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Freshman Jaxon Gilner (left) and senior Claire Kubicek (right) sit at the wellness attendant table at the College of Education building on Thursday, Sept 16. 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a shortage of wellness attendants, but officials say that the absence should be coming to an end soon.

Association of Students of the University of Nebraska external Vice President Patrick Baker brought attention to this shortage of wellness attendants — vest-wearing student workers and staff supervisors posted at the doorways of many buildings on campus to check building access statuses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — at a recent ASUN meeting.

These attendants have become a fixture on campus since the beginning of the spring 2021 semester. Community members must show wellness attendants their building access ID through the Safer Community app for the day in order to enter certain buildings.

Wellness stations are in front of the entrances they monitor, but not all buildings have stations or are staffed at all times. 

“The wellness attendant program is just one layer of Swiss cheese in the campus safety model,” Julie Koch, a wellness attendant supervisor for UNL, said. 

Wellness attendant schedules are based on expected foot traffic, and though community members should have their Safer Community app on their person, having no wellness attendant posted at the door does not necessarily indicate a problem. 

Baker said he personally identified the shortage through meeting notes forwarded from discussions with Student Affairs, walking around campus and advertisements on Handshake.

Applicants have responded to fill the gap, according to associate vice chancellor Judy Walker, who is in charge of overseeing the hiring, training and scheduling of wellness attendants.

“It’s tapering off,” Walker said in an email, noting a large number of wellness attendants were hired recently.

Koch said she is now supervising more than 230 employees, with more onboarding. Despite the hiring surge, Koch said more wellness attendants are desired on East Campus.

“That's where I have the majority of open shifts right now,” Koch said. “[A] majority of students want to stay on City Campus, so I'm still looking for East Campus [wellness attendants].”

COVID-19 remains a problem at UNL and in the community, although the rolling average of daily cases has fallen from a peak in the first few weeks of the semester.

Baker said ASUN “100%” supports Walker and is grateful UNL has “an effective plan to ensure student safety on campus.”

“Whether there is a wellness attendant on duty or not, access to campus buildings is restricted to those with ‘building access granted’ status in their Safer Community app,” Koch said. “Whether somebody is checking your app or not, you still have to have that building access.”

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