Neihardt Residential Hall on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Amid the chaos of students returning home after the University of Nebraska-Lincoln closed campus due to the coronavirus, UNL staff began preparing the Piper wing of Neihardt Hall for students who may have been exposed.

Neihardt Hall closed in May of 2019, but will open again soon to provide a living space for students who are at-risk due to the places they visited or people they came in contact with. The university announced March 12 that classes were cancelled the following week and will transition to remote instruction starting March 30.

Larry Shippen, associate director of Housing Facilities Operations, has worked with 12 custodians and five faculty employees to prepare Piper since March 11.

“We set up Piper as a quarantine facility so that as we have people returning from study abroad trips in level-three countries, if they have no other place to go, there’s the opportunity for them to self-quarantine here on campus,” Shippen said.

Shippen clarified they will be providing a place to live for students who aren’t exhibiting symptoms, but are believed to be at-risk as well. 

Shippen and his team worked closely with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to develop proper quarantine protocols. This includes checking students into the building, providing food and cleaning services to them while ensuring the health of staff members remains a top priority.

Piper’s original double-occupancy rooms have been converted to single-occupancy rooms. The team has also provided microwaves and refrigerators so students in quarantine can reheat food if necessary. Students will have meals delivered along with a menu so they can order breakfast, lunch and dinner from the UNL dining services.