In August of 2020, NC universities and colleges opened to on-campus classes while the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic continued with increasing numbers across many counties in the state. State health officials and college officials made the decision to open on-campus classes at reduced capacity provided that strict social distancing, masking, hand washing, screening, and cleaning was in place.
This article serves as a discussion forum asking the public to engage us and other readers in ongoing conversations around whether the decision to hold on-campus classes was a good idea, or if the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak clusters that we now see at UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina University in Greenville, NC State in Raleigh, and UNC Wilmington were attributed to off-campus mass gatherings at fraternities and sororities (Greek life), as well as off-campus housing.
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After Publication News
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November 2020: N.C. State University officials announced students, faculty, and staff will be required to show negative testing 5 days prior to entering the spring semester. And, that measures are being put in to place for on-going weekly testing.
October 23: N.C State officials announced the delay of spring semester and cancelled spring break. Classes will start on January 19, 2020. East Carolina University and UNC Chapel Hill also delayed spring semester till January 19, 2020.
October 2020: UNC Charlotte officials announced that the virus which causes Coronavirus was found in wasterwater that serves a dormitory and that it was found during routine sampling. As a precaution, UNC Charlotte officials announced that all students within the dormitory will be quarantined and tested. There are currently no known positive cases related to wastewater at this university. To date, 9 students are documented to have had the COVID-19 virus. UNC Charlotte has 30,000 students enrolled and the college is open to in-class learning.
September 29: Appalachian State University announced the death of a student. The student is reported to be 19 years old and took all of his classes online. Additionally, he is confirmed to have lived off-campus. As of September 29th, Appalachian State University is open to full on-campus classes. This death is believed to be the first reported death from Coronavirus within the UNC system.
September 25: A new report shows that most colleges and universities in the state are experiencing serious financial hardships from lost revenue and are considering cuts to salaries and temporary furloughs. The revenue drop is being caused primarily by students and staff not using transportation, campus dining, and residence halls. The UNC system says it is experiencing a $300 million reduction while N.C. State is experiencing a $75.4 million shortfall during the fiscal year.
September 23: N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson announced that undergraduate and graduate students can take in-person classes during the spring semester, and that N.C. State will offer a mix of in-classroom instruction, a hybrid, or 100% virtual classes. Chancellor Woodson stated that the spring semester will begin on January 11, 2021 and that mandates will be enforced more heavily. In the fall semester, 30 clusters of coronavirus cases caused N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill, and East Carolina University to close all in-person classes.
Many students and parents across the State of NC are asking NC universities and colleges to return money paid to the institutions that is typically used when students attend functions, live in dormitories, and use services on-campus. It is our understanding that some administrators are refusing to do so, while other schools are working this issue out.
Two weeks after the 2020 / 2021 collegiate school year started, NC university officials at UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, and East Carolina University made the decision to cancel all on-campus classes and revert back to 100% virtual online classes after several outbreak clusters developed. College officials maintain that all clusters are attributed to off-campus mass gatherings at housing, fraternities, and sororities, and that all safety procedures centered around social distancing, masking, screening, cleaning, and hand washing would have prevented these outbreaks.
As of September 14, 2020, there are over 1000 new Coronavirus cases among students and staff since opening in August of 2020. Admittedly, we do not know if UNC Wilmington officials closed all the on-campus classes, or their numbers. Furthermore, we do not know new case numbers at other UNC system universities across the state, or at private colleges. Hopefully, readers will use the discussion form below to let us know.
In your opinion, was the decision to open NC colleges and universities to on-campus classes for undergraduates and graduate students bad decision making by state health officials and administrators, or was the decision to open justified and undermined by students who were infected by Coronavirus off-campus? Should college administrators have seen this problem beforehand and considered it before any decisions were made? Support your opinion below using good information and data.
How has the decision to revert back to virtual online classes affected you as a student, parent, professor, or administrator? Have any of these decisions threatened your future graduation date or caused financial hardships?
For NC colleges and universities that still remain open to on-campus classes, what unique things are in place now above social distancing, masking, screening, and cleaning to mitigate potential outbreak clusters?
Like the K-12 public education system, were university students allowed to choose between 100% online classes versus in classroom instruction? Which did you choose and why?
As a school administrator, what restrictions or safety measures above masking and social distancing are now in place for fraternities, sororities (Greek life), and housing off campus?
We understand the conflict between university officials and students wanting financial aid and money spent returned continues to be an issue, especially for those that lived in dormitories. Can you as a reader give other readers insights on this issue?
Again, information in this article is based on Coronavirus events that happened at UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, ECU, and UNC Wilmington, but we are open to hearing about information happening at schools in other areas of the state using the comment form below.
Additionally, please feel free to open the conversation on issues under this topic that we did not discuss in this article.
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