UNC-CH offering multiple learning options, single occupancy on-campus housing

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Weeks after providing updates on how the spring 2021 semester will go at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University officials have provided more details into the semester outlook.

The University says it will offer five modes of instruction for the spring: two in-person modes and three remote modes of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The deans at the University are working with their respective schools and departments to identify courses which benefit from in-person instructional modes.

The majority of classes with 35 or more students will be assigned one of the three remote-only options.

A limited number of courses with up to 50 students for in-person modes of delivery will be accommodated based on the needs of the course.

Priority for in-person courses will be given to classes designed to allow first-year students to explore a discipline, classes designed to provide seniors opportunities to enroll in capstones, seminars, and specialized topics and classes at any level that especially benefit from hands-on, in-person instruction.

“These decisions are guided by feedback from recent student surveys, as well as from several groups including the Campus and Community Advisory Committee, the Roadmap Implementation Team, student and faculty advisory groups and the advice of our public health and medical content experts, state and Orange County health departments and the UNC System,” UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert A. Blouin said in a statement.

Additionally, UNC is planning to offer only single occupancy for on-campus housing and will expand quarantine and isolation spaces, ensuring that they are providing appropriate care and support resources in those locations, in compliance with public health guidelines.

The university is only allowing up to 3,500 students live on campus, when they usually have 9,500 students live on campus in a typical year.

Before students re-enter, a COVID-19 test will be required. Faculty and staff must also adhere to this guideline.

“This virus continues to impact the lives of everyone in our community in so many ways. We will continue to monitor its path over the coming months, and the compounding effect of the annual flu season, as we finalize plans for the spring semester. We are prepared to modify our approach in order to support our community based upon the prevailing trends. We will continue to work closely with our campus partners to discuss and communicate any additional changes or accommodations given the circumstances we may be facing in early to mid-January,” University officials said.

As CBS 17 previously reported, there were multiple clusters of COVID-19 reported in on-campus and off-campus housing within the first week of the fall semester.

The University then moved all of the undergraduate classes online and most of the students had to move off campus after only a couple of weeks of living on-campus.

CBS 17 spoke to some students who are questioning if the University is taking enough safety measures to protect students living in the dorms.

“I’m still not sure about the whole “bathroom sharing” situation and ventilation in the buildings,” said Ruchi Sarkar, a UNC-CH senior from Cary. “I don’t know if any of that has been addressed and the fact that people are going to still hang out and go to parties.”

Some students are concerned that there will be more clusters of COVID-19 this spring and that students will be forced to move back home again.

“I just don’t want people to have to do that again in the spring,” said Darith Klibanow, a UNC-CH senior from Durham. “If they get everyone to move back again and then they have to tell everybody to leave again, I just don’t think it’s going to work again.”

While the University will be requiring COVID-19 testing for everyone, some students are also concerned about how effective it will be at keeping case numbers down.

“It depends on how long it takes for results to get back from my COVID test,” Sarkar said. “If I’m waiting a week for my COVID test results and I have to go to campus like three or four times a week for classes, that’s not super helpful for me.”

Students said that if COVID-19 numbers spike in the state between now and January, they hope the University will change its plan if needed.

“I’m just worried the University put this plan in place so that they could have people living on campus because they kind of need that,” Klibanow said. “At the same time, are you going to prioritize your income or the safety of your students?”

University officials said they came to the decision to allow students to come back this spring after hearing feedback from students, faculty, and staff.

Guskiewicz said they are prepared to make necessary changes if they need to.

“We are prepared to modify our approach in order to support our community based upon the prevailing trends,” Guskiewicz said. “We will continue to work closely with our campus partners to discuss and communicate any additional changes or accommodations given the circumstances we may be facing in early to mid-January.”

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