Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have continuously worked to effectively plan for, react to and mitigate its impact to our university community. At Nebraska, we've employed multiple approaches to testing for COVID-19.
Spring 2021 Saliva-Based Testing
To create the safest possible environment for in-person classes and activities in the Spring Semester at Nebraska, we're going to be using minimally invasive, saliva-based testing for COVID-19, and pairing it with a new app called Safer Community.
On-Demand Nasal-Based Testing
Based on medical advice from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD), UNL provides free PCR (nasal swab) diagnostic testing for those in our UNL community who are symptomatic or who otherwise choose to be tested.
Testing for Athletics
Diagnostic antigen testing is required for our football student-athletes by the Big Ten Conference and is paid for by the conference. These tests provide quick results and can be a good approach for “point of care” repeated testing of a specific population in at-risk situations such as contact sports. But diagnostic antigen testing can be less accurate than PCR testing, which is why Big Ten protocols require that any positive antigen test result be confirmed with a PCR diagnostic test.
Basic Purposes of Testing
There are two basic purposes of testing:
- diagnostic testing, which is the most common and provides an individual with a positive or negative test result and allows for contact tracing, and;
- surveillance testing, which tests large numbers of people and can provide trend or hotspot data, but does not allow for an individual diagnosis and thus no contact tracing.