KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney has developed and released a new plan aimed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
A task force made up of 30 campus representatives established the series of policies and best practices, which will serve as a road map for UNK students, faculty, staff and guests returning to campus for the Aug. 24 start of classes.
UNK worked with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and used its "Higher Education COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Guide" as the primary resource for policies and procedures. The university also followed local Directed Health Measures and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance when building its plan.
Personal protective equipment and masks, room occupancies, physical distancing, health screenings and self-monitoring are among areas of emphasis in the plan. Cleaning of high-touch areas, use of room foggers to disinfect buildings and installation of hand sanitizers across campus are also discussed.
The plan addresses common-use areas on campus such as the library, student union, residence halls, dining and athletic facilities. It also focuses on practices in experiential learning, internships, student teaching, research and other off-campus learning activities.
People are required to wear masks when interacting with others in public and common areas on campus, and they should maintain physical distancing. Visitors, including vendors, are also required to wear a mask.
"The effectiveness of this plan depends almost entirely on individual compliance. We ask that members of our community become familiar with the plan, abide by policies, and support each other in doing the same," the task force wrote in its plan.
The plan envisions a progression of three phases, starting Aug. 21. At the end of each two-week period, data on disease prevalence on campus, in the Two Rivers Public Health District, plus other counties that are home to a high number of UNK students will be reviewed by the Emergency Operations Team and a determination made about moving to the next phase. If the number of COVID-19 cases is flat or in decline compared to the previous two weeks, the campus will progress to the next phase. An increase in disease would revert the campus to a previous phase. Phasing is meant to balance restrictions with community risk.
A large section of the six-page document includes information about classrooms, labs and studios, including equipping classrooms with technology that will let students who are sick attend class remotely. Classroom population density, physical distancing and other protective measures are among areas covered.
A key part of UNK's guidance is the creation of a Public Health Center for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The center will:
- Serve as an information resource for the campus community on the disease;
- Provide COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students and employees;
- Track health information from symptomatic students and employees; and
- Trace the known contacts of people with COVID-19 and communicate with those individuals about health monitoring and quarantine requirements.
Individuals, organizations, departments and units on campus are asked to develop and implement additional protections as appropriate to their specific situations, with the plan as the guide. Employees who believe they are at high risk from the pandemic may work with their supervisors or department chairs to discuss remote work plans.
The plan is at unk.edu/covidplan