UNK prepares for homecoming weekend as Kearney cases rise

Precautions will keep students safe during celebrations
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 6:36 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The Two Rivers Public Health Department announced Thursday the Kearney area is a COVID hot spot. But UNK is still moving forward with their modified homecoming celebrations with the safety precautions in place.

Under the master plan to reopen the campus, UNK is currently under phase two which allows events to be approved but also strictly enforces social distancing and masks. Students also have to self monitor their symptoms and are subject to being randomly selected for testing.

As of Monday, UNK reported 19 active cases on their campus. A vice chancellor said students have been doing well to avoid gatherings where the virus is spread.

“That’s relatively low compared to other colleges and universities in other communities,” said Kelly Bartling, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “It’s just something that we can’t let up on. we’re just continuing to encourage everyone to wear your masks, and be safe so we can stay open.”

For the homecoming weekend, some events have been canceled or moved remotely. The parade that often brings thousands downtown is among those canceled. Bartling said the school wanted to keep with some traditions to give students the experiences they are looking for.

“Homecoming is just one of those really important traditions that colleges and universities and schools everywhere have,” Bartling said. “Overwhelmingly we were hearing from our alumni, the community and in particular students that they wanted to have some type of homecoming.”

The football team will be playing it’s first game in front of fans, but only as a scrimmage game. Their first game against another school will take place later in October. Students will be allowed to attend but the safety precautions will still be enforced. UNK said they are confident their students can follow the rules to keep from adding to the rising cases.

“There hasn’t been a lot of observation of outside influence on our positivity rate,” Bartling said. “The individuals who don’t want to campus and there’s just not a lot of undue interaction.”

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