The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is hiring and training Wellness Attendants as part of its multi-layered approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during the spring semester.
The Wellness Attendants, who will be mostly student workers and several staff supervisors, will check the testing status — via the Safer Community app or printed status card — and mask compliance of students, faculty and staff when classes resume Jan. 25. Wellness Attendants will be wearing vests and stationed at building entrances where they are assigned. They also will have disposable masks on-hand to ensure all are wearing an appropriate face covering, per campus policy.
Students are reminded to allow some extra time getting to their classes for check-in with an attendant.
“It’s a big undertaking,” said Judy Walker, associate vice chancellor for faculty and academic affairs, who is overseeing the hiring, training and scheduling for the wellness attendants throughout City and East campuses.
“We’re anticipating more than 1,200 total work hours per week for coverage on campus,” Walker said. “We have hired about 60 attendants so far and anticipate hiring 100 to 150 more to fill all shifts.”
Allison Wortmann, a Human Resources specialist with the university, said they have received more than 250 applications from students for the positions. Hired attendants will be trained beginning the week of Jan. 18.
“We will have trainings offered twice next week, and then we’ll have it available later as we hire more,” Walker said. “The trainings will cover what is known about the spread of COVID-19, why having the Wellness Attendants is such an important step, and their responsibilities.”
The Wellness Attendants will be assigned to the entrances of buildings based on student traffic, which was determined by working with the Office of the Registrar and examining class sizes in all buildings. In buildings where Wellness Attendants are being utilized, other entrances will be locked from the outside. Entrance-only and exit-only traffic flows will be marked in buildings to help keep the flow running smoothly while Wellness Attendants are checking testing status. Colleges will be in charge of signage denoting these enter and exit flows in most buildings.
“Students, faculty and staff should be prepared to show their app or card at all times,” Walker said. “Those who normally have key card access to a particular door will still have that access, but everyone is encouraged to use the Wellness Attendant entrances.”
Visitors will be required to be accompanied by a faculty or staff member in a building, and those accompanying employees will need to show their app or testing card to the Wellness Attendants for admittance. At this time, vendors are exempt from the campus testing policies, Walker said, but they are expected to follow all other campus safety protocols, including wearing face covers and practicing social distancing.
Campus Recreation, Nebraska Unions and University Housing will also have Wellness Attendants, and Walker said she and her staff are able to help any other campus entities in setting up a Wellness Attendant system for their buildings.
“We’re happy to help provide the structure,” Walker said. “We have signage, information cards and could provide training, but they would need to provide the staffing to serve as Wellness Attendants.”
Walker said planning for this began in November, after it was determined that saliva testing would become available.
“We took the (Wellness Attendant) idea from the University of Illinois,” Walker said. “They were able to put this in place for the fall semester and had success with it. The fact that we are able to stand it up fairly quickly is thanks to our being a part of the Big Ten, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance.”
FAQs regarding the spring saliva testing program, along with information on Wellness Attendants, is available on the university’s COVID-19 website.
Additional reminders and things to know:
Saliva testing for COVID-19 begins Jan. 19. Prior to making an appointment, students must complete the enhanced Cornhusker Commitment through MyRed and then download the Safer Community app. Students, faculty and staff who will be on campus at any time during the spring semester are encouraged to sign up for testing at the earliest possible date to ensure their first test results are available before classes begin Jan. 25. If you do not have a smartphone, sign up for a testing time here.
There are 13 available saliva testing sites in Lincoln — on City, East and Nebraska Innovation campuses. A full list is available here.
Saliva testing for is for COVID-19 surveillance. Those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to schedule a nasal test through the TestNebraska testing site on campus, or through the University Health Center. Additional information can be found here.