Home Faculty meeting Indoor masking and surveillance testing will continue to be standard at UNCW

Indoor masking and surveillance testing will continue to be standard at UNCW


UNCW will run the course with mandatory masking and surveillance tests during the next spring semester, university officials said on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Bradley Pearce / UNCW)

WILMINGTON – UNCW leadership plans to continue its current list of strategies designed to curb Covid-19 when students return to campus next year for the spring semester.

Mandatory indoor masks and weekly tests for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will still be the norm, according to an announcement from Chancellor Jose Sartarelli on Tuesday.

Katrin Wesner-Harts, the university’s top health official, presented the sustained guidelines to faculty on Tuesday afternoon at a virtual meeting of the UNCW Faculty Senate.

“We’re going to start the spring in a very similar way to where we are now,†said Wesner-Harts.

Prior to the first day of class on January 12, all unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff on campus are required to undergo “return to campus testing†and then complete weekly testing thereafter.

“We’re going to continue our requirement to cover the face inside when we return, and a lot of people have asked why,†Wesner-Harts added. “There are a couple of things. First, we know it’s a protective factor. We know it’s protective against Covid, but we also have good reason to believe that’s why the flu last year, the flu cases, dropped dramatically. “

Last week, 18 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed at UNCW, Wesner-Harts told faculty. Six of them were professors and staff.

“We are certainly seeing an increase in the number of faculty and staff who have tested positive recently,” she said.

Wesner-Harts also relayed that of the 18 cases last week, six of the individuals, or one-third, were vaccinated, “that’s where we landed recently.”

The UNCW reports that 80% of boarding school students who attend classes are vaccinated against Covid-19. The rate of off-campus students is 75% and the vaccination rate for professors and staff is 91%.

“If you are hesitant to get the vaccine for a variety of personal reasons, our surveillance testing approach currently offers you options to support the health of the campus community,” according to Sartarelli’s announcement. “You currently have the choice of getting vaccinated or getting tested. “

Masks are mandatory at UNCW in classrooms and at indoor events, as well as on public transport. They are also mandatory in dining rooms, break rooms and other restaurants: “Only remove them when you are actively eating or drinking, then replace them when you are sitting and talking with others,†it reads. in the Chancellor’s announcement.

The positivity rate for Covid-19 tests on campus is much lower than that of New Hanover County and North Carolina as a whole. Earlier in the fall semester, Wesner-Harts reported a positivity rate of less than 1% to UNCW.

New Hanover rescinded his county-wide mask tenure on Nov. 12 after the positivity rate rose from over 10% to around 2.7%. It has since climbed back to 5.84%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The statewide positivity rate is now 9.2%.

READ MORE: New Hanover County Board of Health barely decides to lift mask mandate

Wesner-Harts told the Port City Daily last month, in response to a question about what would lead to a review of the face covering guidelines, that “the use of indoor masks is an important part of our strategy. comprehensive prevention “.

“Before finalizing decisions for our spring COVID-19 protocols, we will continue to consider CDC and NCDHHS guidelines as well as active case rates on campus, county and state,” he said. she declared.

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