August 6, 2021
Dear UNL Students, Faculty and Staff –
I hope all of you have enjoyed an invigorating and healthy summer. I’m not sure I have ever looked forward to the beginning of a Fall semester like I am this one. I cannot wait to see our community back in our classrooms, residential units, and laboratories and creative spaces. And to see our students, faculty and staff personally engaged in learning and activities across our campuses.
We have come so far since the beginning of this global pandemic, but we have not yet completed our journey. The rising infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the highly transmissible Delta variant, particularly among younger individuals, show that we must remain vigilant as we continue to move forward. And wherever there is a sizable population of unvaccinated individuals, the threat of new, even more deadly variants continues to exist.
Vaccinations have provided tremendous protection against the risk of serious illness from COVID-19, enough for those fully vaccinated to enjoy much greater freedom of activities. For example, those who upload their vaccination information to our voluntary registry will be exempt from the testing requirements on campus after one round of campus re-entry testing for everyone.
We continue to work extraordinarily closely with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). As they monitor the continued rise of the Delta variant in Nebraska and Lancaster County, we will continue to make any necessary adjustments. Safety across our community, who come to us from across our state, nation and the globe, is our first priority.
As the semester begins, we will be providing a number of opportunities for students, faculty and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Walk-up clinics will be held Sunday, August 15 through Thursday, August 19 at the Devaney Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. These clinics are welcome to any member of the UNL community and are being held in conjunction with the moving check-in for residence halls and sororities.
- Walk-up clinics will be held on the plazas outside the City and East Campus Unions on Wednesday, August 25 and Thursday, August 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition, the University Health Center will offer walk-up vaccination opportunities during clinic hours starting August 16th, as supply is available.
Use of Personal Protection
As noted previously, our classrooms will return to full in-person capacity this Fall, as will our dining halls, Campus Recreation, Unions, Libraries, and other public spaces.
Those who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings, but are strongly encouraged to do so indoors. You have likely read that the CDC recently advised fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission (which is the current status in Lancaster County). As cases of the Delta variant increase in Nebraska, we will continue to closely coordinate with LLCHD and will adapt if needed and necessary should directed health measures change.
Anyone who is unvaccinated remains susceptible to infection, particularly the highly transmissible Delta variant, and is expected to wear a face covering. If you are unable, or unwilling, to protect yourself and others with a vaccine, it is critically important that you utilize other protective measures.
We know that there are many in our community who have family members who are unable to be vaccinated. Instructors who face these circumstances (e.g., with family members too young to be vaccinated) may request that face coverings be worn in their classes.
People may choose to wear a face covering for a variety of reasons, so no one should assume that someone who wears one is unvaccinated. Respect and grace for each other have been essential elements of our successful management of the pandemic thus far. I ask everyone in our community to continue to show goodwill toward others as we continue to face this challenge together.
Required Re-entry Testing/Vaccine Registry/Safer Community App
As we come back to campus for the Fall semester, at the directive of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, we will do one round of required campus re-entry saliva-based testing between August 15 and 22 for ALL students, faculty and staff who will be on our Lincoln campuses, regardless of vaccination status. You can use the Safer Community App or online portal to schedule a test within six days of your testing date. If you arrive on campus prior to August 15, you will still need to test during the re-entry window of August 15-22.
After the first round of campus re-entry testing for everyone between August 15-22, those who have uploaded their vaccination information to the Registry will be exempt from continued saliva-based testing. Similar to this spring, those who can document a recent case of COVID-19 or have a medical exception to saliva testing will be exempt from all testing, including the re-entry test.
Students, faculty and staff who will be on our Lincoln campuses and who have not uploaded their vaccination information to the Registry will be required to participate in several rounds of weekly tests in order to have access to academic buildings and many other campus spaces. The results from these initial rounds of testing will help us determine our testing posture for the remainder of the semester, in close consultation with LLCHD.
Earlier this summer, we implemented a voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine Registry for you to upload your vaccine information. By registering your vaccination information, you will have the opportunity to win a number of weekly prizes over the rest of the summer, many of which have already been awarded. In addition, several Grand Prizes will be awarded at the beginning of the Fall semester. Anyone who registers by August 15 is eligible.
- Student Grand Prizes - 5 prizes worth one year of resident undergraduate tuition and fees ($9,872).
- Faculty/Staff Grand Prize - trip for 2 to Ireland with Jane and me to watch the Huskers play football against Northwestern in Dublin in August of 2022.
Uploading your vaccination information to the Registry also provides us with an incredibly important understanding of the vaccination rates in our UNL community. The higher those rates are, the more likely we can sustain a more open environment on our campus.
We will again utilize the Safer Community App to allow for access to campus buildings and campus activities in the Fall semester. Those who have uploaded their vaccination information into the registry and have completed the initial round of campus re-entry testing will have a continuous “Access Granted” status in the app until such time as any vaccine boosters may be required.
Those utilizing campus dining halls or Campus Recreation will need to use the Safer Community App for access starting the week of August 16. Indoor welcome back and orientation events will also use the App for access to those activities. Any necessary testing should be timed accordingly.
New students, faculty and staff can download the Safer Community App.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to provide resources for any student who tests positive, including isolation housing and academic support.
More details on these policies and all of our safety measures are available on our COVID-19 website.
I look forward to seeing all of you back on campus for a successful and healthy Fall semester.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.