On Aug. 27, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln published a COVID-19 dashboard to track positive test results in the campus community. The Daily Nebraskan was glad to see this effort, and we hope it continues to be a valuable resource throughout the semester.
But it’s not enough.
The current situation demands a level of transparency and accountability that, thus far, the university has failed to provide. The effects of this are shown in the questions we receive daily from anxious students through our Curious Cornhuskers initiative.
Students want to know why the university did not publish the case tracker sooner.
Why weren’t students tested for COVID-19 before they moved back into residence halls? What consequences do students in Greek life have for hosting parties?
How many cases is too many, and what point would the university switch to remote learning?
Students want answers — they deserve answers — and The Daily Nebraskan staff is trying its best to provide for them. We created an FAQ page on our website, which we will continually update with answers to your questions and the information you need to know about COVID-19 on campus.
Unfortunately, finding these answers is not always a straightforward process. Few university staff members are able to speak with our reporters, and the administration sometimes doesn’t have an answer at all.
This is a difficult, unprecedented and constantly evolving situation, and we would like to be understanding of that. We know from spending time in our own office that each day presents a new challenge. In the first three weeks of school, 50% of our in-office staff has had to take leave due to symptoms of illness or exposure to someone who tested positive.
As student leaders, we are frustrated with the little guidance the university has provided in dealing with this challenge. Furthermore, we have concerns about how these statistics are echoed in the university community. As journalists, we’d really like to know.
Overall, we’re disappointed with the university’s handling of the return to campus.
We don’t understand why an entire class is not allowed to know that an unnamed peer tested positive. We’re confused by the lack of mask policy enforcement in common spaces and the idea that we are all responsible for reporting those who don’t comply.
We have concerns about the university’s use of “strongly encouraged” when detailing policies on campus. We’re not sure why the Cornhusker Commitment is not mandatory. We don’t think the ratio of 25,000 people to 1 testing site is rational.
The Daily Nebraskan will continue to fight for transparency and answers from the university. In the meantime, you can expect to be hearing from us a lot more — specifically, from our new COVID team.
Under the leadership of former assistant culture editor David Berman and former assistant news editor Zach Wendling, The Daily Nebraskan has dedicated a set staff solely for COVID-19 coverage.
This team will answer all of your COVID-19 questions, whether you submit them through Curious Cornhuskers, DM us on Facebook or go on a Twitter rant that we happen to catch wind of. They will also publish data-driven stories, as well as feature stories about the student perspective of current life on campus.
We want this team to be your go-to source for information, direction and, hopefully, assurance.
So, here’s what we need from you.
If you have a question, submit it at this link. If you have a thought, submit a letter to the editor. To make sure you’re all caught up, subscribe to our newsletter. If you want to join our team, apply here.
We hope to have a successful and healthy semester on campus with you. But even if we have to go back to working from our bedrooms, we will be on your screen, in your pocket and, in spirit, by your side.