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UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green announced enhanced COVID-19 measures for the Spring 2021 semester on Wednesday following the continued intensity of the pandemic. 

All UNL students, faculty and staff that attend campus will be required to be tested using a new saliva-based on-campus testing for COVID-19 every two weeks. 

All students who reside in Lancaster County or come to campus, even if all classes are remote, are required to be tested, per recommendation from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. 

Students will be tested before returning to campus, their on-campus housing or if they live in Lancaster County before classes begin on Jan. 25, 2021. 

Faculty and staff that are sporadically on campus are also required to get tested within two weeks, preferably at least 2-3 days, prior to returning to campus. These members will likely have to be tested locally if outside of Lancaster County. 

PCR testing, or nasal swab testing, for COVID-19 will continue to be available for those who are symptomatic, have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or need to be tested before their next scheduled test. This testing was also available during the fall semester. 

The new saliva-based campus testing will be available to the majority of the campus community on Jan. 19

“With the incredible support of UNL’s Veterinary Diagnostic Center, we will be able to provide saliva-based diagnostic testing on campus in the spring, with an expected 24-hour turn-around for positive or negative results,” Green said in the announcement. 

UNL announced a new app that students, faculty and staff will need for the spring semester. Individuals will be required to have a “go” status to enter any campus building. There are other options for community members without smartphones. 

“We are also working with our Big Ten colleagues at the University of Illinois-UC for a unique campus app that will incorporate the results of the saliva tests to provide members of the campus community with a color-coded status based on negative or positive test results,” Green said. 

If a student, faculty or staff member tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 90 days and provides documentation of this, they can be deemed exempt from testing. Community members can also be granted exemption via documentation for health care providers for other medical circumstances. 

More information on exemption will be available soon on UNL’s COVID-19 website, according to the announcement.

The Cornhusker Commitment, which is signed by each student, will be enhanced for Spring 2021 in order to hold students accountable for actions that may endanger their safety or the safety of others. 

Students will still be required to wear masks indoors at all times or when they aren’t able to social distance outdoors, and large gatherings and crowds are still prohibited. Under the new commitment, students will agree to be tested every two weeks unless exempt. 

If students are unable to adhere to this commitment, their ability to attend campus can be revoked, Green said. 

UNL is searching for community members available to temporarily redeploy to help staff the testing sites, diagnostic center and conduct contract tracing to keep up with the 24-hour turn-around. This position will also include helping in the lab, working collection sites and being building monitors. These individuals can be reassigned for up to four months, depending on their availability. 

Graduate assistants are encouraged to express interest if they have availability beyond their research and/or teaching assignments. UNL is willing to work with current graduate students whose project funding does not allow them to redeploy. This position will be considered as a paid student job for undergraduate students. 

For more information on redeploying to assist with COVID-19 testing related assignments can be found here.

UNL was able to remain in on-campus classes during the Fall 2020 semester despite the uptick of positive COVID-19 cases on campus and in Lancaster county. These additional measures seek to keep students, faculty and staff safe and on campus for the entirety of the Spring 2021 semester.

“We remain committed to safely providing in-person educational experiences and to continuing our critical research and creative activity, as well as our vital outreach across Nebraska,” Green said. 

covid@dailynebraskan.com