News

Notice: Campus Updates on Start of Spring 2021 Semester, COVID-19 Testing, Vaccination Scheduling and More

Friday, January 08, 2021

As we begin a new semester at UNCW, we want to update you with information relevant to the start of the new semester. Although COVID-19 remains a significant challenge, we have the commitment, experience and resources to address the pandemic. Please help our campus community further prepare for a healthy and successful spring semester by reviewing the updates below.  

Core Academic Functions, Campus Services and Events 

Our spring course schedule offers a dynamic mix of online, hybrid and in-person educational opportunities. Research activities are going strong, and many exciting arts, athletics, diversity, and community engagement events and activities are planned.  

We will continue to follow the density reduction guidelines for gatherings established in the fall semester, with the 10-person indoor and 25-person outdoor limits. The university’s core academic functions and services are exempt from this limit, as long as gatherings in those venues adhere to established COVID maximum occupancy guidelines. 

All meeting and event organizers are encouraged to plan for hybrid or virtual delivery whenever planning for event sizes above the current North Carolina Phase measures (see NC Phase information here). In general, on-campus events will be restricted to members of the campus community. In-person student activities are restricted to student participants only. External event reservations and campus space use is highly discouraged in all campus venues, and any request is subject to review by the Exception Review Committee. All meetings, events and activities that would include external attendees should be planned as virtual delivery or hybrid (with virtual delivery for external participants). 

Vaccination Update 

UNCW is collaborating with New Hanover County Public Health to facilitate and strongly encourage the vaccination of students, faculty and staff against COVID-19. When the state and county’s vaccination plans provide us with the opportunity for vaccination, each one of us may enhance our community’s public health now and in the future by participating 

The Student Health Center has confirmed that faculty and staff, especially those teaching or working on campus, will be included in Phase 1b, Groups 2 and 3 (based on age) as part of the education sector. New Hanover County, where the UNCW main campus is located, is currently vaccinating people in Phase 1b, Group 1. More details about the phases can be found here. Most students will be included later in Phase 3 of the plan, although individuals with underlying health conditions or other factors may qualify for earlier phases.  

The university also is prepared to assist county health officials as they work to administer vaccines. Our campus has served as a vaccination site in the past, and if our campus health experts are offered the opportunity to provide that service again, we will let you know. 

Resource: See New Hanover County’s Current COVID Vaccination Phase website. If you reside in other NC counties or other states, please visit the appropriate health department websites for information specific to your area.  

Off-Campus Students Enrolled in On-Campus Classes: Testing Requirements  

Students who are living off campus and are taking on-campus classes will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) with the test administered within 5 days before your return to campus. Bring a paper copy of your test result to campus for drop-off on Tuesday, January 19 in Lot 1A (Hamilton Lot across from the Greene Track) between 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. or at the Student Health Center beginning on Wednesday, January 20 (see Student Health website for hours of operation). Staff will be collecting test results, so be sure to write your 850 number and off-campus address on the top of the sheet. Off-campus students who show proof of their test will get a wristband that they will be asked to wear until Friday, January 22.  

Off-campus students who are unable to be tested before arriving back to their off-campus residence will be tested with a free rapid test when they arrive. Testing will take place in the Burney Center January 19 from 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. and January 20, 21 and 22 from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4:30 p.m. Please anticipate a delay, depending on the number of students who need to be tested. Students who have a negative test will get a wristband that they will be asked to wear until Friday, January 22. Students who test positive will need to isolate in their off-campus residence for the entire isolation period. Faculty may ask students who don’t abide by the testing protocols to leave the classroom and may refer them to the Office of the Dean of Students for a potential violation of our student Code of Conduct. 

