Welcome to the Nebraska Today COVID-19 Digest — a feature intended to help you navigate campus during the global pandemic.
These briefs will be updated regularly with campus news related to COVID-19. Along with appearing in the campus newsletter, this digest will also (until further notice) be a featured story on the Nebraska Today website. For complete details on the university's pandemic response, review its COVID-19 website.
The most recent update, which posted at 10 p.m. Sept. 20, includes details about an update to the university's COVID-19 dashboard, which reports daily testing data.
Dashboard expands to include 14-day total
The university's COVID-19 dashboard has expanded to include test results for the previous 14 days. Other data points include daily testing totals, cumulative results since testing started on Aug. 12, and the Lincoln-Lancaster County COVID-19 risk dial.
The dashboard includes tests completed at the university’s TestNebraska facility and University Health Center, as well as those completed elsewhere. All data is provided by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The dashboard is designed to be updated daily. Cases will be reported in Nebraska Today on a weekly basis. Learn more about the COVID-19 testing dashboard.
On-campus testing to expand
The university is expanding access to free COVID-19 testing on campus and will launch a randomized diagnostic testing program.
Starting this weekend, the university’s TestNebraska site — located on the ground floor of the 17th and R Streets parking garage — will increase the number of tests it can conduct and expand hours to include a Sunday afternoon option. Update testing hours for the TestNebraska site are 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
The expanded hours will allow for more individuals to get tested, including students who are required to get regular testing for curricular and employment experiences — including those who serve as student teachers and workers in Lancaster County.
The TestNebraska site is open to students, faculty and staff. Testing appointments can be made through the university’s COVID-19 website.
The University Health Center is also providing tests for the campus community Monday through Saturday. Health center testing is based on a telehealth consultation and requires insurance coverage. To request a telehealth appointment, call 402-472-5000.
Starting the week of Sept. 21, the university will start randomized mitigation testing of students, faculty and staff. Campus community members selected will be asked via email to be tested. The email will include instructions on how to get tested.
The expanded testing and randomized testing program were announced in a Sept. 18 email from Chancellor Ronnie Green. The message also included details on the university’s overall testing strategy, enhanced testing for individuals in quarantine, and information about campus isolation and quarantine policies.
Free Wi-Fi hotspots available for off-campus students
To assure educational access for students who may not have internet in their homes, the university is making mobile Wi-Fi hotspots available via checkout.
The MiFi devices, available through Information Technology Services, are available on a first-come, first-served basis through the end of the year to all students who live off campus. Extensions will be considered. There is no charge for the device, network connection or data used.
The university is also offering students additional space on campus for studying, attend classes via Zoom, access remote course materials, and collaborate on small group projects. Learn more here.
Housing updates guest policy
To better address the need for physical distancing, University Housing has updated its guest policy for students living in campus residence halls.
Under the new policy, which went into effect Sept. 15, each student resident is allowed two guests in their assigned hall at any time. For in suite apartments that include more than three assigned roommates, students may host two guests per resident or a total of 10 people at any one time. However, no individual assigned resident can have more than two guests with them at any time.
Testing, reporting and contact tracing
Protocols for testing, reporting and contact tracing are now in place for the fall semester. Any member of the campus community who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately contact the university's Public Health Advocacy Team at email@example.com. The team has recently been organized to serve as a resource for faculty, staff and students with a confirmed case of COVID-19. The university has partnered with TestNebraska to offer free testing on campus (in the 17th and R Streets parking garage) and is working with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department on contact tracing. Learn more about the university's testing, reporting and contact tracing protocols.
No in-class transmission reported
Pat Lopez, director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, announced that, as of Sept. 2, contact tracing has not confirmed in-classroom transmission of the the 2019 coronavirus at any school or college campus in Lancaster County. The information was presented during a Sept. 2 press conference held by Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and attended by Chancellor Ronnie Green.
At this time, all cases among students, faculty and staff have reportedly been traced to exposures that occurred outside the classroom or off campus.
"Public health has been our No. 1 priority in returning to school this year," Green said. "We are pleased with the strategies that have been put in place and, as Director Lopez said, we have had no transmission in class to this point. And we are very, very pleased about that."
