Back to School at Carolina

August 14, 2021
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This week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will welcome to campus approximately 4,650 first-year students, 925 transfer students and thousands of returning second-year students who are embarking on an in-person Carolina experience for the first time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheduled Events

From New Student Convocation to FallFest, students, faculty and staff have planned a wide array of events and programs aimed at welcoming not only first-year students but all returning students, many of whom are experiencing these events for the first time since they didn’t get to attend them in person in 2020. Below is a list of some of those key events planned around the beginning of the fall semester. 

  • New Student Convocation
    • Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. in Kenan Stadium, which is a new location for the New Student Convocation. 
    • University leaders including Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Amy Johnson, Student Body President Lamar Richards and keynote speaker Bernard Bell, executive director of the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship, will welcome first-year and transfer students to the Carolina community and introduce them to what it means to be a Tar Heel. 
    • A livestream of Convocation will be available. Please check for a link to that livestream. 
  • FallFest 2021
    • This year marks the 25th anniversary of FallFest, which will be held on Aug. 15 immediately following Convocation. FallFest provides a welcome to campus for new and returning students. It gives all students an opportunity to connect, to participate in student activities and to learn about upcoming opportunities and events across campus.
    • This year’s FallFest will be the first FallFest experience not only for first-year students but also returning students who weren’t able to experience the event in person last year due to the pandemic.
  • SmallFest
    • Additionally, more than 200 student organizations will participate in the SmallFest Involvement Fair scheduled for the second week of classes, Aug. 23 through the Aug. 27. This is an opportunity for members of student organizations to share information about their groups and help students get connected and involved. 
  • Weeks of Welcome will also be held Aug. 12 through Aug. 29 and provides students with programs, events and special opportunities all geared toward welcoming them to Carolina and helping them learn more about their new home and the campus community.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

Carolina is planning for a full return to in-person instruction for the fall semester, with safety measures in place. The University is relying on a layered approach to safety, primarily involving vaccines, testing and masks. All members of our campus community will either be vaccinated or tested regularly, and masks are required in all indoor spaces. Additionally, students who attend any indoor, off-campus events or activities of registered student organizations must wear masks at all times.

University leaders and health experts are also monitoring the pandemic and will make adjustments to our plans as necessary to dial up or down our safety measures as needed.

  • The University has established a set of COVID-19 Community Standards to help protect the campus community. The University developed these five Community Standards with the input of campus infectious disease experts, feedback from the campus community and in accordance with state and local ordinances. They include the following:
    • Get Vaccinated: All members of the Carolina community are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All students, faculty and staff must tell the University they are vaccinated, or they will be tested weekly.
    • Wear a Face Mask: Everyone must wear a face mask at all times while inside any University building. Additionally, students who attend any indoor, off-campus events or activities of registered student organizations must wear masks at all times. Face masks are not required when outdoors, but they are encouraged, especially when participating in any type of group event or gathering.
    • Practice Healthy Habits and Be Respectful: Prior to coming to campus, all members of the Carolina community should self-assess whether they are experiencing any symptoms using the COVID-19 symptom list on the Carolina Together website. If anyone has any of these symptoms, they should stay home, not enter any campus building, attend any class or report to work.
    • Carolina Together Testing Program Participation: A student, faculty or staff member’s participation in the Carolina Together Testing Program is linked to their vaccination status. Anyone who is unvaccinated will be required to participate in weekly asymptomatic evaluation testing.
    • COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Quarantine and Isolation Participation:
      • All symptomatic students, faculty and staff must participate in Contact Tracing.
      • Both isolation and quarantine mean staying physically apart from others to prevent the spread of infection. The Orange County Health Department sets the amount of time recommended for quarantine for students, faculty and staff.
      • For more information on quarantine and isolation, visit the Carolina Together Quarantine and Isolation page.  
    • As a reminder, students and post-doctoral fellows can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine at the Carolina Vaccination Clinic located in the Student Stores Pharmacy.     
    • COVID-19 Dashboard: The University maintains the Carolina Together COVID-19 dashboard, which contains public information related to COVID-19 on campus and in the surrounding community.

By the Numbers

  • 77% of all incoming students are from North Carolina, 23% are from out-of-state
  • Incoming first-year and transfer students hail from 46 states, 94 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and 98 different countries
  • Approximately 19% of incoming students will be the first in their families to earn a four-year degree
  • More than 9,000 students will be living on campus for the fall 2021 semester
  • Carolina has approximately 814 student organizations

Additionally, you can go to to meet some of the new Tar Heels who will be looking to innovate, educate, serve – and change the world.

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