COVID-19 Update: Planning for Fall 2021

Bell Tower in autumn.
Fall scene on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. November 7, 2018. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina Community,

We want to thank you for your continued commitment to keeping the Carolina community safe and healthy during the Spring semester. The safety precautions we have taken would not have worked without your commitment and participation. Thank you.

We are encouraged by the increasing pace of the vaccine rollout and decreasing trend in COVID-19 case counts locally. The latest projections are that vaccines will be widely available by late spring. We continue to urge you to get vaccinated as soon as you can – having as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible is our best defense against the virus.

Based on the guidance of our experts, we are planning for a Fall 2021 semester that will be a more typical residential academic experience at Carolina, with the goal of a full return to in-person instruction. We will likely need to keep many of our current safety precautions in place. Details will be finalized in the coming weeks and months as we monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, but today we are sharing these important steps:

  • Courses: Fall registration for continuing students will begin on June 1. This timing will allow deans, department chairs and instructors the maximum amount of time to plan for the fall. With safety measures in place and far-reaching access to vaccines, we expect a return to in-person instruction and a more typical academic experience on campus this fall.
  • Housing: Carolina Housing will have an increased number of students on campus this fall. Housing applications are now open and our residence halls will be operating at near normal capacity, still with many safety protocols in place, including a maximum of double occupancy in rooms.
  • Safety: We will maintain many of our COVID-19 Community Standards based on the conditions and guidance of our public health and infectious disease experts in late summer/early fall. For example:
    • Masks may be required on campus
    • The Carolina Together Testing Program and testing protocols for students accessing campus will most likely remain in place. We will continue to set aside two housing facilities as quarantine and isolation space.

Our sustained ability to follow our COVID-19 Community Standards and to comply with our Carolina Together Testing Program requirements will be a critical component of our planning for fall. We encourage you to remain vigilant, keep wearing a mask, keep maintaining physical distance, keep washing your hands and keep getting tested often. As soon as you are eligible, take the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is the best way to protect our community and ensure we can resume normal campus operations.

We will continue operating with some level of uncertainty with this virus until it is controlled, so if the virus takes a different path, we will adjust our plans accordingly. We look forward to working closely with our campus partners as we plan for the Fall 2021 semester, and as always, every decision will be led by the science and projections provided by local and state officials and our faculty and medical experts.

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep our campus community safe. We are nearly at the halfway mark for the semester, and I hope you will take advantage of the upcoming wellness days.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost