More than 130 UNC Chapel Hill Students Infected with COVID-19, Classes Go Online
Classes at UNC Chapel Hill had only been in session for a week.
UPDATE August 18, 2020, 8 p.m.: The University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University both announced on Tuesday that they will suspend in-person classes over concerns about the coronavirus.
Notre Dame will suspend its face-to-face classes starting Wednesday for two weeks, and Michigan State will provide distance learning for the entire semester. Michigan State made the announcement before classes even started.
At Notre Dame, 146 students and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19, and the campus has experienced a steady increase in positive rates since classes resumed on August 10, reports NPR. Michigan State is asking undergrads planning on living on campus and off campus to stay home.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina — Starting on Wednesday, all University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill undergraduate in-person classes will shift to distance learning. The move to online classes is being prompted by an outbreak of coronavirus infections at the school.
The announcement made on Monday by UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz came after more than 130 students tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Herald Sun. Over the weekend there were reports of four coronavirus clusters in dorms, apartments and a fraternity house.
In-person classes had only been in session for a week.
“In just the past week (Aug. 10-16), we have seen the COVID-19 positivity rate rise from 2.8% to 13.6% at Campus Health,” said Guskiewicz in a press release. “As of this morning, we have tested 954 students and have 177 in isolation and 349 in quarantine, both on and off campus. So far, we have been fortunate that most students who have tested positive have demonstrated mild symptoms.”
The school also said it expects the majority of its undergraduate students living on campus to change their residential plans for the fall.
“We are working to identify additional effective ways to further achieve de-densification of our residential halls and our campus facilities,” said the chancellor. “We will, again, open the opportunity for fall 2020 residence hall cancellation requests with no penalty.”
UNC’s law school said it would also shift to distance learning on Wednesday.
UNC Chapel Hill’s original decision to hold in-person classes was criticized by the university’s newspaper.
“We all saw this [the move to distance learning] coming,” said an editorial in the Daily Tar Heel. “They chose to ignore the Orange County Health Department, which recommended that the University restrict on-campus housing to at-risk students and implement online-only instruction for the first five weeks of the semester. They chose to ignore the guidance of the CDC, which placed the University’s housing plan in the ‘highest-risk’ category.”
In response to UNC Chapel Hill’s decision to switch from in-person classes to online classes, N.C. Public Service Workers Union’s UE Local 150 issued a statement saying the school “gambled that they could contain a spread until tuition bills were locked in and lost miserably,” reports the News Observer.
Also on Monday, at another UNC campus – Appalachian State University – the faculty passed a vote of no-confidence in Chancellor Sheri Everts. The no-confidence declaration passed in large part due to the campus not shutting down after a recent coronavirus outbreak, reports the Associated Press.
The faculty declaration read that they have “moved from a concern about people’s livelihoods and the institution’s reputation to, now, a concern for people’s lives.”
The Associated Press is also reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at East Carolina University, Oklahoma State in Stillwater and Notre Dame.