With 91% employee vaccination rate, UNCW continues mask mandate, 'surveillance testing'

University of North Carolina Wilmington is requiring indoor masking regardless of vaccination status.

Several new COVID-19 protocols will take effect Jan. 10.

On Tuesday, University of North Carolina Wilmington announced that, starting January 10, all students, faculty and staff, "regardless of vaccination status," will be required to wear masks indoors. 

Weekly "surveillance testing" will also be mandatory for all unvaccinated workers and students. 

In July, the school had said they would be "temporarily" requiring masks indoors. 

According to the school's data dashboard, 80% of residential students and 91% of faculty and staff are currently vaccinated.

In the campus-wide announcement, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli stated that due to the Omicron variant, the school will "continue to assess local, state and national conditions and adjust our protocols as necessary."

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Sartarelli then informed the school that, to start the spring semester, "Indoor face coverings will be required for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors regardless of vaccination status," including in "multi-passenger vehicles such as WAVE buses, shuttles, vans and UNCW vehicles," but not in personal vehicles or "open-air" vehicles.

While masks are not required outdoors, the school leaves open the possibility to require them for large gatherings.

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Sartarelli also announced mandatory "weekly surveillance testing for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who are living, learning and working on campus." Return-to-campus testing will be held January 4-14, and weekly surveillance testing will commence January 10 for all unvaccinated individuals. 

Students who do not comply with the mask mandate could be forced to leave class and could be referred to the Dean of Students office. Noncompliant employees could be "referred" to their supervisor or the Human Resources department.

Campus Reform reached out to UNCW for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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