Campus Guidance

University leaders continue to update campus COVID-19 guidance based on science and public health practices.

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Vaccination

UNMC will require all students, staff and faculty to report they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 22, 2021. Exemptions must be submitted before Sept. 15, 2021. Learn more about the requirement.

As the more transmissible omicron variant displaces the delta variant as the most dominant strain of the coronavirus, UNMC faculty, staff and students are now expected to get a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible and to document it in the medical center’s Health Tracking System (faculty/staff) or My Records (students).

UNMC’s expectation to receive a booster currently is not included in the vaccination policy.  However, campus leaders continue to weigh the possibility of requiring vaccine boosters to help reduce transmissibility and ensure the safety of faculty, students and staff, as well as the community and the continuity of our academic, clinical and research operations. The policy may be revised in the future based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria and scientific data.


Screening

Effective July 1, 2021, all new incoming/onboarding personnel are required to download the 1-Check UNMC application and use this app each day that they are present on our campuses until they are fully vaccinated. Personnel are also encouraged to upload their CDC-issued COVID vaccination card to the 1-Check app for purposes of mobile documentation.


Asymptomatic Testing

UNMC faculty, staff and students who are not sick and want to be tested for COVID-19 for any reason can do so. This testing is available only to UNMC faculty, staff and students. It is not available to the public.

Saliva testing

Saliva PCR testing is easy — simply spit in a tube — and results are returned by email within a day.

  • Located in Williams Science Hall, level one atrium.
  • Monday through Thursday from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • No reservations are needed, but individuals should register online prior to testing. Individuals who have previously registered for saliva testing do not need to re-register.
  • Testing is performed by the UNMC Emerging Pathogens Laboratory.

Nasal swab collection

Nasal swab collection for COVID PCR testing is a simple, painless nasal swab and is not a nasopharyngeal test. Results are returned by email within 24-48 hours.

  • Located in Nebraska Medicine Doctors Building South.
  • A reservation is required, and walk-ins are not allowed. Reserve an appointment.
  • Testing is performed by the Nebraska Public Health Lab.

Testing for campuses outside of Omaha

UNMC faculty, staff and students on campuses outside of Omaha can obtain testing through the following resources. (Details vary per site so please make direct contact for more info):

Kearney campus

Lincoln campus

Norfolk campus

Scottsbluff campus

  • Nomi Health drive-thru testing site near Regional West Medical Center is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. for rapid testing only. Appointments are preferred but not required. Register here. To schedule an appointment for PCR testing for travel purposes, call 308-436-2101. For symptomatic testing, proceed to Urgent Care at 3011 Avenue B or call 308-630-2100 for COVID-19 questions.
  • Walgreens - Weekday testing available (limited number of spots per day).
  • Urgent Care - Walk-in only so wait time will vary, insurance information needed.
  • Quick Care - Walk-in only so wait time will vary, insurance information needed.

Positive Cases & Exposure

As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, UNMC is committed to following best practices to keep our students and employees safe. UNMC will follow CDC guidelines for health care facilities issued Dec. 23, 2021, regarding isolation and quarantine after a positive test or exposure. These guidelines differ from those the CDC issued on Dec. 27, 2021 for the public.

The following recommendations refer to COVID PCR tests performed in a UNMC/Nebraska Medicine, University of Nebraska-Lincoln or community laboratory facility, and not a home test kit.

After exposure to COVID-19 but with no symptoms

  • Quarantine is not required for UNMC students and employees who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot; these individuals should receive a PCR test on day two and another within days five-to-seven from date of exposure or as soon as they learn of exposure.
  • A 10-day quarantine is required for those who are unvaccinated and those who are vaccinated but have not received boosters (even within 90 days of prior infection). Quarantine may be shortened to seven days only with a documented negative PCR test at least 48 hours before returning to campus.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms​

  • Stay home and seek medical attention If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms.
  • It is recommended that students contact the Student Health clinic serving their campus and employees contact Employee Health at 402-552-3563 and their supervisor for guidance on returning safely to campus.

After a positive test for COVID-19

  • Students should contact Student Health and employees should contact Employee Health (402-552-3563) to report the positive test.
  • A 10-day isolation is required for all, regardless of vaccination status. This may be shortened to seven days only for those with no or mild and improving symptoms and a negative PCR test at least 48 hours before returning to campus.

Masks

KN95 or N95 masks required for UNMC faculty, staff and students beginning Jan. 17, 2022.

UNMC will now require KN95 masks for faculty, staff and students who are on campus, if not already in a fitted N95. The decision follows a directive from Nebraska Medicine that colleagues in clinical areas, including students on rotation, wear a KN95 or N95 mask. The guidance is for all UNMC campuses and goes into effect Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

Supervisors, managers or administrators may order KN95 masks via the UNMC Mask Request Form. (Colleges or institutes also may choose to manage orders centrally through their college or institute.) Departments and program directors will provide masks as needed.

For clinical employees and students who are fit tested for an N95, they can choose to wear the respirator during their shift, especially those who work in areas where they often encounter a patient whose COVID-19 status is unknown:

  • Emergency department
  • Immediate care clinics
  • Screening stations

Eye protection also is required for any colleague or student who has interaction with patients.

Reusing a KN95 mask

  • Patient care setting: Facemasks worn during patient encounters may be reused during a single shift but should be discarded at the end of the shift. Nebraska Medicine will supply masks at the entrances to their patient care areas.
  • Non-patient care setting: A disposable facemask can be worn for several hours or up to a few days when stored safely and when not wet or distorted. Masks should no longer be used if soiled, wet, the straps begin to stretch, threads become separated, or the mask begins to lose shape.
  • One study published in the journal Medicine had volunteers wear N95s for eight hours a day and found that the average filtration efficiency of the masks was still 97% after three days of use.
  • If possible, rotate through different masks and keep them in a dry place between uses (ie: a breathable paper bag or an open sandwich baggie).
  • Consult your department for specific guidance as roles, uses and infection control measures vary.
  • Refer to these extended use guidelines for additional details.

Mask Extenders

Mask extenders (also known as ear savers) prevent the elastic straps of your mask from making your ears sore from prolonged use. UNMC has a limited number of mask extenders that it plans to distribute to each college/unit.

If you have access to a 3D printer, you may print your own mask extenders. Learn more about 3D printing mask extenders.


Return to work

Guidance relevant to the return of personnel to on-campus work is currently information available on the COVID-19 website.


Research

KN-95 or N-95 Masks are required for all UNMC personnel all the time unless eating in a designated space or in a single office with the door shut. All laboratories, including small instrument rooms, tissue culture rooms, cores, and comparative medicine spaces, are considered shared spaces where everyone should remain masked. Individuals eating in common, indoor spaces designated for eating should remain distanced from others eating nearby and spend the least time possible unmasked.

All UNMC personnel and volunteers are strongly encouraged to obtain a booster as soon as they are eligible.

Please conduct all research meetings or other research activities, even one on one, using distance technologies unless required to be face to face (e.g., technology or surgery demonstration), with supervisor approval.

Research visitors

All research visitors are discouraged at this time but must wear at least a surgical/procedural mask, not a cloth mask, while in UNMC facilities and the host should provide the mask if necessary. Study data monitor visits should be conducted remotely whenever possible, unless as required for progression, close-out, or for COVID studies.

Research volunteers

Research volunteers working on site in UNMC laboratories are currently on hold as of Jan 17, 2022, whether existing or proposed new, except for the following:

  • International Scholars that have already arrived
  • UNMC health professions students volunteering in UNMC laboratory spaces
  • Any student enrolled in UNMC courses or receiving credit that require activities on site
  • Any student enrolled in UNMC grant funded activities (e.g., INBRE program, T32 programs),
  • Recently graduated UNMC students finishing up research activities that must be conducted on site.
  • Reach out to the VCR Office for clarification of any other instance.

All volunteers working on the UNMC campus must be vaccinated, no exemptions allowed. Sponsors should guide volunteers through campus procedures for presenting COVID vaccination documentation.

UNMC sponsored research volunteers working in non-laboratory spaces may be allowed if they are approved and meet the requirements for that setting. (e.g., Children’s hospital, VA lab or hospital, community, and/or non-laboratory UNMC spaces)

Human subjects research

Human subjects researchers have been asked to consider pausing face to face research visits or delaying starting new face to face protocols until Feb 14, unless related to a COVID trial and/or coincident with clinical care. An update will be communicated at that time. Small changes in protocol (e.g., reduced study visits, defining a study visit “window”, or change to remote visits) do not need to request approval from IRB in advance but should be communicated at their continuing review.

Research subjects and their accompanying person must wear at least a surgical/procedure mask, not a cloth mask.

Researchers should continue to interview research subjects coming on campus to identify potential risk or recent exposures that might warrant testing before scheduling. All face-to-face research protocols should have and follow their biosafety protocol.

International Scholar applications

New International Scholar applications are on hold until further notice.

