The University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced updated COVID-19 guidelines for the fall semester on Friday, including re-entry testing for all faculty, staff and students regardless of vaccination status.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green released a statement announcing specific protocols for UNL. He said the delta variant has increased risk for younger individuals, and there is still a risk of new variants of the coronavirus.
“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,” the statement reads. “And wherever there is a sizable population of unvaccinated individuals, the threat of new, even more deadly variants continues to exist.”
In a news release on Friday, the University of Nebraska also urged NU community members to get vaccinated before coming back to campus as the number of coronavirus cases is rising. Vaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear masks indoors, while unvaccinated individuals are expected to continue masking. COVID-19 testing will continue to be available for everyone.
Green said vaccinations provide students more freedom of being able to participate in activities normally, and those not registered as vaccinated will continue to test after everyone goes through one round of re-entry testing to get back on campus. Those who have registered their vaccination status will not be required to continue testing.
The campus will continue work with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department throughout the year and plans to make any adjustments to ensure the community is safe and healthy.
UNL will offer opportunities for vaccination as the start of the semester gets closer. Students, faculty and staff can get COVID-19 vaccinations Aug. 15-19 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, walk-up clinics will be offered outside the Nebraska Union and Nebraska East Union.
The University Health Center will also offer walk-up vaccinations starting Aug. 16 during clinic hours.
The campus will still return to full capacity this fall, Green said, but he advised everyone to think of others who may not have the ability to vaccinate and to mask up when in public spaces.
“Anyone who is unvaccinated remains susceptible to infection, particularly the highly transmissible Delta variant, and is expected to wear a face covering,” the statement read. “If you are unable, or unwilling, to protect yourself and others with a vaccine, it is critically important that you utilize other protective measures.”
Re-entry testing will be required for everyone returning to campus no matter their vaccination status and will take place Aug. 15-22. The Safer Community App or online testing portal will be used just as it was last year, and those who are not registered as vaccinated will have to use the app to continue testing for access to university buildings.
The statement reminds students, staff and faculty that they are able to voluntarily register their vaccination status if vaccinated. Anyone who registers before Aug. 15 and offers weekly prizes and grand prizes.
“Uploading your vaccination information to the registry also provides us with an incredibly important understanding of the vaccination rates in our UNL community,” Green said “The higher those rates are, the more likely we can sustain a more open environment on our campus.”
Green said the university will continue offering isolation housing for any students who test positive.
NU President Ted Carter said the university will keep everyone updated as protocols change for the public.
"Our priority is the health and safety of every member of the University of Nebraska community,” Carter said. “We all want this pandemic to be behind us, but right now we need to pull together and continue to take reasonable measures to keep each other safe. Most importantly, the chancellors and I urge every Nebraskan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccines are safe, effective and the surest way back to the activities we all love."