Just a week into its fall semester, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill has stopped all its in-person classes.
The decision comes after more than 130 students tested positive for the virus, causing over 300 people to have to go into quarantine.
The university announced the news yesterday, August 17, and explained that all learning will now be done remotely. They added that since classes started a week ago, the COVID positivity rate has gone from 2.8% to 13.6%.
In a statement from university leaders, it was explained the university was having a ‘fall like no other’, with its campus accommodation being at less than 60% capacity along with less than 30% of its classroom seats being filled.
In regards to students’ in-person classes, they explained:
Effective Wednesday, Aug. 19, all undergraduate in-person instruction will shift to remote learning. Courses in our graduate, professional and health affairs schools will continue to be taught as they are, or as directed by the schools. Academic advising and academic support services will be available online. Our research enterprise will remain unchanged.
Due to this announcement as well as the reduction of campus activities, we expect the majority of our current undergraduate residential students to change their residential plans for the fall. We are working to identify additional effective ways to further achieve de-densification of our residential halls and our campus facilities.
Students who have issues such as no access to the internet, alongside international students and student-athletes, will have the option to remain on campus.
The whole of North Carolina has seen a spike in cases recently, with several days in July seeing over 2,000 new cases. As of today, August 18, there has been 146,000 confirmed cases with 2,372 deaths in the state. With this in mind, despite creating a ‘roadmap’ to its reopening, the university said they wouldn’t hesitate to take a different route if they needed to.
President of the university Peter Hans said:
There are no easy answers as the nation navigates through the pandemic. At this point, we haven’t received any information that would lead to similar modifications at any of our other universities.
Whether at Chapel Hill or another institution, students must continue to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing, as their personal responsibility, particularly in off-campus settings, is critical to the success of this semester and to protect public health.
Prior to the announcement, UNC’s student newspaper said the university had a ‘clusterfuck on its hands’ adding that they thought it should have been online-only from the beginning of the semester, reports.