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Sunday June 4th

'Still developing the specifics': Guskiewicz talks reopening plans in Zoom meeting

The header image for the newly-launched Carolina Roadmap website at UNC explaining the details of UNC's fall reopening
Buy Photos The header image for the newly-launched Carolina Roadmap website at UNC explaining the details of UNC's fall reopening

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz met with the Advisory Committee and Faculty Executive Committee in a joint online meeting Wednesday to answer questions about UNC's plans to reopen campus for the fall semester. 

Minimizing contact and following social distancing

The meeting began with a question about how "third spaces" will remain safe and socially distant. Those spaces include anywhere students might be on campus that won't be in a classroom or dorm rooms, like the dining halls, the Student Union or common spaces in dorms. 

Guskiewicz said the University has been working with facility services and housekeeping to ensure that spaces will be cleaned more carefully. 

He also said that the University has been in communication with local Chapel Hill restaurants about the possibility of putting up event-sized tents at certain parts of the campus to provide food services. The goal would be to minimize the density of people congregated inside, by moving people to eat their meals in an open, outdoors space. 

Concerns were also raised about how to continue to enforce University policies on social distancing when students return to campus. Guskiewicz said he had started speaking with some members of the community about how to address the issue, along with the general question of what the consequences would be if social distancing guidelines are not followed. 

Identifying thresholds

Further details about the Roadmap for Fall 2020, which outlines UNC's plans for reopening campus in the upcoming semester, were made available Thursday on the Carolina Together website.

Guskiewicz said the Roadmap includes "off-ramps" that would allow the University to transition back to online learning if necessary, like it did following Spring Break. 

He said there is not a set threshold for when one of these "off-ramps" plans would be used. 

"Quite honestly, we're still developing the specifics of that, in terms of what would require us to take an off-ramp," Guskiewicz said.

The chancellor said he was in communication with Myron Cohen, director of UNC's Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, about what would trigger the decision. Guskiewicz gave the example of a cluster of positive cases all in one class that might cause the University to "take an off-ramp." 

At the end of the meeting, Florence Dore, director of graduate studies in the English and Comparative Literature Department, questioned the University's decision to reopen on-campus operations at all. 

"I think we must have some idea now of what is an acceptable level of infection and death," Dore said. "That's what we're proceeding on the basis of and I guess at a certain point that's going to change, and 'Oh, there's too much,' so we'll close — and yes, there are no models but we do know there are quarantine dorms that we're setting up, HR is talking to us about new kinds of sick leave, so we are preparing for illness."

Guskiewicz responded, saying there are many who feel they need to come back and that “we want to provide those opportunities for those individuals if we can safely do that.”


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