COVID-19 Records in UNC Institutions

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the new URLs on the website of the State Archives of North Carolina.

In the past year, much has changed on UNC System campuses.  Many new records have been created in response to the COVID pandemic, some of which may have long-term historical value.  You can check with your University Archivist or with the Government Records Section if you have questions about appraising these records.  There are also many new records being created that have a short-term administrative value to the creating agency and no research value to other people.  Here are some examples of these new records along with pointers to where you can find their dispositions in the UNC System Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.  However, please keep in mind that this situation is still fluid, so if in the future new state or federal requirements specify longer retentions for any of these records, we will share that information with you as soon as we become aware.

Many campuses are requiring employees who are working in their regular offices to complete symptom checklists.  These records are an example of Employee Medical Records (Personnel Records standard) that can be destroyed after 1 year:

item 10.19 in UNC schedule

If your institution is buying personal protective equipment or cleaning supplies for use on campus, the records created are an example of Purchase Orders (Financial Records standard):

item 5.16 in UNC schedule

If your institution chose to conduct targeted cleaning of office or student spaces, the records created are part of the Maintenance, Repair, and Inspection file (Facilities Records standard) and can be destroyed after 1 year:

item 4.13 in UNC schedule

Some institutions are also requiring visitors to campus buildings or attendees at campus meetings to complete symptom checklists.   These records are an example of logistics materials found in the Administrative File (Administrative Records standard):

item 1.3 in UNC schedule

Based on our consultations with public health officials, these symptom checklists become obsolete after 1 month.  There seem to be a variety of checklists that are being used, but be aware if you are collecting information that qualifies as protected health information, you should be careful to maintain the confidentiality of these records and guarantee that you destroy them in a manner so that they cannot be practicably reconstructed.  And if the only check being done at the agency door is a temperature check and no record is being created, then there is no need to worry about a retention period. Some institutions are also requiring people who attend events on campus to sign a waiver.  These records are an example of Release Forms (Legal Records standard):

item 8.10 in UNC schedule

Local health departments are collecting testing and contact tracing information about COVID-19 cases.  Any collected data about cases on campus would be part of the Administrative File mentioned above.  Any information about medical care provided to individual students by Student Health personnel would be part of the Student Medical Record (Student Health and Counseling Services Records standard):

item 16.9 in UNC schedule

Some campuses are also aggregating COVID data into a dashboard.  This presentation of information is a type of report (Administrative Records standard):

item 1.35 in UNC schedule

Sometimes Wi-Fi connection data is being used to evaluate compliance with state mandates limiting the size of indoor gatherings.  These records are part of Computer and Network Usage Records (IT Records standard):

item 7.3 in UNC schedule

If the above data uncovered too large a congregation of people on campus, the resulting referral to campus police would be an Incident Report (Public Safety Records standard):

item 11.12 in UNC schedule

Lastly, many more classes are occurring within virtual platforms, and sometimes lectures are being recorded to allow for asynchronous learning.  A new series provides disposition instructions for Class Recordings (Student Academic and Curriculum and Instruction Records standard):

item 12.5 in UNC schedule

As acknowledged previously, there could be new retention requirements established by other entities for any of these types of records.  If that occurs, we will share that information here and also disseminate it through university records officers.  As always, if you have questions about where to locate the appropriate retention for records, please contact me or another records analyst in the Government Records Section.