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The Antelope

The Antelope

UNK extends mask mandate, updates COVID-19 policies

KOSUKE YOSHII / ANTELOPE STAFF The original mask mandate deadline of Feb. 5 has been extended to Feb. 11.

A mask mandate has been instituted since the beginning of the semester. With the Omicron variant wave predicted to pass over Nebraska, UNK is currently extending the mask mandate until Feb. 11.

In-person classes are continuing at UNK.

“In-person learning is what we believe in, it is what our students come here for,” said John Falconer, senior advisor to the chancellor. “We were in person when very few other places were, since then we are really committed to being in-person.”

UNK is able to stay in-person due to other factors as well. Kearney’s setting is a big reason since it is not a big metro area. The number of cases at UNK last year ranked 30% better than the average college in the United States. Students following COVID regulations also help. The percentage of vaccinated individuals at UNK is 68%. 

Vaccines and booster shots are being offered through UNK health and throughout the community.

“The best way to receive the vaccine is to call ahead to schedule an appointment,” said Wendy Schardt, director of Student Health and Counseling. “We want to make sure if we are opening a vial it is going to be used.”

Many businesses around town including Walgreens, Hy-Vee and several pharmacies are offering vaccinations. The recommendation for receiving a booster shot is five months after your second shot of the vaccine or two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Regardless of vaccination status, breakthrough infections are still possible. Vaccines have never been 100% effective in preventing illness, but are extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and severe illness. 

Organizations have had to cancel or postpone events.

“Some events had to be postponed until after the February fifth expected end date of the mask requirement,” Falconer said. 

The Destination Uptown event was moved to Feb. 24 due to the pandemic restrictions. Other events such as the MLK event just required masks.

As the UNK community continues to navigate through the pandemic, students hope for safety precautions to still be set in place.

“From my point of view many professors at home have families and students can be an easy exposure to them,” said sophomore, psychology and modern languages major, Juana Perez, “I think it’s a good thing to at least keep them on in the classroom since we are so close in proximity.”

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