Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Fall 2021 COVID-19 Face Covering Update

Friday, July 30, 2021

Dear Campus Community: 
The fall 2021 semester at UNCW holds great promise for our campus community. Many of us are eager to be back on campus in a big way, ready for in-person classes, traditional events like Move-In (Aug. 13-14) and Convocation (Aug. 16), new opportunities, Seahawk sports and more. As excited as many of us are, we must remember that COVID-19 remains a serious health concern across our state, the nation and around the world.  
As we come together on campus for the fall semester, the safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority. Each one of us must do our part to protect and preserve the health and safety of ourselves and others.  

Face Coverings Required Indoors 
Based on CDC guidance and the rising number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina and elsewhere, UNCW temporarily will require face coverings in indoor settings except when an individual is in their office or assigned residence hall room. Face coverings were an effective part of our COVID-19 management strategy last year, and we are putting this extra safety precaution in place as part of our efforts to preserve and protect as traditional a fall semester as possible for everyone.  

This requirement will begin Monday, Aug. 2 and will be reviewed on or before September 17, 2021, depending on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus and its variants. We will consider several factors when making the decision to alter face covering requirements, including CDC, NC DHHS, UNC System policies, local public health guidance, the level of transmission in North Carolina, and the overall vaccination rate in our state. Ideally, vaccination rates in our state will continue to increase to a large percentage of the population overall, a level that public health experts indicate would provide greater protection against COVID-19 and its variants. 

Face Coverings Not Required Outdoors 
While face coverings are not required outdoors at this time, some people may choose to wear one. Please be caring and respectful to your fellow Seahawks, and refrain from asking individuals why they are wearing a face covering if it is not required in a particular location. Their reasons may be related to confidential health information. 

Face Coverings for Dining and Transportation 
Our face covering requirements in campus dining areas, break rooms and other places where food is consumed will be similar to the 2020-21 academic year. In these locations, students, faculty and staff should wear face coverings while moving through the area, remove the face coverings to eat, and then replace them while sitting and talking with others.  
Face coverings also are required on multi-passenger vehicles such as WAVE buses, shuttles, vans and UNCW vehicles. Personal vehicles and open-air vehicles such as golf carts or gators are not included in this requirement. 

Face Coverings for Move-In and Convocation 
UNCW looks forward to welcoming new Seahawks and their families to campus Aug. 13-14 for Move-In. While parts of this great tradition obviously take place outside, students, volunteers and families will be moving quickly from vehicles to indoor locations. Face coverings will be required during most Move-In activities with the exception of outdoor activities that are not in close proximity to others (for example, if a student, family member or volunteer wants to take a step away from the group to rest).  

Students, faculty and staff also are expected to wear face coverings during Convocation on Aug. 16.  

Free Face Coverings Available 
Students, faculty and staff may contact Student Health Center at to request free, reusable masks. In addition, classrooms and other areas on campus will be equipped with free, disposable face coverings. 

The closer our campus community gets to a large percentage of the population fully vaccinated, the better we will be able to slow the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinations are key to protecting our campus and community.  Faculty, staff and students who want to be vaccinated are encouraged to visit the Student Health Center to learn more about vaccine availability on campus. As a reminder, vaccines are provided for free. More information for the fall semester about the vaccination schedule and location will be shared with the campus community closer to the start of the semester.  

Students, faculty and staff who were vaccinated off campus are encouraged to send a photo of your vaccination card to the Student Health Center at The Student Health Center has a vaccination record for students, faculty and staff who were vaccinated on campus. Note: your confidential health information will be protected. 

The university is collecting this information on a volunteer basis to help us assess the overall percentage of students and employees who are vaccinated. As previously mentioned, the closer our campus community gets to herd immunity, the better protection we all will have against COVID-19 and its variants. 

Surveillance Testing 
Residential students who provide proof of vaccination will not be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing during the fall semester. Unvaccinated residential students will be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing. More information about the testing schedule and location will be shared with campus closer to the start of the semester. As we did in the spring, faculty and staff are welcome to participate in surveillance testing as well.  

Additional Safety Measures on Campus - Hand Sanitizer Stations, Plexiglass Barriers 
Hand hygiene remains an important part of the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and hand sanitizer stations are in place across campus. In addition, classrooms and many other areas will continue to be equipped with disposable face coverings and sanitary wipes.  

Environmental Health and Safety and the Student Health Center have recommended the use of plexiglass barriers throughout the pandemic and continue to support their usage as needed in campus buildings. Please reach out to EHS at to learn more about plexiglass barriers and give the Office of Facilities adequate time to install them once requested. 

Daily Health Assessment 
We will continue using a daily health assessment this fall as part of our health and safety measures. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to review the brief health assessment daily before coming to class or to campus. COVID-19 testing is available for free on campus. Students and employees who receive a positive COVID-19 test result off campus are asked to report that to or 910.962.0587. 
Students: If you suspect you have COVID-19, if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if you experience any of these symptoms, please contact the Student Health Center at 910.962.3280 for specific information about testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation requirements, which differ for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals, according to CDC guidance.  

Employees: Employees who are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms (or who have been in close contact with individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19) should contact their health care provider, notify your supervisor if you will be missing work, and then notify the UNCW Student Health Center at and your supervisor. 

Supervisors: please confer with the Student Health Center at or 910.962.0587 and Human Resources at 910.962.3160. Useful tools and guidance also are available from Human Resources 
Questions and Resources 
No single message can ever answer every question that students, faculty and staff may have about COVID-19. We will continue to share timely information, resources and updates with faculty, staff and students via UNCW email inboxes, the UNCW homepage and Best for the Nest, the university’s COVID-19 resource site. Students, please consider sharing this message and other updates with your parents/families to help keep them informed. 

You may also reach out to the resources below for information and support: 

Monitoring COVID-19 Will Continue 
Please know that we continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 and its variants, and we will update guidance as new information emerges. The university tracks cases on its Data Dashboard; weekly updates will continue until Aug. 16 and then daily updates will resume. 

Following the proper protocols will continue to be important for the well-being of the Seahawk community and the community surrounding our campus. You have shown tremendous grace throughout this pandemic. Your strength of Seahawk character will continue to help our campus community in the weeks ahead, as we adapt plans when necessary to minimize potential COVID-19 impacts to the best of our ability. Thank you in advance for your commitment to this effort, which will go a long way toward helping all of us have a healthier fall semester. 
Sincerely yours, 

Jose V. Sartarelli