UNMC updates campus COVID-19 guidelines

May 11, 2021

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The following UNMC campus guidance and update regarding COVID-19 campus safety protocols was shared Monday by Ted Cieslak, MD, UNMC interim executive director for health security.

Masks (Revised)

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 available to most citizens who desire it. In light of these positive developments, certain mask-less gatherings of students, faculty, and staff are permitted. The following conditions apply:

  • Masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, faculty and visitors in common indoor areas on all UNMC campuses. This includes (but is not limited to) hallways, elevators, lounges, dining areas (except while eating) and garages.
  • In private settings on UNMC campuses (conference rooms, study rooms, break rooms and private offices), when gathering in groups of five or less, individuals who are fully vaccinated may interact without masks.
  • In outdoor settings, including those on UNMC campuses, fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask while walking, running, hiking or biking alone, or when in small gatherings. Masks are still necessary in crowded outdoor venues such as sports stadiums.

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), or
  • 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 measures 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 (Revised)

Classes usually taught in-person but held remotely in 2020 and Spring 2021 are expected to be able to return to the in-person mode, with certain restrictions, during the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters. Given that there may be an ongoing desire to maintain some degree of de-densification, faculty members should work closely with their 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 is currently information available on the COVID-19 website.

Research (Revised)

Masking and social distancing remain requirements in all research settings. All laboratories, including small instrument rooms, tissue culture rooms, cores and comparative medicine spaces, are considered shared spaces. Thus, even when alone, masking remains a requirement, regardless of vaccination status. Small groups (less than or equal to five) of vaccinated individuals, if meeting in conference rooms or private offices, with the door closed, are permitted to unmask. Individuals eating in spaces designated for eating may also unmask but should remain distanced.

UNMC-sponsored undergraduate student summer research programs (such as INBRE, SURP and STEP-UP) may schedule on-campus activities this summer as long as they adhere to the guidelines provided by their program leaders. Additional high school and undergraduate research volunteers (beyond those participating through the above-mentioned programs) are discouraged owing to social distancing guidelines still in place. Large group meetings should still be accomplished using distance technologies. All on-campus students are required to adhere to face covering, hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines These students will be restricted from clinical buildings and the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center research tower and clinical facility, unless using a specific core or meeting in a faculty office. Moreover, students are barred from any clinical shadowing experiences in these areas unless pre-approved. Badges provided to summer undergraduate students will allow access from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at other times, students will need to be escorted into locked buildings. Orientation to current policies, social distancing practices, daily monitoring of the student's health status and the reporting of COVID cases, is the responsibility of each individual mentor.

Travel

  • 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.

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

  • 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) remain prohibited 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).

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 Kelly Swoboda in Services for Students with Disabilities by email at kelly.swoboda@unmc.edu with questions.

Recreation (Revised)

In addition to existing recreational opportunities available through the Center for Healthy Living on the Omaha campus, the following are permitted effective May 10:

  • Gymnasium pickup games of 3-on-3 basketball, 3-on-3 futsal, and 3-on-3 volleyball. Masks are required for participation.
  • Intramural summer outdoor sports of golf, pickleball, soccer, softball, bocce ball and cornhole. Masks are advised for those in larger groups (more than five individuals) outside the field of play.
  • CFHL's equipment may be checked out at the front desk and returned for disinfection before the next usage.

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.

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