UPDATE: After reviewing feedback from yesterday's update on the fall semester, Chancellor Gaber answered the top four questions to clarify the path forward for returning to campus.
Dear Niner Nation,
I write today with an update on our plans for classroom instruction beginning Oct. 1.
After careful consideration of available data and consultation with both county health officials and the UNC System, UNC Charlotte will:
- Resume select in-person instruction on Oct. 1 in specific areas of academic study and for those students making a transition to University life.
- Move to all online/remote classes following the Thanksgiving break, including the delivery of all exams.
The ongoing decline in Mecklenburg County’s infection rate, coupled with UNC Charlotte’s comprehensive safety protocols, allows the University to move forward with a measured approach to on-campus living, learning and working this fall semester.
Maximum Flexibility for Learning
We are placing an emphasis on the return to on-campus instruction in two areas:
- Programs for which in-person access to facilities, equipment or other resources are needed to ensure that we can maintain the best environment for instruction. These programs include:
- Science lab classes
- Studio and performance art classes
- Clinical programs in the College of Health and Human Services
- Courses serving primarily first-year students (freshmen and transfer) in order to ensure that students can successfully transition to University instruction, build community and access campus support (e.g., Prospect for Success, liberal studies and similar lower-division courses).
Courses in the two categories above will follow the format in effect when students registered — in-person, hybrid, synchronously online or asynchronously online. All other courses may remain in an online or remote format. Faculty should affirm the format for their classes by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, through email or Canvas announcement.
We are also aware that not all students have access to needed internet bandwidth or other technology that allows them to access online/remote classes effectively. To the extent possible, we want to accommodate the needs of these students by providing access to campus WiFi and computers, assuring equity in students’ abilities to access coursework, and other digital resources.
Classes Suspended Sept. 28 and 29
As previously announced, all undergraduate classes will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 28 and 29, to allow for campus move-in dates. The lost time will need to be made up during the semester. Faculty will communicate how this will be done with students.
Additional Student Information
Students who have needs requiring them to continue online education this semester should work directly with their faculty members and their academic advisors to discuss possible options should they be enrolled in courses with a face-to-face component.
Students who find it necessary to withdraw from a class during the semester will receive a grade of WE, withdrawal for extenuating circumstances. Students should consult an advisor before doing so and be aware of the enrollment requirements for financial aid.
We know that classes scheduled for hybrid or traditional face-to-face instruction will present challenges for faculty if some students want to continue online and others do not. Faculty will not be required to teach a course section via several modes of instruction. However, faculty are asked to provide maximum flexibility for students unable to return to in-person instruction. The Center for Teaching and Learning and AISLE are prepared to assist faculty with the necessary technology.
Faculty who need accommodations for returning to on-campus instruction should contact Lori McMahon, associate provost for budget and personnel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the faculty’s responsibility to communicate information about any additional changes in class format to their students by direct email and/or a Canvas announcement by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.
Additional Safety Measures
By delaying the start of in-person instruction, we have been afforded the opportunity to evaluate other institutions’ in-person openings and adjust our safety measures prior to welcoming students back to campus.
- Niner Health Check: The University implemented a daily Niner Health Check earlier this month. This health check is required of all faculty, staff and students, regardless of if you are on campus. The assessment takes less than a minute to complete, and it is critical in ensuring we have accurate data on the health of our community. Beginning Oct. 5, anyone not completing the health check as required will have their NinerNet credentials suspended until the assessment is done. You can learn more about the Niner Health Check on the Emergency Management website.
- Flu Shot Requirement: Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. To help lessen the burden on our healthcare system and to help eliminate confusion between flu and COVID-19 symptoms, the University is requiring all faculty, staff and students to attest that they have received a flu shot or qualify for an applicable exception by Monday, Nov. 16. You can find more information about this requirement, upcoming flu shot clinics and accepted exemptions on the Niner Nation Cares website.
- De-densified Residence Halls: We have de-densified our residence halls to ensure every student has an individual room. There is no extra cost to students for this change.
- Dedicated On-site Testing & Contact Tracing: We have implemented an on-site testing and contact tracing process specifically for our campus community. Working with Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, on-campus test results are expected in 36 hours, and dedicated University contact tracers will identify any close contacts of individuals with positive test results.
- Predictive Wastewater Testing: The University started sampling and monitoring the wastewater at several campus sites for the purpose of proactively detecting the presence of the virus and identifying the location of possible outbreaks, including in campus residence halls.
- Limiting Gatherings: To further support the health of our community, we are continuing to maintain gatherings to a 10-person limit indoors and a 25-person limit outdoors. This is stricter than the current allowed gathering sizes in North Carolina’s phased reopening plan.
Move-in for on-campus residence halls will continue as planned Sept. 26-29.
If you wish to change your plans for residing on campus, we will allow you to cancel your on-campus housing contract without penalty until Friday, Sept. 25, at 11:59 p.m. Failure to move-in is not considered a contract cancellation.
Housing and Residence Life will send more information directly to residents.
- Dining: If you cancel your housing contract by Sept. 25, you will have the opportunity to cancel your meal plan through that same process. Otherwise, the meal plan change period will remain in effect through Oct. 9. More information about changing and selecting a meal plan is available on the Auxiliary Services website.
I want to be clear that believing we can offer on-campus instruction with appropriate safety measures in place does not mean we believe we can open without any instances of the virus in our community. Positive cases of COVID-19 on campus are probable, but if we work together, we believe they can be responsibly managed through isolation, quarantine and appropriate medical care. We are seeing similar outcomes at other institutions in the System and around the country.
However, we know that our ability to continue with an in-person campus experience this fall and potentially beyond depends on everyone.
Wearing a face covering, following physical distancing guidelines and completing the Niner Health Check are not suggestions. They are requirements, and they will be enforced for the protection of our community.
Upcoming Virtual Town Halls
We know you likely have questions after this announcement. Please review this FAQ to address many of them. We also invite you to join us for these upcoming virtual town halls:
There are no easy decisions when dealing with COVID-19, as we have learned over the past six months. We understand our community’s wishes are vast and varied, and we cannot meet everyone’s individual needs even though we would like to. However, we have listened to the feedback shared with us over the past several weeks and believe this plan offers Niner Nation a balanced, safe path forward.
Our faculty are unparalleled in their expertise and commitment to their students, and our devoted, talented staff have shown they will keep our University operations running smoothly no matter the circumstances. Whether your classes are online or in person, we are dedicated to the educational excellence for which UNC Charlotte is known.
There will be more decisions in the weeks and months ahead, and the health and safety of our community will be at the forefront of all we do.
We will continue to keep you updated via email, and you can expect another communication with additional information by Friday, Sept. 25. You can always find the latest information on the Niner Nation Cares website and on our COVID-19 dashboard.
Thank you for your support, patience and care for our community.
Sharon L. Gaber