NOTICE: An Update from Chancellor Sartarelli on COVID-19 Trends, Preparations for Thanksgiving and the Winter Break, and Protocols for Returning to Campus

Friday, November 06, 2020

As we near the end of the semester, I want to take the opportunity to encourage you to keep up the good work. You have proven flexible and resilient during a very uncertain time. In less than three weeks, we will finish fall classes, and they will be followed by exams, UNCW’s first-ever virtual commencement, and a long winter break. This is a good time to provide several updates for students, faculty and staff.
COVID-19: Fall/Winter Trends and Recommendations
Overall, students, faculty and staff continue to successfully reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus by diligently following the 3 Ws – wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart and washing hands frequently. The university’s other health and safety protocols, including extra cleaning regimens, flexible course scheduling, physical distancing guidelines, and de-densification efforts, have also been effective. You can continue to track UNCW’s trends on the data dashboard.
Unfortunately, across North Carolina and nationally, cases are increasing and public health experts expect that upward trend to continue through the holiday season, with the next peak projected to occur toward the end of December. These cases, in conjunction with the annual flu season, could prove very challenging in the weeks to come. Be assured that UNCW will continue to closely monitor the situation in conjunction with local, state and national health partners.
Prepare for Thanksgiving, Winter Break Travel
Students, if you are going home for the break, even for a short visit, connect with your families and/or friends to plan your trip. Get tested 3-4 days before you plan to depart at the end of the semester to reduce the chances of taking the virus home to parents, siblings and/or other family members and friends. If your result is positive, work with the Student Health Center for assistance. The university’s quarantine and isolation spaces will be open and operational during Thanksgiving weekend and the winter break, including holidays, as needed. Please join me in thanking the Student Health Center, Campus Dining, Business Affairs and Student Affairs staff scheduled to work during these breaks in order to support our residential students. Their dedication to students is truly commendable.
Employees are also encouraged to be tested before attending holiday functions and other gatherings. In addition, public health officials recommend that both students and employees obtain flu shots between now and the end of winter break to help reduce the strain on the nation’s health care system by limiting the spread of the flu.
Please be aware of CDC guidelines to help prevent becoming infected with COVID-19:
  • Remember that 15 minutes of exposure to someone with COVID-19 within a 24-hour period increases the chance of infection.
  • Give careful consideration to indoor gatherings or outdoor gatherings with large groups.
  • Avoid gatherings with people outside your usual circle when possible.

Scheduling a Test
Testing is available on campus for students through the Student Health Center and for faculty, staff and the community through a partnership with the New Hanover County Health Department. Tests at the Student Health Center and the community testing site are free. The community testing site is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. through Nov. 24, and additional days may also be planned. Beginning Nov. 17, the community testing site hours will be expanded to serve the UNCW community from 9-11 a.m. on days the testing site operates.
Students should call the health center at 910.962.3280 to make an appointment. Employees should register at this link for testing at the community site. You will expedite the process by registering in advance, printing out your voucher, and bringing it with you to be tested. The testing site is in Lot 1A at the intersection of Hurst Drive and Hamilton Drive. Those driving to the site should enter off of Hurst Drive; those who choose to walk will see a tent at the corner of the parking lot.
Spring 2021 Testing Protocol for UNCW
To assist in limiting the spread of the virus when spring semester begins, residential students will be expected to provide an indication of a negative COVID-19 test three days prior to returning to campus. Students who test positive at home will be asked not to return to campus until they are released from isolation. Students who were not tested before returning from the break will be tested on campus during Move-In. We will provide more details in the coming weeks.
Plans are being made for periodic surveillance testing during the spring semester as well. The Student Health Center will manage the testing, and we will provide more information once the process is finalized.
At this point, it is too soon to project a distribution timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine once one is approved. The university will continue to communicate with local and state health officials, and we will share more information as it becomes available.
Remote Work
As part of the university’s continuing efforts to de-densify campus, employees who have been working remotely, in consultation with their supervisor, should continue to work remotely in the spring semester until further notice. Supervisors should work with their employees to ensure a successful arrangement that meets business needs. We will provide notice and details in advance should conditions change.
Spring Course Modalities
About 4,000 courses are planned for the spring semester, and students should anticipate delivery modes along the lines of fall courses. A variety of options will be available to provide a safe environment and flexible schedules for students. Delivery methods may change during the semester, depending on conditions.
Although we all long for a return to life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic, I am proud of how well our Seahawk community has responded to the many challenges we have endured. We have come this far, and with the Seahawk spirit, we can keep up the good work throughout the holidays and into the spring semester.
Below is a list of resources for students, faculty and staff as we continue our efforts to keep the UNCW community healthy.
Questions: Contact 

Best for the Nest 
COVID-19 Data Dashboard 
Student Health Center 
Human Resources 
Community Testing Registration 
New Hanover County Health Department 
Centers for Disease Control Resources 
Have a safe and successful rest of the semester, Seahawks!
Jose V. Sartarelli