As UNC prepares for students, faculty and staff to return in August for a fall semester, it is revealing more details on how it will operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first weekly update on the implementation of the Carolina Roadmap for Fall 2020, Provost Bob Blouin shared details on how the campus community can be tested for the coronavirus, as well as new required public health guidelines.
In Thursday’s update and a message to students and faculty the previous week, university leadership said it will not be testing every member of the community upon their return to campus. Citing advice from health experts and the Centers for Disease Control, the update said widespread, asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 may lead to “a false sense of security” at the university.
Instead, UNC officials stressed the importance of all individuals taking preventative measures, like wearing masks, physically distancing from others and frequently washing hands, to protect the community’s health. Thursday’s update included the importance of these practices within the classroom setting, citing a mask requirement and at least three feet of space between each individual while in academic halls.
Masks also must be worn when in the university’s dining halls, except when eating or drinking, and when in outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible, according to the update.
While testing will not be required, Thursday’s update shared details on how community members displaying symptoms of the coronavirus can be tested through the university. UNC Campus Health will provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing for exclusively students, post-doctoral fellows and their eligible partners and spouses. Tests will also be administered for those in the group who have come into contact with the coronavirus as well as ones who qualify as high-risk of infection. Testing through Campus Health will typically be covered by health insurance, according to its website.
Campus Health will also conduct contact tracing following any positive test, meaning those who may have been exposed to coronavirus will be contacted and alerted.
Asymptomatic students, post-doctoral fellows and their eligible partners can also be tested through Campus Health, but the university said the person must agree to pay for the test in the event it’s not covered by health insurance.
As the return plan continues to be developed, university leadership is also encouraging feedback and questions to be submitted by the campus community.
“We are aware that some members of our community have expressed questions and concerns about the plan we’ve presented,” wrote Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin, “and we understand and appreciate those questions and concerns. We are working very hard with our community to make sure you have the very best information available and that we communicate with you often.”
Fall undergraduate classes at UNC are slated to begin Monday, August 10. You can read the full update from the university here.