UNK, University of Nebraska campuses closed to employees beginning Wednesday

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for all you are doing to continue the important work of the University of Nebraska through this uncertain and challenging period.

Models from our public health experts predict that cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska will peak sometime in late April. Now is the time to do all we can to “flatten the curve” to keep our health care systems and the professionals who staff them from becoming overwhelmed and, in turn, dramatically slow the spread of infection and prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

President Ted Carter
Doug Kristensen, UNK Chancellor
Chancellor Doug Kristensen

We know that social distancing, staying home as much as possible, and practicing good hygiene are the keys to flattening the curve. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and with the health and safety of our community in mind, we are closing the University of Nebraska to all employees except those whose physical presence is officially designated as necessary on-site, effective tomorrow, April 8. We understand you may need to return to campus in the next few days to complete your transition away from the office; we will be flexible but expect that all employees will be in full compliance with our new guidance by close of business on Friday, April 10.

The closure applies to employees across the entire University of Nebraska system, including student workers. It will continue for at least two weeks. During that time we will re-assess and decide what level of remote work is appropriate going forward based on advice from our medical experts and data on COVID-19 in our state and beyond.

We have been planning for this scenario for several weeks and have been engaged with our leadership teams in a process to determine those employees whose physical presence is necessary on campus. These may include all of our health care workers, public safety officers, housing and dining personnel and others. You will receive a letter signed by your chancellor or the president if you are expected to report to work on-site if your job requires it. Otherwise, as many of you have already been doing for the past several weeks, you should plan to work remotely until further notice. As before, flexible work arrangements remain our first line of defense and we expect supervisors to work with their teams to provide as much flexibility as possible to ensure continuity of our operations. We encourage you to contact your supervisor with questions about your specific work arrangements.

Of course, we recognize not every job can be performed at home. As a reminder, employees may use up to 160 hours of emergency paid administrative leave under a temporary policy we announced last month. Detailed information about that policy and other leave-related issues are available here. Furthermore, our Human Resources teams are currently analyzing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was recently passed by Congress and we will communicate more information to you soon about the additional paid leave options that are becoming available to you. Our bottom line is that we are doing all we can to make certain our employees are taken care of during these unprecedented times.

The more we do now to flatten the curve, the sooner we can all get back to our more traditional routines of working and learning. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the health and safety of the University of Nebraska family and the communities we serve.

Ted Carter
President, University of Nebraska System

Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Doug Kristensen, J.D.
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Kearney


Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve been working from home for several weeks per the University’s previous guidance. How is this different from what you’ve already asked us to do?
If you’ve already been working remotely, this decision won’t change anything for you. This latest step, based on when COVID-19 is expected to peak in our state, makes clear that we expect all employees to stay home unless they are specifically designated as essential on-site personnel. Keeping as many employees home as possible will help “flatten the curve” and protect the health and safety of our community.

How will I know if I’m designated as “on-site personnel”?
You’ll receive a letter from your chancellor or the president letting you know that your physical presence on campus is necessary and that you are expected to continue to report on work on-site if your job requires it. If you don’t receive a letter, you should plan to work remotely pending further communication.

I haven’t received a letter, but I think my presence on campus is necessary. Who should I contact?
You may contact your supervisor.

I have clinical responsibilities at one of the hospitals or clinics in the community. How do I determine what my responsibilities will be during this period?
All individuals who have health care responsibilities will continue to be scheduled under the direction of the clinical organization at which they provide care. This includes our clinical partners such as Nebraska Medicine, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boys Town Hospital, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Methodist Hospital as well as the other clinical organizations which our employees serve.

I can’t do my job from home. What paid leave options are available to me?
Under a previously announced temporary policy, employees may take up to 160 hours of emergency paid administrative leave for absences related to COVID-19. This leave is available to employees who are directed to stay home and cannot perform their jobs at home. Further details on paid leave options are available here. We are also analyzing recently passed federal legislation and will share information on additional paid leave options that will become available to employees soon. You may contact your campus Human Resources office with questions about paid leave.

I need some time to collect papers/transition files/etc. at my office before I’m prepared to fully work from home. Can I do that?
Yes, we understand that employees may need to come into the office to fully transition to remote work. We will be flexible. We expect all employees to be compliant by close of business on Friday, April 10.

What happens if I’m not designated as on-site personnel and I come to the office after April 10? Will I be subject to disciplinary action?
Employees who are not designated as on-site personnel may be subject to disciplinary action if they come to campus after April 10.

How long will this last?
The closure will last at least two weeks, at which time we will re-assess our approach based on advice from health experts and current data on COVID-19. We will communicate with you as soon as we know more. Employees should plan to work remotely until further notice.