Update: Campus Response to Coronavirus

Thursday, March 12, 2020

7:55 p.m.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to develop plans for the coming weeks. As promised, we have some new information for you this evening (below). This is by no means a final or comprehensive curation; we will continue to update you when there is something new to share. If you don’t see a topic addressed here, it does not mean it is not being considered; it simply means there is not yet enough information to make or share a final decision.
Spring break remains extended through next week. We encourage resident students to return just before classes resume on March 23. As previously conveyed, when classes resume on March 23, nearly all will be offered via online instruction or alternate means. The decision as to whether there will be any face-to-face instruction is under careful consideration and will be conveyed by Wednesday, March 18. We cannot emphasize enough that this will be the exception and not the rule. Instructors are planning accordingly for the resumption of classes and will communicate with students directly next week. 
It is still too soon to make decisions concerning events scheduled to take place this spring, summer programs on campus or abroad, or Commencement. We don’t have an answer on when we will have enough information to make those decisions. We understand the anxiety this must be causing. This is such a fluid situation and it is impossible to predict the circumstances of each day, much less the coming months. We promise you that we are working non-stop to assess conditions, consider all options, and make the decisions we believe to be best for our community. This is an unprecedented situation, and institutions around the world (higher education and otherwise) are facing decisions that will shape the present and the future in profound ways. We thank you for continuing to afford us the time and patience such important decisions require. Please visit this site for reliable resources, a compilation of all campus updates, and other information we hope you’ll find valuable.

