Revised Spring 2021 Academic Calendar
October 19, 2020
Dear Niner Nation,
Today, our Faculty Council approved the revised spring 2021 academic calendar and I want to share that information to assist in your planning for next semester. These changes were again made with the health and well-being of our campus as our top priorities.
Similar to this semester, we will offer a blend of both in-person and virtual instruction with a focus on freshmen students and those academic disciplines in which in-person access to facilities, equipment or other resources are needed. I also want to acknowledge the challenges shifting instruction methods multiple times in a semester have posed to both faculty and students. Our intention is to avoid this in the spring with classes beginning in their assigned instruction method on January 20 and continuing in that manner until March 28.
Spring Break will be March 29-April 3, and then all classes will resume online for the remainder of the semester. Classes will end on May 5, and exams will continue through May 13.
April 30 will again be a day of remembrance for our community, and no classes will be held that day. More details will be shared in the spring semester.
We are finalizing plans now surrounding additional safety protocols and housing, dining and parking options to align with the revised schedule. We will share more information by Friday, November 6, but here is an overview of what you can expect.
Safety and Testing
We will continue with the same safety and health standards we have had in place for this semester -- such as the de-densification of residence halls, the daily Niner Health Check, wastewater testing, the required flu attestation, mitigation testing and contact tracing, and following the 6W’s. We will also implement additional safety measures, including COVID-19 testing at the start of the semester. Students in residence halls, those with on-campus dining plans, student workers and those students with face-to-face classes will be required to be tested on campus or provide proof of recent testing before move-in and the start of classes.
Housing and Dining
Housing and dining charges will be prorated to reflect the changes in the semester. There will also be an exception process available for those needing to remain in housing following spring break.
Parking permits may be returned at the end of March if parking is no longer needed. Permit holders who return their permit will receive a prorated refund, which will follow standard refund policies and proration schedules. Prorated permits are still available for purchase.
Registration for spring classes will open as planned on November 30. The class delivery type listed at registration should not change.
Following our next update, we will host two town halls to answer any additional questions you may have. If you are unable to join us, both will be recorded and posted online.
- Students and Families, Friday, November 6, 1:30 p.m.
- Faculty and Staff, Friday, November 13, 10 a.m.
I cannot overstate how grateful I am to all members of Niner Nation for your patience and support as we have navigated an academic year unlike any other. Thank you for adjusting to the changes we’ve had to make for the health of our campus community.
However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact COVID-19 can still disrupt our plans if we aren’t careful. The choices each of us make daily matter and have far-reaching effects on others. We must continue to be diligent in the weeks ahead, wearing our face coverings, avoiding large gatherings and adhering to all safety protocols.
None of this has been easy, but working together, we can continue to enjoy our beautiful campus, engage in in-person learning and keep Niner Nation healthy.
Sharon L. Gaber
Important update about fall semester
Sept. 22, 2020
Dear Niner Nation,
I write today with an update on our plans for classroom instruction beginning Oct. 1.
After careful consideration of available data and consultation with both county health officials and the UNC System, UNC Charlotte will:
- Resume select in-person instruction on Oct. 1 in specific areas of academic study and for those students making a transition to University life.
- Move to all online/remote classes following the Thanksgiving break, including the delivery of all exams.
The ongoing decline in Mecklenburg County’s infection rate, coupled with UNC Charlotte’s comprehensive safety protocols, allows the University to move forward with a measured approach to on-campus living, learning and working this fall semester.
Maximum Flexibility for Learning
We are placing an emphasis on the return to on-campus instruction in two areas:
- Programs for which in-person access to facilities, equipment or other resources are needed to ensure that we can maintain the best environment for instruction. These programs include:
- Science lab classes
- Studio and performance art classes
- Clinical programs in the College of Health and Human Services
- Courses serving primarily first-year students (freshmen and transfer) in order to ensure that students can successfully transition to University instruction, build community and access campus support (e.g., Prospect for Success, liberal studies and similar lower-division courses).
