Dear UNL Students, Faculty and Staff:
This afternoon the Lincoln-Lancaster County Risk Dial was moved to Red, meaning that the risk within our broader community is now at the severe level for COVID-19. This move was made largely because of the record number of COVID-19 infections that continue to increase, a county positivity rate above 15% and the strain facing our local hospitals, as capacity is stretched with COVID patients from Lancaster County and surrounding areas.
I’m sure many of you are wondering, what does this mean for our university? As a UNL community, we saw our largest increases in cases and positivity rates earlier in our semester. For the last month, we have had relatively stable reports of positive cases and positivity rates. All of this information is available and trackable daily on our UNL COVID Dashboard. In addition, we still have had no COVID-19 cases tracked to classroom transmission, and currently have no residential units under quarantine.
While we must remain extraordinarily vigilant, given the current stability of the situation on our campus, we do not see the need to discontinue in-person education or to have students leave campus housing. Our UNL leadership meets daily with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, and those public health officials say that one of the safest places right now for our UNL community is on our campuses.
We currently have considerable flexibility for faculty and staff to work remotely as their jobs allow. Given the escalation of the risk dial in Lincoln and Lancaster County, it is important that managers continue to be flexible whenever possible. In addition, the precautions we have already taken this semester have allowed our research and creative activity to safely continue. At the current time, we do not see the need for further restrictions in these areas. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our housing, dining and facilities staff who have continued to safely serve the needs of our students and our campus.
As I noted earlier, it is incredibly important that we all continue to diligently and safely wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash hands, practice good hygiene and take other safety precautions. Group settings, whether a gathering of people you know or a larger setting at a bar or event, are an increasing source of transmission in our county. And the risk of exposure in a group setting increases dramatically as the size of group becomes larger.
It is especially critical that we practice all of these safety measures not just on our campus, but particularly as we go off campus. We must all do our part to help keep our broader Lincoln community safe.
Today, we complete our 12th week of the fall semester. I am so proud of and thankful for how hard, graciously, and flexibly everyone has worked together and the efforts you have made to make this a successful on-campus experience. We will soon be wrapping up the semester with the completion of final exams and projects. Before many of our student scholars head home for this year’s extended semester break, I want to strongly encourage you to get tested so you can return safely. During the weeks of November 16 and November 23, we will be suspending our random mitigation testing to utilize that additional testing capacity for anyone wishing to be tested. This opportunity is open to faculty and staff as well. To make a reservation during one of those weeks, please use this link to register.
Thank you for your incredible efforts this fall; your continued diligence as the semester progressed has led to the stability of our campus environment. We’ve got a few weeks left – please stay strong, be safe, and continue to be Cornhusker Committed.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.