UNC-CH students question what spring semester will look like with limited on-campus housing, in-person classes

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — While UNC-Chapel Hill has given the green light for some in-person classes, with limited on-campus housing students still question what the semester will look like.

After months of learning online, several students are excited about the possibility of getting to attend an in-person class this coming semester.

“It’s hard to make connections with your classmates and professors when everything is over zoom,” said Ann Dehnert, a UNC-CH freshman.

As for which classes will be in-person, university leaders said on Monday that the priority will be given to classes where first-year students can explore a discipline, classes where seniors are enrolled in specialized topics, and classes at any level where the students may benefit from hands-on, in-person one-on-one instruction.

UNC-CH officials said it’s still unknown how many classes will be available in-person.

“It will be nice once we go to register for classes to know what classes will be online and what will be in person,” said Payton Dean, a UNC-CH freshman.

The University is also limiting on-campus housing to 36 percent capacity as they are only allowing up to 3,500 students to live on campus.

Campus officials said students will receive some information later this week about which students will be given priority to live on campus.

“I was able to find off-campus housing, but it’s definitely scary not knowing if you have a place to live on campus,” said Alexa Gomez, a student at UNC-CH.

While some families argue that more students should be allowed to live on campus, UNC-CH freshman Connor Bassett remembers the first week of classes when he had to go in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

“It obviously was not a fun time,” Bassett said. “You definitely understand how quickly it can spread.”

Bassett said he thinks the University is doing the right thing by only allowing single-occupancy housing in the dorms.

“I don’t really see another way to have this many kids back on campus safely,” Bassett said.

Some professors are also concerned about if they will be safe while teaching in-person classes.

“It does pose a risk, it’s not risk-free,” said Dr. Maria DeGuzman, an English and Comparative Literature professor at UNC-CH.

DeGuzman said she told the University that she wants to continue teaching her classes online. She added that she has concerns about professors and students being in close contact in rooms where the windows don’t open and everyone is breathing in the same air.

“If they’re going to go ahead and do that, hopefully, they’ll do it in the safest way possible,” DeGuzman said.

University officials have said that in all classrooms everyone will be six feet apart and masks will be required.

UNC-Chapel Hill will also require COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty, and staff upon re-entry to campus this spring. They are also planning to do regular testing as well.

The University is expected to release more details about its COVID-19 testing plan in the coming weeks.

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