Dear Carolina Community,
The past two months have been extraordinarily challenging, and I remain grateful for your willingness to shift to remote operations and your ability to adapt to unprecedented change. The challenges brought about by COVID-19 have disrupted the lives of nearly everyone in our campus community. Despite those hardships, our students, faculty and staff have persevered in historic fashion, carrying out the University’s mission of teaching, research and service in innovative ways that reflect the very best of our community. Our campus pulled together through the uncertainty of the spring, and now we must turn our attention to a fall semester that will be like no other in our history, and another opportunity to rise above the challenges.
I recognize that there is high interest in Carolina’s plans for this fall, and with it, much concern about the safety, health and well-being of our community. In talking with many of our faculty, students and parents, it’s also clear to me that students learn and grow in different ways and most thrive through the in-person interactions with their faculty and classmates; and through the co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities that a Carolina education provides. The best Carolina experience is one that occurs here on campus where that is all possible.
Therefore, we have been working hard on many scenarios, and we are ready to share our initial thinking about Carolina’s Roadmap for Fall 2020. This path forward outlines the major areas of campus that we are modifying to respond to the realities we face because of COVID-19 and represents thoughtful and deliberate input from our deans, vice chancellors, students, staff and faculty, which includes our world-renowned infectious disease and public health experts. In addition, the University has continued to work closely with state and local public health officials, peer institutions and UNC System leadership.
Based on advice from our infectious disease and public health experts, who believe we could be facing a second wave of COVID-19 sometime late fall or early winter, we are making significant changes to our operations. On their guidance, we are starting and finishing the fall semester early in an effort to stay ahead of that second wave. As these are unprecedented times, our Roadmap will also have off ramps, and we will modify this plan if conditions change and the situation warrants. The safety, health and well-being of our campus community will always be paramount in our decision-making.
This fall semester will look and feel different from the past. Here are some of the initial changes we are implementing to care for our community:
The following are more topline details regarding key areas of academic and campus operations:
Community standards for health and safety
Returning to the workplace
Returning to laboratory research
Instructional strategy, academic calendar and classroom space
Under guidance from our infectious disease and public health experts, we have revised the academic calendar to begin classes a week earlier and conclude before Thanksgiving. We made the difficult decision to eliminate fall break not only to finish sooner but also to minimize possible virus spread associated with travel. We understand that this new schedule may disrupt your summer plans and want you to know that we considered many options to avoid as much disruption as possible. Thank you for your understanding and know that we will do everything possible to offer flexibility and accommodation as needed.
Student experience, sense of belonging and holistic support
Given the early semester start date of Aug. 10, move in will begin Aug. 3 by pre-scheduled appointment to help achieve physical distancing throughout the move-in process.
Additional information and details will be provided to residential students and student staff by Carolina Housing.
Carolina Dining Services
All other on-campus dining facilities will be open to students, faculty and staff. Seating in dining halls will be reduced to promote physical distancing, and we will expand takeout offerings in all locations. In addition, mobile food ordering will be installed where practical.
Dining tables and chairs will be sanitized after each use and restrooms will be cleaned hourly. Because we are limited in the amount of people we can seat and serve with physical distancing measures in place, we are exploring additional dining options including food trucks, meal delivery services and dedicated pick-up stations.
Testing, contact tracing and Campus Health/Counseling and Psychological Services
Campus Health, CAPS, telehealth services and UNC Hospitals will be open and available to provide outstanding, state-of-the-art care, if needed.
Looking ahead and building our community together
I know there is a lot on your minds, and we will do everything possible to provide answers to the many questions you may have over the next few months. During this time, we must all prepare for some inconveniences and adopt the community standards and behaviors that will help ensure a safe Carolina campus. Thanks for your commitment to this important responsibility in helping us build our community together as we carry out the mission of our great university.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz