May 21, 2020
Dear UNL Faculty and Staff:
I wanted to provide you with some additional updates related to the university’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As has been discussed, there has been and will continue to be an economic impact to our university due to lost revenue and potential impacts on state funding. While Nebraska’s economy seems to be weathering the economic downturn somewhat better than many other states, we must be pragmatic about the loss of state revenues as we plan for the future. In order to help decrease the need for programmatic or staffing cuts, there will be no merit-based salary increases from any funds for Fiscal Year 2020-21. Promotional increases will be awarded.
And as we approach June 1, we are providing additional guidance on the operational impacts to our campus environment. We recognize that whether you consider UNL to be a large campus or a small community, as we ease some campus-wide restrictions there will be few one-size-fits-all solutions. Every office environment is different. As we move forward this summer and into the fall, we will be guided by these key principles:
- The health and safety of our UNL community.
- The health and safety of visitors to our campus.
- The health and safety of our broader community.
- Continuing our land-grant missions of education, research and creative activity, and engagement.
- Setting clear overall university policies and guidelines based on state and local public health guidance and known best practices.
- Providing for localized decision making to best meet university policies and guidelines.
Access to Campus
Starting June 1, we will no longer limit access to campus buildings to only those individuals whose physical presence has been designated as necessary. Individuals will no longer be required to possess a letter authorizing a campus presence.
However, it will be a long time before we can safely return to a pre-pandemic density of people on campus or pre-pandemic levels of travel. While much is still being discovered about COVID-19, we know that some of the biggest drivers of new infections are prolonged indoor exposure, large gatherings and travel.
We expect unit leaders to adhere to these guidelines for the period of June 1 to June 30.
- Every employee able to effectively work remotely should continue to do so.
- Local public health guidance in Lincoln continues to limit any gathering to groups of 10 or less, with social distancing of at least six feet. University sites around Nebraska must follow local health guidelines.
- If some employees within a unit do return to work in the office, unit leaders need to ensure that no more than one-third of workplace personnel are present at any time. This is being done to help reduce the density of our worksites.
- Consistent with local public health guidance, employees are expected to wear face coverings when interacting in-person with other individuals.
- In-person meetings should be avoided whenever possible. Employees are encouraged to continue to utilize Zoom for meetings.
The following facilities will be open on a limited basis for the period of June 1-June 30 with the following conditions:
- Nebraska Unions – The University Bookstore will open Monday, June 8 with limited hours. The 24-hour computer lab in the Nebraska Union on City Campus also will open on June 8 through NCard access. More information will be available on their website.
- Campus Recreation –Tennis courts and Mabel Lee Recreation Field will be accessible beginning June 1. The Campus Recreation Center, Outdoor Adventures Center and Recreation & Wellness Center are planning to open with limited hours and services by June 15 with social distancing restrictions. More information will be available on their website.
- Child Care Center– The UNL Children’s Center is planning to reopen under public health guidance beginning June 15. More information will be made available to parents who utilize this facility.
- University Libraries will remain closed through June. Electronic journals, ebooks, and teaching and research services, including online help, remain available. Students, faculty and staff can continue to access much of the libraries’ digitized print book collection through the emergency access provided to the HathiTrust Digital Library.
- Information on university facilities such as the State Museum, the Lied Center for Performing Arts, Sheldon Museum of Art and the International Quilt Museum will be available on their websites.
As we have more people returning to campus, it is vital that everyone continue to practice good hygiene, including frequent, thorough handwashing. Large hand sanitizer stations will begin to be strategically located throughout campus to supplement handwashing. As stations become available, buildings with high foot traffic will be prioritized, with the ultimate goal of providing hand-sanitizer in all buildings by August. In addition, unit leaders should ensure returning employees regularly clean and disinfect their work areas, and that workplace common areas are wiped down after each use. Custodial Services will disinfect restrooms and building common areas and will increase sanitizing efforts in high-traffic areas across the university to twice a day. Key touch points, including doorknobs and light switches, are part of this effort. All cleaning products used are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against COVID-19.
As always, if you feel you have any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and contact your health care provider/testing sites so that you can be tested. If you have been in contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, you must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. The University Health Center remains open with its normal summer hours of 8am-5pm Monday-Friday with a mix of telemedicine and in-person care. It is important to call first if seeking in-person care.
The following previously announced policies remain in place:
- Summer courses will be taught remotely.
- University sponsored international and domestic travel is prohibited until at least June 30.
- Summer study abroad programs are canceled.
Our UNL COVID-19 website will always contain the latest updates. As you know, dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak has been a fluid situation. Should local health guidance become more restrictive, we will follow suit. We will continue to communicate any changes to our campus environment and going forward, we will seek to provide workplace guidance at least two weeks in advance to give leaders and employees the ability to prepare.
I have continued to be inspired as I have watched you rally through this adversity. Thank you for your patience, your creativity and your perseverance. Together, we will come through this stronger than ever.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.