UNC to Open, Close Early


From Staff Reports     

UNC Chapel Hill will re-open its campus for the fall semester but will start and finish it early “in an effort to stay ahead of that second wave” of the coronavirus, university Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced Thursday.

In a letter to faculty, staff and students, Guskiewicz said classes will begin Aug. 10, final exams will be completed by Nov. 24 and students will not return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday. There will be no fall break.

UNC is also making “other significant changes to our operations” for the semester, Guskiewicz said, including

  • Faculty and staff will return to campus in a phased approach. Research programs and laboratories will begin ramping up on-campus operations June 1.
  • Students participating in organized co-curricular activities, such as athletics, will be invited back to campus in a similar phased approach.
  • Class sizes will be adjusted to allow for appropriate physical distancing; entering and exiting buildings will occur through clearly marked one-way corridors.
  • Time between classes will be extended to allow for necessary physical distancing in and out of buildings, which will impact the number of courses held during typical weekdays. Students and faculty therefore can expect additional weeknight classes.
  • Up to 1,000 new students who are unable to begin residential learning and living in August may participate in Carolina Away, a new initiative still in development, that will allow them to learn together in digital sections of key courses in the general education curriculum.
  • The campus community will be asked to adhere to “community standards” and public health guidelines to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Those standards include practicing physical distancing, washing hands often, using hand sanitizer, maintaining clean spaces and wearing appropriate face coverings/masks (provided by the university for those who need them), among other best practices.

While classes will undergo significant changes, residence halls will operate at normal capacity — standard double-occupancy — with few exceptions. One residence hall will be used to provide temporary housing to residential students who test positive for COVID-19 and a second residence hall will provide temporary housing for residential students who have been exposed to the virus but don’t have a confirmed diagnosis

Calling the past two months during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown “extraordinarily challenging,” Guskiewicz said the decision to re-open the campus was made because it was “clear to me that students most thrive through the in-person interactions with their faculty and classmates; and through the co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities that a Carolina education provides. The best Carolina experience is one that occurs here on campus where that is all possible.”

“Carolina’s Roadmap for Fall 2020,” the chancellor noted, “will also have off ramps, and we will modify this plan if conditions change and the situation warrants.”

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