Pandemic still looming as UNC welcomes freshmen, sophomore classes to campus


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – UNC welcomed students to campus with its fall convocation at Kenan Stadium on Monday night. The event is usually for freshmen and other new students. This year, sophomores took part after last year’s convocation was made virtual due to the pandemic.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and student body president Lamar Richards were among the speakers welcoming the classes of 2024 and 2025.

“We’re so excited to celebrate you, our newest Tar Heels,” Guskiewicz said.

Being back on campus has a whole new meaning for sophomores, who missed much more than convocation last year.

“Even just finding class buildings and stuff has been like an exploration for all of us because we haven’t had that opportunity before, so there’s definitely a fun side to it — like getting to relive that — but also it’s a little sad that we didn’t get that a year ago,” said sophomore Dishita Sen.

Not everyone is excited to be back in person. More than 400 faculty members are asking school administrators to start the year off virtual due, hoping COVID-19 cases will go down and vaccination rates will go up in that time period.

Several students said they are against that.

“I don’t think I can do any more online learning. I’ve like tapped out how much I can absorb from online classes personally,” said junior Sophie Gilliam.

Some students said they are concerned with the delta variant and would like to see classes start online.

“Honestly, I’d rather just be virtual just for the time being, just to see, like, what will happen. I don’t want, like, a repeat of last year,” said sophomore Jabari Jones.

The university said it’s consulting health experts who said in-person learning can be done safely. Classes start on Wednesday.

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