Summer Undergraduate Research Programs (SURP)

We hope Summer Undergraduate Research Programs (SURP) students will be allowed on campus this summer. If allowed, all SURP students working on campus must adhere to all vaccine and mask requirements. SURP applications and acceptance letters should clearly state the need for students to have completed COVID vaccination and adhere to the UNMC mask policy at that time. The method of how to collect COVID documentation is in discussion. 


Teaching

While we recognize the high value of in-person learning, safety of our students, staff, and community continues to be our guiding principle. For the time being, we encourage remote learning where it does not significantly impact the educational goals.

  • We encourage flexibility in enabling students who are unable or prefer to learn remotely to do so. Faculty are encouraged to be flexible in safely accommodating both the in-person and remote educational needs of all students when possible.
  • Clinical and laboratory courses and experiences will continue in person, all using appropriate PPE consistent with the clinical best practices.
  • Clinical rotations for health science students will continue, with students complying with COVID regulations of that clinical environment.
  • Lecturers should wear masks unless it significantly interferes with their ability to be heard or understood. If no mask is worn to optimize the learning environment, lecturers must use a face shield and have at least six feet distance from others.
  • Questions from faculty, staff, or students regarding the status of a particular course should contact the college administrative official responsible for that course.

UNMC is utilizing multiple layers of non-pharmaceutical interventions including masking, vaccination, good hand hygiene and self-monitoring for symptoms using the tool 1-Check UNMC app.


Travel

Based on the widespread activity of COVID-19 across every state in the U.S. and recent CDC revisions to travel guidance, UNMC is issuing new guidance for domestic travel in order to further protect all employees and students.

Domestic travel

Essential domestic travel outside of Nebraska must be pre-approved for students, faculty and staff. In addition to pre-trip approval using the Concur software program, additional pre-trip approval by the immediate supervisor and dean is required for all domestic travel and is limited to essential university-related business. Beginning Nov. 1, pre-trip approval no longer is required from the associated vice chancellor or their designee. Because all university travel is contingent upon the traveler agreeing to comply with all guidance, supervisors are not responsible for knowing the traveler’s vaccination status for the approval process and should not ask travelers about such status.

Each traveler is required to monitor their destination’s situation carefully.

Returning from Domestic Travel

Upon returning from any domestic travel outside Nebraska, all UNMC faculty, staff and students who are not fully vaccinated (with the exemptions noted below) returning to any community in Nebraska are required to get tested with a PCR test three to five days after travel and self-quarantine for a period of seven days. If you test positive, isolate yourself from others and contact Employee Health or Student Health.

All UNMC faculty, staff and students returning from domestic travel outside of Nebraska, regardless of vaccination status, should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.

UNMC students, faculty, and staff are expected to follow the CDC recommendations for domestic and international travel for both personal and university-sponsored travel.

You do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months.

Exemptions: This rule does not apply to staff, faculty, residents and fellows who are involved in providing patient care or support for patient care at Nebraska Medicine, Children's Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha and other clinical settings. They are expected to follow the rules set by the respective clinical institution or clinical unit. This rule does not apply to personnel or students living in a neighboring state and who commute routinely to work or school at one of UNMC's campuses.

International travel

Beginning July 1, 2021, pre-approved essential international travel for students, faculty and staff will be allowed. In addition to pre-trip approval using the Concur software program, additional pre-trip approval by the immediate supervisor is required for all international travel and is limited to essential university-related business. Because all university travel is contingent upon the traveler agreeing to comply with all guidance, supervisors are not responsible for knowing the traveler's vaccination status for the approval process and should not ask travelers about such status.

After approval by the immediate supervisor, an international travel request must be submitted to the Office of Global Engagement at least 30 days prior to departure. The traveler will be required to complete a travel application that includes an explanation of why the travel is essential and a detailed summary of local health and travel guidance for the travel locations at least two weeks prior to travel. The Office of Global Engagement will appoint an international travel risk committee that will consider the essential nature of the travel, CDC Travel Health Notices, U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories and the ability of the traveler to mitigate risk. All university-related international travel must comply with Executive Memorandum 25.

For destinations that are below the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Levels 3 and 4, or CDC Travel Heath Notices Levels 3 or 4, travelers do not need to complete the full travel application with committee review.

All international travel authorizations are subject to continuing review by the Office of Global Engagement. Each traveler is required to monitor their destination's situation carefully and update the Office of Global Engagement with any changes at least two weeks prior to departure.

All travelers, regardless of CDC Travel Health Notice Level, should comply with the CDC recommendations for international travel listed below.

The CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated. Because all university travel is contingent upon the traveler agreeing to comply with all guidance, supervisors are not responsible for knowing the traveler's vaccination status for the approval process and should not ask travelers about such status.

