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COVID-19 update on mask requirement and testing changes

Starting March 7, masks will no longer be required in most University buildings. This change follows UNC System guidance and comes after the Orange County Health Department announced that starting Monday the county’s indoor mask requirement will be lifted. Masks will still be required on Chapel Hill Transit and in all health care settings on campus.

Students walking on polk place.
Students gather on Polk Place during a warm February afternoon on campus. (By Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina Community,

Today we are sharing important updates on our mask mandate and testing program.

Mask requirement update

The Orange County Health Department announced today that it has lifted its mask requirement for public, indoor spaces, effective March 7, following the guidance by the CDC and NC DHHS. As a result, and following UNC System guidance, we will lift the indoor mask mandate for most of our campus effective March 7 as well.

Masks will be:

  • Optional in University buildings, including:
    • Classrooms
    • Residence halls
    • Offices
    • Libraries
    • Athletic venues
    • Performance spaces
  • Required:
    • All health care settings, including:
      • UNC Health
      • Campus Health
      • The University Employee Occupational Health Clinic
      • Carolina Together Testing Center
      • Student Stores Pharmacy and the Carolina Together Vaccination Clinic
      • Any patient clinics on campus
    • Chapel Hill Transit
      • University transit, including P2P, Safe Ride and U and RU buses

Research labs will revert to the mask requirements they followed pre-pandemic – masks will only be required in labs where they have always been required.

This change comes at a time when we are seeing decreasing cases in our campus and local communities. We realize that this transition is welcome for some and brings discomfort for others. If you feel more comfortable still wearing a mask, you are free to do so. There are many reasons why a person may decide to continue to wear a mask, and we respect that choice.

Conversely, students, faculty and staff should not be penalized if they do not wear a mask in their classroom or office setting where it is now optional. As we continue in-person instruction, faculty members should not change the mode of instruction of a course due to the change in mask requirements. During the semester, we know there may be a few instances where an instructor needs to temporarily move a class to remote learning for a short period to enhance instruction. If a need arises to request a change in instructional mode for a longer duration, a faculty member can ask for a formal accommodation through the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC) with approval by their department chair and the Dean’s Office.

Testing vendor and hours

Beginning March 14, we will change the vendor that processes our Carolina Together testing samples from the on-campus Carolina Together testing lab to a third party, Radeas Labs. We are working very closely with the Radeas team to ensure that there is still a smooth and efficient process in place.

We established the Carolina Together Testing Lab in January 2021 after months of work and preparation by a dedicated team. Since then, they have run over 278,000 samples, and they, along with our Campus Health team, have been instrumental in our community’s ability to remain on campus by detecting cases early. We thank all the dedicated faculty and staff members who established and ran the testing centers and lab, and who serve at Campus Health. Their efforts over the last 14 months are greatly appreciated.

The Carolina Together Testing Center at the Carolina Union will remain open for asymptomatic testing, but we are reducing our hours. Beginning March 14, it will be open Monday 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Wednesday 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Symptomatic testing will continue to be available at Campus Health.

Looking ahead

We will continue to monitor and follow our local health officials and public health experts and will be ready to respond to conditions as they evolve. As we approach the end of the second year of the COVID pandemic, we know that this has been a trying time for so many of you. This time has brought stress, grief and uncertainty to our lives, and that continues even today for many. Please know that we appreciate everything you have done on an individual and collective basis to keep our community safe while we have continued to accomplish our mission over the past two years. It is the strength and resilience of our Tar Heel community that has gotten us this far, and we are confident in our future because of you.

 

Sincerely,

Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Chancellor

Chris Clemens
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Ron Strauss
Executive Vice Provost

Amir Barzin
Director and Lead Physician, Carolina Together Testing Program

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