Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Important Updates to COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Community Guidelines

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dear Seahawks, 
Most of you – students, faculty and staff – are closely following UNCW’s COVID-19 precautions when on campus. You are putting the well-being of our campus and community at the top of your priority list by wearing face coverings indoors, following good hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated or participating in surveillance testing, which began Aug. 23. We appreciate your dedication to the health and safety of our campus and community. 
Unfortunately, despite these measures, we have seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among our campus community, especially students. There are multiple causes of the increase including: the virulent nature of the Delta variant; the prevalence of students and employees participating in classes, work and activities even though they don’t feel well; and a lack of attention among some Seahawks to following COVID-19 best practices, primarily while attending off campus social gatherings. See UNCW’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard for more information. 
The vast majority of the positive cases are among unvaccinated individuals. Seahawks, if you are not vaccinated, please take action to protect your health and the well-being of our campus and community. Free 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. Please monitor your inboxes and Best for the Nest for additional vaccination “pop-up” sites on campus. Vaccinations are also available at many locations in the community and across the state. See NCDHHS information for more details.  
Many thanks to the faculty, staff and students who have already submitted vaccination status information to Student Health. A reminder survey will be sent today to faculty and staff as well as off-campus students taking face-to-face courses who 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, and we hope to share vaccination rates with the campus community soon. Student Health staff will be the only ones with access to individual information.  
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. 
Next Steps 
Given the increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, we are taking significant steps now in the hopes of reducing challenges later. Given the high transmission rates in our county and across most of North Carolina, we are taking strong steps to protect and preserve our in-person learning and on-campus living as much as possible. To that end, as of Wednesday, Aug. 25, the following activities are canceled, suspended or moved to virtual formats and will be reviewed on or before September 17, 2021, depending on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus and its variants.  
  • Canceled: Involvement Carnival, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25, as part of our efforts to limit large gatherings of people, even outdoors, given the high transmission rates in New Hanover County. To find more opportunities to get involved, please check Wavelink. New or returning students can complete the Involvement Compass for a personalized involvement report. 
  • Suspended: Residence hall visitation by non-residents.  
  • Moved online: Events, activities and meetings not directly related to student learning or coursework should be moved to virtual formats if possible. If it is not possible to move these events, activities and meetings to an online environment, then organizers should consider postponing these events, activities and meetings to a later date. We have not yet decided about resuming the event exception protocols that were in place last academic year. Once we have more information, we will share it.  
Additional Information 
  • UNCW Athletics will make an announcement later this week regarding fan attendance at indoor sports events. At outdoor sports events, fans are highly encouraged to wear face coverings. 
  • As a reminder, Campus Dining has several “to go” options for those who would prefer to eat outdoors. 
  • To reduce the risk of exposure, supervisors are encouraged to temporarily extend teleworking options to non-student-facing employees and to conduct virtual meetings rather than in-person meetings as much as possible. 
  • Centro Hispano and the Mohin-Scholz LGBTQIA Resource Office will remain open to students at this time. Students must wear face coverings at all times while visiting the centers. The Upperman African American Cultural Center remains closed to students until renovations are complete. 
  • As a reminder, face coverings are required in the Student Recreation Center. 
UNCW has numerous resources to assist with mental health support, work/life balance and stress management. The UNCW Counseling Center offers free services for all currently enrolled students. Located in DePaolo Hall, the center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and provides virtual counseling services as well as in-person emergency services. The Employee Assistance Program is an excellent source of emotional wellness, mental health and resilience resources for faculty and staff. 
These steps naturally will prompt many questions among members of the campus community as well as campus visitors, arts patrons, donors, fans, and others. Please see the websites and social media feeds of offices, events and services for the latest information on their specific updates. In addition, we will share general FAQ on the Best for the Nest website as additional information becomes available. 
Students, please send your questions to Faculty and staff, please send your questions through your supervisors to your divisional leadership. You may also send questions to Please give university leaders time to assess and respond to your inquiries. The pandemic remains a very fluid situation and conditions change quickly. 
How to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 
  • Wear face coverings indoors 
  • Wash your hands frequently 
  • Review the Daily Health Assessment sent to your inboxes 
  • If you feel unwell, don’t attend in-person classes and don’t come into work on campus. The common complaints of individuals diagnosed with the Delta variant include scratchy throats, sniffles and/or congestion. If there is any doubt, get your symptoms checked out.  
  • Follow best practices off-campus as well as on-campus. Don’t let your guard down. Remember that New Hanover County has a mask mandate in place.  
Resources for Information 
UNCW Best for the Nest (campus messages, guidance and more) 
UNCW Data Dashboard 
UNCW Student Health (vaccinations, surveillance testing, symptom checker information and more) 
UNCW Human Resources (COVID-19 leave-keeping information, decision tree, and more):  
New Hanover County Health and Human Services 
I know that these are tough times, Seahawks. By staying focused on in-person learning and on-campus living, we can continue to navigate this pandemic successfully. Remember it is not in our nature to give up or give in – we are tenacious, and we will get through these challenges together. 
Be well, 
Jose V. Sartarelli