Faculty/Staff: Testing Recommendations 

UNCW’s health and safety experts recommend COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff who will be teaching in-person courses and/or working on campus in collaboration with students and/or other colleagues. The Student Health Center will offer free testing for faculty and staff who are primarily working and teaching on campus on Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22 in the Burney Center from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. A UNCW ID will be required. Please be prepared to wait at least 45 minutes for test results. Employees who test positive will be instructed to follow up with their own medical provider and will need to be prepared to isolate off campus. Other testing opportunities are still being finalized and will be shared in the upcoming weeks. You can also find testing locations via the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ “Find My Testing Place” site. 

Reminder to Residential Students: COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Testing Requirements 

As UNCW announced last fall, on-campus residential students are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test 5 days prior to returning to campus. This is longer than the previously announced 72 hours; the decision to allow for 5 days was made in consultation with our local health officials, and the recognition that 72 hours may be more difficult as we get closer to the start of classes across the state. The university will also offer free testing onsite at Burney Center during Move-In (Jan. 15-16 and Jan. 19) to assist residential students who cannot obtain a test before returning to campus. Any student found living in the halls having not been previously cleared will be escorted out and will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for a potential violation of our student Code of Conduct. 

Resident students have received instructions from Housing and Residence Life, via their campus inboxes, about how to return to campus. Information is also available online. 

Surveillance Testing During the Semester 

During the semester, the Student Health Center plans to conduct surveillance testing for students, faculty and staff living and working on campus. We will share more information about this testing effort once plans are finalized. 

Positive Test Results: Please Don’t Come to Campus 

Students with positive test results and/or who are actively under quarantine as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 should not come to campus, but should connect with the Student Health Center at coronavirus@uncw.edu for follow-up procedures. The Student Health Center will provide information about isolation and next steps to students who receive positive test results during on-campus testing. 

Faculty and staff with positive test results and/or who are actively under quarantine as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 should not come to campus. They should inform their supervisors and the Student Health Center at coronavirus@uncw.edu. See the university’s data dashboard for an overview of COVID-19 test results at UNCW. 

Orientation, Academic Calendars, Spring Course Modalities 

Orientation will be held Jan. 14, and we are eager to welcome an estimated 550 new Seahawks to UNCW. As announced last fall, spring semester classes on the traditional calendar will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 20. There will not be a spring break, but classes are canceled for the Good Friday holiday April 1-2. Spring 2021 commencement is scheduled for May 7-8. Students and faculty in the university’s Online Accelerated Program should see the OAP Calendar for their schedule.  

UNCW's great faculty will teach more than 3,600 courses this spring. Just over 60 percent will be offered online only, about 15 percent will be offered face-to-face and the remainder are hybrid courses offering both online and in-person components. 

Remote Work  
 
As part of the university’s continuing efforts to de-densify campus, employees who worked remotely last semester, in consultation with their supervisor, should continue to work remotely 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. 

Maintain the 3Ws  
 
The vaccine and ramped-up COVID-19 testing will provide us with additional tools to combat the pandemic, but diligently following the 3 Ws will be just as important this spring as it was last fall. Please continue to follow campus/local/state health and safety guidelines. Remember to wear a face covering, wait six feet apart and wash your hands frequently. Follow campus and local/state guidelines regarding indoor and outdoor gatherings. These strategies are an important part of any prevention plan to reduce the spread of the virus, including new strains that have emerged or may emerge.  

Unfortunately, across North Carolina and nationally, COVID-19 cases continued to increase throughout winter break, and that upward trend, in conjunction with the annual flu season, means we still have a way to go before the pandemic is behind us. UNCW will continue to adapt its plans for the spring as needed to maintain our readiness for the full range of potential impacts. 

More Information and Resources 
Students, faculty and staff should continue to monitor campus inboxes, the Best for the Nest website, the homepage and other official campus communication sources throughout the semester for new information as it develops. Students, please consider sharing any updates with your parents/families to help keep them informed.  
 
Questions: Contact coronavirus@uncw.edu  

Best for the Nest  
COVID-19 Data Dashboard  
Student Health Center  
Human Resources  
New Hanover County Health Department  
NCDHHS COVID-19 Site 
Centers for Disease Control Resources