‘You have to do something’: Many understanding of mask, social distancing crackdown at UNC

COVID-19 and schools

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Chapel Hill leaders have a message for students at UNC-Chapel Hill: follow the rules. Chapel Hill and campus police said they will be enforcing the pandemic rules regarding masks and gatherings.

Many of the university’s 28,000 students already back on campus or returning over the weekend.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding what are classes going to look like. Just today I had another class move online,” freshman Kelly Kendall said.

“It’s going to be weird socially and everyone is going to have to be on their game to stay conscious of who they’re around and how many people they’re seeing,” said a student who declined to give his name.

“It seems like a lot of people — especially living in the dorms on campus — are obeying the rules. I think they’re more cognizant of the risks of living in those spaces,” UNC junior Matt Wallace said.

The video that surfaced Wednesday only adding to the concern. It showed a large number of women not wearing masks or social distancing outside of a house for a sorority event.

“After we saw the incident on Wednesday, we realized we needed to do more than educate and we needed to step up our efforts,” Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said.

In response, the mayor said she met with the university, other town and county leaders. While the focus in the past has been on educating people who violate pandemic rules, now they’ll begin issuing citations.

Hemminger said UNC police will be working with Chapel Hill police to step up patrols in areas where students tend to gather.

“When there’s a situation like this going on, you have to do your best to help mitigate it. So, you have to do something,” UNC junior Jacob Messer said.

Not everyone supports the move.

“I just knew there that would be a lot of disenfranchised groups that would be negatively effected by that type of police presence,” junior Elizabeth Wheless said.

A citation is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. It carries up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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