Tuesday, June 25, 2024

UNCW drops mask mandate

WILMINGTON ⁠— UNCW is dropping its mask requirement and relaxing many other Covid-19 related protocols, citing downward Covid-19 trends and the latest guidance from the state and UNC system.

Starting Mar. 7, the first day of spring break, face coverings will be optional in indoor locations, except where federally required: campus healthcare facilities and buses.

This news comes after UNC System President Peter Hans sent a Feb. 25 memo advising North Carolina’s public universities to move to a mask-optional policy by then. Many K-12 schools are also rescinding their mandates.

The university is still encouraging unvaccinated individuals to wear masks and is continuing to offer masks and hand sanitizer throughout campus.

In a letter to its students and staff, the university stated: “Some members of our community may continue wearing face coverings. Please respect their decision; they could have many reasons for making that choice, from personal health concerns to the health and safety of small children, elderly or immunocompromised individuals in their lives. If an employee asks another employee, student or guest to wear a mask inside their individual office, please honor the request or make alternate arrangements (such as hold the meeting outdoors, by phone, or virtually). In addition, please carry a mask with you on campus in case you need one.”

It is also shifting its surveillance testing. Unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to test weekly as of Mar. 7. However, the university will still offer to test anyone who wants it. The testing takes place at Warwick Center, Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.

During spring break, testing will temporarily move to DePaolo Hall.

Students can also get vaccines and boosters on campus through the Student Health Center. Upcoming clinics are scheduled for Mar. 4, Mar. 14 and Mar. 25 at 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.

The university is asking its community members to submit their vaccination status so UNCW can enhance its data set and “continue accurately assessing our campus community’s protective factors.” The email to submit is coronavirus@uncw.edu. Only the health center will have access to the individual data, according to UNCW.

Also on Mar. 7, UNCW is shutting down its quarantine and isolation residence hall. Moving forward, on-campus residents will need to stay in their living spaces or go home if they think they have Covid-19 or test positive.

“Students who have tested positive for COVID or who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID should contact the Student Health Center for guidance about quarantine and isolation,” UNCW is instructing.

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at alexandria@localdailymedia.com or on Twitter @alexsands_

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