Triangle universities and colleges unsure if students can return back to campus in the fall

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – While some colleges and universities across the country are already considering keeping campuses closed this fall, high education institutions in the Triangle say it’s too early to make a decision on fall classes.

All colleges and universities in North Carolina are finishing out the spring semester online due to concerns with the coronavirus.

Officials with Duke University told CBS 17 they have started discussions about whether to open the campus back up for the fall semester, but they likely won’t know what the plan is until June.

“At this point, it’s really impossible to say with any certainty what the beginning of the academic year is going to look like,” said Michael Schoenfeld, VP of public affairs for government relations & chief communications officer for Duke University.

Schoenfeld said it is unclear if most classes will still remain online or if partial classes will be online.

He said two committees have been formed at Duke University – one that will address the institution’s financial challenges, and the other will look at short term planning such as when the campus can reopen.

“We are consulting with the experts here at Duke who are advising national and state leaders on the strategies of reopening the country and reopening businesses,” Schoenfeld said.

Jamal Burns is a junior at Duke University.

Burns moved back to St. Louis, Missouri to finish out the spring semester online.

“The online classes have been a difficult transition,” Burns said.

The history major said he misses his friends and he is ready to come back to campus, but he is unsure of when that will happen.

“Not being on campus is a little bit disappointing because that is kind of the cornerstone of your college experience,” Burns said.

He said for now its difficult for him to make plans for the fall semester with everything up in the air.

“We as students are just waiting to hear word,” Burn said.

Officials with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said they are closely monitoring guidance from the CDC and other health experts to determine if they should reopen campus in the fall.

A spokesperson with North Carolina State University in Raleigh said it is too early to know what the plan is for the fall semester. N.C. State officials said they are focused on completing the spring semester and then transitioning summer classes online.

North Carolina Central University sent this statement:

North Carolina Central University officials said that numerous considerations are being considered for the fall semester, but no decisions have been made at this time. NCCU officials said once they have further information from the UNC System, they will communicate this to the campus community.

CBS 17 also reached out to Durham Technical Community College to find out what their plans are for the fall semester, but we have not yet heard back.

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