Over the weekend East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte became the latest UNC System schools to move their undergraduate courses online in the face of COVID-19.
UNC-Charlotte says it intends to resume in-person classes Oct. 1. It is the first UNC System school to move classes online before they have actually begun.
The change follows similar moves online last week by UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University — the two largest schools in the UNC System.
Clusters of related infections in residence halls as well as fraternity and sorority houses at those schools suggested a high degree of community spread of the virus, according to medical experts who called for the schools to reverse their in-person instruction and on-campus housing plans.
UNC System President Peter Hans, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson all placed the blame on student behavior last week, citing parties and social gatherings in violation of state and school social distancing and mask mandates.
But student leaders, faculty, staff and medical experts had all for months warned the congregate living situations in dorms and Greek system housing would likely lead to a large number of infections.
“Safety is always our highest priority,” Hans said in a statement Sunday. “We also care deeply about equitable access to education through the residential experience and the long-term success of our students. This pandemic is forcing disruptions and creating hardships that have brought unprecedented difficulty to every aspect of our lives.”
“Every UNC System institution has unique resources and challenges so flexibility is important to weigh the best course for each campus,” Hans said in the statement. “I want to thank the faculty, staff, and parents for their extraordinary efforts as we all work to provide our students the high-quality education they need and deserve.”
Sources: UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, East Carolina University, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
7 – number of days into the fall semester UNC-Chapel Hill announced it would move all undergraduate classes online
10 – number of days into the fall semester N.C. State announced it would move all undergraduate classes online
7 to 8 – the percentage of positive tests statewide for the week ending August 16
13.6 – the percentage of positive tests at UNC-Chapel Hill for the week ending August 16
5 – the minimum number of infections in a related area (such as a residence hall, fraternity or sorority house) that constitute a “cluster” of infections, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services
7– number of clusters of infections reported in residence halls at UNC-Chapel Hill in the last week (the clusters identified so far are at the Ehringhaus, Hinton James, Morrison, Craige, Carmichael, Avery and Granville Towers buildings)
102 – the number of students who tested positive at Granville Towers alone as of last week (the apartment complex, owned by the UNC Foundation and partnered with Carolina Housing, had just over 1,000 residents this semester and around 75 percent were first-year students, according to the complex’s website)
3 – the number of clusters identified at fraternity or sorority houses at UNC-Chapel Hill as of last week (the clusters were at the Zeta Psi and Sigma Nu fraternity houses and Alpha Delta Pi sorority house)
8 – number of clusters of infections identified at fraternity or sorority houses at N.C. State in the last week (those clusters were at houses associated with the sorority houses of Delta Zeta (28 positives), Delta Gamma (15 positives), Sigma Kappa (6 positives), Zeta Tau (7 positives) and Kappa Delta (6 positives) and the fraternity houses of Lambda Chi Alpha (13 positives) Sigma Nu (26 positives) – the Sigma Nu house was the site of a party on August 13, the school reported, and the school is encouraging anyone who attended to be tested)
6 – number of infection clusters announced over the weekend at East Carolina University (the clusters were at the Garrett (5 positives), Fletcher (5 positives), Fleming (6 positives), Tyler (7 positives) and Greene (10 positives) residence halls and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house (5 positives))