FAQ / Contact Us

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve responded to your questions via email at covid19@unl.edu, and will continue to do so. For your convenience, answers to frequently asked questions are listed below.

Academic Calendar

Will we return after winter break in January or will the spring semester have a delayed start? The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will open 2021 with an optional three-week session from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22 before launching its spring semester on Jan. 25.

Health and Safety on Campus

Are face coverings required?  All members of our campus community are expected to wear face coverings when indoors and when social distancing cannot be observed outside. Two cloth masks have been provided to every student and member of the faculty and staff. Learn more about UNL's face covering policy.
Why are we requiring face coverings? We respect and care for ourselves and every person that we encounter on campus. That’s why we wear face coverings – to protect ourselves and others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. 
How are we enforcing face coverings? The reason we wear masks is to protect ourselves and others. If an individual does not wear a face covering in a setting where one is required, they will be asked to put one on. Any employee, student or visitor who refuses may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Employees and students who are directed to leave a campus space due to refusal to wear a face covering may be taken off duty and/or be subject to disciplinary action.
Is COVID-19 testing available on campus? Are you providing tests to all students? Yes. All are encouraged to self-monitor for and report symptoms of COVID-19 by using the “1- Check COVID-19 Screening” app (iOS, Android, or web version). 1-Check COVID-19 enables individuals to privately answer a series of questions and assess their risk of having COVID-19. Then the app issues a “low risk,” “urgent risk” or “emergent risk” assessment and guides users toward possible next steps specific to their needs. UNL, TestNebraska and the University Health Center have established a testing center at the 17th & R Parking Garage. All in the university community will participate in testing and contact tracing as necessary and advised based on public health guidance.
How does social distancing work for dorm rooms? One or two students are assigned per bedroom. All beds are placed 6-feet apart, head-to-head, and need to remain in that location throughout the year. Bunked beds will not be permitted, but students may loft beds for storage.
How can you ensure students in dorms are safe? All students living in residence halls received a bag upon move-in that includes two N-themed face coverings, a thermometer, single hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes and bandages, and a University Health Center magnet with phone number and COVID-19 symptoms, and information on the 1-Check COVID-19 Screening App.
How does social distancing work in the halls themselves? Study rooms and lounges have limited capacities. Floor decals are placed in spaces where lines form. Plexiglass barriers have been installed to reduce contact at service desks. Hand sanitizer stations are available at entrances to most campus buildings. We have increased our cleaning and sanitation in high-traffic and high-touch areas across campus.
My roommate may have COVID-19 but has not been tested. What should I do? If your roommate is symptomatic, you should self-quarantine for symptoms. You can end quarantine if symptoms are attributed to an illness other than COVID-19. If your roommate tests positive, you must self-quarantine for 14 days. Individuals who develop symptoms must self-isolate and seek medical consultation. You should self-isolate until advised otherwise by medical professionals.
My roommate tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do? If a roommate tests positive, you should self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate and seek medical consultation.
A person I came into contact with has tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do? Contact tracers from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will alert you if there is a concern regarding exposure to the virus. If social distancing and facial covering protocols are being followed, exposure should be limited. If you had close contact with the individual (within 6-feet or less for 15 minutes or more), self-quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days. If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate and seek medical consultation.
Is there regular testing for COVID-19 and contact tracing on campus? The university, TestNebraska and the University Health Center have established a dedicated and free COVID-19 testing service at the 17th and R Parking Garage. The University Health Center and other local medical facilities also offer COVID-19 testing. Contact tracing is being conducted through the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

Health and Safety in Classes I Teach

What should I do if a student in my class reports testing positive for COVID-19? Contact tracers from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will alert you if there is a concern regarding exposure to the virus. If social distancing and facial covering protocols are followed during class sessions, exposure for others would be limited. Unless notified otherwise or if symptoms arise, instruction should continue.
The instructor who teaches in the same room has tested positive for COVID-19. Should I get tested as I use the same lectern? Health officials consider this a low-risk scenario. However, individuals should self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate and seek medical consultation if you become symptomatic.
If I suspect I have COVID-19 and await results from a test, can I still teach my class in-person and who should I tell? If you expect exposure and are awaiting test results, you should pivot to remote instruction and self-quarantine until advised by a medical professional that you can return to a classroom. If you test positive, contact tracers will be initiated to identify those who may have been exposed. You are encouraged to contact a supervisor to let them know that you are being tested and the result.
A member of my household tested positive, can I still teach in-person or do I need to quarantine? If a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19, you must teach courses remotely and transition to a 14-day self-quarantine. If symptoms present, seek medical consultation until advised that you can return to campus.
My child’s daycare provider/teacher tested positive. Can I teach my course in-person? You are only required to self-quarantine if your child becomes symptomatic.
I’ve been notified that a student will be in self-quarantine for 14 days. Can I inform other students in the class about the quarantine? No, instructors should never disclose a student’s protected health information to any third party unless the student authorizes it in writing or permits the disclosure. Individuals in quarantine may or may not develop COVID-19. Should an individual test positive, contact tracers will identify and notify persons who may be at risk based on interactions.
A student is in quarantine and will miss an exam. Am I required to allow the student to make up the test? To avoid encouraging students to come to class when actively ill or potentially infected, instructors should offer students in quarantine opportunities to make up exams or take them remotely.
Can I require a student to provide documentation for why they require quarantine or cannot attend in-person instruction? To protect students’ health information, instructors cannot require that students provide written medical excuses. Students are encouraged to notify instructors immediately if an absence is required due to illness or injury. Students should also follow related directions provided in class syllabi.