UNMC students, faculty and staff are expected to follow the CDC recommendations for international travel. Current guidance includes the following:

  • Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated.
  • Assess the COVID-19 situation at your destination prior to departure to ensure travel to the location can be safely managed. This is particularly important if you are considering international travel as the situation can be very fluid.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
  • Continue to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms before, during and after travel.
  • If you are fully vaccinated:
    • Starting Dec. 6, 2021, all passengers regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the U.S.
    • After you travel: get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel; self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms using the 1-Check app.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated:
    • Before you travel: get tested with a viral test one to three days before your trip.
    • Starting Dec. 6, 2021, all passengers regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the U.S.
    • After you travel: get tested with a viral test three-five days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel or 10 days without a test and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms using the 1-Check app. Please contact UNMC Student Health or UNMC Employee Health for a return to campus authorization.

Study abroad

Study abroad programs remain prohibited.


Parking

All students, faculty, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine employees on campus are now expected to park in their designated/assigned parking lots.  Employees returning to work on campus, who have been working off site, will be eligible for reinstatement to their previous parking assignment, subject to availability. Such reinstatement must be applied for within 30 days after a return to campus or the space may be forfeited.


Gatherings

Effective Aug. 9, 2021, food will not be allowed at indoor on-campus gatherings. Food may continue to be served at outdoor gatherings.

The limit imposed upon on-campus gatherings of our own faculty, staff and students is at 25 individuals. This limit of 25 individuals for gatherings does not apply to UNMC-sanctioned classes, didactic sessions and experiential learning activities. Exceptions to this limit can be sought by filing an event safety plan. All participants at on-campus indoor gatherings are required to wear face masks. UNMC mask mandates and distancing requirements remain in effect for all individuals attending on-campus gatherings who are NOT fully vaccinated.

University-sponsored events involving a mixture of UNMC personnel and invited guests are subject to an analogous limit (aside from official events).

Non-UNMC-sponsored on-campus gatherings involving outside groups (example: weddings) require the approval from the Office of Health Security, as well as an accompanying event safety plan.

UNMC-sponsored on-campus gatherings that involve outsiders will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis following the submission of an event safety plan.


Food

Effective Dec. 23, 2021, UNMC leaders ask that individuals maintain social distancing when eating, even if vaccinated or in small groups. (This is a change from previous guidance, which allowed up to five fully vaccinated individuals to eat together unmasked and socially distanced).

Individuals may continue to eat in cafeterias and other spaces designated for eating, but must maintain social distancing, regardless of vaccination status.

Food will not be allowed at on-campus gatherings. To accommodate current guidelines, organizers of indoor events may opt to adjust event hours, so food is not served, ask participants to eat outdoors or provide a to-go option.


Accommodations

Requests from faculty and staff for accommodations related to COVID-19 will be handled through the University’s existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations process. Please contact the UNMC HR Employee Relations office if you have a COVID-19 workplace accommodation question or request. More information about this process can be found at the UNMC ADA Request for Accommodations webpage.

Enrolled students with disabilities that qualify for accommodation under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) can find additional information regarding Services for Students with Disabilities online. Please contact Jen Papproth in the Accessibility Services Center by email at jepapproth@unmc.edu with questions.


Recreation

In addition to existing recreational opportunities available through the Center for Healthy Living on the Omaha campus, the following are permitted effective May 26, 2021:

  • Gymnasium pickup games of 5 on 5 basketball, 5 X 5 futsal, and 6 X 6 volleyball, as well as other activities at the discretion of CFHL staff. Masks are no longer required for participation by fully vaccinated individuals. Participants, as well as spectators, who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to mask or should decline to participate.
  • Intramural summer outdoor sports of golf, pickleball, soccer, softball, bocce ball and cornhole.
  • CFHL’s equipment may be checked out at the front desk and returned for disinfection before the next usage.
  • Similar activities are permitted on campuses outside of Omaha as long as they are not prohibited by host institutions (UNL, UNK, WNCC, NECC).
  • Fully immunized member guests are permitted to utilize campus recreational facilities effective May 25, 2021.

Recreational opportunities continue to be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis. We will endeavor to increase these opportunities while continuing to follow CDC guidance. See up-to-date information on recreational opportunities on the Omaha campus. For information relevant to other campuses, please contact the appropriate recreational entities.


Have Questions?

UNMC has established a multidisciplinary Vaccine Support Team to answer questions about vaccinations or any COVID policy-related questions. Email your questions to healthsecurity@unmc.edu.