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We spoke to 10 student services on campus about their plans for the fall semester

The banner outside of the Writing and Learning Center, one of the many services offered to students at UNC, at the SASB Plaza on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Though the fall semester will look different, these 10 student services are making the necessary modifications to best serve and support UNC students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Campus Health

Ken Pittman, executive director of Campus Health, said Campus Health never closed and will return to its regular academic hours Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. He said the staff has completed over 2,000 Campus Health visits since students were sent away from campus in March, and tested over 100 students for COVID-19.

Pittman said Campus Health will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for COVID-19 testing. He also said there is currently a 24- to 48-hour turnaround time for test results, but expects Campus Health to have rapid testing capability at some point this fall once the technology evolves.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, Pittman said Campus Health will notify the Orange County Health Department, provide instructions for self-care while a student is in isolation, periodically monitor their medical condition and initiate contact tracing.

Pittman said Campus Health intends to do as much as it can via telehealth, but students will be able to come in for medical visits that require close physical examinations and procedures that cannot be performed remotely.

Campus Health telehealth services will be available to students who are completing coursework remotely this fall, Pittman said.

Pittman said Campus Health has installed Plexiglas in high-contact areas between students and staff, enhanced cleaning and is in the process of separating its waiting areas into well and sick areas in order to practice the very best infection control. Campus Health will require all patients and staff to wear masks on-site to prioritize safety, he said.

“We have providers and staff that are very committed to the student experience, and to do everything we can to care for and help students be successful,” Pittman said. “And so we believe that we have and will continue to pivot in such a way that we can really meet the needs of our students, and I want them to have confidence in our ability to do that this fall.” 

2. Campus Recreation

Campus Recreation provides and maintains outdoor, indoor and aquatic recreational facilities on campus.

While all Campus Recreation facilities are currently closed, Director of Campus Recreation Bill Goa said that he expects the facilities to be open this fall. 

He said while Campus Recreation may not be fully operational by the start of the semester, he plans for all of its facilities to be open in some capacity.

Goa said Campus Recreation currently has a phased reopening plan. He said he plans for one facility to open in July to test procedures and protocols, with the rest of its facilities slowly opening after.

Staff will be setting a limit on the number of people that can be in Campus Recreation facilities at one time, enforcing proper physical distancing and deep-cleaning equipment. Goa said that Campus Recreation is still assessing options about how to best regulate attendance and distancing to ensure safety.

Goa said he expects Campus Recreation fitness classes to be held in person with attendees registering online ahead of time for available slots. He said fitness classes will continue to be held virtually.

Campus Recreation also plans to hold club and intramural sports this fall, though they will look different. Instead of large team sports like flag football, Goa said Campus Recreation will be offering more individual sports, such as singles tennis or cornhole.

3. Counseling and Psychological Services

UNC’s CAPS provide mental health services to students through assessments, therapy, medication management and referrals. 

Director of CAPS Allen O'Barr said the rapid transition this spring from in-person therapy to teletherapy was made smoother because staff members were trained in practicing teletherapy prior to COVID-19. O’Barr said CAPS has been providing teletherapy this summer and will continue to rely on this mode in the fall. 

Due to the stress of COVID-19, O’Barr said there was increased utilization of CAPS’ services this summer and that he expects the trend to continue this fall.

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O’Barr said CAPS plans for all services, including group therapy, to be delivered via telehealth except in cases that absolutely require in-person meetings, such as if someone is immediately dangerous to themselves or others.

“Two people looking at each other across a screen is far superior than two people sitting 6 feet away wearing masks,” O’Barr said. 

Due to rules that restrict therapists to perform teletherapy only with people in the same state where they have their license, O’Barr said CAPS will be mainly serving students in North Carolina, but CAPS will help remote students connect with therapists in the state they are living in.

O’Barr said he has requested adding four additional therapists — who have expertise in communicating with underserved populations — to his staff in order to better address the needs of students during the dual public health crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and experiences of racism and racial injustice. 

