Spring 2021 Updates

Pink flowers on campus.
Scenes from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on March 25, 2020. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina community,

We previously announced that our academic calendar for the spring 2021 semester will begin January 19 and end with commencement on May 16 (please note that the schedules for professional schools may vary). Today we are providing important updates on modes of academic instruction, on-campus housing and COVID-19 testing. These decisions are guided by feedback from recent student surveys, as well as from several groups including the Campus and Community Advisory Committee, the Roadmap Implementation Team, student and faculty advisory groups and the advice of our public health and medical content experts, state and Orange County health departments and the UNC System.

The upcoming spring semester will continue to be a different experience for the Carolina community. But we have learned important lessons from our experiences and those of our peer universities. We have listened very carefully to the opinions and advice offered by our students, faculty and other key constituencies. Through that feedback, we know it will be important to continue to provide flexibility and options to ensure a quality Carolina experience. We will welcome students back to live and learn on campus, although residential life will be reduced with only single occupancy rooms while faculty will be preparing for both in-person and remote courses built around the guidelines below.

We have asked the deans to provide faculty with the following modes of instruction and guidelines so that we can offer a combination of in-person and remote classes this spring. Information about the mode of each course will be available for students on ConnectCarolina at the beginning of November. Registration appointments for Spring 2021 semester begin November 30 and continue on a rolling basis until December 10, when registration will be open for all students through January 25.

We will offer five modes of instruction for the spring: two in-person modes and three remote modes of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The deans are working with their respective schools and departments to identify courses which benefit from in-person instructional modes.

The majority of classes with 35 or more students will be assigned one of the three remote-only options. However, we will be able to accommodate a limited number of courses with up to 50 students for in-person modes of delivery based on the needs of the course.

Generally, priority for in-person courses will be given to classes designed to allow first-year students to explore a discipline, classes designed to provide seniors opportunities to enroll in capstones, seminars, and specialized topics and classes at any level that especially benefit from hands-on, in-person instruction.

Our decisions on in-person and remote courses for the spring are fundamentally linked with our choices regarding on-campus residency and testing. This fall, the campus has remained open for approximately 1,500 students who have been living and learning on campus. Based on our experiences during this semester, we have made two important decisions to best position campus for a successful spring semester.

First, we are planning to offer only single occupancy for on-campus housing and will expand our quarantine and isolation spaces, ensuring that we are providing appropriate care and support resources in those locations, in compliance with public health guidelines. We anticipate housing around 3,500 students on-campus and in Granville Towers – an increase of approximately 2,000 students from our current on-campus residential population. By October 27, Carolina Housing will send information to all current residents and those who previously held housing contracts.

Second, there will be mandatory re-entry and regular COVID-19 evaluation testing for students, faculty and staff for spring semester, based on the success of the prospective evaluation testing for students that we are currently conducting at the Carolina Union. We are still actively evaluating options for frequency, administration and processing of the tests. We will share more details with you in the coming weeks.

This virus continues to impact the lives of everyone in our community in so many ways. We will continue to monitor its path over the coming months, and the compounding effect of the annual flu season, as we finalize plans for the spring semester. We are prepared to modify our approach in order to support our community based upon the prevailing trends. We will continue to work closely with our campus partners to discuss and communicate any additional changes or accommodations given the circumstances we may be facing in early to mid-January.

We understand the stress this uncertainty creates and will communicate with our University community and neighbors as frequently as needed to ensure we have a successful end to this semester, and a safe and effective start to the next. We appreciate everyone’s commitment to our students’ success and the health and safety of our entire community.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Bob Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

This message is sponsored by: Office of the Chancellor