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With some 2,500 on-campus students vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-April, the University is moving toward something close to a pre-pandemic normal by this fall.
Plans call for most staff to have returned to the campus by mid-July, and summer camps will be held with some restrictions.
“We’re in that complicated place on our campus where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not at the end of the tunnel,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told his Campus and Community Advisory Committee on April 8.
UNC will not require proof of vaccination for return in the fall, in accordance with guidelines for public universities in North Carolina. While some schools across the country will, the UNC System has determined that only the state’s Commission for Public Health can mandate vaccines for college students, and the system says it is not clear “that the University [system] even has the legal authority to take the unprecedented step of mandating additional immunizations for all students.”
Testing rules and other requirements established before the fall semester will remain in place through Commencement weekend, May 14-16. Complete schedules and details are at commencement.unc.edu.
Will masks be required for all faculty teaching in classrooms in the fall? While Guskiewicz said he wasn’t ready to commit to a plan, some classroom environments might be able to accommodate maskless teachers.
“While we are optimistic about the increased pace of the vaccine campaign and what that means for our campus,” he said, “we are also operating with some uncertainty associated with the virus and variants right now.”
Mandated testing protocols will stay in place for the summer, regardless of personal vaccine status. Undergraduate students living on campus will be required to test two times per week, other undergraduates taking in-person summer classes will be required to test one time per week, and graduate and professional students taking or instructing in-person summer classes will be required to test once per week. The program will remain available for all faculty, staff and students for voluntary testing.
Administrators of all on-campus summer camps or programs — regardless of whether they are overnight, residential or day camps or programs — must submit a proposal for review and approval by the Office of the Provost detailing how they will comply with COVID-19 community standards and collect required prior-to-arrival tests. The tests must be a negative PCR result taken within 72 hours of the start of the camp or program.
Overnight or residential programs are limited to participants 18 and older. Day camps or programs with participants 17 and younger will be allowed on campus provided their safety proposal is reviewed and approved by the provost.
The fall course schedule is expected to be available to view on April 26.
The University reported that the asymptomatic positivity rate has remained below 1 percent, numbers of students in quarantine and isolation remain low, and there are decreased reports of violations of COVID-19 community standards. Likewise, infection rates among employees working on campus have remained very low, even as the number of employees on campus has increased.