“We want to make sure that we’re as available to students as possible to help them navigate their way through this,” O’Barr said.

4. Carolina Women’s Center

The Carolina Women’s Center leads efforts and initiatives related to women and gender equity on campus and in the UNC community.

Holly Lovern, a gender violence services coordinator at the center, said in an email that the center’s gender violence services coordinators provide confidential support and advocacy for any student, faculty or staff who has been impacted by sexual harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence or stalking.

Lovern also said these coordinators serve individuals of all gender identities as they provide emotional support, connect individuals with resources and discuss reporting options.

The Carolina Women’s Center will continue to provide support via phone and Zoom throughout the fall semester, said Lovern. She also said that if students have concerns about accessing technology or a private space on campus, the center can help coordinate options.

During appointments, Lovern said it is up to the individual to decide what is discussed and any next steps they wish to take. She said some people want a place to process something that’s happening, while others may seek to discuss reporting options.

“People don't need to know what they might need, either — we're happy to talk through all the services we offer and see if any seem helpful to them in that moment or moving forward,” said Lovern. 

5. Study Abroad

According to its website, the Study Abroad Office works with partners across the globe to offer a range of programs abroad for UNC students from "any academic discipline, ability, background or financial means." Study Abroad boasts nearly 400 programs in over 70 countries, with six program types.

Jason Kinnear, assistant dean of study abroad and exchanges, said in an email statement via UNC Media Relations that while the office will not be holding its traditional Study Abroad Fairs this fall, it plans to host a “Study Abroad Week” in late October or November, featuring program-specific information sessions. Additionally, it will host a virtual Open House on Aug. 12 to prepare students for the Sept. 10 deadline to apply for spring 2021 programs. Applications for the spring semester open July 1.  

Advisers in the office are holding one-on-one Zoom appointments, and students can also join live or recorded Study Abroad 101 advising sessions. 

Kinnear said the office is committed to running spring 2021 programs, given that they remain open and accessible to students. He said the office and Academic Advising will work individually with students in the event that those studying abroad are asked to return to campus ahead of when their program was originally scheduled to end.

“Much will depend on the timing of the cancellation, and academic options available through the host institution/organization or UNC after a cancellation,” Kinnear said. 

He said if UNC or the host organization cancels a program before the planned start date, students will not be charged the administrative fee.

Kinnear said for students interested in studying abroad but are also concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many opportunities to “go global” at UNC. 

“Students can take courses in foreign languages and area or global studies, join a club with a global theme, or volunteer on campus, such as with the Writing Center Speaking Group which focuses on ESL, or in the local community, such as with refugee communities,” he said. “Additionally, some students pursue internships that provide a more in-depth understanding of international and world affairs.”

6. Carolina Union Activities Board

CUAB coordinates programming and events, including films, art, music and entertainment, for the UNC community and will continue to do so this fall, though without much of its traditional large-scale programming. 

CUAB President Sarah Bradley, a rising junior, said much of CUAB’s fall programming will be targeted at online audiences — both students who are unable to return to UNC in the fall and those on campus.

Bradley said CUAB also hopes to hold some small-scale, in-person programs if they are deemed safe and permitted by the University. If in-person programs do occur, Bradley said she expects there to be a limit on the number of people who can attend and gaps between reservation times for cleaning.

Bradley said CUAB is also planning to have some hybrid programs, such as hosting a speaker with a small audience while the event is simultaneously live-streamed. CUAB members are also considering organizing programs that allow people to pick up supplies needed to make a craft they can assemble at home by watching a tutorial. 

CUAB will be programming for Week of Welcome, the traditional first week of events and programs geared at introducing first-years to campus, though the specific events are still in the planning phase, said Bradley.

“We're just thinking about a lot of different ways that we can prioritize the safety of students, but also still maintain that programming aspect that students have really been able to enjoy at UNC,” Bradley said.

7. Information Technology Services

Information Technology Services provides professional IT support to the campus community. 