Health and Safety in University Facilities

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through the HVAC? The following is a statement provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).

Facilities has set HVAC controls in all buildings to balance occupant comfort and adequate introduction of fresh air in accordance with ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards. Facilities will continue to monitor recommendations from CDC, ASHRAE and other expert agencies and adjust the controls accordingly. Facilities will continue with ongoing, established air handling maintenance (e.g., cleaning, inspection, filter changes, etc.).

What is the air exchange rate of my building? Each space within UNL facilities may have different air exchange rates. All buildings that recirculate air are taking in outdoor air to twice the ASHRAE 62.1 standard. Facilities has set HVAC controls in all buildings to balance occupant comfort and adequate introduction of fresh air in accordance with ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards. Facilities will continue to monitor recommendations from ASHRAE and other expert agencies and adjust the controls accordingly.
Is my air filtered? Yes. All centralized HVAC air systems filtering are monitored and maintained on a regular basis. UNL facilities is responding to the change in ASHRAE recommendation to increase filtration from MERV 8 to MERV 13 across campus. This will be only limited by availability of filter media and actual time taken to install the filters.
Are the HVAC systems working properly? HVAC systems are monitored at all times for proper operation. Facility Operations staff are alerted to any critical malfunctions.
Are the HVAC systems serviced regularly? All UNL facilities equipment is serviced and inspected on a regular basis.
Should I open my windows (if they do open)? Please do not open windows for ventilation. Buildings on UNL campus are slightly pressurized, meaning we bring in more fresh air from outside than is exhausted. This ensures that any air leakage (doors, windows, etc.) is outward and that all outdoor air coming into the building passes through air filters and is heated or cooled. This results in improved indoor air quality, reduces energy use, increases comfort, keeps the building cleaner and protects building materials from deterioration. It also ensures that doors latch properly. Due to building pressurization, opening windows will not reliably increase ventilation beyond that already provided by the central system. The University of Nebraska is also located in a geographical region where open windows may draw in hot, humid air or very cold, dry air from outside. Our building HVAC equipment may be unable to maintain optimal indoor temperature and humidity within a comfortable range if windows are left open. Our centralized HVAC systems automatically take advantage of ideal outdoor air conditions and maximize the outdoor air ventilation when possible.
The elevator signage indicates a capacity that will not allow for physical distancing, so what should the capacity be? The elevator etiquette signage indicates the occupancy in terms of “maximum”. The actual number of occupants in an elevator should be such that at least six feet of space are maintained between riders, and in no case exceed four persons. Small elevators may only be able to accommodate one or two riders.
How do we obtain signage for our buildings? University Communications has developed universal signage that can be displayed throughout campus. Links and guidelines can be found on the About COVID-19 Signage page.

Winterim Mini Sessions

What classes can I take during the Winterim Three-Week Sessions? Academic advisors are prepared to work with students on how to best leverage the three-week sessions to their advantage. The course list includes some new and exciting electives as well as more traditional courses which we can successfully deliver remotely. From an academic standpoint, the additional three-week session is an option and even though the regular semesters are slightly condensed this academic year, a full-time academic load of 12-15 hours per semester is still reasonable.

Other

Are buses running the same routes? Campus transportation options — from city buses to Zipcar rentals — remain available. Real-time bus locations, ETAs and route availability is available on UNL Maps. Consult Parking & Transit Services' Campus Bus Service page for more information. To meet increased ridership demand while protecting health, plastic covers have been installed on the backs of each seat.
Will there be a December commencement ceremony? The university will not be conducting an in-person commencement ceremony in December. As we did in May and August, UNL will confer degrees in a virtual celebration and all graduates will receive gift boxes. Any December 2020 graduates will be invited to attend a future commencement ceremony.
We would like to have a onetime event outside our building; do we need to let anyone know? Yes, to send out notifications for your event and arrange for picnic tables, litter and recycling containers the contact is Carrie Jackson, Assistant Director Reservations/Events (402.472.8167).
I would like to have my class meet outside of the building on a regular schedule do we need to let anyone know? Yes, complete the FMO request form and notify Jack Dohrman, University Space Manager.
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Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.

covid19@unl.edu