Students enrolling for the fall 2020 term should be aware that significant changes to student programming and activities will be necessary. These changes are motivated by following available guidance for configuring large venues and limiting mass gatherings to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Given the unprecedented challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic and the high priority of both sustaining the well-being of the campus community, and implementing the academic mission of UNC Asheville, University officials plan to restrict or cancel most large venues and/or mass gathering programs and events for the fall semester. University officials continue working to offer high quality and engaging programs for smaller groups with multiple showings and/or presentations. Staff will also continue to offer online programming options similar to those provided in the spring 2020 semester.
Even when held outdoors, the nature of large events often undermine implementation of COVID-19 prevention practices like physical distancing. As we evaluate the benefit of these events, the priority continues to be maximizing the health and well-being of the campus community. University officials will continue to monitor CDC and state guidance as the semester unfolds and will make changes as warranted by the circumstances.
Significant changes to note include the following:
New Student Convocation and RockyPalooza: Convocation will be virtual with more information to follow. RockyPalooza will take place across campus, in smaller venues with strictly enforced safety protocols (masks, hand sanitizer), and limited number of participants at each venue. It will take place over the course of opening weekend as opposed to a singular event following convocation. More information about the places, spaces, and activities planned for RockyPalooza will be forthcoming.
Weeks of Welcome: Weeks of Welcome (WOW) will be a combination of virtual and smaller in person gatherings over the course of the opening two weeks of school. Venues will be limited and all safety protocols will be followed for in person delivery of events. Virtual programming will be both synchronous and asynchronous. More information on WOW to follow.
Family Weekend: Events scheduled on Family Weekend are currently under review and we are considering an online option.
Concerts: At this time, the Highsmith Student Union, Asheville Campus Entertainment, and Campus Recreation are not making plans for any concerts in the Student Union, Student Recreation Center, any outdoor plaza, or on the University Quad.
Large Indoor Social Gatherings: University officials will begin the fall term denying requests for event spaces for large indoor social gatherings, parties, and/or dances.
Meeting Room Limits: Reserved meeting room spaces are being updated to reset capacities mindful of physical distancing guidance. For example, normally the Blue Ridge Ballroom seats several hundred people using lecture or theater style seating, but with physical distancing the Blue Ridge Ballroom will seat approximately 50 individuals this fall. Student groups and others with large numbers of participants will need to rely on alternative arrangements like conducting meetings on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Reservations for the fall semester will be revised or cancelled in order to implement the new maximum capacities.
Intramural and Club Sports Competition: If relevant official guidance supports renewed recreational competition, intramurals and club sports may also face significant restrictions. More information will be posted as it becomes available.
Student Recreation Center: Access to the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, and related programs, will also be determined based on the guidance from the CDC and NC officials.
With all of these changes, university officials are again prioritizing the well-being of the campus community and the academic mission of UNC Asheville. As the semester unfolds, university officials expect students, faculty and staff will embrace the prevention strategies by wearing face coverings, by washing hands, by maintaining physical distance, and in so doing, lowering the prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus. If we are successful, it may be possible to add more programming and activities.