Next Steps on COVID-19 Testing

Chancellor Green with mask on, sitting at desk.

February 3, 2021

Dear UNL Students, Faculty and Staff –

We are well more than halfway through our second round of saliva-based re-entry testing for those who will be on campus this semester, and I wanted to provide an update to you on where we are and our next steps on testing. 

The great news is that our positivity rates resulting from both our re-entry saliva tests and symptomatic nasal tests have been very low. In our first week, we had a positivity rate of .92 percent, which declined to .71 percent in the week ending January 30. This shows the commitment of our campus community to taking the proper safety measures – and to helping to keep everyone in our campus safe.

Third Re-Entry Test
We have been asked by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to conduct one additional round of required re-entry tests to help provide additional data on possible spread within our UNL community.

Given last week’s two snow days, we have only had one week of in-person classes. Another round of re-entry tests will provide us with additional data on any COVID-19 transmission occurring within our campus community, particularly for asymptomatic cases. It will also enhance our ability to isolate and mitigate any additional spread.

Your Safer Community app will notify you of the date by which your next test result is required. (Those of you who tested early in the first and second round may already have this notice on your app.) Please make sure to schedule your next test at least one day prior to that date to help ensure your access to campus buildings is not interrupted.  Also, given the cold weather forecast for next week, please understand there may be longer lines than usual for the drive-through test locations.

Unless you have an exemption, it is critical that you complete all three rounds of required testing. If you don’t, not only will your access to campus buildings be disrupted, students who fail to complete these tests will be subject to disciplinary measures.

Going Forward – Random Mitigation Testing
If our positivity rates remain low in this third round of testing and we don’t see unexpected spikes or outbreaks of COVID cases in our community, we will then move to random mitigation testing.

Within a day of receiving your third test result, your Safer Community app will reflect your required testing as complete and that no future tests need to be scheduled at this time. It will remain in this status until/unless you are selected for the randomized testing. If you are selected, you will be notified via email, and the app will show the date by which you will need to complete your saliva test. These randomized tests will be required.

Final confirmation on the randomized mitigation testing and more details on how it will work will be provided once we have the data from the third round of re-entry tests. We expect to be able to communicate this to campus by the week of February 15.

We will continue to offer saliva testing for anyone who wishes to voluntarily continue to engage in testing. We will also continue to offer symptomatic testing through our TestNebraska facility and the University Health Center.

As we move forward throughout the semester it is important to regularly check your Safer Community app for updates needed to your testing status and to help ensure continued campus access.

We are proud to have been able to safely lead the Big Ten in our level of in-person education. Our spring testing protocols are designed to enable us to continue to allow for this critical educational interaction and provide for the fullest possible levels of research, creative activity and engagement.

Additionally, with more data from our third round of re-entry testing and successful mitigation testing, we hope to open up additional campus activities for students, such as expanded campus recreation offerings or additional campus events.

As we have consistently done, we will stay flexible to adapt to changing conditions. This pandemic has been, and continues to be, unpredictable. The safety of our community will always be our first priority.

Thank you. Your continued dedication to keeping our campus safe is the reason for our success.

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.