Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: UNCW to Maintain COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Increase Campus Event Opportunities

Monday, October 11, 2021

Dear Seahawk Community:  

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to UNCW’s pandemic protocols. Your efforts have proven effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 on campus, as our dashboard data demonstrate. To support a favorable finish for the fall semester, we plan to maintain our indoor face covering requirement and other measures unless otherwise announced.  

Updated In-Person Activity/Event Guidance 

Given the general downward trend in positive cases on campus and in the New Hanover County area, as well as the steady increase in vaccination rates, we have decided to increase the opportunities for UNCW departments, organizations and programs to hold in-person campus events. 

Earlier this semester, the university moved events, activities and meetings not directly related to student learning to virtual formats or postponed them. Many offices, programs and units across campus still held appropriate in-person activities, and their success has provided an effective blueprint for expanding such offerings. Any units that want to host an in-person event should work with their divisional leadership and the UNCW Health and Safety Committee, under the guidance of Student Health, to review plans, confirm COVID-19 protocols and manage the event accordingly.  

Important Factors 

The university’s leadership team will continue to consider several factors when making the decision to alter COVID-19 guidance, including CDC, NCDHHS and 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. 

Please review the message below for reminders regarding the COVID-19 safety protocols in place at UNCW. 

Indoor Face Covering Requirement Remains in Place  

The university’s indoor face covering requirement, which is based on guidance from the CDC and NCDHHS, remains in place and applies to students, faculty, staff and visitors. As a reminder: New Hanover County, where the main campus is located, has a face covering mandate in effect for all indoor public places. Key details about UNCW’s guidelines include: 

  • Wear face coverings in campus dining areas, break rooms and other places where food is consumed. Remove them when actively eating or drinking and then replace them while sitting and talking with others.  
  • Wear face coverings 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. 
  • Wear face coverings at indoor events, including artistic performances, conferences, lecture series, student organization activities and fall commencement. 
  • Wear face coverings at indoor UNCW Athletics events, including upcoming men’s and women’s basketball games.  
  • Classrooms and other areas on campus are equipped with free, disposable face coverings. 

Face Coverings Outdoors 

While UNCW does not require face coverings for general outdoor activities, face coverings may be required or strongly recommended for large gatherings. Please see specific event information for guidance and/or signage. As a reminder, please continue to demonstrate care and respect for 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.   

Vaccination Rates Improving 

Based on data gathered by Student Health, 90% of faculty and staff are vaccinated, an increase of 3% since Sept. 13. Among residential students, 77% are vaccinated, up from 72% on Sept. 13. Off-campus students have seen the largest increase in vaccination rates, moving to 66%, 9 percentage points higher than Sept. 13. Please visit the Data Dashboard on the Best for the Nest website for updated vaccination rate information.   

If you have not yet submitted your status, please send your information to Student Health staff will be the only ones with access to individual information.   

Surveillance Testing Reminder  

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.  

Vaccine and Booster Clinics  

If you are not vaccinated, please take action to protect your health and the well-being of our campus and community. Only through widespread vaccination will we be able to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Free vaccinations for students, faculty, staff and community members are available on campus through the Student Health Center. No appointments are necessary. Please monitor your inboxes for additional information about “drop in” clinics on campus. Vaccinations are also available at many locations in the community and across the state. See NCDHHS information for more details.   

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least six months ago: 

  • 65 years and older 
  • 18+ who have underlying medical conditions 
  • 18+ who work in high-risk settings 
  • 18+ who live in high-risk settings 

For more information about booster eligibility, visit the CDC website. 

Temporary Modality Shift Guidance Remains in Effect  

Faculty and instructors will continue to have flexibility to request temporary modality modifications for many COVID-related reasons for the remainder of the fall semester. The Office of the Provost previously provided the specific request process information in a separate message to faculty.  

Temporary Teleworking Flexibility Remains in Effect  

Leaders and supervisors are encouraged to continue supporting staff with flexible work arrangements where possible given unit-specific business needs. This flexibility may be granted where staff members are navigating personal COVID-related impacts; however, it is understood that flexibility may not be possible in all situations depending on the specific business need of the unit and the specific duties of a position. Because COVID-related impacts such as elder care or childcare concerns may continue to impact our community for some time, this guidance related to temporary flexibility will remain in effect through the remainder of this semester and does NOT require a formal teleworking agreement.  

Counseling Support  

As we approach the end of the semester and the holiday season, the stress that each one of us may be feeling could increase. Please continue to give yourselves and each other some much-needed grace. The 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.  

Best wishes, Seahawks, for a successful and rewarding second half of the semester.   

Sincerely yours,  

Jose V. Sartarelli  


Resources for Information 

UNCW Best for the Nest (campus messages, guidance and more)   

UNCW Data Dashboard   

UNCW Cluster Notifications  

UNCW Student Health (vaccinations, surveillance testing, symptom checker information and more)   

UNCW Human Resources (COVID-19 leave-keeping information, decision tree, and more) 

UNCW Travel Guidance 



New Hanover County Health and Human Services   


Questions? Email