Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Spring 2021 Welcome

Friday, January 15, 2021

As we welcome new and returning students to campus for the beginning of spring classes and spring 2021 Move-In, I want to commend you once again for the extraordinary effort you invested in making last semester such a success. You were Seahawk-strong while facing a pandemic, and it showed. It wasn’t easy, but you persevered 
None of us can know, at this moment, exactly how the spring semester will unfold, but as last semester demonstrated, we are prepared to adjust as needed. We will continue to rely on your resilient dedication to the health and safety of our campus and community as we move forward. Most important, we will continue to focus on our mission, vision and values, which include providing students with opportunities for on-campus living and in-person instruction. 
We have carefully planned our semester around COVID-19, and our great faculty are prepared to move our hybrid and face-to-face courses online if necessary. About 60 percent of our courses already are fully online for the spring. When adjusting our pandemic plans, UNCW continues to consider multiple triggers, including the availability of testing material, staff and supplies; the number of positive cases; occupancy of our isolation/quarantine space; and guidance from state and local officials. A variety of these factors help inform any decision to pivot from in-person to online, if needed. 
Please read on for several useful updates and resources to help our campus community have a strong start to the semester. 
We look forward to welcoming about 3,480 new and returning students to live on campus this spring, which represents an occupancy rate just below 73 percent. UNCW previously shared information about Move-In with the campus community (details are available here). The energy and drive that residential students bring to UNCW is inspirational, and we look forward each semester to seeing how these Seahawks will shape the university. To further reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have combined de-densified residence halls with enhanced coronavirus testing before occupancy and in-person class attendance, and we plan to conduct comprehensive surveillance testing during the semester (as previously announced here). Last week, university volunteers packed thousands of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits, including new face coverings, sanitizer and other supplies, that will be distributed to residential students as we begin the semester. 
To help students settle in, the Division for Student Affairs has put together a collection of virtual activities, welcome events and resources. Check out “Spring into the Dub” for more information. 
Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion also are collaborating to host a special virtual reflection ceremony for UNCW students, faculty and staff on January 19, a National Day of Racial Healing. Learn more about "Creating a Space for Hope and Healing," scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday at this link. Please sign in using your logon. 
Modified “Stay at Home” Order 
A modified “Stay at Home” order (Executive Order 181) is in effect between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for all residents of the State of North Carolina at least until 5 p.m. on January 29. (Note: This temporary restriction may be extended by Gov. Cooper beyond January 29.) Under the order, individuals are still able to leave their homes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; and for travel necessary for personal safety and other exceptions. Residential students should see their campus inboxes for more information from Housing and Residence Life about how this order will affect visitation hours. Campus programs will not go past 10 p.m. while the order is in effect. 
How You Can Support UNCW’s Health and Safety Measures 
  • Follow the modified “Stay at Home” order and other directives from the Governor regarding gatherings and wearing face coverings.  
  • Practice the 3Ws consistently – wear face coverings, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands. 
  • Avoid large gatherings off campus, which is where many fall transmissions took place. 
  • Complete the Daily Health Assessment sent to your campus inbox each morning.  
  • Follow the universitys testing requirements and recommendations outlined here. 
  • When it is your turn for vaccination, please participate to enhance your health and the public health of our community. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced an updated COVID-19 vaccination plan on Jan. 14. Monitor the state’s “Find Your Spot to Take Your Shot” website and your county health department’s website for the latest information. 
  • Stay tuned to UNCW’s communication tools (including campus inboxes, the homepage, social media and the Best for the Nest website) for the latest pandemic information and guidelines. 
  • Stay home if you might have been exposed to COVID-19. Follow isolation guidelines if you develop COVID-19. Follow quarantine guidelines if you are a close contact. 
  • Contact with questions or to notify the university if you test positive for COVID-19. (Employees also should notify their supervisors.) 

Campus Construction Update 
Although COVID-19 has complicated our mission, it hasn’t changed UNCW’s commitment to dynamic educational opportunities, innovative research and comprehensive community engagement. Our campus has continued to evolve throughout the pandemic to support these endeavors. Last year, we opened Veterans Hall; the Central Parking Deck; and the first two buildings in our new Seahawk Quad, Sandpiper and Pelican residence halls. We are on schedule to open a new dining hall near the Student Recreation Center and the next two residence halls in the quad, Loggerhead and Terrapin, in fall 2021. By expanding and improving our on-campus housing offerings, we will be able to fulfill a long-term goal to implement a two-year residency experience, starting with students who will be sophomores in fall 2022.  
Other exciting construction projects underway this year include the film studies facility at the corner of Riegel Road and Plyler Drive; new environmental features, such as geological gardens at DeLoach Hall, electric car charging stations in various campus parking lots, a green space stormwater feature near Schwartz Hall, and the coastal engineering building on Randall Drive between Friday Hall and the Cultural Arts Building. This project will use part of Parking Lot Q at the Cultural Arts Building to accommodate construction, so please be prepared for limited parking capacity in that area for the time being. Thank you for your continued patience with any inconvenience caused by these projects and others. 
Hope for the Future 
It is hard to believe that 10 months have passed since the pandemic began. In some ways, the days before feel like a lifetime ago. Despite the changes we’ve all experienced, our collective commitment to the health and well-being of the Seahawk community and the community surrounding our campus has never wavered. With approved COVID-19 vaccines now available, we can look forward with renewed hope to the fall, when we may be able to come together in person to celebrate the Seahawk traditions we cherish and to build the diverse, equitable and inclusive future we all deserve.  

Go Seahawks! 

Jose V. Sartarelli 
Best for the Nest   
COVID-19 Data Dashboard   
Student Health Center   
Human Resources   
New Hanover County Health Department   
Centers for Disease Control Resources