To protect students and instructors, the university is following a number of safety protocols, including observing physical distancing by mapping out seating in classrooms, requiring the wearing of facial coverings on campus, and upgrading HVAC systems to better filter air within buildings.
What's the difference between 'quarantine' and 'isolation'?
Isolation is the separation of individuals who have a contagious disease from those who are not ill. Quarantine separates and restricts movement of individuals who may have been exposed to a contagious disease. For COVID-19, the quarantine period is 14 days. Learn more about the campus response to the virus, as well as details on quarantine and isolation protocols, here.
Isolation guide available
University leaders have updated the isolation guide for students who have been infected or are believed to be carrying the COVID-19 virus. The guide outlines the importance of isolation, necessary procedures and how to return to campus when complete.
Any member of the university community who has been self-isolating with COVID-19, or are presumed to have the virus, can end isolation under the following conditions (unless otherwise instructed by a health care professional):
- Individual has had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of a medicine that reduces fevers;
- All other symptoms have shown improvement for at least 3 consecutive days; and
- It has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
Learn more about isolation procedures here.
Individuals may also be placed on quarantine, which is a process used to keep those who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. It is intended to help stop the spread of disease that can occur before someone knows they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine must stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health and follow all directions from local health officials. Learn more about the difference between quarantine and isolation in the video below and on the CDC website.
How will the university respond moving forward?
While the university is planning for in-person, on-campus instruction for the fall semester, it is also developing contingency plans if adjustments are needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Details on how those decisions will be made and the factors that play into they are listed on the university’s COVID-19 website.
To help avoid changes to in-person, on-campus instruction, university leadership is stressing that the entire campus community adhere to all COVID-19 health and safety guidance practices. These include regular hand washing (for at least 20 seconds each time); using hand sanitizer between hand washings; wearing facial coverings when indoors at all times (except when seated while eating/drinking) and whenever possible while outdoors; and observing six-feet physical distancing at all times.
“College is meant to be a socially engaging and learning experience — not a socially distanced one,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said in his Aug. 19 welcome back message. “But, if we act like this is any other year, the experience of being on campus likely will close down.
“To succeed, we must be smart and we must be united in our response. We will only be successful if all of us — whether on-campus or off-campus — practice necessary safety measures.”
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department last issued quarantine notices on campus on Sept. 2. Those included the third floor of Eastside Suites, and Greek houses, Chi Omega and FarmHouse.
Those living in each house/floor have been placed in quarantine per health guidance. The use of quarantine is a key component of university plans to limit the spread of the virus.
The university is working with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to provide regular updates on the university's COVID-19 website. Learn more about the university's testing, reporting and contact tracing protocols.
Screening, tracing and communication resources
The university has created COVID-19 guides for instructors, employees and supervisors. The documents include guidance for COVID-19 screening, conversations regarding the pandemic and answers to questions supervisors might be asked (or asking). Employees can access the documents here.
App offers evaluation
All members of the campus community are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms by using the 1-Check COVID-19 screening app. Available for iOS and Android devices, the app was developed by engineering students for the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It allows users to privately answer questions and assess risk of having COVID-19.
Quarantine exception allowed
Per the most recent Centers for Disease Control guidelines, there is one exception if an individual is asked to quarantine following COVID-19 exposure (close contact for 15 minutes or longer to a person who tests positive). Individuals who have been diagnosed with and are fully-recovered from the virus receive a three month window (the amount of time studies thus far show that the immune system holds antibodies in reserve to battle the virus) during which an individual can avoid quarantine if re-exposed. However, if any symptoms develop again, promptly isolate and contact a medical provider. Documentation of diagnosis and recovery must be provided to avoid the standard 14-day quarantine period. Learn more about the importance of quarantine to protect campus.
Quarantine shortened for overseas travelers
Recent CDC guidelines have established a 10-day quarantine period for anyone who has traveled overseas. However, that term is strictly reserved for travel and not a substitute for the standard 14-day quarantine related to domestic exposure to the virus. Learn more about the importance of quarantine to protect campus.
