Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Spring 2022 COVID-19 Updates

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Dear UNCW Community,  

At the moment, all of us are ready for a nice, long winter break. I hope you enjoy special times with your family and friends in the days ahead and that you return to UNCW in January, rested and ready for the spring 2022 semester. Classes begin Jan. 12 on the traditional calendar and Jan. 17 for our Online Accelerated Program (OAP) courses. Many campus events, activities and sports are planned – mark your calendars now for Homecoming Feb. 7-13 – and we are eager to start a new year at UNCW.  

To continue supporting the health and safety of our campus community, we plan to stay the course with the COVID-19 protective measures we successfully deployed in the fall. Throughout the semester, the university’s leadership team will continue to consider several factors when making decisions to alter COVID-19 guidance, including CDC, NCDHHS and UNC System policies; the level of transmission in North Carolina; and the overall vaccination rate in our state.  

Omicron Variant 

As information about the Omicron variant develops, we will continue to assess local, state and national conditions and adjust our protocols as necessary. Before returning to campus in January, please review your campus inboxes, the UNCW homepage and Best for the Nest for updates. 

To begin the spring 2022 semester, UNCW will require:  

  • Return-to-campus testing for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who are living, learning and working on campus will be conducted Jan. 4-14 - please monitor your inboxes for locations and additional guidance from the Student Health Center. 
  • Weekly surveillance testing for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who are living, learning and working on campus will restart Jan. 10 – see details below.
  • Indoor face coverings will be required for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings have been an effective part of our COVID-19 management strategy for more than a year, and we are maintaining this extra safety precaution as part of our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while offering the in-person classes, applied learning experiences, events, games and activities that enrich life in the Seahawk community. More specific information about face coverings is available below.


Fortunately, the majority of UNCW faculty, staff and students have received COVID-19 vaccines; see our Data Dashboard for more information. Seahawks, if you aren’t yet vaccinated or you haven’t received your booster, I urge you to take action to protect yourselves and our community. The university will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines and boosters on campus next semester; monitor your campus inboxes and Best for the Nest for dates, times and locations. Vaccinations and boosters are the most effective way to make a difference in the spread of COVID-19.  

If you are hesitant to obtain vaccination for a variety of personal reasons, then our surveillance testing approach currently provides you with options to support the health of the campus community. You currently have the choice to be vaccinated or get tested.  

Surveillance Testing of Unvaccinated Individuals for Spring 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 Jan. 10. Students, staff, and faculty who present proof of vaccination are not subject to weekly surveillance testing.  

  • Starting Jan. 10, free surveillance testing will be available Monday-Thursday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m. locations to be announced in early January. 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. 
  •  Individuals who have not already submitted their vaccine information to the Student Health Center are asked to email a copy of their vaccination card to 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.
  • Daily campus visitors are not required to submit proof of vaccination or participate in UNCW surveillance testing to attend events and activities.  

Face coverings  

The university’s indoor face covering requirement applies to students, faculty, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status. The protocols in place include: 

  • Wear face coverings in campus dining areas, break rooms and other places where food is consumed. Remove them only when actively eating or drinking and then replace them while sitting and talking with others.   
  • Wear face coverings in class and at indoor events, including artistic performances, conferences, lecture series, and student organization activities.
  • Wear face coverings in 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 UNCW Athletics events, including men’s and women’s basketball games. 
  • Classrooms and other areas on campus are equipped with free, disposable face coverings.
  • Face coverings are not required when someone is alone in their office or in their assigned residential spaces.
  • Obtain free, reusable masks from Student Health by requesting them at

As a reminder, 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. Event hosts may ask noncompliant guests to leave indoor events if they refuse to follow our face covering requirement.  

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.  

Best Practices to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 and the Flu 

  • Wear face coverings indoors.  
  • Wash your hands frequently.  
  • Get vaccinated. 
  • Review the Daily Health Assessment sent to your inboxes during the semester. 
  • If you feel unwell, don’t attend in-person classes or events and don’t come to work on campus. Some COVID-19 and flu symptoms seem similar. Please get your symptoms checked out by Student Health (for students) or your doctor (employees).   
  • Follow best practices off-campus as well as on-campus.  

 Strong Start for 2022 

Continuing our successful response to the pandemic will remain an important part of the UNCW experience in 2022. The health of our campus community has been and will continue to be paramount in our decisions. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends and modify our health and safety protocols as necessary to adapt to changing circumstances. Using this approach, we have proven over the past few semesters that we can navigate around this situation and still soar as individuals and as a university.  

Let’s work together to make 2022 the best year yet for the UNCW community.  



Jose V. Sartarelli