Why is UNCW allowing students to return to campus if, in nearly all cases, they aren’t allowed to attend classes in person? 
Current guidance from the CDC and our higher education peers indicates that as long as students and employees practice basic social distancing (see below), there is not an increased risk of the spread of the virus. Our students’ and employees’ health is our top priority and we would never make any decisions that could jeopardize their safety. If expert guidance changes, we will respond accordingly. We are evaluating operating hours and procedures for all campus locations and will share more information when it’s available.
What is social distancing and how should it be practiced on campus?
According to the CDC, social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. We are working hard to develop plans for our community to effectively practice social distancing. This may include limiting campus gatherings, adjusting seating in common spaces, adjustments to how students and employees engage in campus services, etc. We are finalizing these plans as quickly as possible and will share more information when it’s available.
Are any classes at all being held in person?
A very small number of classes will be held in person, in extreme cases only, where coursework absolutely cannot be completed online/via alternate means. Instructors are evaluating all classes in collaboration with academic leadership, and if any classes are to take place in person, students will be notified before Wednesday, March 18. We cannot emphasize enough that this will be very few classes, and will be the exception and not the rule.
What steps are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus?
Campus leadership and the units tasked with coordinating the university’s response to communicable diseases of concern have been monitoring the disease for several weeks. The university has increased communications about COVID-19 and preventive measures, stocked supplies as available, and coordinated with local, state and national authorities. UNCW has worked closely with faculty and students involved in programs abroad to mitigate their concerns and, if necessary, expedite their return to the U.S. Our focus has always been, and will continue to be, limiting the exposure of students, faculty and staff to COVID-19, and preventing its spread. to the best of our abilities.
What is the status of university operations at this time?
To best support and protect the health and welfare of the campus and our community, spring break has been extended by one week. Resident students may come back to campus beginning Sunday, March 15, at 10 a.m., but are encouraged to remain off-campus until just before classes resume on March 23. Instructors are currently preparing their plans for providing coursework via alternate means, which may include online instruction and/or special assignments. A very small number of classes will be held in person, in extreme cases, where coursework absolutely cannot be completed online/via alternate means. Instructors are evaluating all classes in collaboration with academic leadership, and if any classes are to take place in person, students will be notified before Wednesday, March 18. We cannot emphasize enough that this will be very few classes, and will be the exception and not the rule.
How will I know if events have been canceled?
Please visit the websites and/or social media feeds affiliated with the programs sponsoring the events for the latest scheduling information.
What is the plan for Commencement? 
We understand our students’ anxiety, and that of their families, about the possibility of Commencement being affected by the coronavirus situation. Unfortunately, it is just too soon to make a decision about potential impacts. UNCW is actively working on contingency plans if needed and will communicate those plans as appropriate. We do not have any further information at this time but promise to keep our community posted.
What does it mean to self-quarantine?
To self-quarantine means to stay home and limit interactions with other people as much as possible for 14 days. During self-quarantine the Student Health Center asks that people take their temperature twice a day, and if they develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, they should contact their health care provider immediately. Students who are in Wilmington should call the Student HealthCenter at 910.962-3280 to arrange care. Students who have traveled home or elsewhere for spring break should contact a local health care provider first and notify the Student Health Center at or 910-962-0587.Employees should contact their local health care provider and then notify the Student Health Center at or 910.962-0587.
Can UNCW test for coronavirus?
UNCW’s Student Health Center is available to discuss symptoms with students and screen for risk for coronavirus, and, if clinically indicated, is able to assist with testing. Students should call the Student Health Center’s main number (910.962-3280) to make an appointment. Employees should call their health care provider to discuss the possibility of screening/testing. All students and employees should notify the Student Health Center at if they have been tested off campus for coronavirus. In all cases, those not feeling well should call their providers before traveling to their providers’ locations.
If employees or students don’t feel well but aren’t sure if it’s coronavirus or the flu, allergies, etc., what should they do?
Students who are experiencing these symptoms, especially during or after international travel, should notify the Student Health Center immediately (910.962-3280). Faculty and staff who are not feeling well should call their health care providers, but should also notify the Student Health Center ( in the event of these symptoms. In all cases, those not feeling well should call their providers before traveling to providers’ locations.
What assistance is available to help students and employees cope with anxiety related to this situation?
This is a worrisome time for us all, and we hope students and employees won’t hesitate to reach out if they need support. Employees should connect with Human Resources, or contact  Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a confidential resource available to help employees through stressful situations and events. Students should contact the Counseling Center to make an appointment. The Counseling Center is not able to provide remote support at this time, but will do everything possible to see any students in need. To make an appointment or to consult with a counselor, students should call 910.962-3746.
I’m scheduled to attend a conference. I understand my travel is no longer funded by the university, but am I still allowed to attend? Would I have to go through quarantine after returning?
The university is adhering to the UNC System guidance regarding avoiding events with 100 or more attendees, and strongly discourages participation in any such event or conference. All efforts should be made to participate remotely via Zoom or Skype. Self-quarantine may be required depending on the current CDC travel advisory for the area.
Where should students go if they don’t have a location for self-quarantining?
Although the university may not be able to provide facilities for self-quarantine, we will do our best to help students locate suitable off-campus options if they don’t have easy access to such spaces. Please contact the Student Health Center (910.962-0587 or for assistance. The university cannot provide funding for students or employees in self-quarantine.
Will summer study abroad programs, or summer events on campus, be affected?
We understand that waiting for these decisions is challenging and stressful, but it is too early for us to make any determination about summer programming. We will share any decisions as soon as they are made. 
If I have to self-quarantine, will my absences from class be excused?
As always, we encourage students to reach out to their instructors as soon as possible to work through details related to class absences, no matter the reason. It is worth noting, however, that someone who is self-quarantining is considered healthy. Instructors will be as flexible as possible with attendance requirements as the university community navigates this situation.
How will the coronavirus situation affect students’ academic progress?
The university is working closely with academic leadership to refine and launch online and/or alternate means for students during this unprecedented time. All instruction hours will be fulfilled, either through face-to-face instruction (in a very small number of classes) or through alternate means. Students who have any concerns about their academic progress should contact their academic advisors.
Are there any cases of coronavirus on campus, or among our students/employees who have recently traveled?
At present, no cases have been reported involving UNCW students or employees. 
How will I be notified if a case of coronavirus is diagnosed at UNCW or in the Wilmington area?
UNCW will notify campus in the event that a case of the coronavirus is reported at UNCW or in New Hanover County. Please do not share or believe updates you have not personally verified to be accurate. We strongly encourage students and employees to trust only the information provided by the university or the Health Department.  
How long will classes operate only online/via alternate means?
We do not yet know, given that we are still in the relatively early stages of the situation. Instructors and students should consider that this approach could be in effect for the remainder of the semester, but the university will make every attempt to resume normal class instruction as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. There is just no way to tell at this point.
If I live on or near campus, can I attend classes in person?
Unless otherwise notified by instructors, students are expected to participate in coursework solely via online instruction or alternate means.
How will students or instructors involved in coursework that simply cannot occur online achieve their academic goals?
Instructors should discuss this with their chairs or deans to determine the best options for their circumstances. Once plans are final, instructors will share that information with their students.
Will students receive refunds for unused housing and meal plans? How can students receive refunds for university-affiliated trips that have been canceled?
We are still assessing the impacts on all student expenses/payments. Our priorities at this point are to do everything we can to protect our community’s health and safety, and to solidify and support academic planning and execution. We will share updates on applicable refunds when decisions have been made.
How will online classes affect international students’ I-20, DS-2019 and visa status? 
As classes for our international students were not intended to be online, the university understands that this is not the experience students were expecting. The UNCW Office of International Programs has received governmental guidance that flexibility can and should be offered during these circumstances. Provided international students can continue to make normal progress in a full course of study as required by federal regulations, students’ legal immigration status will not be in jeopardy. International students and scholars should contact the Office of International Programs with any questions or concerns. 
How should instructors work with students who have been negatively affected by this situation? 
Instructors should be prepared to offer flexibility to students who are experiencing negative impacts as a result of the coronavirus situation. Instructors will, at their discretion, clearly communicate expectations and opportunities around alternate means of completing coursework.
Will campus visits and tours still take place as scheduled? 
Please check this website for updates on admissions events (scroll down to News and Events). Applicable updates concerning Seahawk Preview Day will be shared here, but registered attendees would also be notified of any schedule changes with an email (and a text message, if they shared their mobile phone numbers during the application process).
What steps should supervisors take to prepare for disruptions to business continuity? 
Supervisors should be discussing their units’ COOPs and preparing for the possibility of teleworking for some or all employees. Further guidance is available here.
Can supervisors allow student employees to work remotely? 
In exceptional situations, it may be necessary for student employees to work remotely.  Supervisors should consult with their leadership about specific situations to determine the best course of action.
If students had assignments due on Monday, March 16, has that deadline been updated to Monday, March 23?
As classes will not be in session on March 16, students will not be expected to turn in assignments on March 16, nor will they be penalized for turning in assignments by or on the adjusted deadline, as set by the instructor.
If students had appointments set with academic advisors, the health center, or other campus locations for the week of March 16, will those appointments still take place?
Any appointments set for the week of March 16 will no longer occur in person or remotely, as instructors and other employees will be occupied preparing for the shift to online/alternate instruction on March 23 and the resultant campus impacts. The Student Health Center is open the week of March 16. Students should call 910.962-3280 to make an appointment.