Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: A Reminder About COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Community Guidelines

Friday, August 21, 2020

Dear Seahawks,
Let me begin by thanking all of you - students, faculty and staff - for the successful start to our semester. Move-In went well, our virtual convocation was special, and classes are underway. Whether you are actively engaged in-person on our campus or involved in the life of the university from a remote location, you are an important part of the Seahawk experience we are creating together during this extraordinary time.
I also want to commend the majority of students on our campus who have taken our health and safety standardsseriously. You have taken the “Be a Safer Seahawk” training, followed campus signage, and completed the daily health assessment. You are upholding the 3 Ws by wearing your face coverings, waiting 6 feet apart to support physical distancing, and washing your hands. You are role models for Seahawks everywhere, and I appreciate your commitment to doing what is Best for the Nest. We will continue to need your full support in this effort as we move forward this semester.
Unfortunately, we also know that some students, especially in off-campus environments, have turned their backs on these health and safety protocols. These students are failing to support the needs of their fellow students and UNCW’s community standards; and they are failing to meet the governor’s Phase II mandates, an action with the potential for personal legal consequences. Violations are subject to prosecution, punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor in the NC Courts. As a reminder, Phase II guidelines limit gatherings to 10 indoor/25 outdoor participants.
These students risk the well-being of the larger community that surrounds and supports the university, and the UNCW Police Department will assist the Wilmington Police Department to address events in neighborhoods near campus that violate the governor’s mandates. Students found in violation of the rules will be referred to the Dean of Students Office for additional educational training about safe behaviors and, depending on circumstances, potential disciplinary action under the Code of Student Life. These students could also face further action by the city or county. 
Students, as we approach the weekend, a time when you would naturally want to gather together with friends, I must ask you to think very carefully about the choices you are about to make. Two large universities in our state and several others across the country have been forced to revamp their plans for in-person classes and on-campus experiences because a portion of their students refused to follow COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. In many cases, the students went to parties and other activities off campus where the rules were ignored. Numerous people at these events were exposed to the virus, which they then spread back to their campuses and communities. 
In many ways, the health of our community and the future of UNCW’s semester is in your hands. We need your help. We don’t want to take the step of pivoting to all-online instruction, but we are prepared to do so if COVID-19 cases cause a significant issue at UNCW. Our dedicated faculty and staff spent months planning and implementing countless health and safety measures to position UNCW to offer in-person courses and on-campus living this fall. We deeply value the unique experiences those opportunities offer students, and we are committed to doing our best, every day, to keep those possibilities open, but we can’t do it without you, Seahawks. We believe in you, and we believe in your commitment to a cause higher than yourselves - the health and safety of the community we all call home. 
Be well,
Jose V. Sartarelli