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UNL to offer voluntary, free COVID testing for fall semester

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UNL COVID-19 testing

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students pick up COVID-19 test kits in January on UNL's City Campus. 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln won't require students, faculty and staff to test negative for the coronavirus before they return to campus for the 2022-23 school year.

Nor will the state's largest university campus require masking when the semester starts Aug. 22.

UNL will largely continue the voluntary testing protocol that was in place at the end of last school year and through the summer, the university announced Wednesday.

Students, faculty and staff at UNL will continue to have access to free saliva-based PCR testing Sunday through Friday outside the Nebraska Union as well as the East Union.

Individuals needing to test can walk up to one of the testing locations on either campus, show their NCard, and submit a saliva sample. 

The results will be available a day later at UNL's COVID-19 testing portal. Or, members of the campus community can receive a push notification that their results are ready through the Nebraska app, which is currently used by most students.

The change in testing protocol also means UNL will allow students to delete the Safer Community app from their phones.

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The app, which went into use in January 2021, was used to schedule COVID-19 tests and send results, and also had a feature allowing students to opt-in to receive alerts if they were potentially exposed to someone who had recently tested positive.

UNL discontinued using most of the features on the app last November.

While UNL has not required students, faculty or staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the university is once again encouraging those who will be on campus to get a shot.

Deb Fiddelke, UNL's chief communications officer, said the vaccine registry will continue to be available to individuals to submit details on the date and type of vaccine they received.

In partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, UNL will use the vaccine registry to determine potential exposure rates if a COVID-19 hot spot shows up on campus.

But, nearly two and a half years after the pandemic forced campuses to close, Fiddelke noted UNL and other colleges and universities across the country have become more consistent in their plans for managing COVID-19.

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"People have a good sense of what to do to keep themselves safe," she said.

On its COVID-19 dashboard, UNL recorded 38 positive cases out of 314 tests for the week of July 30. The positivity rate is 12.1%, down from 17.4% a week earlier.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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Higher education/statehouse reporter

A native of Beatrice, Chris Dunker has reported on higher education, state government and other issues since joining the Journal Star in 2014.

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