New semester, same irresponsibility.
After the colossal failures of fall semester, UNC will welcome students back to campus once again — despite alarming trends in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the state.
In-person classes won’t begin right away, however. On Thursday, the administration announced that the return to undergraduate in-person instruction will be delayed by three weeks. Classes will still begin on Jan. 19, but will be held remotely until Feb. 8.
Currently, about 20 percent of classes are scheduled to be held in person, and 31 percent of undergraduates have at least one in-person class.
But what difference is three weeks going to make?
Bringing students back to campus for in-person classes is reckless and irresponsible, and it will still be reckless and irresponsible three weeks from now. If current trends continue, we can expect things to be even worse in February. Delaying the inevitable will almost certainly result in another rocky transition to remote learning — for the third semester in a row.
We’re not the only ones who are concerned. In December, The Daily Tar Heel published an op-ed signed by dozens of faculty members calling for the University to go fully remote for the spring semester.
“We have every reason to expect that the University will — once again — be overwhelmed by infections when classes resume,” they wrote.
Has the administration learned nothing from its past mistakes? Sure, improvements have been made, including reduced housing occupancy and mandatory asymptomatic evaluation testing. Both measures were successful in keeping COVID-19 case numbers low at peer institutions, such as Duke University, in the fall.