Courses in the two categories above will follow the format in effect when students registered — in-person, hybrid, synchronously online or asynchronously online. All other courses may remain in an online or remote format. Faculty should affirm the format for their classes by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, through email or Canvas announcement.
We are also aware that not all students have access to needed internet bandwidth or other technology that allows them to access online/remote classes effectively. To the extent possible, we want to accommodate the needs of these students by providing access to campus WiFi and computers, assuring equity in students’ abilities to access coursework, and other digital resources.
Classes Suspended Sept. 28 and 29
As previously announced, all undergraduate classes will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 28 and 29, to allow for campus move-in dates. The lost time will need to be made up during the semester. Faculty will communicate how this will be done with students.
Additional Student Information
Students who have needs requiring them to continue online education this semester should work directly with their faculty members and their academic advisors to discuss possible options should they be enrolled in courses with a face-to-face component.
Students who find it necessary to withdraw from a class during the semester will receive a grade of WE, withdrawal for extenuating circumstances. Students should consult an advisor before doing so and be aware of the enrollment requirements for financial aid.
We know that classes scheduled for hybrid or traditional face-to-face instruction will present challenges for faculty if some students want to continue online and others do not. Faculty will not be required to teach a course section via several modes of instruction. However, faculty are asked to provide maximum flexibility for students unable to return to in-person instruction. The Center for Teaching and Learning and AISLE are prepared to assist faculty with the necessary technology.
Faculty who need accommodations for returning to on-campus instruction should contact Lori McMahon, associate provost for budget and personnel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the faculty’s responsibility to communicate information about any additional changes in class format to their students by direct email and/or a Canvas announcement by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.
Additional Safety Measures
By delaying the start of in-person instruction, we have been afforded the opportunity to evaluate other institutions’ in-person openings and adjust our safety measures prior to welcoming students back to campus.
- Niner Health Check: The University implemented a daily Niner Health Check earlier this month. This health check is required of all faculty, staff and students, regardless of if you are on campus. The assessment takes less than a minute to complete, and it is critical in ensuring we have accurate data on the health of our community. Beginning Oct. 5, anyone not completing the health check as required will have their NinerNet credentials suspended until the assessment is done. You can learn more about the Niner Health Check on the Emergency Management website.
- Flu Shot Requirement: Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. To help lessen the burden on our healthcare system and to help eliminate confusion between flu and COVID-19 symptoms, the University is requiring all faculty, staff and students to attest that they have received a flu shot or qualify for an applicable exception by Monday, Nov. 16. You can find more information about this requirement, upcoming flu shot clinics and accepted exemptions on the Niner Nation Cares website.
- De-densified Residence Halls: We have de-densified our residence halls to ensure every student has an individual room. There is no extra cost to students for this change.
- Dedicated On-site Testing & Contact Tracing: We have implemented an on-site testing and contact tracing process specifically for our campus community. Working with Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, on-campus test results are expected in 36 hours, and dedicated University contact tracers will identify any close contacts of individuals with positive test results.
- Predictive Wastewater Testing: The University started sampling and monitoring the wastewater at several campus sites for the purpose of proactively detecting the presence of the virus and identifying the location of possible outbreaks, including in campus residence halls.
- Limiting Gatherings: To further support the health of our community, we are continuing to maintain gatherings to a 10-person limit indoors and a 25-person limit outdoors. This is stricter than the current allowed gathering sizes in North Carolina’s phased reopening plan.
Move-in for on-campus residence halls will continue as planned Sept. 26-29.
If you wish to change your plans for residing on campus, we will allow you to cancel your on-campus housing contract without penalty until Friday, Sept. 25, at 11:59 p.m. Failure to move-in is not considered a contract cancellation.
Housing and Residence Life will send more information directly to residents.
Dining: If you cancel your housing contract by Sept. 25, you will have the opportunity to cancel your meal plan through that same process. Otherwise, the meal plan change period will remain in effect through Oct. 9. More information about changing and selecting a meal plan is available on the Auxiliary Services website.
