COVID Testing Update: Moving to Random Mitigation Testing

Chancellor Green with mask on, sitting at desk.

February 15, 2021

Dear UNL Students, Faculty and Staff –

We have now completed our third round of saliva-based COVID re-entry testing and I want to thank everyone for their dedication to completing these tests, especially in the cold weather!

The results of our re-entry testing have been very good; in each round of testing our positivity rate has gone down. Our positivity rate for all COVID testing for the week ending January 23 was 0.82 percent, and it has declined each week to 0.35 percent this past week. This shows that we have been able to isolate positive cases of COVID-19 quickly, and that your actions have helped to prevent any spread on our campus. 

We will now transition to weekly random mitigation testing. Each week, a random portion of our students, faculty and staff will be required to do a saliva-based COVID test. On Thursdays, those selected for the random testing will receive an email asking them to schedule a test between Sunday-Wednesday of the following week. Their Safer Community app will show the need for a new test in the “next step” section. 

This new COVID testing protocol will begin with notifications this Thursday, February 18, for tests to be completed Sunday, February 21 through Wednesday, February 24. This testing process will repeat each week and again, these tests are required. If you are selected for random testing and do not have a completed negative saliva test result by end of day the following Friday, your Safer Community app will switch to a “Building Access Denied” status. A negative saliva test result will be required to reinstate your building access.

This random testing program will allow us to continue to isolate positive cases of COVID-19 and help us contain asymptomatic spread on our campus. 

If we do see the development of concentrated cases on campus, there may be groups of students or faculty or staff who will need to do regular saliva testing for a determined period. Additionally, some students such as student teachers or childcare workers need to be tested regularly and can continue to utilize the saliva testing for those requirements.

Should things change considerably on our campus, we may need to resume regular testing for anyone who will be on campus. We hope that will not be the case, but the safety of our community will be our guide.

The saliva testing program will also continue to be available to anyone who wishes to test more regularly, or who needs to show a negative test in order to participate in on- or off-campus activities. Such voluntary saliva testing appointments can be made in the Safer Community app or COVID-19 Testing Portal and will not disrupt the functions of the app related to the random mitigation program.

We continue to ask anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to utilize our TestNebraska testing site on 17th Street, between Courtyards and the Cather Dining Center, or the University Health Center. Please note, due to the significantly cold weather, the TestNebraska facility is closed today but will resume regular operations tomorrow.

Again, thank you for your participation in our broad-based re-entry testing. The good results bode well for our semester of in-person education and reflect your Cornhusker Commitment to taking the needed precautions to keep us all safe. 

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.