As we were informed in Monday’s NinerNotice, the University is changing its guidance on face masks in response to a directive from the UNC System Office. I know that many of you planned your teaching schedule with the assumption that face masks would continue to be a requirement this semester and I have received questions about the change in guidance. So I wanted to follow up with some important reminders and clarifications:
- The full directive from the System Office was linked in the NinerNotice, but I am also including it here for your review.
- The change to voluntary use of masks includes all classrooms, other academic spaces, and personal offices. The only exceptions are on NinerTransit and in the Student Health Center because federal and state mandates still require masks in those locations.
- The directive from the System Office is clear that classes may not move online as a result of the mask policy change. Any instructor with a documented health concern must receive approval to change instructional format by first contacting Cindy Edwards in Human Resources and copying their department chair.
- Masks remain an important public health tool and many students continue to wear masks. You may encourage, but not require, your students to wear them. You cannot make masking a requirement for entry into the room or participation in class, nor may you coerce students into wearing masks or penalize students for not wearing masks. Please ensure your syllabus policies are updated to reflect this new information.
- You may request people wear masks when visiting your office. There are decals with “Masks Appreciated” that can be made available to post in your personal area to indicate your preference. You may pick up one at the circulation desk in Atkins Library or at the information desk in the Student Union. If someone does not want to wear a mask when visiting your office, you should feel free to reschedule the appointment or suggest it move to an online format.
I also want to remind you that the University is providing a N-95 mask for any faculty and staff member who may desire one. You may request a mask from the Environmental Health and Safety office.
All other safety measures by the University – such as ongoing testing protocols and restrictions on gathering sizes – remain in place at least through the week following spring break.
I appreciate your ongoing patience and willingness to adapt to evolving circumstances.
I am hopeful an end is soon in sight.
Joan F. Lorden
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs