The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

COVID-19 forum informs student body



Officials convened in the atrium of the Student Union last Friday to discuss the evolving COVID-19 situation. The forum, which was announced by email Wednesday, featured a panel and Q&A to address community concerns.

As the forum began, the university’s commitment to monitoring and planning for this event was stressed. 

“We have a variety of coordinating, triangulating kinds of approaches to being prepared and being up to date on the best information that’s available,” said Charlie Bicak, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “As a long time faculty member and now an administrator, the first thing that comes to my mind is how do we proceed? Should things progress in some fashion? The way it will proceed is business as usual.”

Bicak alluded to the possibility of campus closings and courses moving away from face-to-face, on-site formats to online platforms. He listed tools such as Canvas, Zoom, and lecture-capture techniques as possibilities to facilitate this switch should the need arise.

In the meantime, the university system is watching the pandemic closely.

“I’d say first of all that we are continuing to monitor. That’s an obvious statement,” Bicak said. “But we monitor not only on this campus, but certainly as a part of the University of Nebraska system, our monitoring includes UNL, UNO, UNMC. And of course, UNMC expertise guides significantly much of what we do.”

UNMC is one of several health institutions that the university is working with to stay informed and prepared. Other important players include Two Rivers Public Health Department as well as the Tri-Cities Medical Response System, a coalition of 20 hospitals in the vicinity of Kearney, Grand Island and Hastings. 

UNK’s own student health clinic is also playing its role in managing the virus’s impact.

“What our main goal is during this time is to promptly asses and triage students,” said Wendy Schardt, director of student health and counseling. “Symptoms, questions, concerns — give us a call. Stop by. We’re happy to answer any questions anyone may have. We do have a student health clinic on campus; it’s located at the Memorial Student Affairs Building.”

Student health will provide laboratory testing to anyone who is concerned they may have been infected to rule out other respiratory diseases. If the situation requires it, student health will refer any cases to outside health providers. 

In addition to discussing general health information, the panel also set out to put students at ease. With vast amounts of misinformation and rumors spreading even faster than the pandemic virus, the panel aimed to set the record straight.

For the office of residence life, the forum presented an opportunity to set some fears to rest.

“I’m just here to reassure you all that housing has no plans to close over the next year,” said George Holman, associate dean of student affairs. “People sometimes forget that we’re a 365 day 24/7 operation. We always have staff on call and staff available to help students in need, and we do not intend to change this in any shape or fashion over the next course of the year.”

The panel also addressed a number of questions, tapping some audience members for answers, such as Tim Burkink for questions about international affairs. The forum session wrapped up within 10 minutes of the official presentation. 

“It’s a combination of all of you that make up the community here at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the efforts that are under way,” Bicak said. “So it’s about you, and it’s about what we here at the University of Nebraska at Kearney are undertaking to be prepared, to be safe, and to proceed in an appropriate and reasonable fashion as the next several weeks unfold.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *