Welcome to the Nebraska Today COVID-19 Digest (spring semester edition). This is a feature designed to deliver the university’s most current virus news and help you navigate campus during the global pandemic.
These briefs will be updated regularly and appear in the Nebraska Today newsletter.
The most recent update, which posted at 1 p.m. Feb. 23, includes details on how employees can access the vaccine registration portal prior to it closing on Feb. 24.
• University’s COVID-19 response
• Testing. Reporting. Contact tracing.
• Health and safety
• Facilities and events
• Spring 2021 academic calendar
• COVID-19 policies
• Frequently asked questions
Vaccine registration for employees ends Feb. 24
All university employees — including student workers — have until 4 p.m. Feb. 24 to register for vaccine distribution through the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
The local health department is including the education sector in Lancaster County's Phase 1B vaccination program. The registration portal opened Feb. 16.
Random mitigation testing begins
The university's random mitigation COVID-19 testing program launched Feb. 18.
Students, instructors and staff randomly selected to participate in the required testing should have received an email and/or text message informing them about the need to get tested via the university's saliva-based testing program. The notification should also be available in the Safer Community app (under "Next Step" on the app's main screen) or the online COVID-19 Testing Portal.
Through the program, each week a set number of Huskers are randomly selected to complete a saliva-based COVID-19 test on campus. Notices are sent on Thursdays and those selected have until the following Wednesday to complete testing. If not completed, an alert will be sent. Each Thursday will serve as an extra day to get tested for those individuals who forget or are unable to schedule by Wednesday.
Complete details on the randomized mitigation testing program are available here. An overview of spring testing and the university's ongoing response to the pandemic are available on the COVID-19 website.
Testing hours, availability adjust with randomized testing
With the shift to a randomized testing strategy, the university has adjusted hours and availability of its saliva-based COVID-19 testing program. This change includes no availability on Fridays and Saturdays.
Testing availability may be expanded or adjusted based on demand or need (including any spread of the virus) moving forward. Complete details on saliva-based testing availability are available in the Safer Community app, the COVID-19 Testing Portal, and the COVID-19 website.
Individuals who are symptomatic or who suspect exposure should get tested at the university's TestNebraska site (located on 17th Street, between R and Vine streets) or the University Health Center. Testing at the University Health Center is limited and available by appointment only for symptomatic individuals. Learn more about the university's on demand, nasal-based testing.
Printable building access passes available online
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s online COVID-19 Testing Portal now offers an option to print a daily building access pass.
The portal is intended for students, instructors and staff who do not have smartphones and are unable to access the Safer Community app. Both the portal and app allow Huskers to complete COVID-19 reentry testing protocols, make appointments for saliva-based testing, view test results and access a building pass.
The passes — both printed and available through the app — show compliance with the university’s saliva-based COVID-19 testing program. They are shown to the university’s Wellness Attendants, who monitor building access.
The printable pass available through the portal is date stamped, requiring a new one daily.
Building access passes can also be printed at kiosks in the 17th and R parking garage on City Campus and the East Campus Service Building.
When happens after that third reentry test is complete?
On Feb. 3, Chancellor Ronnie Green announced that the university's reentry testing for COVID-19 will expand to include a third round to provide requested transmission data to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. So, once you take the test and receive a negative result, here's what you can expect.
Within one day of receiving your third (negative) test result, the Safer Community app and online COVID-19 Testing Portal should show that you have completed all reentry testing and no future tests need to be scheduled (at that time). Individual status cards (available through the app and online portal) will also show that building access is granted for all who complete the three rounds of testing. Students, instructors and staff should be continue to be ready to show their status cards to Wellness Attendants stationed at building entrances.
Additional details about the further testing needs — including the possible launch of random mitigation testing — will be announced the week of Feb. 15.
If your app or online portal continues to show the need for another test after the third round, it is because at least two of your tests were completed less than five days apart. To count toward the reentry protocols, the span between each test must be greater than or equal to five days. To stay in compliance and complete the testing protocol in this situation, you must take the fourth test — but be certain that it completed between five and nine days after your last test.
Read Chancellor Ronnie Green's entire message on the the need for a third round of reentry testing and a look ahead here.
State of Nebraska opens vaccine portal
Anyone who has registered with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department — particularly all who are age 65 and older — do not need to complete registration with the state. However, individuals who are 18 to 64 and have a high-risk medical condition are asked to register via the state portal to ensure prioritization for Phase 1B vaccinations.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department opened its online registration tool for COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 19. At this time, the site is primarily for individuals who are 65 or older or have underlying, high-risk health issues. Learn more here.
At this time, no on-campus vaccination sites are scheduled. Details on availability will be announced to the campus community.
Early birds may need to get third COVID-19 reentry test
Huskers among the first to be tested twice through the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s saliva-based COVID-19 reentry testing program may need to get a third test to stay in compliance.
The university began the second round of saliva-based testing on Jan. 28. Some students, instructors and staff who completed two reentry tests early are reporting that the Safer Community app is recommending the scheduling of a third test. The app is showing a need for third test as its “Access Granted” status is based on a 10-day interval.
The university is working with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to determine next steps in the spring semester COVID-19 testing program. Details will be announced the week of Feb. 1.
Huskers who have been tested twice and show (via the app) a need for a third test prior to Feb. 5 should schedule an additional test at least one day prior to the date listed. This will allow those users to avoid interruption in building access status.
Get an exemption if you've had COVID-19
Students, instructors and staff diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 90 days must request an exemption and should not participate in the university’s saliva-based testing program. Huskers with an exemption receive an “Access Granted” status in the Safer Community app for the duration of the 90-day span.
Getting tested for COVID-19 in the weeks after recovery from the virus may result in a positive test result. Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, individuals in the 90-day window are not contagious after a 10-day isolation period and assuming symptoms have resolved. However, they may continue to carry remnants of the virus for the remaining time in the 90-day window. These remnants may result in a positive test result.
Individuals who have recovered and are in the 90-day window after having the virus should only seek testing if they are symptomatic or suspect exposure. Those tests should be nasal-based and not completed through the university's saliva testing program.
Negative, on-campus test needed to access university facilities
Only those negative COVID-19 tests completed through the on-campus, saliva-based testing protocol can be used to gain access to university facilities.
The university's saliva-based PCR test is as reliable as nasal-based testing. Further, the Safer Community app and printable building access pass (offered for those without smartphones) can only be linked to results from on-campus saliva tests. Results from a health care provider or any other outside testing program cannot be substituted for a test from the university's saliva-based testing protocol.
Vaccine registration begins for Lincoln, Lancaster County
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has launched an online portal for individuals to register for vaccine distribution. All members of the campus community who are 65+ or who have underlying, high-risk health issues are being asked to register with the county. Additional details on the vaccination plan will be announced.
Study spaces updated for spring semester
Study spaces on campus for students to attend Zoom classes, access remote course materials, and collaborate on small group projects while staying safe and physically distant have been updated for the spring semester. Students can drop into areas listed here on a first-come-first-served basis.