A Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: COVID-19 Vaccination Updates

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

We asked and you answered – more than 9,530 residential students, faculty, staff and off-campus students taking on-campus classes have shared vaccination information with the university to support UNCW’s pandemic mitigation strategies. Among respondents, our COVID-19 vaccination rates are strong – 71% among residential students and 85% among faculty and staff – but we can do better. Among off-campus students taking on-campus classes, the vaccination rate is just 53%. This exceeds the state average for adults ages 18-24, but we want to continue increasing all our vaccination rates throughout the semester to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Pfizer Vaccine Available at Next Drop-in Clinic 

Unvaccinated Seahawks, mark your calendars now for the next “drop-in” vaccination clinic from 1-4 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 1) at the Warwick Center. This week, we are offering the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which is fully approved by the FDA, so don’t let vaccine hesitancy hold you back. The shots are free, and individuals will need to remain onsite for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine. Individuals who receive their first Pfizer shot will need to get their second dose three weeks later. These will be available on campus.

Most of the positive cases on campus and across the state and nation are among unvaccinated individuals, who also comprise the majority of current COVID-19 hospitalizations. If you are not yet vaccinated, I urge you to take action to protect your health and the well-being of our campus and community. Can’t make it to tomorrow’s “drop-in” clinic? No problem. Free, one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccinations for students, faculty, staff and community members are available on campus through the Student Health Center during normal business hours. No appointments are necessary. Additional clinics will be scheduled on campus this semester. Vaccinations are also available at many locations in the community and across the state. See NCDHHS information for more details.

As a reminder, unvaccinated residential students, faculty, staff and off-campus students taking in-person classes are required to participate in weekly surveillance testing. Students, staff and faculty who present proof of vaccination are not subject to weekly surveillance testing.   

Labor Day Weekend 

Please don’t let your guard down this holiday weekend, Seahawks. I know it will be tempting to take a break from the COVID-19 safety protocols that have become a part of our lives during the pandemic, but I urge you to stay focused on your overall well-being and the health of others around you. Remember that New Hanover County has a public health rule in place requiring face coverings inside all public places. Please take appropriate precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, and have a safe, happy and productive Labor Day weekend. 

Pandemic Conditions Continue to Evolve, UNCW Continues to Adjust Accordingly 

Throughout the pandemic, UNCW has used a data-driven, multi-layered approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19 on campus, adjusting strategies as conditions have evolved. With the fall semester underway, the university’s extensive plans include: 

  • Robust, weekly surveillance testing of unvaccinated individuals 
  • Free, flexible vaccinations offered on campus 
  • Face coverings required indoors 
  • Residence hall visitation limitations 
  • Temporary course module flexibility for faculty (please see recent guidance from the Provost’s Office for details) 
  • Unit heads encouraged to consider ways to provide additional flexibility to staff where the unit/business needs permit. Additional flexibility is granted to support staff in managing emergent personal circumstances and reduce the number of unnecessary in-person interactions on campus (please see relevant Best for the Nest updates for more information) 
  • Adjustments to non-academic event schedules, such as moving activities to virtual scheduling or postponing them until later dates. 

Since last fall, Student Health has operated a comprehensive quarantine and isolation program with support from several offices across campus. Although the program is housed in Galloway Hall, additional beds are available in alternate locations if needed. The university’s quarantine and isolation program is efficient and effective, and I appreciate the tremendous energy and expertise that a dedicated group of employees invests in it every day. 

When the pandemic first emerged, the campus community developed a set of guiding principles that campus leadership continues to use when making decisions about next steps. Please see the Fall 2021 Guide for Returning to Campus (PDF) for more information. Day in and day out, our actions consider guidance from the CDC, NCDHHS, the UNC System, and local health partners as well as valuable input from students, faculty and staff.  

The uncertainty of the times in which we live causes consternation for many of us. I wish I could outline a direct path for UNCW from here to the end of the pandemic, but no one knows exactly what course COVID-19 will take. I do know, however, that we have weathered many storms at UNCW, and we are navigating this one with continued care for the health and well-being of the campus community and the community around us. 


Be well, Seahawks, 

Jose V. Sartarelli