A Harbinger of Spread at UNC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of our nation’s most prestigious public universities and one of the largest universities in America to invite its students back for in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, is changing its fall semester plans. Classes at UNC began just over a week ago. 177 UNC students have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus out of the approximately 954 students tested. In addition to these 177 students, 349 students have been placed into quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus. With remote teaching beginning on Wednesday, students are being offered the opportunity to leave campus without suffering financial penalty.

UNC Offers In-Person Classes, Then Switches to Online Instruction

As Eric Levenson reports for CNN in a piece entitled “UNC reverses plans for in-person classes after 130 students test positive for Covid-19,” “Effective Wednesday, all undergraduate in-person instruction will shift to remote learning, they write. The university also expects the majority of undergraduate residential students to change their residential plans for the fall. ‘As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation,’ [Chancellor Kevin M.] Guskiewicz and [Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert] Blouin said. The stunning rise in cases, just a week after classes began, illustrate the speed of Covid-19 and the difficulties of bringing young people into proximity during the pandemic, even as students begin their return to college campuses.”

Universities Across America Should Take a Hard Look at What Happened at UNC

While this is an unfortunate turn of events at UNC, the use of the word “stunning” in reference to the rise in cases just a week after classes at UNC began disturbs us. It’s not stunning that college students are at high risk of spreading the novel coronavirus when left on their own on college campuses without the supervision of parents? Please. If you’re a parent who is moving their child into their dorm room in the weeks to come, we encourage you to earmark some time the following week for moving them out because we anticipate many college campuses will be closing not long after they open — particularly if they are closely following the developments at one of our nation’s finest public universities.

But it’s not like UNC has been the only school to change its fall plans. The University of Pennsylvania and Brown University, as examples, recently changed their fall plans. One big difference? UPenn and Brown didn’t first let students sit through in-person instruction. So there’s that.


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1 Comment

  • Blake Nordhoff says:

    All this was done by design and Cornell is next. Funny how the moment the check clears suddenly they have a crisis on hand. And they did not foresee this? Pleeeaaasse! Bait and switch 101 should be the name of the most popular course never taken in 2020 but one which every student was unwittingly enrolled in.

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