I want to be clear that believing we can offer on-campus instruction with appropriate safety measures in place does not mean we believe we can open without any instances of the virus in our community. Positive cases of COVID-19 on campus are probable, but if we work together, we believe they can be responsibly managed through isolation, quarantine and appropriate medical care. We are seeing similar outcomes at other institutions in the System and around the country.
However, we know that our ability to continue with an in-person campus experience this fall and potentially beyond depends on everyone.
Wearing a face covering, following physical distancing guidelines and completing the Niner Health Check are not suggestions. They are requirements, and they will be enforced for the protection of our community.
Upcoming Virtual Town Halls
We know you likely have questions after this announcement. Please review this FAQ to address many of them. We also invite you to join us for these upcoming virtual town halls:
There are no easy decisions when dealing with COVID-19, as we have learned over the past six months. We understand our community’s wishes are vast and varied, and we cannot meet everyone’s individual needs even though we would like to. However, we have listened to the feedback shared with us over the past several weeks and believe this plan offers Niner Nation a balanced, safe path forward.
Our faculty are unparalleled in their expertise and commitment to their students, and our devoted, talented staff have shown they will keep our University operations running smoothly no matter the circumstances. Whether your classes are online or in person, we are dedicated to the educational excellence for which UNC Charlotte is known.
There will be more decisions in the weeks and months ahead, and the health and safety of our community will be at the forefront of all we do.
We will continue to keep you updated via email, and you can expect another communication with additional information by Friday, Sept. 25. You can always find the latest information on the Niner Nation Cares website and on our COVID-19 dashboard.
Thank you for your support, patience and care for our community.
Sharon L. Gaber
From Ideas to Answers
A COVID-19 Early-Warning System
"From Ideas to Answers" is a new monthly LinkedIn series from Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber that features UNC Charlotte’s robust research enterprise. This month, she highlights the exemplary work of one interdisciplinary team of researchers who are sampling and testing wastewater from various campus locations as an early-warning system to locate the presence of COVID-19. This research is receiving widespread media attention locally as well as from the New York Times. It is one of the COVID-19 research efforts underway at UNC Charlotte to be supported by a new $9 million appropriation from the North Carolina state legislature.
UNC Charlotte Appoints Diversity and Inclusion Leader
Professor Cheryl Waites Spellman to lead efforts
Sept. 8, 2020 – UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber announced today the appointment of UNC Charlotte Professor Cheryl Waites Spellman, Ed.D., to the role of interim special assistant to the chancellor for diversity and inclusion, effective Sept. 16. Waites Spellman will remain a professor in UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work. A search will be undertaken in the spring for a permanent leader.
A proven leader in higher education administration and leading expert in social work policy and research, Waites Spellman will coordinate with staff, faculty and students to build on the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts to create an accessible, inclusive and equitable climate. She will report directly to Gaber and work closely with leaders to develop and align strategic goals across the University.
“UNC Charlotte’s dedication to academic excellence is inseparable from our commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, valued and can reach their full potential, and is aligned with the UNC System’s strategic goals to make access, equity, student success, and excellent and diverse institutions a top priority,” said Gaber.
“We are proud of the work already being done to build an equitable, accessible and inclusive campus community, but we know there’s more to do, and I’m confident that Waites Spellman’s years of outstanding leadership in higher education and her extensive experience in leading collaborative and strategic programmatic and organizational initiatives will enable her to provide the necessary leadership to oversee this important work.”
Waites Spellman has served as a professor in UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work since 2018. Prior to her current role, she was a dean and professor at Wayne State University's School of Social Work. She also served as a tenured associate professor at NC State University.
She holds a doctorate in counselor education from NC State University, a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College. She also is a graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education’s Management and Leadership in Higher Education and Management Development programs.
“I am excited to join Chancellor Gaber, the Cabinet and the many faculty, staff and student leaders who are passionate about furthering UNC Charlotte’s diversity, equity and inclusion work,” said Waites Spellman. “I look forward to working with the outstanding team of professionals at UNC Charlotte who have been actively engaged in this effort. I hope to strengthen and expand these initiatives to help make this a place where all students, faculty and staff know they belong.”
This is the first senior appointment for Gaber since she started in July 2020 and reinforces diversity as a key priority in her vision for UNC Charlotte. Currently, UNC Charlotte enrolls and graduates one of the most diverse student bodies in the UNC System. Approximately one-third (33%) of UNC Charlotte students identify as a racial or ethnic minority, 37% are first-generation college students, nearly half (49%) are women and more than 1,800 students come from nearly 100 countries.
In 2016, UNC Charlotte updated its Plan for Diversity, Access and Inclusion, which outlines steps toward building a diverse and inclusive environment, and formed a cross-functional team to increase the visibility and impact of the plan. Recently, the Board of Governors created the UNC System Racial Equity Task Force to develop an actionable plan to build a culture of inclusion across its institutions and prioritize equity as part of its strategic plan.
For more information on diversity at UNC Charlotte, visit uncc.edu/landing/diversity.
Update on Fall Semester
August 23, 2020
Dear Niner Nation,
I write to you today to share the path forward for UNC Charlotte’s fall semester. As I mentioned in my message on Thursday, August 20, I have been in active discussions with the UNC System and the Mecklenburg County Health Department about our return-to-campus plans for the semester. Throughout our planning process, we have relied on local, state and federal public health officials to guide our decisions and safety protocols to protect the well-being of our campus community.
In recent weeks, Mecklenburg County has seen COVID-19-positive cases start to decline and public health officials are encouraged by these trends. However, the county continues to have the highest number of outbreaks and clusters in the state. While the community is making considerable progress to slow the rate of transmission, we do not want to lose this momentum.
Fall Plan Adjustments
In close consultation with the Mecklenburg County Health Department and the UNC System Office, we are making the following adjustments to our fall plan:
UNC Charlotte will begin classes as scheduled on Monday, September 7, but will delay the start of undergraduate and graduate in-person instruction for three weeks until Thursday, October 1.
All instruction will begin as planned on the first day of classes, Monday, September 7, but will now be delivered online/remotely. Faculty with in-person classes should communicate directly with their students about how instruction will take place.
All undergraduate classes will be suspended on September 28 and 29 to allow for new campus move-in dates and the transition to on-campus instruction.
Housing & Dining
We will continue to offer on-campus housing and dining services for students who are already on-campus, international students and others with approved extenuating circumstances. Housing and Residence Life (HRL) is working to reduce the density of residence halls to achieve single room occupancy for residents.
Move-in to residence halls will happen September 26-29, and HRL will send a separate communication with more information by September 11. For international students and those who have extenuating circumstances, we will continue to honor your originally planned move-in date during August 31-September 6. You can apply for an exception here.
Students scheduled for early arrivals in August will receive more information directly from their program advisor/director.
The date to cancel on-campus housing contracts has been extended to 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 4. Should there be further change in the University’s plan prior to October 1, another opportunity to cancel housing will be afforded to students. Housing fees will be adjusted based on when you move in.
Unless required by public health guidance, it is our intention that students who live on campus will be allowed to stay on campus should online instruction be extended through the entirety of the fall semester.
Other Campus Facilities & Support
Online tutoring and coaching will be expanded to support student learning, particularly for our freshmen.
Research laboratories will remain open, and research programs will continue.
The library and other campus facilities will open as planned for student access. UREC remains closed in compliance with the state’s phased reopening plan.
The decision to adjust our plan was not made lightly. I recognize that these changes will be frustrating for some and a relief for others. However, this decision is made with the health and well-being of our students and employees as our top priorities. The additional time allows the county's infection rate to further stabilize, creating a safer environment for our University and our community this fall. The safety of our campus will continue to guide all of our discussions and our planning.
