UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin hosted a webinar Wednesday to discuss UNC’s options for safe re-entry in the fall in response to COVID-19.
They were joined by several senior leaders to discuss operations of classrooms, dorms, labs, dining halls and other facilities. The webinar was for UNC employees to learn about the options under consideration and ask questions.
The options are part of a framework titled the Carolina Roadmap, which is expected to officially launch next week. Guskiewicz said action plans of the framework include community standards for health and safety, return-to-work guidelines, on-campus research operations and instructional strategy and classroom utilization. There are also plans surrounding student support, campus life and the student experience, as well as housing.
“We’re not in a race to be first to reopen campus operations — our on-campus operations,” Guskiewicz said. “But we are in a race to be right, and be as right as possible.”
Options for academic instruction
Abigail Panter, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, discussed four different types of instruction that the university is planning for, with 4,700 courses and 15,000 sections. Panter said these options take into account students who may be unable to return to campus for a variety of reasons.
“It may be their health, it may be an inability to secure a visa,” Panter said. “But these are the students who rely on us and work with us to engage in high impact academic experiences so that they can keep making steady progress in their degree programs.”
The four options for instruction that Panter outlined were:
- Face-to-face model: courses that are for on-campus and in-person learners, with some remote component scheduled,
- High-flex model: courses that meet in person, but students may join remotely and synchronously, and classes can be recorded for asynchronous learning,
- Recitation or remote plus recitation: remote lectures that would be supplemented by face-to-face sections,
- Remote only: online courses taught solely synchronously or asynchronously, or a combination of both.
Changes to the educational approach also include shifts to the academic calendar and classroom use. Guskiewicz said if adjusted, fall semester would be completed by Thanksgiving.
There may also be increases in the length of school days to account for more class periods, and the implementation of proper physical distancing in the classrooms, Panter said.
Health and safety measures
Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Charles Marshall said the University is working on a policy to guarantee health and safety.
“Our preferred approach — and really, this would go for really any public organization — is to have our whole campus community adopt and promote the community standards and policies that we’re going to be setting around social distancing, masks, hygiene, public gatherings and other factors that are going to help reduce transmission,” Marshall said.
UNC is currently working on acquiring supplies for campus safety upon re-entry, with the intent for the University to provide masks to all on campus who would need them, Blouin said.
Marshall said if necessary, the University will implement disciplinary actions to ensure compliance from the community.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jonathan Sauls said there will also be modifications to on-campus housing, which is provided for up to 9,000 students.
“We will have staggered move-ins, emphasizing social distancing, utilization of personal protective equipment, masks, gloves, as people are contemplating that move-in,” Sauls said. “We’ll be strongly encouraging residents to bring fewer belongings to campus in recognition of the fact that there may need to be reassignments reflecting the health condition as we move through the semester.”
Sauls said the University will limit or remove access to some student-centered spaces on campus. Additionally, there are plans for at least two residence halls to be used as quarantine and isolation spaces in the event of potential student exposure to coronavirus.
The UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases team, led by Dr. Myron Cohen, continues to research COVID-19 and work with the University to understand the virus and plans for re-entry.
Guskiewicz said specifics about student co-curricular activities and sports will be known over the next few months as University leaders continue planning for re-entry.
Over 4,000 UNC employees attended the webinar.
“I think it just speaks to how much our campus community cares about how we move forward and that we want to try to provide as much information, as transparent as possible about these plans moving forward,” Guskiewicz said.
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