Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

Dear UNT Faculty and Staff,

Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the highest single-day count of new COVID-19 cases since this pandemic began. We must push past the COVID fatigue we are all feeling and take an aggressive approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

I know this is a special time of year, and we normally enjoy a wonderful holiday season together. I am as disappointed about all of this as each of you. However, it is imperative that we refrain from any campus gatherings or holiday parties this year. The CDC and epidemiologists have been clear in guidance regarding gatherings. The more people who gather together and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19.

To protect your family and friends if you are planning holiday visits this season, we encourage you to take advantage of free and expanded on-campus COVID-19 testing administered by Well Health - an independent service located at the UNT Circle Garage. Beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 18, the company will be testing everyday between now and Dec. 5 (except for Thanksgiving and the Friday after). More information, including how to register, can be found at gogettested.com.

To ensure we are helping our UNT community stay as safe as possible, I am calling on each of you to be aware of and to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Each division vice president has been asked to implement or consider a reduced, on-campus staffing plan between now and Dec. 31. At the same time, UNT remains committed to the needs of our students and student-serving offices, which means computer labs and tutoring centers must remain available to serve students through final exams in December. 
  • Without exception, there will be no business travel between now and Dec. 31.
  • Any type of carpooling is discouraged for students, faculty or staff.
  • Holiday-related gatherings, both on- and off-campus, are not allowed this year, including any division or department holiday party.
  • All group activities on campus are prohibited beginning Nov. 23 through the end of the year. Examples include in-person administrative activities, team meetings, parties or co-curricular events. One-on-one meetings with students should continue as requested by students. Use Zoom or Teams for all group meetings.
  • Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms during the Thanksgiving or the extended holiday break in December and January should stay home until they can be tested to confirm whether they are positive or negative. Please be mindful of our campus community's safety and do not come to campus if you might be sick.

I also am sharing this important information with our students, and I ask each of you to be diligent in reinforcing this information in your daily interactions. We are strongly encouraging students who live on campus, or plan to return for other reasons following Thanksgiving, to get tested before returning to campus. However, testing is not required for them to return. 

We must continue to look out for one another as much as possible. These safety measures are in place to protect all of us, including our loved ones. Please be smart and be kind to one another.


Neal Smatresk

UNT President