As impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus reverberate around the globe, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is taking proactive steps to protect and inform both the campus community and public.
In a March 5 message to campus, Chancellor Ronnie Green announced the suspension of all university-related student travel outside of the United States for the remainder of the spring semester. The message also outlined the launch of a task force that is evaluating additional steps, the creation of a webpage to deliver coronavirus-related information to campus, and an email address for related questions.
“Through our consultation with medical officials and consistent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are pragmatic steps we can take in an effort to keep our community protected in this rapidly evolving situation,” Green said.
At this time there are no known novel coronavirus/COVID-19 cases in Lincoln or Lancaster County. The university is also observing all quarantine and related COVID-19 protocols as outlined by federal, state and local public health officials — which include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all who return to the United States from nations that receive a Level 3 travel warning from the U.S. Department of State.
The University of Nebraska system also maintains a travel warning policy that disallows travel to countries that receive the Level 3 warning. At this time, those nations include mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Other locations being monitored for possible restriction include Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Green said university officials are evaluating the need to extend the suspension of university-sponsored student travel through the summer. If made, the decision will be announced to campus.
There is no formal restriction on university-related travel for faculty or staff.
“We ask that (faculty and staff) carefully consider whether your travel — domestic or international — is essential or might be canceled or postponed to a later date,” Green said. “We recognize that travel cancellations may still result in cost to the university and support any decision by our faculty and staff to cancel planned travel.
The message also encouraged students, faculty and staff to be thoughtful about personal international travel during spring break, which is March 23-27.
To help facilitate additional decisions regarding the novel coronavirus, the university has established a COVID-19 Task Force. The team is divided into subgroups that are evaluating possible changes in five areas: academic planning, campus operations, student life, international travel and campus communications.
Students, faculty and staff can submit questions to the task force by sending email to email@example.com. And, the university is offering a webpage that includes the most recent updates on the campus response to COVID-19 alongside current CDC information about the virus.
“On behalf of our leadership team, I want to stress that we are committed to the safety of our campus community and our greater community, and to taking any necessary steps in a thoughtful and timely manner,” Green said. “As this situation continues to unfold, we ask our students, faculty and staff to demonstrate support and compassion as this potentially impacts us all and could happen to anyone.”