COVID-19 briefs: Creighton furloughs 190 employees, plans further cutbacks; University of Nebraska reducing online tuition

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Here are Wednesday's COVID-19 business and event updates from around the Omaha-metro area.

Creighton furloughs 190

Creighton University has furloughed 190 employees, most being "positions that cannot be performed remotely," according to a Wednesday news release.

"Creighton University, like almost every college, university, business and organization in the country, is experiencing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations," the release states.

Furloughed employees will continue to receive medical insurance contributions from the university and retain their seniority, according to the release.

Creighton also will not be awarding merit pay increases and will discontinue employer contributions to employee retirement plans effective July 1, the release states. In addition, executive team members have taken a voluntary pay cut.

The university has created an employee relief fund to benefit those employees who are unable to work because of the campus closure due to the pandemic, according to the release. [DETAILS]

Expecting to be impacted by the pandemic to the tune of $10 million Creighton is looking to reduce expenses by $35 million, according to the release, and may require further cutbacks depending on final enrollment and residential housing numbers.

“Like other institutions of higher education, Creighton has experienced a dramatic operational shift to virtual formats and remote working arrangements, mostly to great effect, thanks to innovative and committed faculty and staff,” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “However, we also recognize that this shift is resulting in a significant lack of work for some employees, and others may not be able to work from home at all because of their roles.”

NU reducing online tuition

The entire University of Nebraska system is reducing in-state tuition for most online undergraduate courses starting this fall.

According to Wednesday's news release, the reduction amounts to about 9%, with most reduced-price online classes costing $259 per credit hour — a rate that will remain locked in place for two years. That amount equals UNL's in-person undergrad rate for resident students, the release states.

UNMC online programs and colleges with varied tuition rates may be exceptions to the rate reductions, according to the release.

NU President Ted Carter also stated in the release that the university is preparing for students to return to campus in the fall.

“Especially in these challenging times, our No. 1 priority is taking care of Nebraskans,” Carter said. “The value of affordable, accessible, outstanding higher education is greater now than it has ever been. We want to make sure every Nebraskan has an opportunity to pursue a university education, no matter their circumstance. Making our online programs even more affordable is another way for us to provide quality, flexible options for the people of our state.”

Kohl's reopens stores

Kohl's has reopened stores with reduced store hours, according to a Wednesday news release.

Most stores will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with dedication shopping times for at-risk customers from 11 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Employees will be required to wear masks while working, and will have their temperature taken before starting their shifts, the release states.

Protective barriers have been installed at checkouts, aisles have been widened and marked to promote social distancing, and hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the store, the release states.

"Rigorous cleaning precedures, including sanitizing shopping carts between each use," the release states.