Update on fall semester

Categories: Chancellor's Messages

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:

Academic Classes

  • 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.

Moving Forward

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