Dear Carolina Community,
In advance of the start of the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 10, we are sharing reminders on the COVID-19 safety measures in place.
Most importantly, all members of the Carolina community must wear a mask in all public indoor settings, including residence halls, and should get a booster to become fully vaccinated. These remain the best ways to control COVID-19 and to reduce the length and severity of possible infection. Vaccines are available now at Campus Health Pharmacy and Student Stores Pharmacy; you can learn more on the Carolina Together website.
We are continuing to make decisions for the spring semester with consideration of everyone’s overall health – both physical and mental well-being. We recognize there are no perfect solutions in managing a situation like COVID-19, but we are fortunate to receive daily updates and guidance from our public health and infectious disease experts in consultation with local health officials. Based on this guidance and trends nationally and in the state, we acknowledge that there will likely be a high number of positive cases on campus, and we will continue to monitor and adjust operations as necessary.
Similar to the last two semesters, we believe we can sustain a safe living, learning and working environment because we are now a highly vaccinated campus community, and we have measures in place to limit the spread and severity of the virus. We will also continue to rely on our community members to make good decisions for themselves and in support of one another.
We announced on Dec. 31 that our deans have been instructed to use the guidance from public health and infectious disease experts in communicating with department chairs and faculty regarding their school’s guidelines for managing the beginning of the spring semester. Faculty have been encouraged to make the best decisions for their courses based on their unique instructional and logistical needs as we begin the semester.
Students are being notified by their instructors about any approved changes to specific class sessions for the start of the semester. If you are unable to attend the first day of class, you should notify your instructor(s) as soon as possible. Instructors have been advised to treat COVID-related absences as excused and to be flexible with students on making up work. Instructors do not need to contact the University Approved Absences Office about every class absence.
All unvaccinated students and all students living in campus housing must complete a PCR test and upload the result to ConnectCarolina no more than 72 hours before returning to campus. Prior-to-arrival testing is strongly recommended for all students. For students who need to pay for a prior-to-arrival test, the University will reimburse costs up to $65. Please save the receipt, and we will provide more information on that process next week.
If your test is positive, do not return to campus until your five-day isolation period is complete. Learn more on the Carolina Together website.
Given the transmissibility of the omicron variant it’s important to recognize that prior-to-arrival testing has limitations. A negative test before returning to campus only means that you did not have the virus at the time of your test. It should not encourage students to engage in higher risk behaviors. It will be very important that all members of our campus community take all precautions and accept the responsibility of helping to keep each other safe during the next several weeks.
Asymptomatic and symptomatic testing
Last week we announced that asymptomatic testing for faculty, staff and students at the Carolina Together Testing Program will be available by appointments only via HallPass. As we learn more about the omicron variant, it’s clear that asymptomatic testing has limited utility given the short incubation period and high transmission rate. Symptomatic testing is available at Campus Health for students. Faculty and staff should continue to seek symptomatic testing through their health care provider.
For employees, if you are a healthcare worker and test positive or exhibit symptoms, please contact Occupational Health and Safety. If you are a non-healthcare employee and test positive, you should report it using the COVID-19 Wellness Check online application instead of contacting UEOHC directly. Please remain at home for five days if asymptomatic or if symptomatic for at least five days or until your symptoms improve, regardless of your vaccination status.
For students, if you test positive or exhibit symptoms, please remain at home. Residential students who test positive can isolate at home (strongly preferred) or in their residence hall room (only leaving for food pick-up and medical care while wearing a mask). Detailed information can be found on the Campus Health website.
We continue to be grateful for the tremendous compassion and commitment of our staff, our faculty and our students. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to keep Carolina safe and healthy.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Director and Lead Physician, Carolina Together Testing Program