Keeping You Informed
I know you likely have many questions based on the adjustment to our plan, and we are working to get those answers to you. We are posting information as quickly as possible to the Niner Nation Cares website. I encourage you to review the available FAQs carefully.
Additionally, I invite you to participate in a virtual town hall session for students and families at noon on Wednesday, August 26, which will also be recorded and posted to the Niner Nation Cares website. Please register online if you plan to attend.
We have a previously scheduled town hall for faculty and staff at 3 p.m. on Friday, August 28. Registration information was sent to employees in an email from HR on Friday, August 21.
We will send you regular NinerNotices as we have additional information to share.
I am grateful for the partnership of the Mecklenburg County Health Department throughout our planning process and particularly their counsel in the past few weeks since I began as chancellor. I am appreciative for the ongoing support and approval of our plan by UNC System President Peter Hans. Additionally, I want to thank our dedicated front-line employees and staff who have been working tirelessly to prepare the campus for a safe return this fall; and our talented faculty who are constantly innovating to ensure students receive a rich, interactive learning experience, even when it is delivered remotely.
We are monitoring local conditions daily, and we are prepared to adjust our plans accordingly in concert with public health and UNC System guidance should it become necessary. Please watch your UNC Charlotte email account, and continue checking the Niner Nation Cares website for the most up-to-date campus information.
We know that in-person instruction, living on campus and engaging in student life will require each of us to take significant personal responsibility to protect our individual health, the health of others and the health of the community. This will not be easy. Parties and other events that would have been harmless a year ago now pose real dangers to ourselves and others. It is imperative for the health of our community that students and employees adhere to physical distancing guidelines, no matter where they are. Consistent with North Carolina’s phased reopening plan, social gatherings with more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors are not allowed, and we are working with local property managers to enforce this standard at off-campus residences.
Unfortunately, we have seen on other university campuses that the actions of just a few people can impact the experience for the majority of others who uphold community standards.
But we aren’t like other universities. We are Niner Nation.
We have worked closely with President Hans and the System Office to plan differently with the hope it will result in our ability to be together on campus soon. Thank you again for your continued patience, flexibility and being a part of the Niner family.
Sharon L. Gaber
Dear Niner Nation,
Life as we know it currently has been called unprecedented, challenging, evolving, the new normal — among other descriptors. But ultimately, it’s just hard. Plain and simple.
It is hard to deal with changing guidance and directives, making decisions ever more challenging.
It’s hard to adjust to new ways of living with masks and distance between us, but the alternative is that we will not be able to keep ourselves and our community safe; and that’s even harder.
As you have likely seen, NC State University announced today they received approval from the UNC System to shift their undergraduate classes online following a series of cluster outbreaks on their campus. This follows a similar announcement by UNC Chapel Hill on Monday. Both universities’ outbreaks appear to be attributable to large off-campus gatherings and not a lack of adherence to on-campus community standards.
I know these recent announcements raise additional questions about the status of UNC Charlotte’s plans, so I want to share with you what we know now and what we are doing.
I have been very clear in my conversations with the UNC System that the health and safety of our campus community is paramount to me. I have heard from many of you about a desire to move to all online instruction, while many others have reached out to express your excitement about in-person campus life and classes. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer that will meet everyone’s needs. We are in active discussions with the System Office and public health officials to assess all available options to us moving forward. I expect to have more information to share with you by mid-next week.
Understanding students and their families need time to consider their personal circumstances, we are extending the ability to cancel housing contracts without penalty until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 28, by going to the Housing and Residence Life (HRL) website. Additionally, we have moved our deadline for payment of fall 2020 charges to Tuesday, September 1. Students, please check your email for more information about this from Niner Central.
I ask for your patience over the coming days. In turn, I pledge to keep you informed about our plans and to provide answers to your questions as quickly as possible.
I know this situation continues to be uncertain, and there will be hard moments ahead. But my first month as your chancellor has convinced me that Niner Nation is stronger than any challenge we face. We will work together, we will care for each other, and we will persevere — because that’s what Niners do.
Sharon L. Gaber