Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: UNCW Planning for Typical Fall Semester

Monday, March 15, 2021

Dear Seahawk Community:

Although spring will officially begin in just a few days, many of us are already looking ahead to fall, eager to make plans for a semester that offers us the hope of returning to typical operations. While we can’t predict exactly what the pandemic will look like in the future, COVID-19 cases in our community and across the state are trending downward and the number of individuals vaccinated continues to increase.

These important factors, combined with your ongoing commitment to the health and safety protocols outlined in UNCW’s Best for the Nest guidelines, have positioned us to plan for typical operations in the fall.

We expect that this fall we will:

  • Return to a typical fall class schedule, which includes predominantly in-person courses, with online courses offered for students in our online programs or seeking flexible course scheduling
  • Reopen residence halls for full occupancy
  • Increase capacity in campus buildings and at UNCW sports events as well as university events and activities
  • Return to co-curricular events and activities
  • Return to typical workplace operations and office hours for many employees.

More About Vaccines

We remain on track to open a vaccination clinic in UNCW’S Burney Center by the end of March. Additional information will be shared with the campus community when registration plans and other details are complete. Meanwhile, under guidelines recently shared by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, vaccine eligibility is expanding.

  • Faculty and Staff: Faculty and staff who did not meet the criteria for “front line essential worker” in Group 3 because they were not working on-campus will become eligible in the second portion of Group 4, expected to start on April 7.
  • Students: Students who live in group living settings (congregate living), including residence halls, will become eligible in the second portion of Group 4, expected to start on April 7. Students who live in rented houses and large apartment complexes with other students, are considered to live in congregate settings.
  • Individuals with Higher Risks: People between 16-64 who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 become eligible in the first portion of Group 4, expected to start on March 17.

When it is your turn for vaccination, please participate to protect your health and the public health of our community. Visit the NCDHHS website to learn more about who is in Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4.

Per the NCDHHS website, North Carolina moves through vaccination phases by aligning to federal priorities while empowering local vaccine providers with the flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete phases and have vaccines available. The latest updates from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services can be found here. Find your vaccine group at

A Remote Work Reminder

If you are among the hundreds of employees working remotely, please continue doing so even after becoming fully vaccinated. Remember: it takes at least two weeks after receiving the final dosage for immunity to reach its highest potential. We have maintained our remote working plans to comply with state and UNC System guidance and to ensure the de-densification of UNCW's buildings and grounds for the safety of students living on campus, off-campus students taking classes on campus, and faculty and staff teaching and working on campus. The university will share more information about remote work adjustments in the weeks to come as we receive guidance from the state and the UNC System.

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.

Our plans for the fall are contingent on continued positive trends in the management and treatment of COVID-19. Please continue to follow UNCW’s health and safety protocols when on campus and in the community. The 3Ws will remain an important part of our efforts to curtail the spread of the virus now and as far into the future as deemed necessary by our campus health experts as well as local, state and national public health authorities. We are prepared to continue our surveillance testing, vaccination clinic and quarantine/isolation programs next fall as needed.

Based on our campus surveillance testing, the campus community continues to do well in following the health and safety protocols. See our data dashboard for more information.

Keep up the good work, Seahawks! As always, remember that the pandemic has the potential to change course suddenly, and we will remain ready to shift our plans accordingly, but based on current information, we are in a good position to look forward to a typical fall semester.


Sincerely yours,

Jose V. Sartarelli