LINCOLN–(KFOR Jan. 5)–The 2022 spring semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will start with a requirement to wear face coverings inside, including at all UNL events, until further notice.
In a news release, UNL officials say the changes to its safety protocols are a result of the surging Omicron variant, which is now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in Nebraska. UNL and Lincoln Public Schools have all implemented masks to be worn indoors, since the city-wide mandate was lifted two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department COVID-19 Risk Dial increased from High to Severe.
Below is the message sent to UNL students, faculty and staff from Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Dear students, faculty and staff:
Happy new year – I hope all of you have enjoyed a restful and healthy holiday break.
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads quickly across the U.S. and now in Nebraska, we are making several important updates to our safety protocols for the Spring semester.
UNL will temporarily require face coverings indoors, including at UNL events, until further notice. We will continue to evaluate the presence and spread of COVID-19 on our campus to determine our ongoing safety needs, and whether we can revert to course-specific face covering requirements.
Required Re-Entry Testing
We will now be requiring one round of required re-entry testing for all students, faculty and staff with a presence on our Lincoln campuses.
Faculty, staff and student workers who have returned to campus are being asked to test next week, January 9-13.
Students who will have a campus presence are asked to test January 14-21.
The City and East Campus Union testing sites will have expanded hours January 14 to 21:
8am-6pm on weekdays
12pm-6pm on Saturday, January 15 and Sunday, January 16
The East Stadium drive-thru will continue to operate on its normal schedule of 6am-6pm on Wednesdays and 2pm-5pm on Sundays. Appointments can be made through the Safer Community app. If you are able, please utilize the testing sites at the City and East Campus Unions, as staffing is more limited at the East Stadium drive-thru location and long lines could occur. More information on regular testing hours and locations is available on our COVID-19 website: https://covid19.unl.edu/testing-sites
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 with a PCR test in the last 90 days, please request a testing exemption if you haven’t already done so. https://covidreport.unl.edu/portal/exemptions
In addition to required re-entry testing, we are asking any students traveling back to Lincoln to test prior to returning to campus and to delay your return if you test positive. If possible, it’s best to get a PCR test. If you are vaccinated and have not yet gotten a booster, please do so before returning to campus. And if you are not yet vaccinated, you are at a high risk for contracting the Omicron variant, and we would strongly recommend vaccination.
Following the required re-entry testing, we will begin our planned random mitigation testing the week of January 24. As a reminder, participants for randomized testing will be selected from both those who have provided vaccine information to our Voluntary Vaccine Registry and those who have not.
If you are selected for random testing in a given week, it is required, and you will be notified via email the week prior. There will also be a notification in your Safer Community app.
The Safer Community app will continue to be an easy tool for scheduling COVID-19 testing and for obtaining your results. However, in the Spring semester, it will not be used for access to campus buildings or events.
Changes to Isolation Policies
In accordance with the updated CDC guidance, those who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for a minimum of 5 days. After 5 days, if an individual is fever-free with all other symptoms improving, they may resume activities but must wear a face covering around others.
The exception to this is students who live in residence halls or Greek houses. After 5 days, those students may resume normal activities but will need to continue to sleep and eat in isolation for another 5 days.
As a reminder, UNL provides isolation housing free of charge to students as available.
Uploading Booster Information – Vaccine/Booster Clinic
As booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccination become more important, we are asking our UNL community to upload their booster information to the Voluntary Vaccine Registry. Having this information helps us evaluate the risk profile of our campus community and factors into our COVID-19 safety policies and protocols. https://covid19.unl.edu/voluntary-covid-19-vaccine-registry
We will again be offering on-campus clinics for anyone wishing to get a booster or their original vaccine.
Wednesday, January 26 – 9:00am-1:00pm in the Ballroom at the City Union.
Wednesday, January 26 – 3:00-5:00pm in the Prairie Suite at the East Campus Union.
You can register for the clinics at this link and, if receiving a booster, will need to bring your vaccine card with you. Walk-ins are also welcome at both clinics. Flu shots will also be available for UNL students.
As always, we maintain our close partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department in developing these protocols. And should conditions warrant, we will adjust as needed to help keep our community safe.
None of us wanted to start 2022 preparing for another surge of COVID-19. But the Omicron variant has rapidly taken hold, and we need to take these actions to help ensure the safety of our campus community. As always, thank you for your continued commitment to safety, your patience and your goodwill to one another as we move forward into what I know will be another successful semester.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D., Chancellor