Provost's Messages

January 8, 2021  |  Spring Update #1

Dear Faculty and Staff in Academic Affairs,

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was joyful, safe, and restful.

You all did a fantastic job last semester. In the midst of a global pandemic that turned higher education upside down, we delivered a high-quality educational experience for our students; we continued advancing our scholarship and creative work; and we maintained engagement with the community on many different levels. Thank you again for all you did and continue to do to support our university mission!

As we look towards the upcoming spring semester, we continue to face challenging issues related to COVID and course delivery. This communication provides some updates on various topics framed as FAQs within some larger categories. 

As always, please contact me or others in my office with any questions or comments you have.

Best regards and stay well,


Health and Safety Updates

Will there be COVID-19 testing requirements for students?

  • Residential students will return to campus between January 15-19. These residential students are required to show proof of a negative COVID test to move in. If students have not been tested before they arrive on campus (we hope they all will have), we will have rapid testing facilities set up in the Burney Center during move-in periods.  Non-residential students taking courses on campus will also be required to produce negative test results beginning January 19.
  • The university will provide students who produce negative test results a green wristband to wear until January 22. If faculty encounter a student in class without a green wristband, faculty should refer them to the Student Health Center. Similar to the process we established for students who declined to wear facemasks, faculty may ask students who refuse to abide by the testing protocols to leave the classroom and may refer them to the Office of the Dean of Students for a potential violation of the UNCW Student Code of Conduct.

What are the testing recommendations for faculty and staff?

  • UNCW recommends that faculty and staff interacting on campus receive testing. Testing will be offered on Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22 in the Burney Center from 9:00 am-12:00 pm and 1:00 pm-4:30 pm on a first come, first served basis. Bring your UNCW ID card. Additional testing opportunities will be shared as details become available. Community testing sites can be found here.

When can I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

  • Faculty and staff are included in Phase 1b, Groups 2 and 3 (based on age) as part of the education sector. Details regarding phases can be found here. As of January 7, New Hanover County is vaccinating people in Phase 1b, Group 1. See the NHC website for more information about locations and appointments.
  • Students will be vaccinated in Phase 3 if they did not qualify in an earlier phase.
  • Additional information on vaccinations will be forthcoming.

What other safety measures will be enforced?

  • We will continue to emphasize the 3 Ws (wear, wash, wait) in our messaging to the campus community. We will also continue to follow guidance from the CDC, the State, and the local health department regarding social distancing and limitations on gatherings outside of class. (I want to give a big “shout-out” to staff in Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, and Student Affairs, among others, for all their work in cleaning, sanitizing, and laying out classrooms and lab spaces that adhere to social distancing guidelines!)

Planning for Spring 2021 Classes 

When do classes begin this spring?

  • Classes begin Wednesday, January 20, for all regular-term courses. OAP Spring 1 begins Monday, January 18.

Do I need to include anything in my syllabus about synchronous classes in a hybrid format?

  • Per guidance we provided last fall, required synchronous classes that are part of a hybrid course must be clearly announced in the syllabus and distributed/posted by the first day of class.

What are the course delivery modes this spring, and can I make changes to my course modality?

  • Spring 2021 course delivery modes are very similar to Fall 2020. As of January 7, we have:

In-Person             14.3%
Hybrid                   23.0%
Remote                60.3%
TBD                       2.5%

  • Faculty are expected to make reasonable accommodations for students who are unable to attend in-person courses because of illness (for example, posting course materials to Canvas), but the course will be delivered only in the manner reported in Banner.
  • Faculty who need to modify a course delivery mode should contact their department chair/school director who can consult with the dean. Deans have received guidance to ensure consistency across all units.

Campus Communications 

Will we have any forums this semester to discuss issues or concerns regarding spring roll-out?

  • Yes! The Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost will once again co-host “coffee hours” this semester. These provide an excellent opportunity to share ideas, ask/answer questions, and build community. We plan to hold these coffee hours every other week, beginning Friday, January 22, from noon – 1:00 pm. Dr. Nathan Grove, Faculty Senate President, will send out calendar and Zoom information in the near future regarding these events.
  • The Center for Teaching Effectiveness has coordinated a faculty forum, Using Current Data and Resources to Support Our Students, to be held via Zoom on Friday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m.. Representatives from multiple campus offices will share data related to the UNCW student experience collected Fall 2020. We hope this information will be helpful as you finalize syllabi for the spring semester. Look for more information from Diana Ashe in the coming days.

James J. Winebrake, Ph.D.
UNCW Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Pronouns: he, him, his