UNC-CH moves to online-only instruction for undergraduates as COVID-19 cases increase

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Following an increase of 135 COVID-19 cases on campus in a week, in-person undergraduate classes at UNC-CH will move online.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the change goes into effect Wednesday.

“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,” Guskiewicz said.

Graduate, professional and health affairs courses will continue to be taught as they are, or as directed by the schools.

Guskiewicz said the school expects the majority of undergraduates to change their residential plans for the remainder of the semester.

“Residents who have hardships (such as lack of access to reliable internet access), international students or student athletes will have the option to remain,” the chancellor said.

During a faculty meeting on Monday, University officials said that students will soon be able to make appointments with Carolina Housing to move out.

The University had announced four clusters of the virus among students within three days.

On Friday, UNC officials announced clusters of COVID-19 cases at Granville Towers and Ehringhaus Community. The next day, a cluster was confirmed at the Sigma Nu fraternity house. On Sunday, a fourth cluster was reported at the Hinton James Residence Hall.

Within the last two weeks, videos and pictures have surfaced of students holding on- and off-campus parties where people were not social distancing. Some students told CBS 17 they think these large parties were to blame for the recent rise in cases.

Guskiewicz‘s announcement comes just hours after Barbara Rimer, dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, called for classes to be moved online.

UNC freshman Peter Geretz told CBS 17 he is disappointed after finding out the University is encouraging students to return home.

“I was super surprised. I didn’t think they were going to send us here and then just send us home a week later. That’s pretty crazy,” Geretz said.

While Geretz does not want to leave, he said he thinks the University is making the right decision by moving all classes online.

“With everything going on and all these clusters and everything, it seems like it’s unsafe to be here,” Geretz said. “But I’ll stay until they kick me out.”

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