UNC-Chapel Hill shifts to remote instruction


Tribune News Service

A day after warnings were sent out to students about two clusters in on-campus dorms u0097 one at Granville Towers and one at the Ehringhaus Community Granville Towers and the Ehringhaus Community u0097 school officials said Saturday that a third has been identified at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. Check back for updates.

On Monday afternoon UNC Chapel Hill announced, after reports of several coronavirus (COVID-19) clusters on campus, the university will be shifting to remote instruction effective Aug. 19 — a “cluster” is defined as “as 5 or more cases with linkage between cases,” by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

This comes after initial announcements that the university, along with other UNC System universities, would be offering a combination of online and in-person classes.

UNC Chapel Hill was also one of several UNC System universities that began classes earlier, with a start date of Aug. 10, in hopes to end the semester before winter when experts believe COVID-19 could get worse.  

“After a spate of COVID-19 infection clusters during the first week of classes, the University will shift all undergraduate instruction to remote learning Wednesday and continue efforts to greatly reduce residence hall occupancy,” a university statement read. 

Specifically, the statement noted that between Aug.10 and 16, the university saw an increase in positive COVID-19 tests with over 170 students isolating and over 340 in quarantine on and off-campus. 

Since Feb. UNC Chapel Hill has reported 324 positive COVID-19 cases — 274 being students and 45 employees. As of the week of Aug. 10 through 16, 130 students and 5 employees have tested positive. 

In comparison, since Aug. 14, seven positive cases have been identified at UNCW and since March 15, 46 positive cases — this includes students, faculty and staff. Meanwhile, New Hanover County has reported 2,850 positive cases as of Aug. 14.

UNC Chapel Hill currently has 19,117 undergraduate students and UNCW has 14,785 undergraduate students as of fall 2019

Efforts made by UNC Chapel Hill to combat COVID-19 on campus included reducing housing capacity to 60% and having less than 30% of seats available for in-person classes.

Meanwhile, graduate, professional and health affairs schools will continue instruction through the same means unless otherwise directed by those schools.

“Since launching the Roadmap for Fall 2020, we have emphasized that if we were faced with the need to change plans – take an off-ramp – we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly. We have made it in consultation with state and local health officials, Carolina’s infectious disease experts, and the UNC System,” as stated in the university’s statement.

Other UNC System schools, like UNC Wilmington (UNCW) which start this week, could face similar realities as they begin to welcome back students for a combination of in-person and online classes.

In an email sent out to UNCW students Monday evening, the university noted that UNC Chapel Hill is the only UNC System university making the shift to remote learning.

“Although UNCW has not yet encountered similar circumstances on our campus, we understand this turn of events may cause concern for our faculty, staff and students, especially our residential students and their parents. We want to assure the Seahawk community that we are doing everything we can to monitor COVID-19 conditions at UNCW…

…We are closely observing our campus for similar trends, and we are prepared to pivot to an online modality should conditions warrant. Most of our students moved into campus housing this past weekend, and our classes are scheduled to begin on Aug. 19. As outlined on our data dashboard, fewer than 10 positive cases were identified last week. As of today, only 10 of UNCW’s 150 quarantine spaces are being used; each one of those is for travel-related quarantine,” as stated in the announcement.

UNCW also urged students to be “vigilant in your efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Resources specific to UNCW and its efforts against COVID-19 can be found here.