Kate Hash, ITS’ assistant vice chancellor for customer experience and engagement, said ITS is taking a new, proactive approach this summer to try and address students’ technology issues before they get to campus.

Hash said the typical rush of thousands of students visiting their location in the Undergraduate Library during the second half of August for tech support is not feasible this fall as ITS seeks to be as contactless as possible.

As first-years purchase CCI laptops, Hash said they will be shipped along with a flyer that instructs students about how to set up their computer and schedule an appointment with the Service Desk for additional help.

Hash also said that over the summer, ITS staff will be calling all first-years who purchased CCI computers to walk them through common tech issues. She said ITS will send emails to all first-years who did not buy a CCI computer to help address any issues they may have.

ITS will be offering primarily virtual support either by phone, chat, web or remote desktop. Hash said ITS is exploring the idea of holding several outside pop-up events to offer some in-person support, and said if its UL location is open, it will be by appointment only.

“We are here to help with whatever tech challenges people are having, whether it's a hardware or software issue,” Hash said. “We want to remove tech barriers from the student experience.”

8. Student Wellness

Student Wellness offers a range of programs, services and resources aimed at supporting healthy choices and positive decision-making about health, safety and wellness. 

Dean Blackburn, director of Student Wellness, said Student Wellness is planning to provide all of its regular services, with each taking place virtually.

He also said Student Wellness will add additional resources, such as weekly well-being groups via Zoom. The groups will give students the opportunity to meet virtually at scheduled times for staff-facilitated conversations about how they’re coping and adjusting while receiving support from peers, he said.

Student Wellness will also be working to provide some additional messaging, training and support about COVID-19 safety precautions. Blackburn said he also recognizes that students of color are experiencing additional distress and that Student Wellness will be taking steps to address their needs by providing increased wellness coaching and spaces for students of color to talk about how they’re feeling.

Blackburn said Student Wellness will continue to develop resources with student input and hopes that once students arrive back on campus, that its staff will have a better sense of what students' needs are and will work to address them.

“We really want students to know that we're here for them and we're here to support and encourage them,” Blackburn said. “If they will continue to let us know what they need, we will continue to develop those resources for them.” 

9. University Career Services

University Career Services provides career advising, internship and employment search assistance, workshops on job-seeking skills, practice interviews, resume reviews and graduate school preparation assistance.

Casey Lowe, job location and development coordinator at University Career Services, said UCS will be offering virtual services and programming this fall to help students in their search for work. 

University Career Services will be holding its Fall Part-Time Job Fair virtually on Sept. 10. Lowe said the fair will provide an opportunity for students to connect with employers who are seeking to hire students for part-time work either in an in-person or remote setting.

Several virtual career fairs will also be held in September and October.

Lowe recommended that students use Handshake, a platform specifically for college students, when searching for jobs.

“We approve the employers you see, and we approve the positions they post as well,” Lowe said. “So we create a direct connection between you and these employers who specifically want UNC students.”

10. Writing and Learning Center

The Writing and Learning Center serve students by providing writing assistance, academic coaching, peer tutoring, learning groups, ADHD and learning disability support and online academic resources. 

Kimberly Abels, director of UNC's Writing and Learning Center, said that all of its services transitioned to a Zoom format this spring. She said the Center will continue to provide its full services this fall virtually and will look for other innovative ways to support students.

The Centers regularly hold the event "Long Night Against Procrastination” in which students work on their academic assignments with provided snacks and prizes. Abels said the event was successfully held via Zoom for the first time this spring, and that the event will be held virtually several times throughout the fall semester.

With the challenging semester ahead due to new teaching formats, Abels said staff members for the Writing and Learning Center will be available to talk with students about strategies for navigating the new academic environments. 

“One of the great things that we have is the ability to meet any student where they are because we often meet in individual or small groups,” Abels said. “You can ask whatever question you have, and we're going to work with you to figure out what's best for you in meeting your goals and navigating your particular situation.”