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The Daily Tar Heel

Here's what to expect when you go to class during a pandemic

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DTH Photo Illustration. With fall semester approaching, students are preparing for what academics in the fall will look like during the reopening of UNC in the wake of COVID-19.

Update, 11:45 a.m.: UNC's physical distancing guideline asks members of the Carolina community to remain at least 6 feet apart in outdoor and indoor settings, Carolina Together states. Individual deans can petition the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for an exception to have a standard distancing of 3 to 6 feet in certain classroom settings.   

With an early semester start date, different course model options and new safety guidelines, the 2020 fall classroom experience will be untraditional to say the least.

In an effort to reduce the impacts of a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the winter, the fall semester will begin Aug. 10, which is eight days earlier than previously planned. Final exams will end Nov. 24, after which students will not return to campus until the spring semester. 

In a memo to UNC System chancellors, interim President Bill Roper said universities can choose to begin the spring semester as late as Feb. 15, 2021.

In the past, the period between classes was 15 minutes. This period has been extended to 30 minutes to limit foot traffic on campus, which means classes will end later in the day. Carolina Together states that instruction will end at 6:10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

First-year students will register for classes based on their orientation sessions. 

According to UNC Student Affairs, orientation sessions 2 through 5 will register July 8-9, sessions 6 through 9 will register July 15-16, sessions 10 through 13 will register July 20-21 and sessions 14 and 15 will register July 27-28.

Both on- and off-campus instruction will be provided due to some students’ inability to come to campus in the fall. 

“All courses, with few exceptions, will have a remote learning option,” the Carolina Together website states.

The University has also laid out four course models for the fall semester.

  • Face-to-Face/Hybrid: These classes are only for students who will be on campus, in person in the fall. Online work might be included in addition to the in-person element.
  • HyFlex: These classes meet in person, though some students join remotely. In-person students may rotate by the day of the week to allow an equal opportunity to be in the physical classroom.
  • Remote & Recitation: These courses are remote with a required synchronous recitation. There will be a mix of remote or face-to-face instruction for courses with multiple recitation sections. For courses with just one recitation section, the class will be HyFlex. 
  • Remote Only: Remote-only classes will be taught completely online, asynchronously, synchronously or a mix of both. 

In a campuswide email sent June 18, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said that based on community standards, face masks are to be worn in all classroom settings and indoor common spaces, like bathrooms and hallways, by faculty, staff members, visitors and students. 

He also said UNC will provide and pay for masks for those who cannot procure their own. 

“Carolina’s infectious disease faculty experts have stressed the importance of masks and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, and state and local public health officials have been consistent in advocating for the importance of masks in reducing the likelihood of transmission and acquisition of the virus,” Guskiewicz wrote in his message. 

Physical distancing will occur in the classroom, according to Carolina Together. Instructors will also have to be at least 6 feet apart from the first row of students.

In the same campuswide email, Guskiewicz stated that Carolina community members and visitors are required to maintain a minimum of 3 feet physical distancing “mask to mask” in classrooms.

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