It has been a lot quieter in Chapel Hill since the start of UNC’s Spring Break on March 6.
Many students traveled, planning to return to classes on March 16. Following the extended break and move to remote courses to contain the spread of COVID-19, many students did not return. More students left after graduation and the end of the semester.
But on Aug. 10, UNC students will return to Chapel Hill for the first day of class, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced May 21.
The announcement, now housed on a UNC website named “Carolina Together,” details an early start and end to the fall semester, a phased return of faculty and staff, adjusted class schedules and sizes and public health guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The website will be updated throughout the summer as more details become available, the announcement said.
Some Orange County and Chapel Hill leaders are worried for students to return to campus and think the current University plan lacks many important details.
Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said she’s thankful for Guskiewicz’s work so far, but thinks there needs to be more clarity regarding how the University will track on-campus cases and who has been in contact with infected people.
“Did you read that roadmap? It's scary,” Rich said. “Because the students -- we don't know if everybody is coming back, but if so, that's 30,000 more people in Chapel Hill that we have to be concerned about. And those numbers could tick up pretty fast.”
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Jonathan Sauls, recently joined weekly coordination meetings regarding emergency operations, Rich said. His participation is important, she said, to help establish a clear line of communication prior to the return of students to campus.
Rich said she hopes to see more details regarding social distancing and sanitation practices in dorms, mandating face masks on and off campus and the safety and efficiency of public transit.