By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney has a new tool to track the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus.
Through a partnership with TestNebraska, UNK will begin randomly testing students, staff and faculty for the novel coronavirus, allowing university leadership and health officials to more closely monitor case numbers.
“This testing will give us a clearer picture of what’s happening on campus,” said John Falconer, senior advisor to the chancellor for executive affairs. “We can use these results to identify potential trends within the UNK community and better inform our decision-making related to COVID-19.”
Testing will occur every Monday and Tuesday, beginning next week. Students and employees selected for testing will receive an email the prior week notifying them of their assigned day and time.
Participation in the program is free and voluntary, giving students and employees the option to decline a COVID-19 test if they’re contacted.
UNK hopes to test about 150 people each week.
“We are using a random sample that should give us a good sense of disease prevalence among faculty, staff and students who live both on and off campus,” Falconer said. “We know the scheduling may not work for everyone, but we need to hit our target numbers for the statistics to be reliable.”
COVID-19 testing will be conducted in the UNK athletics locker rooms on the north end of Foster Field inside Ron and Carol Cope Stadium. The nasal swab tests will be administered by medical professionals, and UNK students will assist with check-ins. TestNebraska, a state initiative launched to stem the spread of COVID-19, is providing test kits and lab analysis at no cost to UNK.
After receiving a notification email from UNK, students and employees who wish to be tested must complete an online registration form before their appointment. Each person will receive a QR code from TestNebraska they need to bring to the testing site. The QR code can be printed or presented on an electronic device.
Participants must maintain social distancing and wear a face mask while waiting at the testing site.
Test results, expected within 72 hours, will be sent to Two Rivers Public Health Department and shared with UNK’s Public Health Center. Individuals will also be notified of their test results. If a test is positive, that person will be instructed by the Public Health Center on protective measures to avoid spreading the disease.
The UNK testing program is open only to students and employees randomly selected by the university and people referred by the Public Health Center. For all others, the Public Health Center can provide guidance on testing options.
Located in the Memorial Student Affairs Building, Room 158, the Public Health Center is an extension of UNK Student Health and Counseling that will serve as the main campus resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. To schedule an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 308-865-8279. Walk-in visits aren’t allowed at this time.
All UNK students and employees should check for symptoms related to COVID-19 daily. The Campus Clear app – available at no cost through the Apple App Store and Google Play or on the web for PC – provides an easy way to self-monitor.