Well in excess of 80% of our academic health center has now been fully immunized against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, allowing us to take advantage of localized herd immunity. We encourage our remaining students, staff and faculty to avail themselves of the opportunity to be immunized as soon as it arises.
In response to these positive developments, university leaders, in close coordination with health experts and authorities, are making plans for the safe and gradual re-opening of our campuses. Toward that end, we ask all of you to plan for the following (keeping in mind that the situation is subject to change based on pandemic-related events and the advice of federal and local health authorities):
Since the issuance of initial campus re-opening guidance on March 22, the situation on our campuses has continued to improve. All of our students, staff, and faculty have now had the opportunity to obtain immunization against COVID-19. Moreover, the situation in our host communities has also improved to the point where vaccine is now (or very soon will be) available to most citizens who desire it. In light of these positive developments, certain mask-less gatherings of students, faculty, and staff are permitted effective April 15. The following conditions apply:
- Masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, facultyand visitors in any public setting on all UNMC campuses. This includes (but is not limited to) hallways, elevators and parking lots.
- In private settings on UNMC campuses (conference rooms, study rooms, break rooms and private offices), when gathering in groups of 5 or less, individuals who are fully vaccinated may interact without masks.
- People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19:
- Two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna)
- Two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen)
Decisions to loosen restrictions further will remain scientifically based, data-driven, and dependent on conditions on our campuses and in our communities. With the exception of the new measure instituted above, existing guidance pertaining to face-coverings, social distancing, and other COVID control measures remains in effect. Receipt of a complete series of COVID vaccine does not currently absolve individuals of the obligation to adhere to these safety measures.
Classes usually taught in-person but currently being held remotely are anticipated to return to the in-person mode, with certain restrictions, as soon as feasible and practical for each individual program. Owing to an ongoing desire to keep our campuses somewhat "de-densified," faculty in charge of classes that have been operating smoothly in a remote-only capacity are encouraged to continue in a remote-only mode at least until the beginning of the summer 2021 semester.
Those who feel that their students would benefit from a return to in-person learning prior to the summer 2021 semester should work with your college's appropriate administrative contact to ensure that an appropriate space is available and properly prepared. Faculty and students are cautioned against reconfiguring classroom spaces on their own.
Return to work
Guidance relevant to the return of personnel to on-campus work will be forthcoming. For areas that may be interested in continuing remote work arrangements, there is currently information available on the COVID-19 website.
UNMC-sponsored undergraduate student summer research programs (such as INBRE, SURP and STEP-UP) can include on campus activities this summer with the many caveats that are being distributed to those program leaders. Additional high school and undergraduate research volunteers are not encouraged this summer because of social distancing guidelines still in place. Large group meetings of those groups should still be done with distance technologies.
All students will be required to follow face covering, hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines, will be restricted from clinical buildings and the Buffett cancer center research tower and clinical facility unless using a specific core and from any clinical shadowing experiences. Access to facilities, daily monitoring of the student’s health status, orientation to current policies, and means by which to achieve social distancing within the research space, will be the responsibility of each individual mentor.
For business travel within the U.S., travel still needs to be approved in advance by the responsible Dean or Director. Such travel should be carefully considered and should be limited to that which is essential. According to newly-issued CDC guidance, fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread SARS-CoV-2 and can now travel at low risk to themselves within the United States. All travelers, including those who are fully vaccinated are still required to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
International travel is strongly discouraged, and is permitted only if: a) it is mission-critical; b) it has the approval of the relevant Vice Chancellor or Senior Vice Chancellor and; c) it is consistent with federal travel restrictions. Compliance with these guidelines and restrictions, as well as with University of Nebraska Executive Memorandum 25, is the responsibility of the individual traveler. Travelers may be required to demonstrate (by negative testing) that they are not infectious prior to boarding aircraft for their return journey. They may also be subject to quarantine upon return. Personal international travel continues to be strongly discouraged and is also subject to CDC and US State Department restrictions.
Study abroad programs remain prohibited.
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.
On-campus gatherings of our own faculty, staff, and students are currently limited to 25 individuals. Exceptions to this limit can be sought by filing an event safety plan. Participants in such gatherings should continue to wear face coverings and social distance. 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) remainprohibited at this time. A waiver request may be filed with an accompanying event safety plan.UNMC-sponsored on-campus gatherings that involve outsiders will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We are planning in-person Commencement ceremonies at the end of the spring semester, with online back-up plans being made as a contingency. College leaders should likewise plan for other large, in-person ceremonies (with online contingency backup) for any official events (e.g. convocations, commencements, ‘white-coat’ ceremonies).
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 Kelly Swoboda in Services for Students with Disabilities by email with questions.
Recreational opportunities will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis by the recreational venues (e.g. the CFHL, the Ice Rink) in consultation with campus leadership. 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.