could arise as a result of a human pandemic (e.g., influenza) or outbreaks of novel infections (e.g., COVID-19 disease due to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) that could jeopardize the health and wellbeing of animals because of a lack of personnel to care for the animals and/or to conduct official Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee business.

Export Control

UNL’s Export Control and Research Compliance Services staff continue to operate per usual. All Export Control operations are conducted either via email or NUgrant/NuRamp, and staff are able to work remotely.

As the university restarts research activities, personnel are still encouraged to work remotely whenever possible. Off-campus work locations must meet the same physical and electronic security standards as the original work locations outlined in the export control determination or technology control plan. Any plans to work remotely, in this regard, must be approved by the Export Control Compliance Program. To assist Export Control staff accommodating COVID-19 requests, please take an extra moment to review the FAQs below. Following review, if there are any questions related specifically to your research and how it impacts your project, please contact the UNL ECCP at exportcontrol@unl.edu.

Research Data Access and Security

In many cases, remote work activity does not pose research data security concerns. However, research personnel must consider whether or not appropriate data security and confidentiality measures can be implemented for work to be conducted from off-campus locations. Please check with the Office of Sponsored Programs, Institutional Review Board and Export Control as appropriate to the type of research you are conducting.

Human Subjects Research

All in-person human subjects research protocols, under the auspices of UNL, were allowed to resume activities as of July 6, 2020. Research personnel are expected to follow all University policies and guidance or relevant federal guidance regarding performance of in-person research protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, personnel are working to transition back to on campus presence and face-covering requirements have also now been revised. UNL researchers who are working in-person with human subjects should follow  the below best practices/requirements:

  • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are expected to wear a facial covering and practice social distancing at all times when indoors and on university property.
  • While fully vaccinated personnel are not required to wear a facial covering, those involved in human subjects research should ensure they carry a mask with them at all times when meeting with research participants. If personnel are asked to wear a mask, or feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they should do so.
  • Children under 12 years of age who are participating in research must wear a mask when indoors on University property. Again, if the individual, fully vaccinated, research personnel are asked, or feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they should do so.
  • In addition, personnel who are conducting work with research participants not on University property, must follow all local guidance and requirements at their specific location.
  • Please reference the UNL face covering policy: https://covid19.unl.edu/face-covering-policy

Operational Status

The following guidelines address university operations until further notice.

  • Mandatory saliva-based diagnostic testing will be required for students, faculty and staff beginning Jan. 25, 2021. More information about spring semester testing requirements and resources are available here.
  • Unit leaders must continue to abide by local health guidance. Updates on the COVID risk dial can be found on the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department of Health website.
  • Through the encouragement of working remotely, flexible scheduling, and other flexible measures, unit leaders should continue to keep the density of individuals in a workplace to the minimum necessary.
  • Investigators should continue following the reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist. Research teams are urged to review plans submitted in fall 2020 and ensure they are current and follow the latest campus, local and state recommendations and/or directed health measures.
  • Pre-approved domestic and international travel for essential university business for faculty, staff and students is now permitted. Pre-approved international travel for students will be allowed beginning July 1, 2021.
  • The federal Office of Management and Budget extended administrative relief due to loss of operations through Sept. 30, 2020. This has expired. Investigators are urged to review the latest updates from UNL’s Office of Sponsored Programs.

Guidelines will be reevaluated regularly based on University of Nebraska policies; best practices recommended by the CDC and other leading health organizations (links provided at bottom of page); and according to local directed health measures.

Proposals

A curated list of COVID-19-related calls is available. This list is updated daily by the Office of Proposal Development, so check back often to view newly released calls. To request a specific call be added to the list, email Tisha Mullen, director of proposal development.

Sponsored Programs

The Office of Sponsored Programs is continuing to submit proposals remotely. Investigators are encouraged to contact their pre-award grant coordinators and post-award project specialists as needed. Many federal agencies are adjusting deadlines due to difficult circumstances. However, given the uncertainty, OSP encourages principal investigators to consider submissions early before the deadline dates.

Principal investigators are urged to review guidance from the funding agencies with which they work. General questions may be directed to unlosp@unl.edu.

Federal Agency Guidelines

Travel

As of May 21, 2021, the university is now allowing pre-approved domestic and
international travel for essential university business for faculty, staff and students. Preapproved international travel for students will be allowed beginning July 1, 2021.


— The university requires all travelers to comply with travel guidance issued by the Centers
for Disease Control and/or State or local public health departments, whether travel is
personal or for university-sponsored business. By submitting a university pre-trip
authorization form, travelers agree to comply with all guidance.
— The following applies to domestic and international travel. Additional guidance
about testing and quarantine is included below for each type of travel.
— Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. People are fully vaccinated 2
weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose series such as Moderna or
Pfizer-BioNTech, or 2 weeks after receiving a single dose vaccine, such as
the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
— Assess the COVID-19 situation at your destination prior to departure to
ensure travel to the location can be safely managed. This is particularly
important if you are considering international travel as the restrictions
are very fluid.
— Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay six feet from others and
avoid crowds, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
— Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after travel.


DOMESTIC TRAVEL
— Those who believe they have an essential business reason to travel may
request approval from their supervisor. The request should identify the
dates, location and rationale, describing why it is essential university
business. Two levels of authorization (including Dean or Vice Chancellor)
will be required prior to travel. Criteria for approval include:
— Can the activity be accomplished virtually?
— Is the travel necessary to fulfill the university’s fundamental
mission?
— Can the travel be postponed?
— Approval for domestic in-state travel will continue to require one level of
supervisory approval. Blanket travel authorizations will be allowed only
for in-state travel.
— If not fully vaccinated, you are expected to get a COVID-19 test before
your trip (with enough time to receive results before travel begins) and 3-
5 days after your trip. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. You do NOT need to get tested or quarantine if you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months.


INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
— Those who believe they have an essential business reason for
international travel may request approval from their supervisor. The
request should identify the dates, location and rationale, describing why
such travel is essential university business.
— All approved travelers will be required to comply with CDC guidance,
which includes:
 only initiating a travel request if fully vaccinated
 following country-specific CDC guidance
 apprising themselves of any local health guidance in the
travel location
 getting tested no more than 3 days in advance of return
travel to the U.S.
 getting tested again 3-5 days after return to the U.S.
 If approved by supervisor, the request will be submitted to the
International Travel Risk Committee (in care of UNL’s Director of Global
Safety and Security, Dave Long, at dlong@unl.edu), which will make a
recommendation to the Chancellor’s Office. The Committee will consider
the essential nature of the travel, the CDC warning/notice for the country
of destination, and the ability of the traveler to mitigate risk.
The supervisor will determine if the employee or student requested travel is essential business.
Because all university travel is contingent upon the traveler agreeing to comply with all
guidance, supervisors are not responsible for knowing a traveler’s vaccination status for the
approval process and should not ask travelers about such status. Supervisors’ travel approvals
cshould be made upon the basis that the travel is determined to be essential university
business.