We Care. We Wear: Face masks are key component of UNK’s fall plan

UNK is requiring students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face masks in all shared spaces on campus this fall. (Photo by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications)
UNK is requiring students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face masks in all shared spaces on campus this fall. (Photo by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications)

KEARNEY – Face masks and social distancing are part of the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s plan to safely return to in-person, on-campus instruction this fall.

UNK is requiring students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear masks in all shared spaces on campus during Phases I and II of the operating plan. This includes classrooms, labs, studios, common areas and offices where people work within 6 feet of each other.

In situations where masks are not feasible, such as athletics, music and theater, other protective measures will be implemented. These measures could include additional spacing between people and increased screening for COVID-19 symptoms.

Faculty also have alternative options when instructing students.

In rooms where they can’t maintain at least 16 feet of separation from all students, faculty must either wear a face mask or shield or stand behind a plexiglass barrier. Masks are required when that level of physical distancing isn’t possible.

To support students with hearing loss, instructors are encouraged to wear protective equipment with a clear mouth covering when it’s requested.

UNK is providing a reusable face mask to every student and employee. These masks have been delivered to individual departments for distribution. Students living in the residence halls will receive their mask during move-in, and those living off campus can pick one up at various locations across campus once the fall semester begins.

Additional UNK-branded face masks can be purchased for $5 each at the Antelope Bookstore.

UNK’s fall plan includes three phrases, with Phase I starting Aug. 21. At the end of each two-week period, the university’s emergency operations team will review COVID-19 case numbers to determine whether campus should remain at the current phase, advance to the next phase or revert to a previous phase.

During Phase III, instructors and supervisors may continue to require face masks or other protective equipment in specific situations.

Social distancing is another component of UNK’s safety protocols.

Classrooms will be reconfigured to allow for at least 6 feet of separation between individuals and pedestrian traffic flows inside buildings will be adjusted to encourage proper spacing.

Public access to residence halls will be limited, and Calvin T. Ryan Library is open to UNK students, staff and faculty only, with additional protective measures in place. Seating will be removed from residence hall common areas to discourage gatherings.

Signage installed across campus reminds people to wear a mask, socially distance and wash their hands frequently.

Additional information regarding campus safety measures and related policies is available on the COVID-19 website.

Mask Wearing 101

  • Your mask should fit tightly, yet comfortably.
  • Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth.
  • Keep it clean. Wash it daily, or as needed.
  • Refrain from touching or adjusting your mask in public.
  • Do not borrow a mask or lend your mask to others.
  • Replace your mask if it has holes or is damaged.
  • Keep it on in shared spaces and when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Only remove it in your private space when you are alone.

The CDC recommends these guidelines to protect yourself against COVID-19: 

Wash your hands often
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
  • If possible, maintain 6 feet of separation between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
Wear a face mask
  • Most people should wear a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • The face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, first clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Monitor your health daily
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.