A Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Fall 2021 COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Update

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Dear UNCW Community, 

The excitement of the fall semester continues to build at UNCW. This weekend, we will welcome new and returning students to campus. Classes begin Aug. 18 on the traditional calendar and Aug. 23 for our Online Accelerated Program (OAP) courses. Events, activities and sports are gearing up, and we are ready to soar into a new academic year at UNCW. We also have put extra safety precautions in place as part of our efforts to preserve as traditional a fall semester as possible for everyone. 

To support the well-being of our campus community, we have updated our plans for fall. Unvaccinated individuals will be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing. To opt out of weekly testing, please provide proof of your vaccination status to Student Health. Please see more information below.  

Continuing our successful response to the pandemic will remain an important part of our readiness this year. The health of our campus community has been and will continue to be paramount in our decisions. Thank you for your ongoing patience and flexibility as we adjust safety protocols to address pandemic conditions.  

Surveillance Testing of Unvaccinated Individuals for Fall Semester 
All unvaccinated residential students, face-to-face students who reside off-campus, faculty and staff will be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing, beginning Aug. 23. Students, staff, and faculty who present proof of vaccination are not subject to weekly surveillance testing. 

  • Starting Aug. 23, free surveillance testing will be available Monday-Thursday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m. in the Student Rec Center MAC Gym and Warwick Ballroom 4. No appointment necessary.

  • Failure to comply with these requirements could result in a range of possible measures including loss of campus housing for residential students or loss of access to the UNCW network for face-to-face students and faculty/staff.  
  • Individuals who have tested positive in the past 90 days are not required to participate in weekly surveillance testing until your 90 days have passed. If you were tested off campus and have not already notified of your positive test, you will need to do so.

  • Tomorrow (Aug. 11), faculty and staff as well as off-campus students taking face-to-face courses will receive a Qualtrics survey with a simple way to upload your vaccine information if you have not already submitted it. In addition to establishing which members of campus need to participate in weekly testing, this data will help us determine the percentage of our campus community that is vaccinated. Student Health staff will be the only ones with access to individual information. 

  • Residential students have already been asked to submit vaccination information as part of the Move-In process. 

  • Campus visitors are not required to submit proof of vaccination or participate in UNCW surveillance testing to attend events and activities. 

Seahawks, I urge you to get vaccinated. It is the most effective way to make a difference in the spread of the pandemic. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and significantly reduces the chances of developing severe symptoms if you are infected.  

The university understands that some students, faculty and staff may be hesitant to obtain vaccination for a variety of personal reasons; our surveillance testing approach currently provides you with options to support the health of the campus community. You have the choice to be vaccinated or get tested. 

Through Aug. 20, free, one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. in the Student Health Center. No appointment is necessary.  Additionally, vaccine clinics will be scheduled throughout the semester at locations around campus. Those details, including which vaccine will be offered, will be shared via your campus inboxes, the UNCW homepage and Best for the Nest.  

Face coverings 
As previously announced, face coverings are required in all indoor spaces on campus, regardless of your vaccination status, except when you are in your office or assigned residence hall room. These requirements apply to campus visitors as well as students, faculty and staff. Face coverings were an effective part of our COVID-19 management strategy last year, and we put this extra safety precaution back in place as part of our efforts to preserve as traditional a fall semester as possible for everyone.

This requirement began Monday, Aug. 2 and will be reviewed on or before Sept. 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 (PDF) and local public health guidance, the level of transmission in North Carolina, and the overall vaccination rate in our state.  

I understand that some members of our community have concerns about “what to do” if individuals refuse to wear face coverings. First, please respectfully ask the person to wear one. They may simply need a reminder. If that approach isn’t successful, then the protocols we had in place over the past year are in effect. Noncompliant students can be asked to leave a class and/or may be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students. Noncompliant employees may be referred to a supervisor and/or Human Resources. Venue hosts may ask noncompliant guests to leave indoor events if they refuse to follow our face covering requirement.  

It is not possible to prepare a message that addresses every question that may occur within a community of more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff. For specific concerns, please contact for assistance. Please give the Student Health team managing that inbox time to respond to your questions. They receive hundreds of messages per day and are working as quickly as possible to help our campus community. 

We will continue to assess local, state and national conditions and adjust our protocols as necessary. Please monitor your campus inboxes, the UNCW homepage and Best for the Nest for updates. 

A team of dedicated Seahawks has been working diligently for months to prepare for a more familiar fall semester. The recent increase in COVID-19 cases has required quick response, long hours, and extra effort on their part. Please keep this in mind as you interact with these Seahawks, and anyone on campus for that matter. Your kindness, patience and grace will go a long way toward making this fall semester as successful as possible.  

Sincerely yours, 


Jose V. Sartarelli