Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Planning Update

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

As you know, over the past several weeks, a planning team led by Dean Charlie Hardy and comprising smaller, topic-focused teams has been preparing a set of operational recommendations for my consideration, as we look toward the coming weeks and months. There is not a single element of what we do at UNCW - academics, student support and housing, business services, culture, living and learning spaces, or athletics - that hasn’t been profoundly affected by COVID-19 impacts. We also know that none of us can guarantee what shape COVID-19 will take, and none of us can guarantee a COVID-free environment. But one priority remained top of mind for our planning team and myself as we considered all options for this summer and fall: the safety of our students, employees and community. The planning team, which included faculty, staff, students, and external experts, put forth an exhaustive effort to address every facet of campus operations, and I am happy to share with you today our revised academic calendar for the fall, as well as some information on the steps we must follow in order to prepare to return to campus.

Academic Calendar

You can find the modified academic calendar for the fall here, but to summarize: We will retain our planned start date of the academic year (Aug. 10) and first day of classes (Aug. 19). Labor Day will be unaffected, but we have made the difficult decision to cancel fall break so we will be able to conclude classes before Thanksgiving, with Reading Day now occurring on Nov. 25. Final exams will take place online only, Nov. 30-Dec. 5. (For any classes requiring exams that cannot occur online, faculty will make plans for all instruction and in-person exams to take place before Thanksgiving.) Courses scheduled in the OAP calendar shall remain as scheduled.

Needless to say, if any unexpected delays were to occur, we would revise this timeline, and be prepared to pivot accordingly in terms of instruction and exam delivery.

Safety, Health and Other Measures

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing specifics regarding your return to campus (first by employees, and eventually students). Our head of the Student Health Center will be working in very close collaboration with our teams in Human Resources, Student Affairs (including Housing and Residence Life), Academic Affairs, Business Affairs and Athletics, as well as external experts and public health partners, to help shape the ways we can protect ourselves and each other this summer and fall. The collaboration doesn’t end at that level - this must be a shared effort to which each of us commits wholeheartedly; personal responsibility will be critical if we are to succeed as a campus. We will need your help as we follow and adhere to the guidance of federal, state and local public health institutions.

Resident students will receive more information in the coming weeks regarding the special precautions that will be taken in our residence halls. Although standard occupancy for residence hall rooms will be observed, students in vulnerable/at-risk groups, including those at-risk due to health conditions, will be placed in a single occupancy bedroom. Housing and Residence Life will share details with students via email as plans are finalized.

In addition, relevant campus units will develop a procedure for employees and students in vulnerable/at-risk groups, including those individuals 65 and older; those at-risk due to health conditions; and those who live with or care for at-risk individuals to confidentially self-identify and request appropriate support. We know the prospect of returning to campus must be particularly worrisome for our Seahawks in those at-risk populations, and those of you who care for those most at risk, and we want you to know you will have our support in any way we are able to offer it.

A note about Commencement: Our teams have been working hard to ensure that we can hold Commencement on Aug. 7 and 8, with a potential backup date in December. We will keep you apprised of any updates.

Go Seahawks!

Jose V. Sartarelli