Updated 6:45 p.m.: The decision to delay the start of in-person instruction came from consultation with public health experts and the Orange County Health Department, as well as student difficulties traveling back to campus as COVID-19 cases rise across the state and country, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told The Daily Tar Heel.
Right now about 18 to 20 percent of classes are scheduled to be held in-person. About 31 percent of undergraduates have at least one in-person class, and “very few” students have more than one in-person class, Guskiewicz said.
The goal of the delayed start is to provide flexibility for students moving into residence halls or moving back to the area, Guskiewicz said. About 3,200 students are set to live in on-campus housing.
Guskiewicz said the decision to delay three weeks will distance the return to in-person classes from holiday gatherings, which has led to increases in COVID-19 cases.
“With what we know today, we believe that we’ll just be in a better position by Feb. 8,” Guskiewicz said.
Once students have moved into on-campus housing, Guskiewicz said the University has “no intentions” of sending students home. The University will have over 500 isolation and quarantine rooms available, along with single-occupancy dorms and a mandatory testing program.
“I think that this, in some ways, may be a safer living environment than the environment that some of our students are living in in other parts of the state or country, where the positivity rates are really high,” Guskiewicz said.
UNC will delay its return to undergraduate in-person instruction by three weeks, according to a campus email Thursday. Classes will still begin on Jan. 19, but will be held remotely until Feb. 8.
"With record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina and around the country, we are making the following adjustments to our spring semester to provide as much flexibility as possible for a safe return to campus," Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin said in the email.
Move-in to on-campus residence halls will begin as planned on Jan. 13, but students can opt to delay their move-in date up until Feb. 7. Carolina Housing will only offer single occupancy rooms for the spring semester for up to 3,500 students.
The University implemented the Carolina Together testing program for the spring semester, requiring students living on-campus or in Granville Towers, taking in-person classes or living in the area with 10 or more people to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Students living off-campus and taking remote classes must test once a week.
The academic calendar for the spring semester remains unchanged. Instead of a spring break, the University has scheduled five wellness days throughout the semester, which are intended as full breaks from coursework and not a time for studying.
Pass/fail grading accommodations from the fall semester will also be extended to the spring semester, Guskiewicz and Blouin said in the email.
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