January 12, 2022
To: Teaching Colleagues
From: Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Re: Spring 2022 COVID-19 Updates
UNC Greensboro remains committed to the health and well-being of the entire Spartan community and is closely monitoring CDC and public health guidelines and will continue to adjust safety practices and protocols as needed.
The University’s COVID-19 Strategy team continues to meet weekly, and the administrative leadership team holds daily conversations to review campus status. When protocol changes are made, it is our commitment to provide prompt updates on the COVID-19 website and through communications such as this one.
Adjustments to Contact Tracing Process
Given the short incubation period and the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant and the extended turnaround time for COVID-19 test results, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) no longer recommends wide-scale contact tracing as it is not considered an effective mitigation strategy at this point in the pandemic. It is also the case that by the time contract tracing is completed, the five-day quarantine period is nearly over. The University, therefore, will be adjusting its contact tracing efforts to focus on individuals known to be living in residence halls and will be automating the process (also recommended by DHHS). The automated contact tracing system will require all individuals who report their positive status to complete a form, identifying close contacts. Identified close contacts will receive a notification message that provides them instructions on quarantine protocol. Students will be told to reach out to instructors to inform them they need to isolate or quarantine and to request accommodations. Given this change, instructors are no longer required to use seating charts. Instructors should not attempt to do their own contract tracing.
UNCG was the only institution in the UNC System doing contact tracing to this extent since the start of the pandemic and the only one doing contact tracing in classrooms using class seating charts and rosters.
We will continue to provide free, voluntary testing for asymptomatic students and faculty and will maintain testing protocols for all unvaccinated members of the UNCG community.
You can find all testing locations, dates, and times on the COVID-19 website and by downloading the UNCG Mobile app from the Google or iTunes app store to receive push notifications directly to your phone.
Vigilance and Adaptability
As I noted in my January 7th email, with the shifting nature of the pandemic, we must remain adaptable in how we safely live, learn, and work together while delivering on UNCG’s mission. Thanks to your vigilance and compassion, we have done just that.
We know that the academic experience and outcomes are better when instruction is offered face-to-face for students enrolled in in-person degree programs. With this in mind and with our diligence in following our safety measures, we thank you for your efforts to continue offering your courses as currently scheduled, with most classes taught face-to-face at full classroom capacity.
We know the number of students who need to isolate may require instructors to make accommodations for students so they can continue to make academic progress in their classes. If you need assistance on how to accommodate students, please review the “keep teaching” site, which provides helpful suggestions and support.
If the number of students in your course that need to isolate reaches a point that it becomes impractical to accommodate them while still holding class in-person, you are encouraged to temporarily move your course into a virtual environment and to continue to meet virtually as scheduled. Teaching synchronously in this manner accomplishes several things: it minimizes changes to the planned pedagogy, drives continued student engagement, and provides a means of accountability for students. It is critically important that we continue to keep educational disruptions to a minimum, even as we make flexibility a priority. Instructors are empowered to make this decision themselves, but before you implement any changes, please talk with your Chair/Head/Director so they can record your decision to temporarily move the course online using the Course Mode of Instruction Change form. This is important so we can report to the system as required, ensure students (and advisors) are informed, and better understand the status of course delivery at any point in time.Please note that any permanent requests to change the delivery method must be approved by the department chair/head/director, dean and Associate Vice Provost Andrew Hamilton (email@example.com).
Expectations for Spring
Students, faculty, and staff should continue to adhere to the following safety measures and community health guidelines:
- All individuals are required to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status, except when students are in their private residence hall rooms. Following CDC recommendations, we strongly encourage the use of three-layer surgical-style masks instead of cloth masks. Three-layer surgical-style masks are available at designated on-campus locations.
- All students living in residence halls were required to test before move-in, regardless of vaccination status.
- Students, faculty, and staff must show proof of vaccination or comply with the mandatory testing program.
- All members of the campus community must self-report COVID-19 infections and exposures throughout the semester.
- If students test positive or experience COVID-19 symptoms during the spring semester, they will be required to self-report and isolate. During the isolation period, students should not attend in-person classes or other public events. After self-reporting, students should contact their instructors and request accommodations so they can continue to make progress in their classes. Students will be allowed to return to class after completing their fifth day of isolation, if they are fever free and their symptoms have improved. A negative test is not required to return to class.
- When possible, we strongly encourage virtual meetings and gatherings.
In a fall town hall, I shared my perspective that we are “One UNCG.” What I meant is that we are one community with a shared commitment, with each of us playing important and different roles to ensure we fulfill our mission to serve and educate students. It also means we’re in this together and will continue to monitor the situation, adjust as necessary, and support one another. Thank you for doing your part.