To the Western Carolina University community:
I write to share with you that we have today received guidelines from the University of North Carolina System regarding the response of our institution and others in the UNC System as the number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina has increased in recent days. We have been asked to take certain steps, which are consistent with public health and medical guidelines, designed to limit and mitigate the transmission of and exposure to the coronavirus illness (COVID-19). Foremost among those steps are limiting travel outside of North Carolina, minimizing large gatherings of people, and moving to online or alternative means of delivering instruction, wherever possible.
As a result, Western Carolina University will be extending its official spring break by an additional week. Spring break will now continue until Monday, March 23. This additional week will help enable faculty members to take the steps necessary to make the transition from in-person classes to delivery of their course materials online or via other distance methods that do not require face-to-face classes. These alternative forms of course delivery will begin March 23 and are to continue until we receive further word from the UNC System. We recognize that, in some cases, face-to-face instruction may be the only viable option, but we want to encourage every effort to reduce the need for students to gather in large groups.
Please note that this does not mean the university will be closed. Indeed, Western Carolina University must remain open and continue to provide services to those students who remain on campus and to fulfill its day-to-day business functions.
In addition, all UNC institutions are restricted from hosting gatherings of 100 or more people. As a result, the chancellor’s installation ceremony scheduled for Friday, March 27, and other installation week activities are postponed until further notice. The Open House hosted by the Office of Admission and scheduled for Saturday, March 21, is canceled. Decisions about other highly attended university activities, including sporting events, will be announced later.
All university-sponsored travel outside the state of North Carolina has been suspended, as has travel within the state to gatherings of 100 or more people. In addition to faculty and staff, this restriction also applies to university-sponsored travel by students and student organizations.
A complete list of guidelines from the UNC System can be found online, and I encourage you to bookmark the WCU coronavirus updates website where we will post additional information as it becomes available. Information specific to faculty and staff can be found here.
This is a serious situation and we are treating as such; however, I encourage all members of the Western Carolina University community to remain calm. We are fully aware that the steps we are taking may be disruptive to many of you. But we take these steps out of an abundance of caution, and ever mindful that the health and safety of all members of our university community are of paramount importance. Thank you for your understanding and your patience. Remember, we are all Catamounts.
Kelli R. Brown