Huskers care for one another and for our community. And one way we do this is by wearing a mask. This fall, we’ll deliver more than 60,000 masks to students, instructors, researchers and staff. Learn more ›› https://t.co/Uoz6WrwJ67 #UNL pic.twitter.com/62rkLXITGf
— University of Nebraska-Lincoln (@UNLincoln) July 29, 2020
Both the university and City of Lincoln have issued policies that require facial coverings be worn when indoors or when outside and social distancing (six-feet of distance between individuals) cannot be observed. Learn more about the university policy here and stay in touch with city updates (which include a COVID-19 risk dial).
University leaders continue to encourage employees and supervisors to develop remote working plans whenever possible. The goal is to reduce the total number of people on campus at any one time, thus reducing the opportunity for the virus to spread amongst individuals. More than 350 alternative work arrangement requests have been filed and approved for university employees. Learn more about alternative work arrangements here
Free wellness supplies available to employees
University employees can obtain free COVID-19 wellness supplies for campus needs through the UNL Marketplace website. Supplies include disposable masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and nitrile gloves. A university login is required to place an order. Once it is filled, the order can be picked up weekdays at the Facilities Maintenance Shops, 942 N. 22nd St.
Mental health and well-being
The university continues to offer a variety of support programs for students and employees. Students can seek assistance through Counseling and Psychological Services, Big Red Resilience and Well-being and academic success coaches. Programs for employees are being offered through the Employee Assistance Program.
What is an "incubation period"?
An incubation period is the time between when a person is infected by a virus and when he or she notices symptoms of the disease. Current estimates for the incubation period for COVID-19 range from two to 14 days. That range may change as doctors and researchers learn more about the virus.
Send us your questions
Do you have a question about the university’s COVID-19 response? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free COVID-19 tests offered
The university is offering a free, on-campus COVID-19 testing option for students, faculty and staff through a partnership with the University Health Center and TestNebraska. The walk-up testing site, which opened Aug. 12, is in the 17th and R Streets parking garage at 300 N. 17th St. It is open 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Appointments are required. Learn more here.
Two free masks
As part of its facial coverings policy, the university is providing two free cloth masks to every student, instructor, researcher and staff employee. Details on how the masks will be distributed are available here.
Travel policy updated
The university's travel policy has been updated to allow for in-state travel with a single-level of supervisor authorization. Blanket authorizations continue to require two-levels of authorization and are only allowed for in-state travel. All university-sponsored international travel continues to be prohibited until further notice. Domestic travel outside Nebraska is highly discouraged. For exceptional cases where university-sponsored domestic travel is absolutely necessary, two levels of authorization are required prior to departure. Learn more about the dual-approval process.
Large event approvals needed; safety protocols required
Due to COVID-19, all on-campus events projected to include 50 (or more) participants are required to go through an approval process and must follow all public health protocols. Approval of these events must be granted by the vice chancellor associated with the organizing campus group or unit. An event risk assessment must also be filed with the vice chancellor for business and finance prior to the date of the event. The point-of-contact for each event must be onsite for the duration and is responsible for ensuring compliance with all directed health measures. Learn more about this updated policy.
The entire campus community is being encouraged to prepare for the fall semester by completing COVID-19 training videos. The presentations — which are available to students, instructors, researchers and staff — offer an overview of campus policies and procedures, safety protocols and teaching approaches. Learn more here.
— University of Nebraska-Lincoln (@UNLincoln) July 26, 2020
The campus community, alumni and other Husker supporters are being asked to review and — if you desire — sign the Cornhusker Commitment. While not binding, it is a community promise to follow safety measures that protect individuals and yourself from the virus. Learn more here.
Drape required with face shields
Based on a recent update from the Centers for Disease Control, clear face shields are no longer an acceptable alternative to cloth face coverings unless they include a bottom or drape that fully-encloses the face and neck. Acceptable examples include the Humanity Shield and the University of Wisconsin model. All facial coverings must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin. Reusable cloth facial coverings and disposable paper masks are acceptable. Regardless of the type used, masks should not be designed with an exhalation valve. The university's facial covering policy is available online.
Forgot your mask?
From Aug. 24 to Sept. 11, the university is making disposable facial masks available to the campus community. The masks — primarily for students who may forget to bring a mask — are available at the Nebraska Union (in a self-service wall dispenser in the hall by the building's west entrance); at the member services desk at the Rec and Wellness Center on East Campus; room 232 in the Food Innovation Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus; and the reception desk in room 107 at the College of Engineering's Peter Kiewit Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Chancellor issues welcome message, urges caution
Chancellor Ronnie Green’s annual welcome back message to campus includes a hearty greeting for students, a thank you to faculty and staff, and a reminder about the need for all to follow health-related protocols. Click the video below to learn more.
All students traveling to campus from overseas must self-quarantine for 14 days per current Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. The university is offering a variety of supports for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, including the need to self-quarantine, send email to email@example.com.
What if I feel sick or was exposed?
If you are not feeling well, contact your health provider or the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department coronavirus hotline at 402-441-8006. Be cautious and stay home if you have symptoms — especially coughing, fever, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell). If you’ve believe you’ve been exposed but are not showing symptoms, contact the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department hotline.
Classes are in session
The fall semester kicks off today with a week of remote instruction. In-person classes begin Aug. 24. Building access has returned to a normal semester schedule. Also, other campus facilities — including Sheldon Museum of Art and the University Libraries — are now open or preparing for students, faculty and staff. And, some 5,500 students moved into campus residence halls between Aug. 13-16.
Package delivery returns
The temporary central package receiving shop set up in April is now closed and all packages are being delivered directly to campus offices. Departments and units that have packages stored at the Facilities Management Shops can pick up items from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Requests to have these packages delivered can be made via email to Tim Klein, inventory operations and building key manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests must include building name, recipient and tracking information.
What is 'exposure'?
When it comes to exposure to the virus, health officials are reporting two key numbers — 6 and 15. To be exposed to COVID-19, you must be in close proximity to someone with the virus (less than six feet), for more than 15 minutes. The university has instituted a number of protocols — including a facial covering policy and mandating that social distancing of at least six feet be followed when indoors. Learn more about health and wellness on campus during COVID-19.
What is 'asymptomatic'?
Individuals who are asymptomatic have the disease or illness but do not show symptoms. Some who fall into this category are contagious and can spread the virus. Primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Contact a healthcare provider or the University Health Center if you have symptoms or suspect you have been exposed to the virus.
What are 'synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’?
Both terms are linked to the flexible teaching and learning strategies being followed by campus instructors this fall.
Synchronous courses meet at the same time, physically and/or remotely, for all students. Physical classrooms will following social distancing and public health guidelines. Classrooms are equipped with technology to allow members of the campus community to participate remotely.
Asynchronous courses include coursework, recorded lectures, presentations and other materials made available through Canvas for students to work on individually. For example, a large lecture may be prerecorded for students to review remotely in advance of in-person small group discussions.
What is the difference between 'physical distancing' and 'social distancing'?
Physical distancing is the practice of staying at least six feet away from others to avoid catching a disease such as COVID-19. Social distancing is a term used earlier in the pandemic as many people stayed home to help prevent spread of the virus. Now as communities are reopening and people are in public more often, physical distancing is used to stress the importance of maintaining physical space when in public areas — both indoors and outdoors.
What is a 'self-reported' case?
A self-reported case of COVID-19 means an individual informs the university about a positive test before it has been reported to the university's Public Health Advisory Team or the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The university is now reporting COVID-19 cases (provided through the local health department) daily.
What's the difference between germ, bacteria and virus?
Germs is a catch-all term that describes very small microorganisms, including a virus or bacteria, that can cause illness in humans. Germs are everywhere. Most are harmless or helpful, but some (like COVID-19) cause infection and disease. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that lack a distinct nucleus. They can thrive in many environments and are found in or on people, animals and plants. They can be beneficial or harmful to health. Examples of bacteria include strep throat, pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Oral antibiotics are often effective against bacteria (if taken as prescribed). On the other hand, viruses are tiny organisms that require a living host (like people, animals or plants) to multiply. They hijack cells and use them to produce more viruses. They evolve quickly and are not affected by antibiotics. Examples include coronavirus, common cold, HIV and chickenpox. Many viruses subside in seven to 10 days, while others (like COVID-19) can linger for weeks.