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Thursday October 28th

'In the language of students': Online hub connects students to resources during COVID-19

The Old Well pictured on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Buy Photos The Old Well pictured on Monday, March 23, 2020.

As the spread of coronavirus continues to disrupt daily life across the country, UNC has launched the new CV19 Student Care Hub, a website designed to keep University students connected with the resources available to them during this time.

The virtual hub, which can be accessed at, was created to inform students about University life during the COVID-19 crisis.

When it became clear that the outbreak would change University operations for the foreseeable future, Bob Blouin, the executive vice chancellor and provost, asked Desirée Rieckenberg, the dean of students,  and Abigail Panter, the senior associate dean for undergraduate education, to launch the hub as quickly as possible.

“He told us very clearly that because everyone is being affected by this virus in a horrible way, we really have to think about how to handle the large number of concerns that can exist for students,” Panter said. “We want to make sure that we’re entirely providing care and resources.”

They launched the website on April 4.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to change the way we go about our daily lives, and this website is one way we are here to help you finish the semester in the best way possible,” wrote Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, Blouin and Jonathan Sauls, the interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs, in an email to the student body. 

Hub staff is working to produce and share resources tailored to the student body, Rieckenberg and Panter said. The website breaks down available resources into three main categories: academic, financial and wellness.

Academic resources include explaining the new pass-fail grading system, emphasizing instructor flexibility, making sure students have stable internet access and connecting students with departments like Academic Advising, the Writing and Learning Centers, University Libraries and Accessibility Resources. 

The financial resources section provides information on housing and dining refunds as well as information about the Carolina Student Impact Fund.

A wellness page includes links to physical and mental health resources meant to help students do well personally and academically while engaging in social distancing measures.

“The whole website is set up to be in the language of students,” Rieckenberg said. “We realized there wasn't really a place for students around this pandemic, so we wanted to create a space where it’s just for students.”

A team of UNC staff, led by Rieckenberg and Panter, created the website and will be tracking emails and survey responses to keep the site up-to-date.

Students can email Rieckenberg and Panter's team if their question isn't answered on the site, Panter said. According to the website, students can email for more information. 

The next step in getting student feedback is a survey that has been sent to all graduate, undergraduate and professional students, Panter said. The short check-in survey will ask students about their experiences with remote learning.

“We want to be able to let students know that we care and that we actually want to know what’s going on with them,” Rieckenberg said.

In addition to their concerns, Rieckenberg said students are asked to share any helpful resources they have discovered.

“We want to know about things that have worked well for you with the potential that we might be able to share some of those tools and strategies with others,” she said.

A few weeks after the initial check-in survey, another short survey will go out reassessing student needs, Panter said. Hub staff will summarize and analyze the results from each survey to tailor the site’s content to the responses.

“This is where we’re starting off,” Rieckenberg said. “We fully anticipate regular updates and new content that’s being driven by what students are asking us about.”

So far, Rieckenberg said engagement has been high — which she hopes will increase as students find more time to explore the website. As they begin using the hub, she said she hopes students will utilize the check-in surveys and content suggestions so the hub can be better tailored to their needs. 

“We are reviewing those actively and that’s really what’s going to help us thrive," Rieckenberg said.

The University is confronting a formidable challenge, Rieckenberg said, and is still working to navigate it. 

“I think that the University will take away that we are, in fact, a campus that is full of strength and creativity and resilience, and that in the midst of some of the biggest and best challenges that are out there, that we are fortunate to have the faculty, the scholars and most importantly the students that we have,” she said. “But I also would be remiss if I didn’t pause and say I think we’re still trying to figure out what we can learn from this.”

Still, she said UNC will work to be there for students during this time. 

“We don’t know how long this period is going to last, but what we do know is that it means that we have some enhanced responsibilities to demonstrate our care for our students."

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