CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Following a fall semester plagued by COVID-19 clusters in residence halls and off-campus housing, UNC-Chapel Hill announced Thursday it will postpone the spring semester by about two weeks.
The university laid out its plan in an online message sent to students, faculty, and staff on Thursday. In it, university leaders recognized the fall semester “did not meet expectations,” and plan on taking a different approach for spring.
“I think it’s a little interesting seeing that they tried to open early to avoid coronavirus at first and now they’re opening late and holding us here longer,” said Chase Mantione, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill.
In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, the university is also canceling the traditional spring break. Instead, students will have five “wellness days” scattered throughout the semester. The exact dates of the “wellness days” have not been set, but UNC leaders have advised professors not to schedule homework or exams during that time.
“While that’s great, I still think there needs to be a longer break for students to be able to recuperate in the middle of the semester and really regain our focus,” said Greear Webb, a sophomore studying political science and African-American studies.
The university is also postponing the Winter 2020 commencement. The hope is to hold a combined ceremony with Spring 2021 graduates and the Class of 2020.
“It is kind of frustrating they changed the date for graduation because my parents booked their hotel like two years ago,” said Maddie Srochi, who will graduate in May.
Webb told CBS 17 his biggest concern is that the university hasn’t announced a strategy for campus-wide COVID-19 testing and contract tracing. He added, “Pushing back the semester again is pretty irrelevant if we can’t get a control on the spread of the virus and we don’t have widespread testing.”
UNC said details about campus-wide testing, instruction, and campus housing are expected to be announced sometime soon.
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