UNC announced updated COVID-19 policies in a campus-wide email Wednesday, as cases of the omicron variant rise across the country and in Orange County.
As of now, classes for the spring semester will resume Jan. 10. The University will require prior-to-arrival testing for unvaccinated students and for all students living in residence halls regardless of their vaccination status.
UNC will announce any changes to spring semester operations by Jan. 3, according to the email.
Prior-to-arrival testing will also be strongly recommended for all undergraduate and graduate students living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro regardless of their vaccination status.
COVID-19 booster shots
The University has been monitoring COVID-19 conditions and consulting with infectious disease experts and local health officials.
"Public health experts and doctors have said the best defense against COVID-19, including the omicron variant, is to get vaccinated and then get your booster shot," the email said.
Individuals who are 16 and older and who received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are eligible for a booster.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to get the Pfizer or Moderna booster — which are both mRNA vaccines — if possible.
"While we cannot mandate the booster, we have consistently urged everyone to get the booster shot," the Wednesday email said. "The vaccines are extremely effective at preventing death and hospitalization from COVID-19, including the new variant."
Where can I get vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available on a walk-in basis at Campus Health Pharmacy and Student Stores Pharmacy for students, faculty and staff. The clinics will be open for regular hours — Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — after the holidays on Jan. 3.
Students, faculty and staff should bring their insurance card to the pharmacy, as well as their COVID-19 vaccination card if they plan to receive a booster.
The prior to arrival COVID-19 tests will need to be be completed within a 72-hour window of arriving on campus, according to the email. Students required to complete prior-to-arrival testing will need to get a PCR test from a health care provider.
Students without access to a free community testing center can receive reimbursement from the University for up to $65 for their test. According to the email, more information on this test will be given in the coming days.
Once a COVID-19 test result is received, students need to upload the results to the Student Requirements Dashboard on ConnectCarolina.
Students with a positive COVID-19 result should not return to campus, the email said. The University recommended that students isolate in their current location and notify their instructors if they will miss classes.
The email said that instructors should be as flexible as possible during the initial two weeks of the semester to allow for students to self-isolate if necessary.
"In the past year, we have successfully made operational changes as necessary to protect our community," the email said. "And we are prepared to make changes again, if needed."
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